Purple Poppadom

Purple Poppadom is renowned Cardiff chef, Anand George’s, latest creation.

After opening in December, Purple Poppadom has excited Cardiff foodies, with its “nouvelle Indian cuisine.”

Ordinarily you would be sceptical of a place which makes such a claim, but Purple Poppadom has good reason to.

On their website they describe their style of cooking as: “traditional Indian cuisine with a modern twist” and this was clearly displayed not only in the taste of the food but also in the presentation.

My guest and I were treated to a new taster menu with wine, which the restaurant was giving a trail run to, in anticipation of Valentine’s Day.

The wines, which were all from the Bordeaux region of France, were provided by Fine Wines Direct, an independent company based in Cardiff. Before each glass we were talked through the wine and how it would accompany the various dishes.

The Bordeaux region is famed for its red wine but interestingly, the chosen wine only included one glass of red, with the rest either being white, rosé or sweet wine. This turned out to be an inspired choice and it is clear that the region offers a lot more than just red wine.

The menu consisted of six courses, with interludes in between. It was logical. We started with a plated trio of Broccoli florets accompanied by Broccoli croquette and Broccoli mousse.  The florets were excellent and made a seemingly basic vegetable very interesting. Purple Poppadom has a knack for this sort of transformation. The florets were crispy and still retained a degree of moisture in the broccoli, making it taste superb. They manage to turn a plain dish into something that looks and, ultimately tastes, spectacular. The broccoli croquette had a soft taste to it, which was set against a crispy outer layer. The mousse was fluffy and when added to the croquette and the florets, gave it a perfect finish.

This was then followed by Keralan spiced, pan seared Mackerel, with a mango salsa and a Mackerel Pakora with cumin and garlic flavoured green peas. The Mackerel was oily, which was matched, perfectly, by the cool mango salsa. Many people are sceptical of fish in Indian cuisine, but it is really worth a try. Fish, combined with interesting seasoning, is a must for anyone eating out at a good Indian restaurant. Indian cuisine, in particular, accommodates fish dishes, because of the spices it uses. They bring out the full flavour of the fish and add an edge to the overall taste. The cumin and garlic flavoured green peas combined well with the Mackerel Pakora and acted as a good accompaniment to the seared Mackerel. The Pakora looked like a simple side dish, but it became apparent that it was full of flavour and interesting spices. This completed the first section of the meal.

While sipping the remains of our glass of Château Marges Graves Blanc- a white wine which was probably my favourite wine of the entire meal, out came the next course. Chicken Lollypop accompanied by a chicken roulade and a chicken liver masala. The liver was exceptional. It had obviously been prepared in such a way that combined the rich taste of chicken liver with the spices that accompanied it. The Fennel Naan that came with the liver masala, proved to be a useful and effective tool for scooping up the liver masala. It was almost like a pâté dish and the Naan acted as a more exciting substitute for your basic slice of bread.

Despite its novel appeal, the Chicken Lollipop was tender and infused well, with a variety of Indian spices. The roulade was well prepared and combined with both the Chicken Lollipop and the liver masala presented a really well-rounded course.

The ‘Jewels of Venison’ were next to follow. This consisted of ground venison skewers cooked in tandoor, venison Chapli kebab and Venison cooked in rice and spices. The Chapli kebab was spicy, but still retained the taste, which was a constant feature throughout the meal. I have tried chicken and lamb skewers, but never venison. They really did highlight that venison is a wonderful meat, when cooked well. It benefited from the Indian style of cooking, again bringing out a variety of different flavours.

Another interlude passed. The desert was a white chocolate mousse, a warm chocolate fondant, with strawberry chocolate and served with a glass of sweet wine (the Château des Mailles St Croix du Mont). The warm chocolate fondant was cooked in its own little pot and was essentially a crispy layer of chocolate sponge, which covered a softer layer of gooey chocolate. The white chocolate mousse partnered the strawberry chocolate, which was a whole strawberry dipped in milk chocolate, in fondue fashion.  A nice way to end the meal.

