It is eighteen years since Chef Andrew Frost from Aberthaw was an apprentice in a Cardiff kitchen. Back in 1999, during the Rugby World Cup, he trained under Martin Green at St David’s Hotel. He honed his craft as the years went by in some of Europe’s most celebrated restaurants; Auberge du Lac, Petrus, and Le Cinq at the Hotel George V in Paris, to name but a few. Following a period at the helm of his own restaurant in the city of lights, the Welshman has now come home. Still only 34 years old, he’s now Head Chef at the Park House Restaurant on Park Place; I’m delighted to say that Paris’ loss is Cardiff’s gain.
Two months into his tenure, it was my absolute pleasure to experience his 7 course Autumn Tasting Menu. With an emphasis on sourcing the best ingredients available, it combines the freshest flavours from Wales, and beyond, with French flair and savoir faire. Prior to the meal, I savoured a Maple Syrup Manhattan at the restaurant’s stunning new bar upstairs; reminiscent of a bittersweet Old Fashioned, it warmed the cockles on a crisp autumn eve. And following the restaurant’s recent inclusion on a list of the 100 best wine restaurants in the world, I chose the wine pairings menu as well.
What an audacious return home for the ‘Chef Gallois’, a mere eight weeks after crossing the channel, with a knock-out autumn menu that left me aching for winter to come. If it’s been some time since you enjoyed the Gothic splendour of Park House, make it a priority to visit at once. Chef Andrew Frost is a master at work, and with big plans for Cardiff, he’s only just begun.
Park House Restaurant 20 Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3DG Tel. 029 2022 4343
I am an avowed carnivore, but it was the menu’s seafood dishes that blew me away, and underscored the playful pleasure of some very unexpected winepairings. I relished the Cornish crab-meat cone, as well as the sweet Scottish hand-dived scallop, but the Penarth Sea Bass, served with Pembrokeshire sea herbs and heritage carrots, was a dream I dearly hope to re-live. I was pleasantly surprised that it was matched with a Hush Heath Estate ‘Manor’ Pinot Noir, full of lip-smacking berry flavours, and the fact that the wine was from Kent was a revelation.
The Paimpol beans with truffles was a comforting treat, as was the divine Brecon Venison served with smoked mash and plum jus. But it really was the matching wines that elevated the flavours to high heaven, especially the Spanish Priorat, which balanced the intensity of the rich game dish to a tee. A midcourse French cheese plate was a first for me, but I could have indulged the x-rated gooey-ness of the Mont d’Or Vacherin all night. And as we headed to a close, I adored the fresh combination of a fennel and pear crème brulee, followed by the intense Valrhona Chocolate Mousse with Buttermilk Ice Cream; two delicious desserts presented with a lightness of touch, that is rare.