CROWN SOCIAL ★★★★★
The Parc Hotel, Park Place, Cardiff. 029 2078 5593.
After a fanfare opening and a fabulous redesign, renowned Michelin-starred executive chef, Martin Blunos, and his brilliant team are truly in situ creating gorgeous food and a plethora of contemporary flavours at the Crown Social. Taking into account seasonality and sourcing sensational Welsh produce to create fresh and pleasing dishes, the Crown Social has been created to deliver a unique ‘social’ experience. Whether you choose three starters and a main or two desserts and a coffee, the concept is to pick – at random if you wish – a selection of dishes from the bar or restaurant menu. A champagne bellini after work with a hard boiled quail’s egg and celery salt. Or creamed pearl barley and artichoke with a glass of chardonnay are equally encouraged by the superb restaurant staff.
After a couple of nibbles from the bar – crisp pulled lamb breast and sticky beef rib middles – we were shown to our table. White onion soup and grilled mackerel served with a Russian salad was followed by roast quail, satay straw potatoes and Welsh pork belly, apples and Gwynt y Ddraig with a side order of seasonal veg. As expected, all the dishes were beautifully presented, providing a taste sensation on every level. After much deliberation, our desserts arrived in the form of warm doughnuts with a vanilla milkshake and a honeycomb soufflé and coconut and lime sorbet. To say that the soufflé was divine is an understatement. Rounding off the meal, the 1918 Gran Reserva Chilean red wine was exceptional. Perfect.
The Crown Social delivers what Cardiff desperately needs – an interesting and varied menu, informed professional staff and a social dining experience to please the most apathetic of diners. ANTONIA LEVAY