Thanks to its proximity to Cardiff University, Roath has no shortage of budget bars and eateries. Surprisingly though, given it neighbours salubrious Penylan and Cyncoed, it’s lacking in upmarket watering holes and restaurants. Recently there’s been a discernible shift, with the opening of some fine little restaurants, and now we have The Penylan, a no expense spared wine bar that also does food, so things are looking up.
Its owners have clearly spent a lot of money on the décor to create an impression – slate, limestone and marble are used as facing stone on the walls, fine carpentry abounds on the oriental themed screening and ballistrades, the light fittings glitter with a gem-like effervescence and there’s a mix of low, soft furniture, dining tables and bar stools. This is the type of place Sade (google her) would hang out. All calm sophistication.
We started off with ‘apperitifs’ while surveying the menu. Well, actually a lovely pint of draught Tiger beer and a vodka, so there went any attempt at sophistication. The menu is not huge and reflects Hai, the owner’s, Vietnamese ethnicity so we quickly settled on the traditional Vietnamese spring rolls and veggie variety. Followed by stir fried king tiger prawns with sticky rice and stir fried spring vegetables with udon noodles. A then got on with the job of choosing a wine from the lengthy list before settling (predictably) on a fine Rioja. I happily stayed on the Tiger.
The rolls were lovely – light and crisp pastry, fresh and tasty fillings, particularly the pork medallions stuffed into the Vietnamese rolls. The stir fries were both crunchy and fresh with a chilli heat that built slowly, and were amply portioned. So we were pleased to hear Hai has plans for a Vietnamese restaurant on nearby Wellfield Road.
Good food, good wine and great decor.
2 Penylan Road
Cardiff CF24 3PF
T. 07887 663344