I think it is fair to say that I have been accused (probably with some justification – as J and Mrs. SF are probably at this point simultaneously shouting “Get to the bloody point“) of waffling a bit on this blog. It is just the way I think (very scattergun and random) and thus for better or for worse I am stuck with it, but in this case my tendency to waffle does bring me rather neatly and surprisingly swiftly to the new waffle based brunch menu at one of the stalwart of the Cardiff burger scene in the form of the Grazing Shed. Don’t worry, I shall now go off on my standard tangent (skip to the next pic or indeed to the end if you are easily bored) 😁.
I have said before and I will say it again, I don’t really get the concept of brunch. To me it is just either a late breakfast (we had the all day breakfast way before brunch became a thing) or, yes, just plain old lunch. Why it needs a specific name is beyond me, bar from marketing (a long lunch becoming a bottomless brunch is not perhaps that good a thing) but it is seemingly beloved of the “avo with everything/support your Mexican drug cartel” set and waffles are an integral part of the (US) brunch culture (along with perhaps yoghurt? 😉).
Still think one of my best blog gags (the bar is extraordinarily low), at the expense of brunch, was my view that the meal on Christmas Day between breakfast and dinner (aka Christmas lunch) should forever more be referred to as Yule Brinner (and for that pun I would definitely award myself a Magnificent Seven).
Despite my aversion to the word brunch, I notice whilst walking passed the Grazing Shed’s Barrack Lane site here in Cardiff that they are now offering waffles as part of their menu, under the guise of brunch (with the menu on offer from 10.00 – 14.00 on Weekdays and 10.00 -12.00 at the weekend). Not entirely sure why the hours are shorter at the weekend as isn’t it those days when those that brunch mainly come out to play?
Handily placed along my route between M&S and work, I thought I would give it a go for lunch (it was lunch time so it was lunch not brunch) as an alternative to the standard Grazing Shed burger offering.
Thinking about it, I have not had one of their burgers for eons, with the last one prior to me walking out of the cinema in disgust and utter despair at Leia’s Superman impression – god it was dire prior to that, truly a franchise killer, but that just put the tin hat on it – in “The Last Jedi” or as I like to call it “Shaft the Jedi”.
Cheers Rian Johnson for pretty much completing the demolition job on a beloved treasure from my childhood, you utter Jar Jar Binks. That was me done with Star Wars and I didn’t go to see the Rise of Skywalker/Mary Sue at the cinema (it was predicably crap when I got around to being bothered to watch it on TV). The philistines are now busy ruining Star Trek, particularly with the absolute garbage shows that are Picard and Discovery (It’s dead, Jim).
Back to the waffles (rather than me waffling), the menu “on paper” looked quite promising. Maple syrup on a waffle is seen by our American cousins as a match made in “breakfast” heaven and adding bacon to pretty much anything is generally a good idea.
Oddly no space on the ad board for a picture of the chicken and maple waffle, which I suspected (at the time at least), would likely be a big seller and the one I was initially drawn to.
If I am honest the faff of ordering put me in a bad mood. Good food usually however asuages my darker “tech induced” moments of despair, so I hoped for waffle salvation to lift the spirits.
The ordering system for the waffles is only online, not sure why this is the case for this but not the burgers, and for a technophobe like me it proved to be quite challenging. For some reason it insisted I logged in (even as a guest) via Facebook and put in my password. As I use Facebook pretty infrequently (for the blog and that is it – not sure why I bother with even that) I had no idea what my password could be so was initially rather stumped. I eventually got around the impass by using the blog’s email address – no idea why that worked but my main email didn’t.
Most technology is a mystery to me and I rather long for the simpler (slate and chalk – I jest, but it wasn’t that far off when I was in school) days of my youth before the advent of social media (a pox on the world and an utter cesspit – part of me hopes Mr. Musk is mad enough to simply delete Twitter for his $44 Billion) and even emails.
Chicken and waffle (£7 here) is a classic soul food item for very good reason, with the combination of sweet, salt and heat and pleasing textural contrasts. On this basis I reasoned that would be a wise choice, notwithstanding the lack of a pictoral reference. I added an egg (£1.15) for good measure, not sure why really, but always think cooking an egg is a good test of a kitchen’s mettle. I can do a pretty decent fried egg, with a filigeree edge, cooked white and the all important runny yolk and if I can do it then anyone can.
