Soliciting Flavours

Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine

A sweet and sour Sunday – Sunday lunch at the Summer Palace , Llandaff, Cardiff

Well before the accursed Covid – 19 hit, the Summer Palace in Llandaff was going through the mill.

The place has been a fixture on Llandaff High Street for the 17 plus years Mrs. SF and I have lived in Llandaff (and for many years – total of 34 I believe – before that), but a court case based on objections raised by a new neighbour regarding Chinese food smells has been hanging over the business.

Whilst I don’t now the ins and outs of the case or the merits of the respective positions, it does seem odd to me to be surprise that a Chinese restaurant may lead to the occasional wafts of Chinese food next door regardless of how turbo charged the extractor units may be (without it actually sucking up the kitchen crew).

I live on a tree lined grove (which is very nice – with my new home office looking out onto it and my conclusion from a week of comings and goings from that vantage point is that cats are actually in charge and merely allow us the illusion of control), which results in the gutters getting regularly clogged up with leaves.

This is a pain in the postierer as I have a paralyzing fear of heights so getting up a ladder is a non starter and that means I have to pay someone to do it – which being a mean git always hurts. It never, however, crossed my mind to request the trees be cut down – comes with the territory as saying goes.

It was certainly gratifying to see both the local community and politicians (both local and national) rallying behind the place in its time of need.

I do hope that an amicable solution can be found and it does seem there may be just that on the horizon.

Figures crossed – and then came the accursed Covid – 19!!! This has been where the cats masked has slipped – lockdown pah us cats go out when we like and do what we like underling humans. All hail our cat overlords I say.

Anyhow, a long overdue catch up with J (who has moved into our neck of the woods – there goes the neighbourhood 😁) presented the opportunity to show the Summer Palace a bit of support.

The food

Appealing to the miser in me the Summer Palace does a fixed price Sunday lunch menu which looks to offer pretty good value and a reasonable mix of dishes. They are also more than happy for you to add a dish or two to supplement the menu should you so wish (we did)

For starters, there is a fairly basic offering of spring rolls and pork ribs in a sweet and sour sauce.

The spring rolls had a decent crisp skin (just a tad thick here) and were gratifyingly oil free.

The filling was veggie, but had a good flavour, spicing and texture to it, which meant I didn’t yearn a meat element to them.

The ribs were tender, fall off the bone numbers, with a good meat to bone ratio. Sauce was just a touch sweet for my tastes though.

We added an intermediary course in the form of crispy duck (half a duck, with 12 pancakes, for £19.95).

A perennial favourite, crispy duck is a joy when done well and a horror when not. The skin must be thin and crispy and the flesh tender. Nobody wants flabby skinned and sawdust dry duck. It also needs a good sauce and crisp veg.

Here it hit all the mark nicely.

There was a good amount to duck (lots of crispy skin, with it shredded at the table for you) and a nice sweet yet tart sauce.

If anything the 12 pancakes were not enough for the amount of duck. I am sure we could have asked for more, but in any event we were more than happy to hoover it up.

Next up were the main course dishes, with a change to one of the menu item. The beef and mix veg. dish substituted by a chicken one.

Good size portion, with lots of meat. Personally not a big fan of water chestnuts and they had luckily resisted the temptation (all to often seen in takeaways) of loading up on these as a filler.

Decent flavour to this, but I would have preferred the beef.

Chicken with ginger and pineapple was a bit pineapple heavy

and light on the ginger, but I still enjoyed it.

The best dish of the three by some margin was the pork and black bean sauce.

Tender pork, crisp veggies and a punchy salty black bean sauce made for an umami rich dish.

Egg fried rice was plentiful, cooked on the money and nicely seasoned.

The desserts were either a banana or pineapple fritter or ice cream. I forgot to take a photo am afraid, but it wasn’t really a looker in any event. Deep fried anything is generally nice and the sharpness of pineapple worked surprisingly well with batter.

On the booze front we had a quick look at the wine list. Nothing to excite am afraid.

I think a grüner veltliner or a New World riesling would have worked well with what we had, alas nothing of that ilk on the list.

We passed on the wine and had a Tingtsao beer – quite citrusy, it worked fine with the food.

The verdict

The bill, all in with booze (we were quite parsimonious on that front) and the added duck, was just over £76 (so £25 each sans a tip – service was good). Without the duck it would have been well below £20 a head

For 3 courses of perfectly nice and filling food and a beer this is pretty good value.

The Sunday lunch at the Summer Palace isn’t going to set the culinary world on fire, but it fitted the bill nicely on the day of our visit. We all left with full bellies and smiley faces.

Would I go back? Yes – something a bit different for Sunday lunch and good value.

It seems with Covid 19 they have shut up shop in toto (even the takeaway).

I certainly hope they are back and trading post Covid 19, with their legal trials well behind them.

The Details

Address: 2-4 High Street, Llandaff, Cardiff, CF5 2DZ

Tel: (029) 20564808

Website: Click here

Sunday lunch timings: 12.00 – 15.00 (last orders at 14.00).

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