Post the festive season, the first not quite full week back in work was a little quiet and as such a spot of lunch seemed appropriate on the Friday (with nothing on that couldn’t wait). The initial plan was to try (again, having been stymied in my efforts before Christmas) Fowl and Fury in Cathays, but they were only open in the evening on the day in question (lot of places seemed to be giving their kitchen crews a well-deserved rest, post Christmas and New Year). That plan out of the window, J and I (not fancying Town) decided on Wings of Glory (having briefly contemplated the Athenian Tree in Canton).
For Cardiff readers only, J for some reason insisted on parking in Sophia Garden despite my protestations that parking on Fitzhamon Embankment was a much better (closer) option. Brushing aside my mainly weather related concerns, with a “There’ll be no spaces and enjoy the walk you lazy sod“, I took some pleasure in 1) it not bloody raining (the one one hour slot it didn’t in the surrounding 4 weeks it wasn’t – ark is only half build); and 2) pointing out the myriad of empty spaces as we walked down Fitzhamon Embankment. J rather impolitely told me to f off when I pointed out the 52nd free space.
Back to the actual topic at hand, I can’t say I have ever come across a restaurant serving Columbian food in my somewhat sheltered life.
A product beginning with a “c” is more synonymous in my mind with Columbia (coffee people, coffee) and I know little about its food culture.
As such Gourmet Gorro’s post relating to the place piqued my interest, with it’s seemingly rather eclectic menu of wings burgers and ribs (nice, but standard), Spanish (love it, but standard), Mexican (again love it) and Columbian (ooh now you have me interested).
Sat just off the finally finished (I mean what were the Council doing there, building the Environment Health Death Star?!) Tudor Street (I mourn the loss of Wokker Shaker, which seems to have become a somewhat generic Asian affair) it has a rather unassuming frontage.
Inside it is tardis like, belying the exterior impression.
It was disconcertingly quiet on our Friday lunchtime visit. A mix of the train strike and the WFT on a Monday and Friday office culture I fear, which must be a killer combo (in a very bad way) for hospitality.
Whilst we perused the rather expansive menu, a gratis (and thus very welcome) bowl of tortilla chips and a zingy salsa was brought to the table.
Really enjoyed these (and would have happily paid for them), whilst we both perused the menu.
J was more enamored with the Mexican part of the menu, whereas I was curious as to the Columbian section.
Whilst the Spanish
and wings sections
looked interesting we passed on these elements, being a bit too familiar, and compromised with one Mexican and one Columbian dish.
First up were the carnitas tacos (£7.99).
Nice soft corn tortillas, with plentiful pork and fragrant herbs. My issue with the pork was it lacked seasoning. Immersion of the ensemble in the accompanying tomato salsa (could have had a bit more chilli heat to it) partially abated the lack of seasoning, as did raw onion, but not enough for me to really enjoy this dish. J was more enamoured with this dish than me, but agreed it lacked seasoning.
The Columbian dish, a picada (£16.99), was a bit weird if I am honest.
I don’t have any experience of Columbian food, so don’t know if this plate is what a picada should be. Regardless, to me, it had a few issues.
Whilst there was a generosity in terms of quantity on the plate, this did not extent to the seasoning. None whatsoever on the veg (tomatoes and avocado of which, unusually for me, I wanted more) and there was a paucity of it on the fried plantains, arepas and chicken wings. Not sure why there was such a preponderance of sausage (not mentioned on the dish’s description on the menu and in effect bog standard frankfurters cut up like it was for a children’s party – J and I can be incredibly childish, but …) and these, along with the sliced chorizo, were the opposite of the other elements in being overly salty. I had hoped they would all balance out, but the effect was pretty savage salinity from the franks and chorizo and a touch of blandness from everything.
The good points were the crispiness of the chicken wings, arepas, fried plantains (all of which would have been great if they had been more generously seasoned) and the fried pork (good crunch to it, without being dry).
What it desperately needed (at least for my taste buds) was a punchy sauce/salsa. The creamy garlic dip it came with was not up to the task (way too rich, when acidity was sorely needed), so we resorted to what was left over from the tortilla chips and the taco salsa, but there wasn’t enough of either to have the desired effect.
My overall impression of this dish was it was just stuff thrown on a plate,with none of them really working together to make an integrated dish (maybe that is the idea of the dish i.e. to be served to a large group with each picking their favourite bits). Perhaps we (J will say you not me) choose badly, but to me it needed more greenery (very odd for me to say this with my loathing of ” garnish”), a punchy (hot) sauce/salsa and, above all, strategically applied seasoning. We both thought it was all a bit one dimensional (strange when you consider the variety of ingredients used).
On the drinks front there is a decent selection of interesting stuff.
Slightly perflexed at the orangeade and lemonade being in the 100% natural juice section, I mean it isn’t is it if it is an – ade, I went for a pint of the tamarind juice.
Slightly surprise that this was not that sour and I struggle to pin down what it tasted like. I would say a fair bit of sugar had been added to temper the inate sourness of tamarind, but I quite liked it (had a sort of earthiness to it) and it was decently priced at £3 for a pint.
J went boring (despite my cajoling her to try the Mexican horchata), with a peach ice tea.
She liked it (I thought it was vile).
Perhaps we caught them on bad day (Gourmet Gorro’s review suggests a much more positive food experience and I trust his opinion), but the lack of seasoning and the mishmash nature of the main picada dish (to my mind we choose unwisely) meant we were both left a little underwhelmed
Some may argue going to a place called “Wings of Glory” and not ordering the wings is asking for trouble, but I would counter that the picada did include wings (nicely crisp, but lacking in seasoning).
It does seem (looking at the shxteshow that is Trip(e)adviser at least) that I am very much in the minority in not being entirely enamoured with the food here. Must be a matter of personal taste, with this being one of the rare occasions when J and mine’s align, and perhaps bad luck in catching them on a seemingly rare day off.
The bill came to just under £31 sans a tip,(service was very good),
which is more than my usual lunch time budget but decent value in the evening.
Personally think a lunch menu could operate to bring in the office workers from nearby Central Square and Wood Street (when they are not WFT) – it was very quiet on a Friday lunchtine
Probably give it a go again at some point in the future, the Mexican stuff served in a traditional Mortero sounds interesting, but can’t say either of us would be in any particular hurry to do so.
In summary, not the addictive experience I was hoping for from my first go at Columbian food.
Address: 44 Tudor Street, Cardiff,