The meal was well structured. It was a logical, step-by-step process, which offered a range of different dishes and without doubt, a range of different flavours. My guest even said, at the end of the meal: “That was the best curry I have ever had.” An ultimate compliment to the restaurant.

The atmosphere was pleasant and relaxed.  The service was good and the staff introduced every course with a clear explanation of what the plate consisted of.

The food was cooked well and well thought out. It was not a random array of fish here and venison there, it felt as though Anand George and his team had really made the effort to get it right.

Price: £45 per person (including matching wines)

Rating: 9/10


St. John Bar and Restaurant

This is one half of a special comparative piece I am doing between one of London’s more established gastronomic restaurants (St. John) and one of Cardiff‘s most recent editions to its less established restaurant portfolio (The Potted Pig).

St John Bar and restaurant, founded by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver in 1994, has a distinct feel of a butcher’s to it.

The walls were all white, with little decoration, apart from a few coat hooks. The lights resembled the kind you would get in an industrial slaughterhouse.

It felt as though I was eating from a meat-production line.

We ordered a selection of four starters (between three of us), which included: Widgeon Legs, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Rabbit Offal and Braised Squid.

The Widgeon (a small duck) was rich and gamey. The Broccoli, by chance, complemented the more powerful tastes of the Widgeon legs and the Rabbit Offal (the cooked organs of a rabbit).

The squid was a nice addition, as a comfort dish.

A glance at the menu

While deciding which mains to have, we attempted to understand the seemingly straight forward decor, or indeed the lack of it.

We came to the conclusion that they had tried, with success, to recreate the atmosphere of a butcher’s.

The chef was in full view, preparing, or rather butchering, the meat.

Two of us, myself included, ordered the Smoked Herring, Bacon and Mash, while the other ordered the Lop Chop, Turnip and Trotter.

The Herring was also quite rich and oily. This was not a problem, I had clearly chosen a first and second course, aimed at a more resilient stomach!

Nevertheless, it was tasty and despite it’s rich taste, was not overly filling.

At some risk of over-indulgence, I ordered the Steamed Treacle Pudding.

This was merely average, but then when has a butcher’s ever claimed to make a perfect treacle pudding?

St. John boasts a Michelin star and with obvious justification. The experience and the aura of the restaurant, is what you would expect from such an establishment.

The modest building, St. John is located in, resembles that of a local butcher’s- a theme that is consistent throughout the dining experience.

Your local butcher?


St John will no doubt prove to be a fierce contestant against The Potted Pig, which I will be reviewing in just over a weeks time.

With a similar menu and, perhaps more trivially, a very similar logo The Potted Pig has a lot to compete with.



Rating: 8/10


Sunday Supplement discounts for South Wales

The Sunday Times has today published a supplement offering  discounts on dining out in South Wales.

The supplement titled, ‘Eat Out’, gives discounts such as: 2 for 1 on mains, 50% off your food bill and 25% off food and drink.

Eat Out

Included in the South Wales section are: Browns Bar & Brasserie, Plymouth Arms Vintage Inn and Traherne Arms.

This is a really good opportunity to eat out in decent restaurants for a much reduced price.

Browns is offering 25% off food and drink.

Dining out in Cardiff is not as expensive as other areas of the UK and this new scheme from the Sunday Times makes it even cheaper.

The Sunday Times Cookery Writer, Lucas Hollweg says: “There are some very good restaurants on the Eat Out list, from local brasseries and award-winning dining pubs to country hotel dining rooms and the sort of neighbourhood gems that you’d happily visit once a week.”

Michelin star musings

It seems many people are eagerly awaiting the Welsh capital’s first michelin-starred restaurant.

Purple Poppadom is the latest creation of Anand George, described by Cardiff Bites (winner of the Wales Blog awards Best Food & Drink Blog 2011 category) as “Cardiff‘s closest thing to a celebrity chef.”

Mr George is famous in Cardiff, for setting up both Mint & Mustard and Chai Street.

His latest venture has received some very positive reviews from the website Trip advisor. One review even asks whether this could be Cardiff’s first Michelin-starred restaurant?

To be honest, I can’t wait to go!

“Could Cardiff get its first Michelin star here?”