The latest arrival on Cardiff’s increasingly competitive burger scene promises fast food style fare for the Five Guys crowd – but how does Smokin’ Griddle stack up against established heavy hitters like Hoof and the nearby Ansh?
Initially, not all that well. First of all, there’s the fact that orders are taken via QR code rather than by serving staff. COVID’s to blame for the absence of physical menus, apparently – and yet we’re handed two copies on arrival. Go figure. Then there are website quirks that would confuse anyone, let alone a couple of technophobic and frustratedly ravenous fuddy-duddies. The kids’ meal, for instance, is in a different place on the site than it is on the menu. There’s also no option to select a chocolate milkshake. Just ask for vanilla and they’ll know what to do, we’re told. As if it’s under-the-counter special stuff served with a knowing wink. Less Smokin’ Griddle and more Smoking Riddle.
And then there’s my Spicy burger. A scattering of jalapenos deliver a tickle of heat, but the patty is neither especially thick nor especially juicy – and it’s sufficiently smashed for half of it to fall out on the first bite. At £9, it feels more than a little overpriced. Much better is the SFC & BBQ Pork “alternative burger,” a lip-smacking combo of Southern fried chicken strips, BBQ pulled pork and cheese that, for £2.50 less, represents significantly better value for money.
The mac & cheese – authentically glow-in-the-dark orange – might not be up to Kapow Ribs’ standard, but then in fairness very little is, and the spice-seasoned fries work well with a tub of peri mayo. (Others have reported a surfeit of chips, but we make relatively short work of them. Make of that what you will.) The aforementioned chocolate milkshake, meanwhile, has the delightfully gloopy consistency of quicksand. An accidental spillage spreads slowly across the tabletop like lava. As mindbogglingly calorific as it must be, you probably burn off even more energy trying to suck it through a straw.
As all of this might imply, comparisons with somewhere like Ansh are actually a bit wide of the mark. This is more middle-class McDonald’s, right down to the unnecessary amount of cardboard and paper waste each meal generates. But Smokin’ Griddle has its own merits – not least a cheerful and welcoming front-of-house crew, generous opening hours and a home delivery service – and, if they could iron out the ordering oddities and revisit some of the price points, it’d be a more appetising prospect.
86 Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff. 029 2063 9251 / www.smokingriddle.co.uk
words and photos BEN WOOLHEAD
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