Bully’s Restaurant Cardiff – Review

Although I’ve been living in Cardiff for the last three years, it has taken until now, along with  an entire evening spent scouring restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor, to discover that Cardiff is a little limited when it comes to good food venues. But after extensive (and exhausting) research, along with a recommendation from a friend, we settled on Bully’s in Canton. A glance over the menu on-line had me pretty excited, especially for the starters, which all sounded very intriguing, with food combinations and ingredients I’d never even heard of before. Mum went for the kohlrabi, goats cheese and marinated anchovy carpaccio with dijon mustard emulsion. After a sneaky taste (or two) I can say that goats cheese and anchovy (good ones mind, not those dried out super salty ones you find on pizzas) is a revelation. I will have to make this pairing myself in future, because it really works, in a fresh, creamy, salty way. The thin, crisp slithers of mild tasting kohlrabi make the perfect base ingredient to carry the punchy flavours.

The boyfriend and I went for the smoked squid, mango, root ginger and okahijiki salad (which sounds very cool, and after a little internet research I have  discovered is also known as land seaweed, which sounds a little less cool). For me it was a very tough decision between this and the pan fried beetroot gnocchi (because I have a strong desire to work out my opinions on gnocchi and because I wanted to be a part of the current beetroot-eating  trend). The squid dish was good, but (and this is a fairly big but) more squid please! I think I could have eaten my squid, and my boyfriend’s squid and still felt a little squid deprived. Now I know it is a ‘starter’ and it is supposed to be ‘small’, but there is small and there is minuscule, I’d say this was more minuscule. At least one squid ring to accompany my squid tentacles would have been very much appreciated. The dish itself was lovely though, the sweet, smoky dressing contrasting nicely with the fruity mango.

I tried taking photos, but it was very dark and I don’t like using flash in restaurants so they’ve not come out great.

smoked squid, mango, root ginger and okahijiki salad

For mains we all opted for the duck breast with roasted fairytale pumpkin, game chips and gooseberry and red wine sauce. We all requested for our duck to be pink and our request was perfectly met, although the duck was perhaps a little mild in flavour. The punchy gooseberry sauce made up for it (or drowned the duck flavour out even more if you really want to put a downer on things) but which ever way you want to look at it, I loved the sauce, which had just the right acidity to lift the dish and break through the fattiness of the duck. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t anything more ‘fairytale’ about the roasted chunks of pumpkin, but they had good flavour providing a pleasant sweetness. I was also a little saddened that the game chips weren’t the crinkly, cross-hatched type but were instead closer to regular crisps. I should also add that the beans were perfectly cooked, for me, although perhaps a touch too close to being squeaky for some. But give me a little bit squeaky over a little bit soggy any day.

Duck breast with roasted pumpkin, game chips and a gooseberry and red wine sauce

Both my Mum and boyfriend were tempted by the desserts, which, if you know either of them (the eternal ‘I don’t have room’ person or the ‘I’m not a pudding person’ person) is worthy of note, although I’m starting to question the ‘not a pudding person’ category. Given the right pudding, with the right amount of sweetness/fruit/chocolate/cream/warmth/coolness/pastry (delete as appropriate) I’m starting to think anyone can be a pudding person, they just need to find the right sort of pudding! The dessert that won them both over was the mirabelle plum crème brûlée, which had an almost-burnt caramel with decent cracking qualities, making me a little jealous I didn’t have my own to tap away at with my spoon. Rather then containing pieces of plum, as I would have hoped for (although the food jury that lives in my head isn’t quite out yet over whether crème brûlée is better with or without fruit), the crème must instead have had the plumminess infused into it, giving the crème a pretty purpley hue. However, a spoonful of my boyfriend’s led me to think that any plum flavour was a bit overshadowed by the almost-burnt caramel taste.  I really should have asked for another spoonful just to be sure!

I went for the apple tarte tatin with salted butterscotch ice-cream. The last apple tarte tatin I ate was a bit too stodgy and sickly and I didn’t enjoy it much, so I was wary of ordering this one. But my pastry craving got the better of me, as did the sound of ‘salted butterscotch ice cream’. Fortunately, (although perhaps the pastry was a weeeeeny bit on the limp side) I was one very happy girl over this one. I was also a fair bit tipsy by this point thanks to a fruity, easy drinking bottle of New Zealand Pinot Noir. And yes, the salted butterscotch ice cream was as good as it sounds, and a great compliment to the tarte.

apple tarte tatin with salted butterscotch ice cream

All in all Bully’s provided a brilliant end to my graduation. High quality food and wine, with friendly service and a cosy, slightly quirky atmosphere provided the perfect ingredients to help me celebrate.

Thank you Bully’s! You rounded off my student days perfectly.

And now what?!…

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