Lucie Loves... Food & travel // #Triedandtested | A @rivercottage inspired menu @CardiffMarriott
*warning* you’ll want to eat this with your eyes! It’s all about s.l.o.w food apparently…
A couple of weeks ago JMG and I visited Wales together for the very first time. The purpose of our visit was to try out a new menu at the city centre based Cardiff Marriott hotel. The Cardiff Marriott is a stones throw from John Lewis, a handful of lovely quaint shopping arcades, and almost leaping distance from Cardiff Central station.
We booked a table in the Marriott restaurant for 7pm and were greeted by a very friendly waitress. The hotel looks so really Christmassy at the moment, even the restaurant was tastefully decked out with fairy lights and festive garlands.
Before ordering our food we checked out the drinks menu. JMG wasn’t drinking and so ordered a large bottle of sparkling water, but that didn’t stop me wanting to try out their cocktail menu. I decided on a strawberry daiquiri - a taste of summer. It was delicious. Whilst still deliberating over the generous food menu we got a real treat when Cardiff Marriott’s Executive Chef, Anthony Barnes, came over to our table and introduced himself.
Anthony explained that their new menu has taken a leaf out of the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s own - seasonal and ethically-produced - book. His chefs spent a good few weeks with the River Cottage team learning a few tricks of their trade. The Cardiff Marriott are now embracing S.L.O.W foods. But what does that mean?
- S is for seasonal
- L is for local
- O is for organic
- W is for wild
They source their food within a 60 mile radius and research the suppliers thoroughly by conducting site visits before selecting which ones will win pride of place on that seasons menu. There’s something rather heartwarmingly reassuring about knowing where the food you’re about to consume has come from. Knowing that you’re supporting local farmers, growers, butchers, fishermen, etc - it’s bloody great.
Cardiff Marriott only choose the most sustainable cuts of meat and order only what they think they will use - reducing wastage, and making the most of what’s in season.
Some of local suppliers featured on their current menu are:
This should give you an idea of some of the lovely starter dishes they have to offer. I ordered a bowl of BURRY PORT MUSSELS WITH ORCHARD GOLD CIDER which they served with home-made warm focaccia bread - I think this was one of their specials.
Other Starter dishes included:
- PARSLEY SALAD (JMG chose this - see photo) local crab and soft boiled organic egg
- PAN FRIED MACKEREL FILLET served with beetroot relish, horseradish sauce
- SMOKED VENISON pickled mushrooms, crispy garlic and winter leaves
- MARINATED CHICKEN SALAD raisins, pine nuts and basil
- MARINATED WINTER VEGETABLES grilled flatbread and merguez spiced yoghurt
A selection of Mains:
- SLOW COOKED ORGANIC GRAIG FARM BRISKET (JMG chose this - see photo) anchovy and rosemary potatoes, red wine sauce
- SLADE FARM LAMB (I chose this - see photo) smashed celeriac, chilli and thyme
- STEAMED FILLET OF WHITING leek, mussels and thyme chowder
- PAN FRIED POLLOCK braised red cabbage, apple and horseradish cream
- PULLED SLADE FARM PORK semolina pave, salsa verde, carrots
- HERB SPELT RISOTTO roasted beetroot, organic goats cheese and mint
Fancy being an apprentice chef?
Anthony went on to explain that every year each Marriott hotel takes on at least one new apprentice chef. The recruitment process starts in September and the applicant must have NO EXISTING CULINARY QUALIFICATIONS!!! How cool is that? During the experience, the apprentice chef will gain skills in things like butchery, fishmongery, and much more. More information on the Marriott Culinary Apprenticeship can be found on their Facebook page.
So what did we think?
The food was exceptionally good. JMG and I are food snobs and so if we don’t like something we will tell you. The mussels were great - I’d never tried them in cider before so it was a nice change from the white wine and garlic sauce you usually get. JMG thought the crab was great too. Not too heavy, which was perfect as we’d both opted for quite rich sounding mains.
My lamb arrived. It was tender, delicately flavoured with chilli and thyme with a side of celeriac mash and a rich gravy. JMG had opted for the beef brisket after Executive Chef Anthony had spoken proudly of how much effort had gone into sourcing the meat suppliers and creating dish. JMG wasn’t disappointed, the beef was incredibly tender, and went very well with the anchovy and rosemary potatoes and red wine sauce (great gravy).
We were feeling full, but decided we couldn’t finish off our evening without trying a couple of the desserts. I went for the vanilla panna cotta with spiced apricot chutney and biscotti. I really enjoyed this dish, but kind of wished they’d served it with a little glass of espresso so that I could dip in my biscotti. I thought I was going to snap my teeth trying to bite into it. But I suppose they are twice-baked and are meant to be crunchy - I’m just a fan of dunking.
JMG order the chocolate beetroot brownie, with caramel wafer and ice-cream. He isn’t even a beetroot fan, but really enjoyed the earthy taste and the moistness that this special ingredient gives to the dish.
We’d definitely eat here again and would recommend it to other people coming to visit Cardiff.
The city has a LOT of choice when it comes to restaurants, including your big household name like Carluccios, Jamie’s Italian, and Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Anyone can enjoy a meal at the Marriott Cardiff, it’s not just a privilege reserved exclusively for their guests.
After a fantastic evening meal made by Anthony Barnes’ fair hands, we had high hopes for our breakfast the next morning. Unfortunately, when we arrived in the breakfast room it was a whole different story. The team of people who’d served us the night before had been replaced by another team of waiters and waitresses - not half as friendly.
We were seated, asked whether we’d like tea or coffee and it was assumed that we would be having the standard breakfast buffet. Wrong.
Having seen in our hotel room that they had a special breakfast menu, one that you could pay extra for, we waited to be presented with it. And waited. And waited. In the end we prompted a member of the team who brought over a copy (not on the lovely brown paper like the River Cottage inspired meals from last night had been presented on - shame) and from it we selected the eggs benedict for JMG and the smoked haddock with spinach and poached eggs for me.
We waited whilst our breakfasts were prepared and seemed to wait quite a while. When they were finally brought out to us, JMG’s eggs benedict was no longer topped with the much anticipated creamy hollandaise sauce, it had kind of dried up. And my smoked haddock appeared on a bed of salad instead of the spinach I was so looking forward to. It would’ve been nice if they had come and explained that the chef had ran out of spinach, but that was only explained to us when we asked why the salad substitute?
JMG and I had been informed the night before that Exec Chef Anthony was off on Sunday and so wouldn’t see us as breakfast. This seemed to explain it. We believe that if Anthony had been in the kitchen there is no way he would’ve let the salad get on my plate. But don’t let this breakfast debacle put you off.
The evening meal was one of the best we’d ever tasted - JMG said it reminded him of some of the fancy restaurants he’d eaten in when he visited Amsterdam - the Dutch know good food.
If you’d like to book a table and have an incredible meal cooked for you by Anthony and his fabulous team contact:
Cardiff Marriott Hotel
Thanks to Cardiff Marriott for inviting JMG and I to come and try the River Cottage inspired menu. Our meal was complimentary but we would pay good money to eat it all over again.