KAPOW RIBS | FOOD REVIEW
Food: **** Value: ****
When it comes to Kapow Ribs, it pays to be prepared. That means sensibly revising the rash decision to wear a white T-shirt on delivery day and changing into a more forgiving black one instead. But first and foremost, it means placing your order promptly. The window of opportunity opens at 10am each Thursday for delivery the following weekend, closing at 8pm on Monday evening. Or in theory, it does – in reality, dishes sell out sooner, so if you leave it too late you risk missing out. And believe me, you don’t want that to happen.
Kapow founder John Cook has serious form on the local food scene, with a CV that already boasts Nook, Hoof and Ember. As if setting up a brand new restaurant, Cowbridge’s Rocket & Rye, in the midst of a pandemic wasn’t enough of a challenge, Cook also took it upon himself to launch a venture that would boost the morale of discerning carnivores cooped up at home from Cardiff to Bridgend. Lockdown has left many of us resembling cavemen – Kapow help to complete the look by providing the bones to gnaw on.
So, those ribs: lovingly precooked and spiced baby backs that you only have to gently heat through in a pan of warm water before liberally basting and finishing in the oven. The meat pulls away in great tender hunks with minimal persuasion, and while the house BBQ sauce is certainly a step up from the standard, it’s the week’s guest glaze – wild garlic, sour honey and toasted sesame seeds – that steals the show.
“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good”, declares Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in 1987 film Wall Street. I’m not usually in the business of agreeing with dastardly corporate raiders, but I have to admit that when you’re reviewing food, greed does come in handy – as does a small menu, making it feasible to order everything on offer. We sample – that is to say, polish off – every single one of the sides: spicy potato and onion hash, a rich, smoky melange of beans and chorizo, indulgent cheese and wild garlic bread. The coleslaw could have more character, but the sharply acidic and dill-infused pickle, featuring carrots, cucumber and cauliflower, provides a welcome crunchy, fresh counterpoint to the main course.
And then there’s the fabled mac and cheese. It’s a dish that, done badly, can be a crime against humanity – but this one, pimped with prime rib meat, is worthy of a Nobel Prize. Little wonder that when Cook recently tweeted a joke threat to take it off the menu, the outcry could have been heard from space.
words and photos BEN WOOLHEAD