From Russia with love – Heat up at home by the Heathcock, Llandaff, Cardiff.

With lockdown seemingly never ending (and dire warnings of the apocalypse, if even half a pint is drunk in a pub or a chip served in a restaurant), the heat up at home options continue to proliferate.

I think I prefer these to your standard takeaways, as there is no risk of them going cold between pick up and plate and they make me feel a little bit more virtuous. Shoving stuff in the oven to finish it off (even if 99% of the hard work has already been done) at least gives some credence to my offer of “I’ll cook dinner tonight”.

This brings me to the Heathcock (God I miss that place so much), which following an offering of their splendid pies to pick up from the pub,now has more expansive stuff available to (h)eat at home.

This more expansive menu includes their much loved rabbit papadelle (probably the place’s signature dish – it is an absolute corker)

and in the week in question, what really piqued my interest, chicken kiev.

I love a chicken kiev, but it is rare to come across a good one and it is a right faff to make yourself (well for someone like me it is).

The best chicken kiev I have ever had was in a Russian restaurant in Budapest (many moon ago when we were allowed to do outrageous things like leave the Country and eat in restaurants) called Arany Kavier.

An interesting fact (at least to me) is chicken kiev was not invented in either Kiev or indeed the Ukraine, but rather by a chef (allegedly the great Carême himself when he worked in the Court of Alexander the first, but that is disputed) in St. Petersburg (hence the “From Russian with…..” post title) where it wasn’t called a kiev at all. The kiev was, it seems, a name thought up to get sales going in Russian restaurants in the US and Europe.

Anyhow, I digress. Seeing a chicken kiev on the revised “heat at home” offering at the Heathcock,  I immediately put in an order for two (at £13 a pop, with two sides).

Pick up is from the pub itself (no home delivery) and with it being of the heat up at home genre there were no worries as to getting it back still hot.

It was all nicely packed up, with easy to follow instructions.Opening up the kiev container, it revealed a huge supreme of chicken, with a fulsome breadcrumb coating.In the oven for the requisite time, it developed a nice golden shell,with mimimal garlic butter leakage.

Opening it up it was nice to see that there wasn’t a Wookey Hole sized internal cavityand a satifying spurt of  garlicy (wild) butter. Just what you want from a kiev.

The crumb was beautifully crisp, the chicken full of flavour that only comes from a well treated bird and the garlic butter punchy, but not too aggressively so.

The kiev came with some stacked potatoes/pomme anna and a caesar saladThe potatoes had a crisp side and were very nicely cooked, with a yielding buttery interior, but could perhaps have been crisper on the top.

Not sure if I misread the instructions, but I kept the potatoes in the foil container (lid off) they came in and maybe that was why there were not quite as crisp as their inhouse version?

The caesar salad was a great example of how good that dish can be. Lovely crisp leaves, plentiful, tangy, caesar dressing and salty shavings of parmesan. Perfect with the kiev and pomme anna.

The booze

On the booze front, the usual go to with a kiev is a chardonnay. Something crisp, rather than buttery and oaky to counter the richness of the butter. This means  generally, a chablis or a macon.

 I was, however, in the mood for something a bit different and had left overs from a rather fine Curado/Ultracomida tasting of the wines of Fil – loxera & Cia (a very classy gargista producer from the Valencia DO – if you see their wines, available at Curado/ Ultracomida, just buy them is my advice as they are brilliant).,The “Berberas de la copa de tu hermanas” (a blend of macabeo, malvasia and monastrell – the latter a red grape – £15.95 at Curado/Ultracomida)

went rather well with the kiev, with its notes of white flowers, herbaciousness, white pepper, orchard and stone fruit. An unothodox pairing, perhaps, but I thought the element of tartness here worked well with the kiev.

The verdict

I really enjoyed my meal from the Heathcock – easy to cook and excellent on the quality and quantity front. At £13 a head it is more pricey than your supermarket meal deals, but you pays your money and takes your choice. To me this is in a different league and thus the price is more than justified.

They seem to be mixing up the menus a bit, so last week’s menu had a rather nice sounding duck leg dish in place of the kiev, as well as an enticing hake dish (with langoustine sauce – phwoar).

Whatever next weekend’s menu brings, hopefully there will be a rabbit pappadelle with my name on it.

Would I order again? Absolutely – although it just makes me miss going up to the Heathcock even more with this heat at home offering showing deftly what we are missing with lockdowns ad infinitum.

Let’s hope, with Covid numbers plummeting on all counts, that the restrictions on hospitality will be loosened sooner rather than later. I, however,  fear the precautionary principle now appears to hold sway with our “overlords” here in Wales, which means there could always (on that basis) be a reason not to loosen the shackles – we are all it seems subject to the “restrain (the masses)” strain (which is seemingly very resistent to reason – although the WIRC are trying their best).

Who would bet against any opening up of hospitality (inside in particular) being subject to unworkable limitations – like no booze and closing at 6pm again and us all sat in our own hermetically sealed spheres, but I suppose we shall see. A plan, any plan, as to when and on what basis hospitality can reopen, is surely not too much for that beleaguered sector to ask and indeed expect, isn’t it?

It still amazes (and frankly depresses) me that my last meal out was at the beginning of December at Thomas by Tom Simmons and that it has now been a year with restrictions (of some sort or other) on eating and drinking. I am on full pay and can easily work from home, so have it easy compared to most.  I dread to think how bad it must be for those whose livelihoods are dependent on the sector with no real idea as to when and on what basis they can reopen or even plan for it!

The details

Order online (for pick up for Fridays and Saturdays) at (click on the ” Go to the Shop” button) :


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