I am a big fan of Tom Simmons, with many a good meal having been had at his restaurant in Pontcanna (one of my go to places in Cardiff to eat out, if I am feeling a bit flush).
His bakery/cafe (named Ground, but for some reason my dyspraxic brain always reads it as Grounded) is also a place I often visit between dog walks and trips to Pontcanna’s farmer’s market on the weekends.
These visits have been restricted to picking up bread and pastries to take home, as we generally have multiple dogs in tow.
Whilst the place is very dog friendly, more than two is a bit too much to handle in an indoor environment and it is a long thin, rather than expansive, space.
As such not really fair on other diners to bring in multiple dogs, so we have had to pass on eating in.
A recent weekend fortuitiously had us down (for the Saturday afternoon) to just our dog, Oscar, so we took a punt on getting a seat (you can’t book) and our luck was in.
The menu (in this case a late lunch – they are open until 15.00) contained a short but rather compelling offering, with stuff loaded on bread (it is a bakery after all) the clear focus.
As I wasn’t paying, Mrs. SF was treating me, I was immediately drawn to the Fully Ground (£13 – personally think “The Ground Works” works better as a name, but I love a pun title – the more tortured the better), with the allure of the intriguingly titled “overnight bacon” and house beans (rather than the bog standard, overly sweet, Heinz/HP et al ones).
What arrived was a rather fine looking and substantial all day breakfast plate.
Beans and mushrooms cascaded off slabbed peaks of overnight bacon and boulderesque poached eggs, with timbered sausages scattered on the slopes and it all sat on a bedrock of sourdough toast or as I like to call it “a decent portion”.
The overnight bacon was the star of the show, with a beautifully crisp caramelised exterior,
giving way to a soft, yielding, interior.
As the post title suggests this overnight (assume a very low and slow cooking method and then a blast on the flat top to get the crust) bacon was pretty sensational. Sweet, salty and full on fatty, it exuded old school bacon charm (none of your white goo exuding watery shxte here).
It was an absolute joy to eat and I may never look at your standard bacon slice in the same way ever again and I love a bit of sliced bacon.
The poached eggs were cooked on point
with a golden oozing yolk melding nicely with the copious, buttery, herb flecked, mushrooms and rather fine house beans.
Good texture and favour to these beans, which thankfully were lacking the gloopy sweetness of Heinz (it is fair to say I tolerate rather than actively like standard baked beans and often feel they are superfluous to requirements in terms of a full breakfast plate).
The benefit of the beans’ here lacking liquid sloppiness was they happily sat on the plate without rudely ingratiating themselves with all their neighbours. Heinz style beans need a bean barrier to stop encroachment, but no such dam was required here. With a lack of liquidity in beans, there is always the risk of straying into the forbidden zone of clagginess. No danger of encroachment into that territory here thankfully.
The sausages, chipolata x 2, were nice enough with a good porkiness but I would say they were the weakest link (I am here all week and available for weddings, bar mitzvahs etc) in terms of this plate. Personally I prefer a bigger, more robust, banger and these tiddlers definately played a supporting role to the star of the show bacon (whereas I think a banger on a breakfast plate should get equal billing with the bacon).
The final element was a nice slice of heavily buttered sourdough, which managed to retain structural integrity to the last.
Really enjoyed this all day breakfast,
as the clean plate (Mrs. SF’s presence prohibited the finger being deployed to mop up the residuals and I had exhausted the sourdough supply) testified.
Mrs. SF had smoked salmon and scrambled egg on sesame rye bread (£13).
She is very particular about her smoked salmon and this H. Foreman number (classic London cure – quite apt if you know me) certainly passed her quality test.
I make my own smoked salmon and without blowing my own trumpet it is pretty good (standing up well as against the artisan one bought by my Mum at Christmas this year). When I asked Mrs. SF if my homemade version was better, she diplomatically said there were both nice but different (which I suspect is code for no). I had a taste and prefer my home made effort (with its more expansive cure, using juniper and allspice berries, as well as cloves, in my mix on top of the salt and sugar), but I am rather bias.
The scrambled eggs were also on point (nothing worse that overcooked scrambled eggs – over by a second and it goes in the bin in our household) having been cooked just past the point of too runny, with an appropriate quantity of pepper (a good quantity of cracked black pepper is a must for scrambled eggs).
On the drinks front, the focus is on coffee,
but I thought something with a bit of acidity would be a good foil for the rich breakie (particularly the fatty, in a very good way, bacon) I was having.
On this basis, I went for the raw cold-pressed orange juice (£2.50).
Really liked this, with a good mix of sweet and sharp that worked a treat with my breakfast plate. If it hadn’t come to the table in a bottle, I would have sworn blind that it was freshly squeezed on the premise.
Mrs. SF had a flat white (£3.00),
which she started drinking before I snapped it (one of the myriad of things I do that annoys Mrs. SF immensely, which includes breathing and existing, is photo taking when we eat out), which she said was very nice.
Really enjoyed the food here, with the overnight bacon being a game changer. Absolutely sensational stuff.
I rather like the fact that the providence of the ingredients (generally local) is clearly displayed on the menu.
Personally think all menus should have this detail, as I like to know the provenance of stuff I eat. Avo on toast may leave a bitter taste if it comes courtesy of El Mencho.
Would I go back? Absolutely. Regular visitor to the take out bakery
and the stuff is top notch.
In terms of eat in, this place quite possibly (in my very subjective view – am sure many will have wildly diverging views) serves up the best all day breakfast in Cardiff.
The perfect place to cure the hangover, brought on by relief at sneaking a win (England – all a bit squeaky-bum time at the end) or drowning of sorrows (Wales) this weekend (two mediocre teams fighting over the scraps that fell from the table after the sumptuous French banquet that preceeded the game I am afraid – god help both when they play the French in the coming weeks, Welsh lambs and Rostbif to the slaughter I fear).
Address: 15 Pontcanna Street, Pontcanna, Cardiff, CF11 9HQ.
No bookings, just walk ins.
It is dog friendly, so gets 🐾 🐾 from Oscar.
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