Park House Club
20 Park place
Time passes slowly in this old manner house. Nothing is rushed, and our half seven booking became eight thirty before our starters arrived. This was after a stunning amuse of Jerusalem artichoke soup with crab. The misses and I had opted for the taster menu at £55. A far better deal than the A la carte option, as this place isn’t cheap. Starters are all around the £10 mark and mains up in the £20’s. Quite keen pricing for Cardiff, so you’d expect the cooking to be top notch. Luckily for us it mostly was. I’d asked to change my starter from a risotto to the snails, but the misses hadn’t so we got to taste an extra dish. The snails were plentiful and cooked long enough to be almost al dente, just like the conchiglie “shells” they were served with, a tasty little joke from the chef. The misses risotto was flawless, topped with slow cooked egg and mushrooms.
Next up was for us the only failure of the evening, the fish course. Miso marinated white fish (we were told it was cod, but I’m still unsure) was too much for the Ichthyophobic misses, but also for me, served with a flabby wet skin and a cloyingly thick larver sauce. A slice of beetroot did nothing to lighten the dish and both plates went back unfinished. I’ve eaten Grady Atkins food before at the now extinct Le Galloise, and the only dish that sticks in my memory from way back then was also a fish dish. Again “white fish” was served but that time it was accompanied by a sake jelly. I ordered it because I’d never tasted a warm jelly before. It turned out that it wasn’t a warm jelly at all as it had half melted on the warm plate, and left the fish a soggy disappointing mess. Never mind, the chef more than made up for that disappointment with our next course.
Main of Richard Vaughan middle white pork is quite possibly the best dish you’ll find in Cardiff at the moment. Two cuts, one providing a thick layer of melting fat, the other a firmer slice from elsewhere in the pig, served with a glasslike shard of crackling, a dense slice of suet, and most interestingly a smear of melted cheese. The cheese shouldn’t be there, but is of just the right proportion to add a sharpness to the pork, without the annoying sweetness that an apple usually provides.
A cheese course came next which we enjoyed over a chat with the, (and I apologise for the hyperbole but it’s necessary here) exceptional, delightful, credit to the restaurant not to mention the whole catering industry, hostess. I think her name is carolyna? And she does the restaurant proud, with the time she devoted to ourselves and the rest of the customers. In fact, all the staff here deserve to be applauded, from the poor girl sentenced to sit by the front door and greet us, to the waiters and maitre d’. The exceptional service is perfectly suited to the beautiful, grand setting, and the two do each other justice.
Dessert of what was essentially a rhubarb and custard sweet in ice cream form, with what I assume was a sherry soaked honeycomb is just a hazy memory after we’d polished off a lovely bottle of well-priced red.( If you’re visiting it’s the Carignan Vielles Vignes, Alain Grignon, a steal at £21) but the perfect ending to an excellent meal. Grady Atkins is the closest us Cardiff folk have to a cleb’ chef. His welcome return to the city is to be applauded, and I wish him and the staff at the Park House every success. They’ve done well to open the doors to us proles, and in return they deserve our patronage. The A la carte menu, as I’ve said is prohibitively expensive to most of us, but the three course for £19 lunch is a bargain. I urge you to visit, and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.