North Road, Cardiff. 029 2062 1736 / www.thenorthstarcardiff.com
The North Star is a large pub near Cardiff University’s Talybont halls, featuring a decent value lunch and dinner menu pitched above the proverbial pub grub. This isn’t why editor Gareth and I are here, however. We are attempting the Man Vs Food challenge, which follows the creed of the endlessly watchable TV show Man V Food: an affable American called Adam Richman tours the US trying to finish outsized or very spicy meals. The North Star do this every Wednesday; 23 other people also tried their luck when we visited. I suspect it will prove to be undergrad catnip.
We could have chosen the heat-based challenges – a bowl of chilli or eight hot wings – but, perhaps not wanting to risk crying in pain in a busy alehouse, both size-queened it. Gareth had the chilli dog, aka five sausages and lots of chilli in/on an entire French stick; I had a burger which weighs 45oz on its own, and comes in a bun with a glut of garnishes. The quality of the actual food is not in dispute (the sausages are Gloucester Old Spot, no less), which is initially a boon but makes almost no difference once you’re at the point where everything is cold, apart from your forehead, and you can do little but chew mechanically with a glassy-eyed stare. One’s gluttonous limits are psychological as much as physical, perhaps more so.
I probably finished 60% of my burger, tops, while Gareth bested at least four-fifths of his dish. This meant that neither of us won a free meal or a certificate. Nevertheless, I left the North Star humbled, but with increased respect for the square meal. Oh, and before anyone starts on about food waste and first world indulgence and such, the leftover burger was bequeathed to a grateful dog.