Monday, 29 June 2015

Burger & Lobster, Cardiff - #tanktalks

Last Thursday, the lovely folks over at Burger & Lobster invited me over to sample a few dishes, drink some cocktails and find out a little bit more about them, as part of their #tanktalks series. That's not an offer a girl can turn down.

After a glass or two of prosecco and making our introductions, we got down to business.

Ben, Cardiff's general manager and our fantastic host for the night, launched into an informative chat about lobsters, and specifically, the ones they use at B&L, and how they are treated.

It's fair to say, I learnt quite a lot that night. Did you know, lobsters just keep on growing and growing until death? I've got this image of a monster lobster floating around somewhere in the North Atlantic. They also shed their shells, much like a snake, of which I had no idea either.

Many people have reservations about lobster and they way they are cooked and kept. I've got to be honest, I have wondered how ethical the practices of such a large company could be, with the sheer amount that the number of covers the restaurants demand.

B&L fish for their lobster generally from the Nova Scotia/Maine area of Canada/USA. This is because it would be impossible (and a sustainability issue) to fish the amount of lobster required from the UK. There are also very strict laws and regulations surrounding the fishing there, to ensure they are caught in the most ethical and humane ways possible.

The lobster are kept at a certain temperature during transit, so although they are alive, they are in an almost hibernated state. They remain at this state until they get to the restaurant, and placed back into the tanks, where they wake up from their deep slumber.

Ben assured us that the lobsters are cooked in specialised steamer ovens, which knocks the lobster unconscious before they are cooked. None of this boiling pot malarkey!

All this lobster talk had started to make my stomach grumble, and as if on cue plates upon plates of lobster came pouring out of the kitchen. Steamed, grilled, lobster nicoise salad and lobster rolls!

The grilled lobster was my favourite on the night, that chargrilled taste just added something extra. It also went extremely well with the Vinho Verde that Ben had expertly matched with our lobster. My new favourite white wine, with a hint of sparkle.

If you're undecided or new to lobster, the steamed is much purer, with a stronger seafood taste. The grilled lobster loses that seaside salty freshness and is replaced with a chargrilled smokiness, which is no bad thing either.

Trust me, that butter sauce is the absolute bomb. You can dip everything in it, and it makes it all 100% better. Dunk your rolls and chips, and pour onto the lobster, it's heavenly.

A little break was needed to let all that food go down, so we headed over to the bar to watch the master mixologist Luke at work, showing us how to create a Gin Fizz.

We were then challenged to a cocktail competition to make up their newest cocktail, 'Shrubbery' from a set list of ingredients. Fortunately for your poor eyes, I haven't got a good enough picture of my team's effort, because it was dreadful, and we came last!

We admitted defeat and left it to the professionals to show off a little...

(If you can look at this and not sing Shake It Off, we can't be friends)

 Cocktail making is hungry work, right? Time for round two...the burger course.

I've previously said that £20 for a lobster is great value, but that I wasn't so sure for a burger. I take it back, just look at this bad boy.

Medium rare beef patty, smothered in cheese, bacon, tomato, onions, pickles...the list goes on. My pet hate is burgers that you can't get in your gob in one go (I'm looking at you guys who stack onion rings on top five miles high). This one just about got in with a bit of squishing, but it was so worth it. Serious chin dribbling going on though, so you'll need the bibs.

If this one's a bit big for you, just look at these little cuties. From their new kids menu, two itty bitty (my fist sized) sliders with chips would have actually been enough to fill me up.

I'll definitely be going back soon for another burger. In fact, if you're visiting in even numbers, you can go half 'n' half with each other, which I think is the perfect answer to my indecisiveness. I really can't implore you enough to go try it out!

Speaking of which, B&L are hosting a 'Pay What You Want' week, to raise money for Velindre Cancer Care for the five days beginning 6th July. This applies to lunchtimes only, and reservation is a must, so if you want to try these guys out and help a very worthy charity, book a table now in 02920 224044 or email

Not enough Burger & Lobster for you? Have a read about my previous visit here.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Where to Eat in... Tenby

I've been to Tenby so many times, that it feels odd to review any of my usual haunts. Instead,  I thought I'd introduce you to a few of my fail safe favourites in my home from home. No visit to the 'Little Town of Fishes' (or Dinbych-yn-Pysgod to give it's full Welsh name) would be complete without stopping off to one or more of these brilliant eateries.

