Monday, 10 December 2012

Mint and Mustard, Cardiff

I really ought to have given the website for Mint and Mustard, an upmarket Indian restaurant in the Cardiff suburbs, more than a cursory glance before dining there. Had I done so, I'd have realised that they specialise in Keralan food, and wouldn't have ordered a whole load of North Indian stuff.

Being a bit hungover I was in the mood for a lamb-based feast, when seafood, vegetables and even pork or beef could have been a better plan. Or would have been a better plan, as most of what the others in our group of six ate was better than what I did.

After some poppadums and pickles, complimentary after we had to wait a few minutes for our table, seekh kebabs and onion vadai (in this case the same thing as what most curry houses would call a bhaji) to start. These were just ok, being a good demonstration of the pitfalls of 'posh Indian' restaurant food, in that they looked pretty but tasted dull.

The kebabs were nicely spiced but needed salt and seemed to have been cooked without resort to anything very hot. Surely the whole point to Indian grilled meat is the generous application of fire, spice and salt? Other starters of lamb,venison and prawns in various guises were all declared a great success.

Saag gosht and chicken makhani were both competent, flavour packed dishes. The lamb had a slow-burning, building warmth, and the makhani was smooth, rich and sweet with fenugreek. They weren't half as exciting as what was going on elsewhere on the table though, I got to sample the lot and first mouthfuls suggested there might be some genuinely great food on offer here.

The sauce (pollichathu?) on what I think was a fat hunk of swordfish had an intense flavour that belied it's thin texture, dense with the savoury funk of curry leaves. I'd have drunk it in pints given the opportunity. Another fish dish, sea bass with a tart, bright moilee sauce was almost as good. I wasn't quite so enamoured of a dum pukht biryani, although it tasted great I thought the rice was a bit wet.

There are a whole host of European styled dishes on the menu too, European in the plating sense: large slab of protein, mound of carbs and some veggies on the side. I was suspicious of these, with their various Indian-spiced riffs on the mash theme, but a mouthful of the most succulent, precisely cooked piece of pork, the best bit of meat I've eaten in a while, convinced me they could be worth a shot. Sadly I didn't try the accompanying cassava mash, so whether that was an inspired or daft idea I'm not sure.

Sides of pilau rice and a very light, crisp naan were exemplary, as was service throughout the meal. Including a bottle of wine and six or so beers the bill came to around twenty seven quid each before tip, which seemed reasonable for the quality of the food. Well worth a visit, just remember to head South when making your menu choices. My rating could well have been a couple of points higher had I done so.


134 Whitchurch Road
CF14 3LZ

Mint and Mustard on Urbanspoon

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