Getting all fired up for Sundays – Sunday lunch at Asador 44

I am a big fan of Asador 44 and the wider group it sits within. I have written a number of posts on the place (regarding their lunch, dinner and BYO Monday offering), as well as on the Sunday lunch at its sister restaurant Bar 44 (best in Cardiff if you ask me). So here is another one 😁.

Asador 44 is all about the beef (it does some lovely other stuff, but I nearly always have the beef when I go there) and their Sunday lunch offering is no different.

Ever since I found out they had expanded out into the burgeoning Sunday lunch market in Cardiff (spoilt for choice already with the likes of Bar 44, Heaney’s, Bully’s, the Heathcock and Milkwood to name but a few) I have been itching to give it a go.

A meet up with J (who has deserted me of a lunch time, by taking a job outside of the city centre with no thought for me – I mean how could she!) to chew the (beef) fat (in reality so she could make me and Mrs. SF pig sick and green with envy at the rather fine package her new job offers) presented the perfect opportunity to give the place’s Sunday lunch a go.

J (like Mrs. SF and I) loves a good roast, despite the fact she insists that any roast worth its salt should include rehydrated Leo dried peas (the looney).

Many people seem to scoff at the joys of a good roast dinner, with some viewing it along the lines of “I can do that at home” and I have to say no restaurant has to date bested Mrs. SF’s gravy. Here the “I can do that at home” is a little tricky, with the 60 day dry aged Hereford beef rump joints seared on hot coals and then cooked slow and very low over night. Then there is the advantage of no washing up to factor into the equation.

My uncle use to cook his roast beef (always a rib) in a similar way – getting the oven to surface of the sun temp. and giving the joint a quick blast before turning the oven right down (may have even been off). I recall it being vital not to open the oven to check the beef, as this resulted in loss of the residual heat. I have never had the patience to cook my roast beef that way.

The result was always a ruby red delight, although the last time I tried it we all got so pissed before sitting down for a very late lunch I could hardly see what I was eating (I do miss him).

We had intended to meet J and her friend (A) in Curado for a pre – lunch tipple (to take advantage of the free pintxos with each glass of vermut ordered on a Sunday – such a great deal).

Regrettably Mrs. SF and I decide whilst we were in town to cancel her contract with Vodaphone.

This proved an entirely tedious affair as they tried every trick in the book to obfuscate and delay. I do find it odd that a business expects to keep your business by being bloody minded and then only when that fails offers a deal they have failed to volunteer previously.

Loyalty means bugger all and to me when this happens it is a case of too bloody late mate.

As a result of this we were running so late we went straight to Asador 44.

J and A on arriving proceeded to tell us how nice their pintxos at Curado had been 😡.

The food

Whilst the Sunday lunch offering goes beyond the roast beef dinner,

three of us only had eyes for the beef (one inexplicably went veggie – I know, I know – the remaining three of us double took and give her the arched eyebrow look!).

Before the main event and to make up from missing out on the pintxos earlier, we ordered some snacks which included (on top of the standard menu offering), a couple of specials.

Nice to see a less used cut as a special, in the form of smoked beef tongue (£4).

The rich meatiness of the tongue, with a lick (couldn’t resist) of smoke, was balanced nicely by the sharpness of raw onion and capers.

Whilst the tongue was very good, the star of the snack show were some beef and bone marrow croquetas (£5), with beef to the max (I love, love, love bone marrow, which exudes beefiness) encased in a crispy shell.

Really moreish stuff (I could have happily eaten about 20 of them) and nicely complimented by a light horseradish sauce.

The only slight disappointment with the snacks we ordered was the jamon butter with the toasted sourdough (£3).

I usually really enjoy this, but the butter was cold and hard and the coldness seem to operate to cancel the flavour of the jamon.

Shame that – I defaulted to dunking the bread in the very good olive oil.

On to the main event roast dinner (£18), the very substantial slab of beef on my plate had a really good crust, which brought smokiness into the mix. The interior was perfectly cooked for my taste, with a ruby red core and there was a nice layer of fat.

Seasoned on the money, this was beautiful tender yet with lots of flavour (all to often you see one sacrificed on the altar the other – got to always be about the flavour for me, which is why I very rarely order fillet). All in all a really good piece of beef.

On the plate, with the beef,

was a good Yorkie (nice rise without being brittle – didn’t really get the manteca element, mentioned on the menu, if am honest), three roasties (nice, but lacking that extra crunch offered by their Bar 44 brethren), a decent sized pot of rioja and bone marrow gravy (great for pouring into the Yorkie and more was provided on request – J being a gravy junkie made said request immediately) and a silky smooth cauliflower puree.

