145 Crwys Road, Cardiff. 029 2022 8523 / www.thegutsygoose.co.uk
Accepting an offer to accompany me to this three-month-old Cathays restaurant, my friend wonders: “Is the name supposed to sound like The Potted Pig?” This hadn’t previously occurred to me. Comparisons can be made: The Gutsy Goose leans towards timeless British culinary ideas, served with modern flair, and its name references one of its starters, goose liver pate. It is, however, substantially cheaper (most expensive main course is £13) and you can probably walk in and get a table – although nearly all are occupied at 8pm on a Wednesday.
The Gutsy Goose’s premises were once owned by Cafe Calcio, where people excited by Catatonia having hit singles ate breakfast in the late 90s. The decor is much less shouty and more serious these days; waiting staff are spot-on in their attentiveness, and we’re recommended a keenly spicy bottle of 2008 Barolo. After a deep-fried goats’ cheese amuse bouche, our starters – risotto balls with chilli jam for him, cauliflower soup with parmesan for me – are sturdy fare, and both richer and creamier than you might expect.
My friend gets a chicken, gammon and mushroom pie, one of today’s specials, for his main course; I get pork belly, on a board amidst blobs of mash and baby leeks and asparagus. While having little truck with board-as-plate fashion, it’s probably a losing battle – suffice to say, then, that it’s a deep and unctuous piece of tum which came with an addictive cider jus. The pie’s subtle earthiness, pleasing presentation and slightly under-creamed mash is mentioned by my pal, who then has to dash, leaving me eating a perfectly decent white chocolate Eton Mess on my own and probably looking like I’ve just been dumped. A meal for two plus wine weighed in very reasonably, at just under £50.
Words: NOEL GARDNER