Based on the corner of Caroline Street and Mill Lane in Cardiff lies the Corner House, a pub and restaurant which aims to serve a menu that doesn’t pander to traditional ‘pub grub’. Recently, it hasn’t had the best reputation amongst its customers and you only have to do a quick search on Google reviews and TripAdvisor to see that standards appear to have dropped slightly. But in the last few months, the pub has been taken over by new management and I was invited to go along and see what difference this has made so far.
I visited with my boyfriend on a Wednesday evening and by 6pm, the pub area downstairs was already full of a variety of people enjoying drinks and there was a definite buzz in the venue. Considering that this was quite early and midweek, this seemed quite promising.
After having our drink orders taken at the bar, we were guided upstairs to the main restaurant area, which at this point was empty but did start to fill up throughout the duration of our meal. The whole of the upstairs area seemed bright, welcoming and refurbished with a modern look whilst also leaving you with the cosy feel that you would expect and associate with your favourite pub. Of course, I wanted to sit by the window (nothing to do with the good lighting, obviously).
Our waitress was very quick to present us with menus, offer to refill the drinks we had already ordered downstairs and to explain the specials menu. When we first sat down, we were given a bowl of corn chips which were complimentary. I would have loved to have had this with a dip but my boyfriend got absolutely stuck in and loved them. They were great to snack on while we took over time reading over the menu.
After much deliberation, for starters I decided to order the duck liver parfait with red onion chutney and toasted ciabatta bread. I was very surprised at how quickly the food arrived at our table after ordering, so this made me a tad sceptical that perhaps the quality wouldn’t be up to scratch. However, at the first bite, I quickly realised that this wasn’t the case. The outside of the parfait was covered in a thin layer of butter whilst the actual parfait itself was full of flavour whilst also having a light texture. It spread very easily across the ciabatta bread and went very well with the sweet taste of the red onion chutney. Priced at £7.75, I know some people would regard this as an expensive starter, but the portion size was absolutely incredible so definitely well worth the money.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, ordered the lobster and tiger prawn pot in Devon crab crème fraiche with toasted ciabatta bread. I only had to take one look at his face when he took his first bite to know that this food was a success. I also had to have a little try and it was very refreshing and tasty, although it would be my lactose intolerant worst nightmare if I had it all to myself *cries*.
For mains, I ordered lobster and Devon crab fishcakes with asparagus, pea & truffle oil velouté topped with crispy seaweed which was served with a salad. Priced at £13.50, when the dish first arrived I thought that perhaps there wasn’t enough on the plate as I would have liked. However, when I cut into my first fishcake, it was so soft that it practically fell apart and that’s when I realised how packed full of fish meat they actually were. One major thing I loved about the fishcakes was that they didn’t have the greasy outer layer that you sometimes find when ordering fishcakes in pubs but they almost had a creamy texture it was so light. Honestly they were some of the best fishcakes I’ve ordered in a restaurant, period. Oh, and this food was totally Instagram worthy so this was an added bonus for me.
My boyfriend ordered roasted pork belly and seared scallops with potato dauphinoise, tenderstem broccoli, panko apple and red wine jus. The first thing I noted about this dish was how well presented it was, despite there being so many aspects to the food that was included. I had a try of this dish and was seriously impressed. The pork belly was perfectly cooked, meaning that it didn’t have the horrible chewy texture that you get when its overcooked even in the slightest. The panko apple was a wonderful pairing for the pork, mixing the sweet and savoury flavours in a way that would appeal to most tastebuds. This is a dish that I know I’ll be ordering next time we visit.
Both the starters and the mains were very large portions, so we didn’t get around the ordering desserts – I think we would have burst if we had eaten anymore. But altogether, we absolutely loved the experience. The staff were incredibly friendly and attentive which I felt helped to make the atmosphere feel very welcoming and the food was so very tasty. One thing I noted and absolutely had to highlight was that there was no particular demographic in the pub – there was a complete mix of ages which was very nice to see. So if you visited in the past few months and were not happy with your experience, I would recommend giving the Corner House another try – we had a lovely visit.