Parallel is perhaps the most odd-on success story Cardiff will see this year. Its big sister, Bristol import Pasture, has been notoriously hard to book, especially for weekends, since it opened. Its steakhouse menu has always excelled in doing interesting on the peripheries: short rib croquettes with gochujang, charcoal-roasted cabbage with bacon butter, the caramel pork belly.
Inside it’s all elegant deep greens, smoked glass and exposed brick, with just 30 seats. Take a seat up at the bar and watch the kitchen work. An eclectic menu changes daily and wears its influences boldly: Spanish, Persian, Japanese, Korean, Lebanese and more.
There are chicken scratchings – heat-puffed curls of skin in chicharrón-style bites, ideal with a beer – and light yet meaty croquettes of braised octopus. Shreds of oyster mushroom are cleverly treated and dressed to imitate Peking duck. There are things here destined to be some of the most talked-about in Cardiff, so you may as well find out for yourself.
A soft, char-striped bread pulls apart, slick with beef butter: you’ll wash that smell off your fingers begrudgingly. A Japanese mandoline spins a potato into narrow, hugely long strips before it is gently cooked overnight; it’s then rolled into shape, slathered with butter and seared until crisp before being piped with wild garlic and oyster aiolis and dusted with truffle. It’s pure alchemy. Crab toast is crisp and light on top, dressed with the subtle sweetness of picked white crabmeat and drenched with bisque below.
Pasture has a lot riding on Parallel: it’s a huge test for the brand. This, though, is a remarkably impressive opening which feels as if it has already found a confident groove. With imminent openings from Antonio Simone and Anand George, Cardiff’s food continues to improve.
Pasture, 8-10 High Street, Cardiff.
words JONATHAN SWAIN
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