Plotting a (main) course

There are many things I miss about living in Cardiff - picnics in Bute Park, being able to walk to town and of course, having a nice pub on my doorstep.  In Canton we were pretty blessed with watering holes and many nights were whiled away in the golden triangle of the Robin Hood, The Romilly and The Conway.  And whilst I've found many good things since moving to Penarth, with its delis and coffee shops aplenty, I still haven't found a local to call my own.

Having bemoaned the fact several times I think somebody in the marketing department at Knife and Fork Food (owners of The Conway, Woods Brasserie and The Old Swan) must have heard my cries and so it was that we found ourselves invited to their latest venture, The "new" Pilot, situated on Queens Road, Penarth, overlooking the bright lights of Cardiff Bay.

The interior is almost a carbon-copy of The Conway, with whitewashed walls offset by the muted olive woodwork and those brightly coloured chairs.  The rear dining area is dominated by two large sofas set in front of a large, wood burning fire - a perfect spot for the inevitable cold winter ahead.

We eventually ordered from the blackboard menu and waited eagerly for our first course.

Breakfast Scotch Egg [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
My partner opted for the Breakfast Scotch Egg (£5) and wasn't disappointed. Herby sausage meat combined with salty bacon and earthy black pudding surrounded a soft boiled egg and coated in a light crisp crumb.  The sauce was reminiscent of baked beans and topped the dish off brilliantly.

Courgette and Feta Fritters [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
My starter of courgette and feta fritters (£4) was a rather more dainty affair.  The crisp outer shell of courgette gave way to a soft, gooey feta cheese centre and was offset well with the tart fruitiness of the caper and raisin dressing (though I'd argue that as it was fairly solid it was more like a tapenade).

Pan-fried Grey Mullet {Photo: Cardiff Bites]
For mains, my partner chose the fish special, pan-fried grey mullet with pickled mushrooms, globe artichokes and a fish sauce (£9.50).  The fish was cooked perfectly with a crisp skin and moist flesh and the pickled mushrooms added a nice flavour contrast whilst the artichoke was an interesting alternative to potato and kept the dish light.  A couple of bones found in the fillet at the end of the meal was a little annoyance and my partner felt that whilst the dish tasted nice it didn't make him go "wow".

Marinated Lamb Rump [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
My plate of marinated lamb rump, roasted carrots, mash and pea and mint dressing (£13.50) was similarly well balanced.  The lamb was cooked to a perfect pink with the carrots retaining some crunch against the sweetness of their roasted glaze.  The mashed potato was smooth and creamy and the peas were fresh and juicy against the minted gravy.  Again, simple flavours won out and chef let them speak for themselves.

Neapolitan, Pilot-style [Photo: Cardiff Bites]

After two fairly normal plates of food, chef broke out the toy box when he set about creating the dessert menu.  The Neapolitan platter (£4) was a playful take on the tricolour ice cream from my childhood - a dense, slightly bitter chocolate ganache, creamy vanilla parfait and a light-as-air strawberry espuma served on a wooden board.  

Baked Perl Wen [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
Being a sucker for a cheese course and a lover of sweet/savoury combinations, the baked Perl Wen with sweet wine sorbet and dehydrated grapes (£4.50) was the perfect way to end my meal.  The warm, creamy cheese was the perfect foil for the sweet grapes and even sweeter wine sorbet.  Heavenly but I couldn't help but wonder if a Perl Las/Fino combination might work even better. I mentioned this to our server so don't be surprised if you see it on the menu at some point.

The main courses, whilst delicious, were completely out-shone by the starters and desserts which were far more playful in their ideas and flavour combinations.  I hope chef gets equally daring with his main courses and am looking forward to going back for more.

The meal was by invite of Working Word PR and as such was complimentary.


Anonymous said…
Try the fish pie for an unusual main course! It's masquerading as one of the 'classics' but is definitely a bit different!

Hannah @ Love to Dine

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