My husband and I eat out a lot, a hell of a lot… In fact, sometimes he protests we eat out too much. However, the maximum time that we usually spend devouring our food is an hour and a half, which makes us chuckle like school kids. We go in, scoff our food, ask for the bill and then breeze out.
It never feels like the restaurant is the destination, albeit a stopover or a bridge to fill the gap. This whole experience changed when we recently had dinner at ParkHouse, Cardiff. Our time there could be described as nothing less than a true culinary experience.
From the get-go I loved the start of the experience, ringing the door bell of an oldie-worldie mid century manor house that resembles an opulent, yet exclusive gentleman’s club of that era.
We were shown in and asked if we would like to start with a drink on the first floor. Of course, we agreed. The gin selection alone was mesmerizing and I’ve made a mental note to go back for more. While gin is my usual tipple, I gave in to the glitz and glamour of evening and I opted for a Kir Royale.
After sipping our drinks, we were gracefully whisked up the most romantic looking staircase, carnally adorned in velvet and into the equally as decedent dining room. The vision from the (very) airy dining room faces out onto Cardiff Museum and surrounding luscious gardens.
Looking around, I admire the crockery straight away, which looks almost medieval. I note the irony, foreshadowing for the banquet that will be put before me.
Alex, our ever knowledgeable waiter (that title does not even seem to do him justice), presents two variations of the night’s fare. Either an eight or five course tasting menu or an al a carte option, we both opted for the latter; however the choice was certainly not an easy one.
Our attentive sommelier turned waiter asked us if we were happy with him choosing the wines to escort our dishes-absolutely, we agreed in unison; and could not have been more contented with our decision.
Five scrumptious different yet mouth-watering wines from varying regions of the world were offered along with our courses.
To say that Alex “knows his stuff” is an utter understatement. Not only were the wines completely complimentary but Alex also took the time to give us a back story and history lesson with each taste.
Five equally as remarkable courses were paraded in front of us in true regal banquet form. From Canapés to Froie Gras that was served with a sweet pineapple, an uplifting gazpacho amuse-bouche, followed by a main of succulent juicy local lamb served with a courgette farcie.
This was all topped off by the most palatable and fully-loaded cheese trolley that I had ever set my eyes upon-complete with carbon crackers and real local honeycomb, finished by a marvelously piquant yet not to substantial strawberry macaroon desert.
Not only were the food, wine, service and ambience simply out of this world, the whole evening from start to finish was a 4 hour event. I can only describe the evening as “dining theatre”; we felt at last that a restaurant visit was the actual destination, a real dining experience.
With the cost coming in around the same mark as our favourite steak “chain” restaurant in the city (where we are usually in and out in a heartbeat), the stark contrast in the actual dining experience is outstanding. If you are looking for affordable everyday luxury in an iconic building then you have found the right place.
ParkHouse can be found at; 20 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3DQ