The Admiral St David
As Cardiff’s only 5* hotel, the expectation is that St David’s restaurant should be fine dining. But, that’s not necessarily what its guests, after a day’s wheeler dealing or a bruising match, want. They want to kick back. And what better way to relax than with a menu inspired, uniquely in Cardiff, by the most laid-back country in the world – Australia. But, isn’t Australia just bbq’s? Nope. It’s now an exciting, cosmopolitan melting pot of SE Asian, world and Antipodean cuisine. As we admired the sunset over Cardiff Bay, our amiable host Romain, made a few suggestions that would give a good overview of the new menu. Key elements are fresh produce, which is Welsh wherever possible, expertly prepared by headchef Martyn Watkins, bold flavours, a deftness of touch and a wee bit of fun, which extended to the staff’s interaction with customers. My starter of mussels, in black beans, chillies and coconut cream epitomised this – an imaginative and playful twist on a classic, its bold ingredients used sparingly to let the sea-spray taste of the beautifully fresh, tender Welsh mussels shine. A’s judiciously used a sweet beetroot puree and zingy salsa to add pizazz to a delightful Pant Ysgawn goats cheese bonbon. The lemongrass marinated Welsh lamb rump main stayed on
message. The lemongrass was a sublime masterstroke but subtle nonetheless, allowing you to focus on the perfectly pink lamb’s sweet taste, ably supported by a delicately spicy Moroccan couscous . A’s Korean derived Pajeon pancake with Wild Mushrooms and Bulgogi sauce was a savoury flavour bomb. Romain’s recommended wines, a Billi Billi Riesling, a Spee Wah cab shiraz and a Puglian Villa dei Fiori were excellent and well matched to the dishes. Desserts are where the guys let their hair down. The Peach Melba is not your typical Peach Melba – I won’t spoil the surprise but it was a hoot. The exuberant Chocolate Chemeux was a visual treat with the chocolate mousse bombs rich and velvety and the mango sorbet delightfully refreshing. And all rounded off with a cracking Old Fashioned ‘smoked’ whiskey cocktail. The food was a delightful departure from the norm – informal and fun but seriously good and certainly different. Combined with a great location, calmly sophisticated vibe and a level of service befitting a world-class hotel, The Admiral has got the balance of wow factor, informality and great food absolutely nailed.
The Admiral St David, St David’s Hotel, Havannah St, Cardiff CF10 5SD. Tel: 029 2045 4045