Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
I love the informal “Basque pintxos bar”, pop in for a quick glass of vino or a caña and a pintxos (or more), nature of Curado Bar (it is a place I happily visit solo for a glass of something and a bite to eat) and the fact that it stocks some superb Spanish produce (including great wines – my real passion) in the deli.
I rarely get out of there without a bottle of wine (or two) which I then need to smuggle past Mrs. SF into the wine room.
Latest purchases – some rather fine monastrell numbers from Alicante, which I am inordinately happy to have picked up – monastrell being somewhat my grape of the moment.
I am also a big fan of their ” Meet the Producer” events – real eye openers in terms of trying new stuff (with great discounts on offer on the night).
Any new offering from them is, therefore, of interest to me and I noted from their twitter feed that they now do a fixed price (£10) “Express lunch”.
With my love of both Spanish food and a bargain, this more than peeked my interest
Whilst I have blogged about the place before, in terms of their wider offering, the “Express lunch” is a new and interesting addition and worthy of a new post I thought.
The menu is short and sweet, with two options for a fixed price of a tenner (non alcoholic drink included in the price).
Nice to see hake (merluza) featuring. Very underrated fish in the UK, but one that the Spanish go absolutely mad for (Europe is by far the biggest market for hake and Spain take half of it – that equates to 6kg of hake eaten by every man, woman and child in Spain each year).
On my visit I went for the merluza con lentejas (the Spanish are not wrong in their insatiable desire for this fish, as it has a great flavour).
Big portion size, with the fish cooked just right ( the skin was nicely crisped up and the top side had a good colour to it)
The lentil stew was absolutely killer, with a deep rich sauce spiked with nuggets of both jamon serrano and chorizo. The lentils themselves were properly cooked so they had lost any chalkiness, but still retained a bit of bite (rather than being mushy). Both the fish and the lentil stew were bang on the money seasoning wise (always a danger when chorizo is added to the mix of over seasoning, but deft touch was applied here).
I thoroughly enjoyed this dish and pretty much wiped the bowl clean.
To my surprise (I had misread the menu and assumed that the hake dish would come solo) my meal came with a side of patatas bravas
Again a very decent sized portion and I loved the aïoli and, particularly, the mojo picón sauce (from the Canary Islands) that it came with for dunking.
The other option (again with patatas bravas included) on the menu on the date of my visit (a veggie stew with melted manchego and a fried egg on top) sounded equally nice – definitely try that one next time.
Word of warning for the veggies – manchego is generally made using animal rennet in the production process, so this dish is probably not strictly veggie friendly am afraid (in my experience the concept is quite alien to the Spanish, particularly the older ones – with the Mamma of my Spanish friends/second family being genuinely surprised, a few years back, that my mother as a vegetarian at the time wouldn’t eat jamon).
On the drink front, as part of the £10 deal, you get a choice of hot drinks or a non alcoholic sangria type drink,
I went for the latter, which was a decent size
and had a very nice, quite zingy, citrus kick and a pleasant spritz to it. Very refreshing I thought and good for cutting through the richness of the lentil stew.
I think that an idea might be to add (at an extra cost of course) an alcohol option – a glass of fino or amontillado or even a mencia would have worked well with the hake and jamón and chorizo packing lentil stew.
I can see people, especially on a Friday lunchtime, being very keen to take up the option of a glass of booze at an extra cost.
Very nice idea this, with the portion size for the price (hake ain’t cheap) being very generous.
Taste wise the dish I had was bang on and made for a very pleasant mid- week lunch for me.
All in all, with the drink included, I thought it was pretty good value. I was stuffed after eating it and didn’t need dinner that evening.
The express menu has only just come on stream, but I assume that the two dishes on offer will change periodically. I would say ideally this should be at least once a month or so to keep it fresh. I also think an add on alcohol number is a worthwhile option. As Curado does a fair few wines by the glass this should be simple enough.
On the express front, I was in and out in about 35 minutes so I think it meets the post title’s brief of being “Fast as well as Basque”.
Would I go back? Oh yes – I think it is a really good deal and a great addition to Cardiff’s already rather good fixed price lunch offering.
Address: 2 Guildhall Place, Cardiff; CF10
Tel: 029 2034 4336
Express lunch menu is available operates Monday to Friday – 12.00 – 15.00.