Well, isn’t Cardiff becoming a right little winner on the food front?
Don’t just take my word for it; our lush little capital was recently named as home to one of the top five fastest growing food and drink scenes in the UK , with a wave of restaurants opening over the last few years, an 82% increase in food and drink events in the last year alone and a thriving pop up and street food scene (Wales Online, 2015).
I love Cardiff. And eating out is my absolute favourite. Therefore, I thought I’d help a girl out by writing some reviews (I use this definition very loosely!) of some of the places I visit ‘about Cardiff’ given that we are SO spoilt for choice at the moment and settling on somewhere to eat can actually be a bit of a mare (Absolute First World problems).
Seriously though, no one wants to be scurrying up and down the Hayes in a blind and hungry panic, trying to work out which of the 25 new places they should try out whilst frantically trying to find reviews on TripAdvisor with little to no 3G,to the point where you just decide to eat a Macdonalds and be done with it. We’ve all been there.
I’ll put it out there; I’m not a ‘foodie’ by any stretch.
I mean, a gourmet deconstructed spag bol served in a selection of mismatched champagne glasses is probably going to be in the Not For Me Box (I’m trying to be ironic but I cannot 100% promise that meal doesn’t exist on a menu somewhere in a pop up in and around the Clapham area which makes me really sad for humanity).
So, don’t expect any kind of fine dining, sophisticated analysis or elaborate Master Chef style descriptions here. I’m not your girl. Soz.
But I will fill you in on all of the important things.
Like if the food was lush, whether it was reasonably priced, whether it is looking pretty sexy and totally instagramable inside and what their gin selection is like.
You’re so welcome.
So, this little treat takes prime position in the centre of Cardiff Bay’s Mermaid Quay.
In a previous life, it used to be Terra Nova, which I have to be honest, was never my personal fave.
I mean, it was ok wasn’t it? It was fine. The food was reasonable. The drinks were more than reasonable. But it was a little bit dark, a little bit dingy, a little bit like being sat on a pirate ship . A pirate ship with a really bizarre layout. In the middle of a pirate battle. Occurring in a thunder storm. And the ship has a hole in it. And it’s sinking (maybe a *slight* exaggeration but you get my drift ).
However the bar/restaurant has had a complete makeover and a new identity; it has undergone a £1.25m refurbishment and reopened as The Dock in April this year.
A party of 11 of us chose The Dock as the lucky venue for our boozy lunch prior to going to the theatre in the evening (I know, we are super sophisticated and cultured but don’t be too intimated).
The Instagram Factor
Well, the refurb looks great.
The restaurant has stayed true to the nautical theme but it’s fresh and airy and open with lots of natural light.
I mean, I felt like I was on a much improved, much sturdier ship sailing in to the sunset with a Mojito in hand, and had complete confidence that we were going to reach our destination in one piece and not get like, hi-jacked by an enemy pirate ship or indeed, shipwrecked .
The views across the bay are stunning especially from the upper floor, where our table of 11 were sat. The restaurant has a lovely terrace area which I’d imagine would be delightful on a sunny summers afternoon. I have to imagine because on the day we visited, it was in fact belting down with rain all day, because Wales.
The decor has lots of nods to the bay’s industrial past which is great.
There is a massive bar in the middle of the ground floor with an impressive bar-to ceiling feature piece filled with bottles, and so I had to take an insta pic (obvz).
They also have a gin wall; basically, a wall with loads of different types of gin bottles displayed on it, and it’s absolutely HAUNTING me that I did not get a picture next to it.
Regrets. All of the regrets.
The menu is essentially your gastro/pub food classic with some nice little twists. I’m talking bacon crumb hens eggs, black and blue cheese nachos and venison burgers. There’s variety and definitely something for everyone.
They also have an extensive breakfast and brunch menu which I must try #BasicBitch. The steak and eggs, crumpets, avocado on toast and american style pancakes all sound amazing.
We went ALL IN and had 3 courses.
I had scallops to start (because…nautical) which were just lush and cooked to perfection.
For my main, I had the ABC burger which was a naughty little combination of a chicken breast, avocado, melted Monterey Jack cheese and bacon. And so yeah my diet is going well.
The burger was massive…I couldn’t fit it in my mouth (heeeey…watch it!) Oh and It had this little breaded jalepeno on top. Cute.
I have to be honest I am kind of generally a bit over the whole “let’s serve our food in absolutely anything other than a plate” trend and I’m very much part of the We Want Plates Brigade (if you don’t follow them on twitter….do it!!)
However, the presentation wasn’t too over the top at all and it did fit in with the general theme and I know it’s what the kids love these days so I just went with it. No issue.
The fish and chips did come with vinegar in a fragrance, spay bottle thing (I can’t remember the proper name).I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about that and my butty next to me did spray some on her arm thinking it was a nice complimentary perfume…so, MEGA LOL.
There was a an irresistable selection of deserts, from Baked Alaska to gooey chocolaty fudge brownies and lemon meringue pie.
I went for the peanut butter cheesecake.
I didn’t even get chance to take a picture of it because I practically inhaled it.
(I ABSOLUTELY LOVE PEANUT BUTTER…I can’t even keep it in the house because I eat it straight out of the jar…it’s a real problem but admitting it is the first step).
It was the dream. It was all rich and peanut buttery and chocolatey. I can’t explain it, you just have to try it (HA.. I know, I’m totally nailing this reviewing /describing food thing).
The service was great-friendly staff and our food for the 3 courses all came out at the same time which is always a tick isn’t it?
At our table we mostly drank Prosecco and Beer. Some of our party did have the Pina Coladas from the specials menu which looked fit as.
There was a large selection of cocktails and craft beers available.
After dinner, I basically bullied everyone in to having a jug of White Sangria with me (essentially by repeating White sangria? White sangria? White sangria? White sangria? on repeat until people just gave in).
It came in a really cool crystal decanter thing- I really wanted to put it in my bag, it was so pretty.
I didn’t though. Everyone just calm down for a second.
It was basically white wine with some peach and grapefruit but it looked lovely and it was really refreshing.
We enjoyed The Dock so much that we decided to return after the theatre for an evening drink.
They have an extensive gin selection complete with recommendations for the perfect accompaniment which is a nice touch. I went for the Portobello served with tonic and a twist of grapefruit. It basically came in a vase which I can’t complain about.
I also have to mention the packet of choirzo crisps that made the rounds. Because crisps are important. We all decided they were essentially just smokey bacon but they were really nice all the same.
In a nut shell…
The Dock is the perfect little haunt for a casual and relaxed dining experience. The food was good quality pub food with a twist, the menu was varied and it was great value for money.
It was ideal for a pre-theatre boozy lunch but equally there was a mix of birthday parties, hen parties (Cardiff Bay…standard!), couples and families.
Put it this way; it’s going to be an absolute winner on our next beautiful sunny day when we all stampede our way down to the Bay on mass and fight over a seat in the outside terrace.
You know the drill.