The first of the accompanying sides (shared between two) was a belter of a leek (did hear tell it could have been a calcot – is the season for them) gratin, with yielding leeks (calcot?) luxuriating in a rich mornay sauce topped with a meaty migas.

The other side was a mix of root veg. and tenderstem brocoli.

All nicely seasoned and with a good al dente texture.

The whole ensemble made for a very satisfying plate,

which I thoroughly enjoyed.

They were very accommodating as to dietary requirements, being happy to swap the beef for a veggie option (for A), in the form of a slice (no it isn’t a steak) of cauliflower.

After the mains, we all fancied another course, so out came the dessert menu.

Lots of interesting options that made making a choice tricky.

As we still had a bit of wine to drink (second bottle ordered and the veggie eater not drinking – second double take) I went for the cheese option (3 for £7).

A nice plate with lots of extras, the pick of the three cheeses was a Canarejal (from Valladolid) – a cremosa cheese so runny it comes in a pot to stop it escaping out the door.

Other desserts ordered were a lemon and polenta cake (£7), with an absolutely killer basil and lemon sorbet

and a Tarta de Santiago (£7.50).

I didn’t get a taste of the latter (both Mrs SF and J, who ordered it, guarded their plates zealously – repelling any attempted incursion by me).

They both said it was lovely, with a good almond hit to the tarta and it all being complimented very nicely by the accompanying moscatel cream and tempranillo steeped cherries.

Even though I enjoyed my cheeses, I did have a bit of food envy at this point.

The drink

On the booze front, Asador 44 has a fulsome list of almost exclusively Spanish (are a couple of non Spanish numbers, with an American Albarino and a Welsh fizz) wines.

It covers all the more well known regions (Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Priorat and Galicia) and those more off the beaten track (such as the Sierra del Gredos and the Canaries).

There is a decent by the glass/carafe offering,

including some upmarket stuff using a Corovin (if you want to push the boat out, but don’t want a full bottle).

Full bottle prices start in the mid £20s and go all the way up to £750 (for a Vega Sicilia Unico Especial – regrettable never had the pleasure of trying this iconic wine, although have tried its “little brother” the Valbueno which is sublime).

We kept it towards the lower end of the price range with a couple of bottles of an Alicante (very much an on the rise wine region in Spain) wine in the form of an Al Murvedre 2016 (£31).

This is a 100% monestrall wine from the stable of the ever reliable Telmo Rodriguez (can’t say I have ever had a wine from him that I haven’t enjoyed).

Nice gluggable number, with ripe red fruits and a touch of spice on the nose.

On the palate, it was quite meaty with leather and coffee in the mix. It worked a treat with the beef.

It retails in the UK at about the £12.50 mark, so the mark up here is not to hideous as against what it would cost in a shop in the UK.

If you are canny and prepared to go with an online retailer I have seen it as low as £4.58, but then you have to add delivery charges. Even with delivery added it comes in at £7.24 a bottle if you buy six (of the 2018), which is still a bit of a bargain.

The verdict

A very enjoyable meal, with good food, good wine and (mainly because I was there 🙄) good company.

The main event beef was a cracking bit of meat, being cooked on point and with a really good flavour.

Price wise it ain’t cheap and with add ons the bill does quickly mount up – came at a smidgen over £215 all in (with tip, automatically added – service was very good but I have never been a fan of this practice) for 4 of us, with one of us not drinking.

Still good value for the quality on offer in my opinion.

Would I go back? Absolute – the Asador 44 offering effortlessly slots in amongst my top Sunday lunches to be had in Cardiff.

As I have said in my recent post on Sunflower & I, whilst there are lots of shiny new places opening at the moment it is nice to take time to revisit (and write about) the established players in the city centre like Asador 44, Bar 44 and Curado. They are as good as ever and it was gratifying to see Asador 44 packed on the date of our visit.

Personally I still think the Bar 44 Sunday lunch shades it to stay at the very top in terms of Sunday lunches in Cardiff with their sharing platters, but Asadors 44’s offering is pretty darn good and you don’t have to share😁.

The details

Address: 14 – 15 Quay Street, Cardiff, CF10 1EA.

Tel: 02920 2002 0039

Website: Click here

Twitter: @asador44

Instagram: @asador44

Sunday lunch timings: 12.00 – 15.45