My porky par(h)amour at the parador – breakfast at Parador 44, Cardiff City centre.

Continuing with the breakfast theme from last week, the opening of Parador 44 (as did the rooms at the Heathcock) made me rather wish I didn’t live in Cardiff, as then I could legitimately go and stay in both.

It is, therefore, rather nice that I can indulge in at least an element of the Parador 44 offering in the form of breakfast, which is now open to non residents.

Now open 7 days a week.

I love a good breakfast and the menu certainly looked rather enticing.

Spanish classics abound, as well as a sort of fusion fry up. The latter is perhaps somewhat atypical of a Spanish breakfast, with in my experience the Spaniards not going that big on breakie.

I do recall (many, many moons ago) being sent out from the pub (el Molino in Velez de Benaudalla – sadly no longer there, the pub not the village, I believe), with my friend Inma, to the local bakery to get straight out of the oven bread (one infused with lumps of fried pork fat and one sugary – guess which I favoured) at about 05:00 to soak up the booze from a long gintonica fueled night (we seemed to rarely go out before 00.00 and usually got back around 08.00/09.00 after which I would surfaced at about 13.00 generally for a beer – those were the days), but I am not sure if that counts as breakfast. 

My benchmark Spanish breakfast was at the rather fine Echaurren in the mountain (Sierra de la Demanda) village of Eszcary in La Rioja. Our visit there coinciding with a wildly unPC – great fun – fiesta, which seems to entail people in giant head costumes scaring the bejesus out of kids and accosting adults – mostly young pretty woman as far as I could tell- with a sort of Ken Dodd tickle stick (as well as the usual food and drinks).

After a fabulous 16 course meal at (now 2 starred, 1 back then) El Portal (which we finished at well gone 01.00 – the Spanish eat ridiculously late) we had to jemmy in breakfast (part of the paid for package so I was having it) before a 15.00 lunch booking (another 8, very robustly portioned, courses – all part of the deal). I seriously doubted I could even get a sliver of pan con tomate past my lips, but on seeing a groaning table chock a block full of cured meats, cheese, fresh fruit etc. I loaded up my plate to the max. and got stuck in (feeling I could probably walk it off prior to lunch – Ezcary is set in a very montainous area, with the ski resort Valdezcary just up the road, such that we wandered out for a hike and found ourself at a height nigh on that of Ben Nevis and it would have got a lot higher had we carried on, but lunch called).

Anyway back to Parador 44,  I was certainly sorely tempted by the continental breakfast table

which looked rather perfectly formed

The gig here is you can go up as many times as you like and the ingredient are top notch (all the meats iberico, for instance). For a tenner this is an absolute steal.

When in Asador 44 (serving as the breakfast venue for Parador 44) it does, however, seems to me to be slightly criminal not to avail yourself of anything off of their mighty grill. Bit like going to Bresse and passing on the chicken.

I do love a full breakfast and the Full Parador is certainly a meat feast.

Two things really swung it for me in favour of the Full Parador (£15). Firstly, the recent addition of overnight cooked bacon (a firm favourite of mine at Ground in Pontcanna) and secondly the fact that Mrs. SF was treating me for services rendered (no, not that – it was for helping with doggie guests).

What arrived was rather love at first sight

with smoked morcilla (a Spanish blood sausage), a chorizo sausage, a Welsh pork banger, a hefty slab of very thick cut bacon, potato, egg, tomato and mushroom

The disassembled morcilla had a lovely smokey hit to it and the duo of sausage brought contrasting porky flavours. One full on porcine, the other with that oh so Spanish hit of paprika

The bacon was irresitably gorgeous – a true porky paramour.  The sort of thing you would want to wake up to every morning. 

Spoon tender, with a lovely ratio of full-on flavoured fat and lean and a nice bit of caramelisation from the grill. This is the beautification of bacon.

The other standout was the “hash brown”.

To me this is the daddy of hash browns. I don’t know how they make these, but the shell was sublimely crisp and gave a delightful crunch when pieced. It opened up to a beautifully fluffy interior, with the topping of burnt onion ketchup tempering the richness of the olive oil the tater was fried in.

This is what all good potatoes should aspire to be.

Outside the meat and tater elements, the egg have a good filigree and a pleasingly runny core. I do, however, accord with the Plate Licked Clean’s view that another egg would have been nice.

The field mushroom came with a good hit of garlic, with the only slight disappointment being a lack of char on the tomato.

I added some piquillo pepper ketchup (gratis) to the proceedings.

Lovely fruity piquancy to this, which was dynamite with the bacon.

On top of this, you can have a nice piece of toasted sourdough and quality butter (based on bill it was included in the £15 price tag).

Mrs. SF is a sucker for salmon and thus was drawn to the Asador cured salmon and scrambled eggs on toast (£11).

Thick cut, cured (rather than smoked) salmon royal fillet, this was quality gear according to Mrs. SF and from the taste I had I could but not agree. Good scrambled egg (cooked on point) too and a nice bit of toasted sourdough make for a high class dish.

On the drinks front, there are some interesting options

I particularly like the sound of Bloody Mary with amontillado and PX vinegar, but I had work to do later that day (pro of consultancy – you can be very flexible re when you work, con – you are in effect on call all the time and you get paid zip for a day off) so coffee it was.

Found it slightly odd that that Spanish coffee classic, the cortado, was conspicuous by it’s absense from the menu (suspect one would have been forthcoming if I had asked), so we both defaulted to a flat white.

Very nice coffee this and thankfully suitably hot (something that is not the absolute given it should be). At £3.25 my only quibble is I would have liked it to have been a tad bigger.

The verdict

So let’s get the obvious out of the way first, in the form of the price.

Yes there is no denying that £15 is a lot for breakfast (even a full on fry up) and £42.90 is a fair whack these days for the first meal of the day for two (and I will never warm to the automatically applied service charge).

Here’s the thing though, if I had a non-breakfast meal full of the sort of top quality ingredients used here I (personally) wouldn’t bat a eyelid at the price.

The Asador 44 fixe price lunch menu is £13 for one course (a bargain)

and I would argue you may actually get more bang(er) for you buck with the Full Parador.

I think price wise it compares favourably with the Full Ground (£13) at Ground in Pontcanna, with more meat justifying the Parador’s additional couple of quid.

These two are my standout breakfasts in Cardiff to date (I have yet to try Milkwood’s very highly rated offering).

In these day of being told “we are all going to die” by H&S “nudge units” (we all will eventually – it is the surest of sure things) and that if we would only eat mungs beans and bugs and bin anything that brings even an iota of pleasure we would literally extend our lives by minutes (other than the very real risk of simply dying of boredom and despair). Rather eat the Full Parador and take the risk if I am honest.

If I was still in the corporate world, working in the city centre, I would be thinking of this as an ideal venue for a team breakfast. Actually as a team of one and my own boss now, I am still up for that! I could even butter up my boss (me) by paying😂.

If you are staying at Parador 44, which looks absolutely lovely, the deal is breakie is included and you get to gorge on the continental table, have the cooked breakie and get limitless tea and coffee (if my earwigging, of the table behind us, served me well). Quite tempted to book a night, even though I live in Cardiff, on that basis!!

The details

Address: 14 Quay Street, Cardiff, CF10 1EA

Website: https://grupo44.co.uk/parador44/

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