The Coach & Horses

The Coach & Horses is a bright yellow pub at the top end of Upper Frog Street. It's been a firm favourite of ours over the years that we've been visiting Tenby, and we've always tried to pop in whenever we're in town. I mean, if it's good enough for Dylan Thomas...

It's one of the cosiest pubs in Tenby and well away from the rowdier ones in the square. It ticks all the boxes on the good pub checklist, with great ales on tap, a log fire and an extensive jukebox.

The Coach & Horses boasts a large menu, one side full of traditional pub grub, and the other, surprisingly, of Thai food. The standard pub food is always a winner, especially the  'mega boozy cod' and the Dragon's curry, but the best meals I've had were from the Thai menu.

On our most recent visit, I had a garlic and black pepper prawn dish, which was gorgeous and so full of flavour! Plump juicy prawns, fresh vibrant veg and the sauce was so moreish I was mopping it up with everything I could.

We visited during lent, so I had given up meat, and I was pleased to see an abundance of vegetarian options on the menu. They would also replace any curry/Thai dish with Quorn pieces on request if possible, which I thought was a nice touch, and one which I didn't see replicated anywhere else during my forty days of hell vegetarianism.

For a chilled out night with a couple of beers and some hearty dinner, this is the one. However, if you feel like livening it up, they do sell absinthe if you're after a nightcap. I've always been too scared.

Plantaganet House

If you're after somewhere a little more fancy, try Plantaganet House. An unassuming little building from the outside, it's harbouring something more exciting behind those doors. Bare stone walls, beautiful iron candelabras and a medieval Flemish chimney make this an interior design dream. A perfect date night spot away from the rabble.

The menus, from outside, look like traditional seaside fare with colourful words scrawled over blackboards and handwritten menus adorning the walls. But contained in those menus are some pretty special meals.

Whole lobster and fresh fish of the day, alongside traditional Welsh lamb and butter roasted belly pork. An extensive wine list makes this the place to go if you want to impress. Be prepared to pay to impress however, as it's a lot more expensive than anywhere else I've eaten in Tenby town. It's worth it for a treat, however expect to pay around an eye watering £24 for a meat/fish based main.

However, that seabass biryani above though? Worth every penny - hands down the best meal I've eaten in Tenby.

Fecci & Sons Fish Bar

You can't come to the British seaside and not get fish and chips. It's the rule.

There are a few fish and chip shops dotted around, but we've always found Fecci's to be the best around. They've got an extensive menu, cook their fish fresh to order and also provide gluten-free fish and chips for those who require it.

Crispy batter that's not too greasy, hiding flaky white cod inside is always a winner in my book. A pile of highly salted-and-vinegared chunky chips on the side and a pot of curry sauce and it's heaven. Mushy peas if you're feeling virtuous, they're pretty good here too.

Look out for when battered Mars Bars are on the menu. Holiday calories do not count.

Top tip, get your chips wrapped up to take away, turn left out of the shop and then left again. Eat them on the benches there, staring out at the sea and over South Beach. It's the best view. Just watch out for the seagulls.

The Baytree

You can't miss the Baytree, in prime position in Tenby's Tudor Square. It's positioning not only makes it easy to find, but if you get a window table, the perfect place for people watching too. My favourite holiday activity.

The Baytree is the antidote you need when you get to that point on holiday where you just can't take anymore chips or anything in batter. Saying that, the calamari is pretty good, and the homemade aioli just excellent. Keeps the vampires away too.

With mains ranging about £15-£20, and starters around £6, it's a step up from the pub grub on offer throughout the town, but considerably less than the Plantaganet above. However, they always have a very reasonable early bird style set menu that makes this a very viable option for both lunch and an evening meal.

During the summer months, there's usually live music on weekends too, such as an acoustic guitarist or a singer. Unobtrusively enhancing the chilled out atmosphere, it's a great place to unwind with a bottle of red and some good local food.

These are some of my top picks, but there's so much choice in town that I've still not eaten everywhere yet! Any favourites of yours that I should try out? Let me know!