Saturday, 22 January 2011



Mermaid Quay
Cardiff, South Glamorgan 

CF10 5BZ
029 2049 1900

Meal for two + wine and tip = £80

Mimosa takes its name not from the cocktail, or the genus of herb, but from the tea clipper that first ferried welsh settlers to Patagonia. It's a quasi-cryptic nod to the owner’s proud Welsh heritage. Us welsh are quite fond of our little colony across the water that still speaks the language.
The restaurant is a proud participant in the river cottage "chicken out" campaign and we are told that all the chicken served is free range, as is the pork, and rightly so. The lamb on the menu is Gower saltmarsh and the steaks come from welsh black beef. This same courtesy sadly isn't extended to the seafood. Cod, sea bass, mackerel, john dory and mussels all featured on my last visit though with scant reference to where, and no reference to the methods, by which they were caught. Provenance has for a long time been important to diners and restaurants alike, but with the success of Noma has become de-rigueur. This half-arsed approach to ingredients does nothing to convince diners that the restaurant really cares about its produce.

The restaurant interior is minimalist, and the crisp white walls, gunmetal grey finishes and darkwood tables are yet to look dated and give the place a cool feel. We ate early on a Saturday evening and were glad to see that every other table was full. This was great as the way sound travels around the space is quite exceptional. Each table can be as loud as they like without being overheard or obtrusive to other diners. The noise gives the place a certain vibe and makes for a very relaxing and casual evening.
The misses ordered gnocchi to start and they were perfectly dense, with an understated cheese and mushroom sauce. It was a well-made dish, as cheese sauces can often overwhelm. It was however pretty big for a starter and had us regretting that we'd ordered sides to go with our mains. My starter wasn't as daunting, in fact it was a little on the small side. I'd ordered cockle fritters, which I’ve had here before, and I’m sure they were bigger then. The laverbread sauce they were drowned in was cloying and not really as pleasant as I remembered, but perhaps my memory is at fault as much as the kitchen was.
I'd ordered steak for a main, which is something I rarely do when eating out, as the cooking can be so hit and miss. I don't know what made me order it on this occasion as the only choices were sirloin or fillet, boring or more boring. I went for the sirloin, which was ok. I apologise for describing it as ok, but I’m afraid that's all it was. Steak, chips and a b√©arnaise sauce, It was pub grub. The misses had ordered the blue poppy seed covered chicken, and it looked very impressive, but again and I’m very sorry, was just ok. The parsnips it came with were delightful and sweet, and the poppy seeds really lent an interest, but the dish never really shone. Our sides of olives and bread weren't of the greatest quality, and the onion rings, weren't overly greasy but nor were they as crispy as we would have liked. The portions here are quite generous, and were eaten with plenty of wine, so we skipped desert and asked for the bill.
I'd like now to come back to the point I made earlier on the half-arsed menu. I wanted to call the whole restaurant half-arsed but that would be unfair and unjustified. What they don't do though, as with the menu, is go that extra mile. I described the place once to a friend who said "oh yeah, I know the place. It sells pub food." I was a bit taken aback by this as I thought the food served at Mimosa was far better than to be labelled simply as "pub food" but on reflection I think he was right. You won't eat here and be blown away by the cooking, but I doubt you'll have any serious complaints and will probably leave quite drunk and happy. I'm afraid though that until Mimosa ups it's game, it will never become somewhere worth going out of your way for, but remain a good alternative to the chain shitholes that plague the bay. I'm a proud Welshman but what I’ve never been able to take pride in is the dire state of Cardiffs dining scene. I feel like this as Cardiff eateries don't tend to appreciate that there are plenty of people in the city who understand and love food, and long for more daring, imaginative cooking when they eat out. Mimosa is a prime example of this unadveturous outlook. The cooking here, though rarely flawed, is never exciting.

No comments:

Post a Comment