Friday, 24 August 2012

Entrecôte Café de Paris, Cardiff Bay

The deep-fried pigs’ ears were complimentary, with some gherkins. A sophisticated take on pork scratching and with a spicy coating, but I am afraid we did not consume all these.

This was in Entrecôte, which opened earlier this summer in Mermaid Quay. There’s an impressive view of Cardiff Bay from its upper floor location. Owner Babak Arabestani has created a traditional French dining experience in his Café de Paris.

My starter (entrée) was Parisienne-style gnocchi with Mornay sauce and air dried ham. This type of gnocchi is made using choux pastry and parmesan, the resulting dough being briefly poached and then oven-baked in Mornay sauce (an egg yolk and Gruyère cheese enriched béchamel sauce). It was a rich and satisfying gratin.

Hot goats cheese crottin, ficelle bread and artichoke purée was my partner’s choice. This was an attractive construction, with the French bread shadowed by a dark olive tapenade and with a sprig of lettuce decorating the pyramid of crottin (a French goat’s cheese) and vegetable purée.

My main (plat principal) was the Slow-cooked salmon with pommes purée, buerre blanc, capers and samphire. Disappointingly, the samphire was replaced with three green beans; although it should still be in season. There could be no complaints about the fish, however, which was moist and full of intensified flavour. The creamy potato bordered on vegetable.

The Braised shoulder of lamb, Toulouse sausage and cauliflower purée, which was my partner’s choice, looked intriguing. The meat was shredded and reconstructed into a tower. It had a great flavour. There was a rich jus and some couscous. We both agreed that the noble Cauliflower does not deserve to be puréed.

Entrecôte made a pleasant and enjoyable change for us and it seems to do what it does rather well, although this style of cooking is not really our thing. We prefer our vegetables, for instance, plentiful and less processed. There is too much puréeing going on here for our taste. We have noticed this before in sophisticated French restaurant (home-style French cooking is, of course, a different matter).

With a couple of glasses of merlot and coffees our bill came to £54.78 (including the service charge).

You could seriously splash-out in Entrecôte, especially if you happen to be on an expense account (like some of our fellow diners). You can buy sevruga and ossetra caviar (£65 and £85 per 30g, respectively), for instance, with champagne to accompany (£19.50 up to £295.00 for Louis Roderer Cristal Vintage 2004).

On the other hand, if you’re on a budget, you could come here for breakfast or a lunch deal to enjoy the relaxed ambience and a taste of Paris.

Entrecôte Café de Paris, Upper Unit 9, Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay CF10 5BZ


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