What arrived was a bit disappointing, as the expected crispy fried chicken turned out to be nothing of the sort. It actually looked a bit like liver. That I would have been fine with and would have been a ballsy move Could well have loved a bit of offal with my waffle.
To added insult to my chicken injury, my egg was lacking a properly runny, dippy egg, core. I would say it was about 30 seconds to a minute over the ideal cook point. It also appeared to lack any seasoning bar maple syrup.
Turning back to the chicken, with a waffle and lashings of maple syrup what you need is something to act as a counterpoint to all the sweetness (and there bitter old me was). Heat or spice or saltiness or ideally all three is needed to stop it all getting too sickly sweet. So well seasoned (brined) chicken with a crisp, spiced, coating, spice in the syrup and hot sauce to add would be my ideal.
Here what I got was unseasoned, uncoated, chicken mini fillets.
Whilst these were quite tender they literally had no seasoning on them at all. As a result all I got was the maple. I know you often hear people say things taste a bit like chicken, well this tasted nothing like chicken. Actually it tasted like nothing, being devoid of flavour. It is actually quite a weird experience to taste something that lacks any discernible flavour, with my brain sort of rebelling against it and desperately trying to fine something, anything, to latch on to to establish what it was in my gob. I mean even tap water tastes of something.
The waffle itself was quite nice, with a slightly crisp exterior and a soft pillowy interior.
On its own with the maple it was fine, if too sweet for my tastes, but the chicken should have brought an extra dimension (both texturally and in terms of the flavour profile) and to me it added precisely nothing to the equation bar from £3.
Another gripe related to the cutlery supplied.
This was very flimsy white plastic, which buckled and bent at what should have been the easy task of cutting through and lifting the waffle, egg and chicken to the gob. When the cutlery struggles with a fried egg you know it is not fit for purpose.
I am not an eco warrior by any stretch, but even I think this type of single use plastic should really be consigned to yesteryear. Give me a proper reuseable knife and fork please.
All rather disappointing if truth be told and a wasted opportunity to bring a good chicken and waffle ensemble to the city centre (in the burbs Milkwood’s chicken and waffle really puts this effort to shame).
Thinking I may have chosen unwisely and hoping the first visit was an aberration, a second visit saw me order the bacon, egg and cheese waffle. In theory, this is a simple dish if you nail the waffle (which was the nice element of an otherwise very forgettable chicken ensemble) and the underlying ingredients are good. I mean get the egg yolk runny and the white set and ensure the bacon is crisp but not nuked, and Bob’s your uncle (or possibly your Auntie).
Whilst the egg looked more promising, alas this didn’t really deliver. The bacon was rather flabby and very salty (even for a salt fiend like me)
and the egg just the wrong side of coagulation for me.
The cheese was full on plastic, which I actually don’t mind (being one of my guilty pleasures and an essential element of any cheeseburger/Juicy Lucy I make), but by the end it had started to coalesce and it all got a bit claggy with the waffle.
Oddly my concern regarding the overly sweet and underseasoned chicken waffle was replaced here by a concern as to my yearly salt intake.
On the plus side ordering was certainly a lot easier, so the issues I had previously were cleary related to the need for initial set up.
I really think the Grazing Shed have missed a trick here. I think a good chicken and waffle/wider waffle based offering could be a real seller in the city centre if done properly, but what we seem to have here is a rather half hearted affair that is off the mark by some distance. Either dump the chicken or at least do something interesting with it. Here it had the odd effect of just sucking the life out of the dish.
The bacon, egg and cheese number was better, but with such simple ingredients you really have to nail the cooking of an egg and a couple of bacon rashers.
Really not sure who the audience for this brunch offering is, if am honest. Don’t think it will appeal that much to the Instagrammers and it certainly ain’t me I am afraid.
Makes a change from ordering a burger I suppose, but for me that really isn’t enough.
You could argue that this new waffle menu got me through the door of the place when I haven’t been in for years, but to me it is a missed opportunity.
If done well and with a bit of imagination it could have been really good. Alas it was neither, which is a shame.
What I got when I asked for milk with my coffee (passable – £2 if order with a waffle), on my second visit, rather summed it all up I thought.
Address: 1 Barrack Lane, Cardiff CF10 2FR