Tasty showcase of what’s to come at Heaney’s
THE TASTE TEAM WAS INVITED TO THE PREVIEW NIGHT OF TOMMY HEANEY’S NEW RESTAURANT
THE huge, glass-fronted restaurant space on Romilly Crescent, Cardiff, has been a bubbling hive of activity of late with foodies champing at the bit for Great British Menu finalist, Tommy Heaney to open his first, permanent restaurant in the capital.
We were invited along to the preopening night for media, bloggers and special guests when we were given a taster, literally, of the taster menu. We paid a contribution to the bill and were under no obligation to give a positive review.
There’s no better way to showcase what’s to come from Heaney’s than the taster menu offering 10 delicate courses.
The first two, the sourdough and Marmite butter and smoked duck ham, I’d tried before. But seriously, I could not wait to have them again. I insisted that my dining partner tried the Marmite butter (it doesn’t matter if you don’t like Marmite!). It’s like smoky, buttery gold spread that I wish I could buy in bulk.
The smoked duck ham was also a delight. Something so delicate that takes over your tastebuds.
Oysters were next, pickled in dill and apple. I never thought oysters could taste like that. The dill was sweet and apple sharp and dispersed in small chunks over the oyster.
Next, curry cured bream with cucumber, pomegranate and horseradish. That description kind of undersells it, but that also means you’ll be in for a real surprise when it comes to the table.
The dish was lined with decent slices of bream – I couldn’t quite taste the curry cured element, but all the other flavours were prominent.
The horseradish was presented as a sorbet and now I think that’s the way horseradish should always be presented. It had bite and was light AND creamy. Impressive. The cucumber was dotted with mustard seeds and the pomegranate was sprinkled over the whole dish.
It was harmonious in flavour, but was genuinely lovely and tasty.
Next up was the beef tartare with beetroot, drizzled with mushroom and kale jus. Tender tartare was hidden in the middle of a long beet ribbon. It was strong in flavour and colour. A nice addition to the menu, but not my favourite.
As the taster menu progressed, the courses became a bit more substantial and no more evident than the fried pollock served in warm buttermilk tartar with chard and lime.
Another showcase proving Tommy’s talent with fish, this was mouthwatering. The batter was crisp and the fish fell apart like a delicate rose despite being substantial enough to sink your teeth into. The surrounding buttermilk added a richness that made it pure comfort food.
I was excited about dish number seven. It was a variation on the fish course that Tommy was cooking on that night’s episode of Great British Menu. Instead of hake, though, we had cod and it was served with its old chums cauliflower, potted shrimp, cider buerre noisette. The cod broke to the touch and was delicious. The accompanying bits and bobs made it competition worthy when all elements were eaten together.
Lamb was next. Oh, and I’ll be back for this. Barbecued and served with anchovies and sea vegetables, the lamb was like silk. So tender and of a quality so high, it was beautiful.
The anchovies brought out the brilliant salt taste of the meat and the jus was just incredible. As I ate the lamb, I cut it smaller and smaller so it would last longer.
The last two courses were desserts and what a way to end the taster menu. One, a sort of upside-down crumble topped with Earl Grey custard, the other, a salted caramel parfait with malt and yogurt sorbet.
I love crumble. This was nutty and crunchy and topped with fresh tart fruit. The custard was so, so light. Delicious.
The salted caramel was presented with honeycomb, eating it with a mouthful of every element blew me away. The burnt caramel of the honeycomb, matched with the fresh sorbet and with the salted caramel coming through, wow.
At first, the courses seemed a bit rushed – we were midway through one course when the next came out. Then, after the savoury courses there was a longer wait – we needed it, mind – before the desserts.
Heaney’s looks brilliant. The bar is really cool. There’s a big mural of a woman’s face at one end, scattered pictures of music legends and the furniture is classy and comfortable. ■ Heaney’s Restaurant is at 6-10 Romilly Crescent, Cardiff, CF11 9NP. Visit www.heaneyscardiff.co.uk