Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Potted Pig, Cardiff

Potted pig with toast and pickles (£6) is a signature starter at The Potted Pig (located on the pedestrianized High Street near Cardiff Castle). Although served in a small preserving jar with accompanying toast, this is not pate. The jar is stuffed with shredded pork shoulder lightly spiced with cayenne pepper. The pickles are halved gherkins and cubed beetroot. The toast, and the bread served generally, is chunky granary.

My partner had the Smoked trout with poached egg and béarnaise sauce on a potato blini (£5). This starter had wonderfully complimentary flavours, with the fish being richly smoked, and the tight plating bought them all together in every sense.

For main course, I chose Barnsley lamb chop with kidneys, roast onion and parsnips (£15). A Barnsley Chop is a double lamb chop, taken from across the loin of the animal; so named because the cut originated in Barnsley. Here it was served with two lamb’s kidneys (one either side), and topped with bright green peas. Underneath the chop were roasted vegetables in flavoursome gravy.

The other main was Slow roast Hereford pork belly with baked carrots and greens (£13). I find belly pork a bit fatty for my taste, but my partner rated this dish very highly. The crackling was perfect.

You might think that in a restaurant specializing in “nose-to-tail” meat eating that the vegetables might be a bit of an after-thought. However, we found the vegetables at The Potted Pig to be abundant and cooked with the same care as the meat. There are a couple of starters and a couple of main courses for vegetarians, which sound interesting and incorporate seasonal vegetables (e.g., Jerusalem artichoke, purple sprouting broccoli and Welsh cheddar pie). However, this is not a place to bring the kids or anyone who wants puddings to be a big part of their dining experience.

We drank a bottle of splendid red wine from the Languedoc (£16) and rounded the meal off with a couple of liqueur coffees (Frangelico: hazelnut liqueur from northern Italy). The service was first-rate throughout.

The Potted Pig was opened in 2011, in a former Lloyd's Bank vault, by The Chameleon Group (who also own The Meating Place, The North Star and The Vulcan Lounge in Cardiff). There are dark corners, candlelight, brick walls and no over-decoration, so it has atmosphere and retains a feel for the building’s history. Larger groups are put in the former strong room (whole suckling pig being a popular party choice). Don’t be alarmed if the waiter walks off towards the stairs with your credit card: because of the thick walls it’s necessary for the card-reading machine to get a signal!

This was my choice for a birthday meal, and it turned out to be a good choice. The Potted Pig has been one of the most talked about (and blogged about) restaurants in Cardiff since it opened last summer. We found nothing to contradict its generally excellent reviews.

The Potted Pig
27 High Street (underneath Zizzi), Cardiff, CF10 1PU
Tel: 029 2022 4817

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