After what seems like eons of imprisonment, we are free to eat out again (albeit only outside in what has been the coldest April in 60 years – clearly a glitch in the Matrix).
With our new found freedom, however, comes the problem of getting a table anywhere. No mean feat (Nook by the River is booked up until 3029), with everyone gagging to go out after being cooped up from so long.
I have managed to book into Heaney’s big top and La Pentola, but my first foray out was to one of Cardiff’s old stagers, in the form of the Potted Pig. This coincided with a day back in the office, with working in the office and eating out (with the band/team back together) providing a rather pleasant double whammy of normality. Very odd in terms of actual getting back into the office have to say, with the processes required making it akin to breaking back into a prison having freed myself from my home incarceration
The Potted Pig currently operates (until indoor opening is allowed – on the basis of the current plummeting numbers no reason that can’t be imminent, but who knows in these “you might get hit by a stray cow riding a meteor” days) a walk ins only (well “walk ups” as you can’t go inside yet) policy and this flexibility suited me (and 5 others in the team) for the day in question.
Simply being able again to eat with friends, chewing the fat, was such a welcome treat after so long. We humans are social animals and being locked up for months on end is such an unnatural state of affairs (even for an anti – social git like me) After such a long period of me being forced to be even more anti social than usual, the food was almost secondary to the joy of being out. This is, however, a food and drink (and whinge) blog so best tell you about those aspects!
The menu is currently limited to a shortish list of interesting sounding bar snacks.
Ordering in all done on line via a QR code link
and is nice and easy, even for a technophobe like me.
We weren’t looking for a full blown meal so the small plates nature of the dishes suited us just fine.
After much indecision I decided to go for the crispy lamb dish, whilst others opted for the scotch egg or the smoked salmon. These were supplemented by bread and a couple of ramakins of mixed olives.
My lamb dish (£8) was (at least to me) the star of the show, with three decent sized cubes of crisp crumbed lamb sat in a caper and gherkin rich emulsion (billed as a salad cream).
The only slightly off thing was the crispy parsley, which didn’t taste of such and of which there also wasn’t very much. This was, to me, an unnecessary bit of frippery.
The lamb had been slow cooked down to a lovely tenderness and had an intensity and richness of flavour that I would normally associate with mutton. The caper and gherkin sauce had a pleasing tanginess to it, which acted as a nice counterpoint to the lamb. The crispy coating provided for a nice textural contrast to the “cut with a spoon” tender lamb in the interior.
Other dishes were also a success, with the scotch egg (£7.50)
very much ticking the “runny in the middle” box.
I didn’t get to taste the egg itself (my friend Rachel zealously guarded her’s as against any forked foray on my part) or the bloody mary ketchup it sat atop, but it went down very well with those who ordered it
The beeswax salmon dish (£7.50), hot rather than cold smoked, was a pretty if rather dainty dish.
Nicely smoked bit of fish, by all accounts, with an interesting sounding salt and vinegar tapeoca crisp. Not entirely sure where the beeswax came in to the equation to be honest.
Both the bread (£3,50)
and olives (also £3.50)
beefed up things, with the marmite-esque homemade spread one of the better (or is that butter) examples of its ilk I have come across. It sat very much in the goldilock zone of having a nicely subtle, but not too subtle, flavour too it. It could have been a tad softer if I was being ultra picky.
On the drinks front, they have a good selection of both alcoholic and non alcohololic drinks, with a clear focus on gin
This first time eating out felt like a celebratory event and as such a spot of booze was in order. Oddly I couldn’t see from the QR code any wine by the glass, so I when for a beer.
My choice was a Keller Pils (£4.50, I think), which was a nice crisp lager style beer with a touch of breadiness and a decent amount of hoppiness. Very refreshing and eminently gluggable stuff.
First sip was very much an “Ice Cold in Alex” moment.
Others went for the aperol spitz,
a drink I have actually never tried. They seemed to like it (£8 apparently- no idea if that is par or not?)
God it was so good to be able to eat and drink out again. I have missed the simple pleasure of eating and drinking out with company so much.
The bar terrace menu is currently the only option (until the shackles are further loosened – hopefully not too long, subject to the Uranus variant not emerging – Chinese style anal swap tests to the ready) and it was a rather nice way to while away an hour or so catching up with people I hadn’t seen for ages.
This is not full blown dining so don’t expect to have your 3 course dinner equivalent here, but rather expect good pretty high end snacks to be washed down with some decent booze.
Front of house were lovely and seemed genuinely overjoyed to see us (a somewhat novel experiance for me). The Covid protocols were robust, but you didn’t feel like you were being subject to Stasi style oversight.
It ain’t cheap, but freedom comes at a price and I for one am more than happy to pay it.
Address: 27 High Street,Cardiff, CF10 1PU
Website site: http://www.thepottedpig.com/
Walk ins (outs?!) for outside area only, until inside dining is allowed.