This, right here, is stone cold proof of the burgeoning street food culture in Cardiff. It’s a story of people backing their gut, their passion, and making things happen. That Dusty Knuckle have made the transition from popup to permanent in the courtyard of local brewers Crafty Devil, who themselves seem to have gone from a stall in Riverside Market on a Sunday to their own place in record time, is doubly significant.
For me, there’s a pleasing arc here, because we went to Dusty Knuckle’s inaugural event in Pentyrch, set up outside a tiny pub, the pizzas brought in to diners. So to see them with a permanent home is exciting. The pizzas that night were damn fine: mine had the fiery thwack of ‘nduja sausage and though they were still experimenting with their dough and its properties, I was easily impressed enough to follow where they would take this.
In classic Dusty Knuckle style the menu is small- small but honed by their popup experience, so effectively they are playing their greatest hits. And they have their own beer, too- a witbier called ‘The Devil’s Knuckle’, with a hit of hops and lemongrass.
Their signature Blas y Môr, with laverbread and cockles, is superb. If Wales lacks a single internationally recognisable dish to represent its food culture, this could be it: to eat this is to be transported to a Cardiganshire beach. You can almost see the rock pools and the sun on your face, the sand between your toes, the ozone-rich air. It’s a Welsh childhood conjured in food and fully deserving of its name- ‘taste of the sea’. And yes, I wolfed it down too quickly to take a picture. You would, too: it’s superb.
Local producers are championed, too. Charcutier Ltd (newly-crowned Best Producer winners in the BBC Food Awards) lardons feature among the Penclawdd cockles and samphire on the pizza above; but it’s on another pizza that the quality of the meat shines.
A sausage, rough-torn, gives an unexpected fennelly (not a word- Ed) kick among the oozing cheese and the pillowy dough. And it’s that dough that makes Dusty Knuckle pizza so memorable- thick and pillowy, but eminently soft and comforting, somehow. A far cry from the currently fashionable sourdough base, it’s a lovely thing.
Another one reminded us that there is a way to make vegetables acceptable, and that is to pizzafy (again, not a word!- Ed) them. Little broccoli florets with Perl Las makes for a moreish combination, mainly due to the salty smack of the cheese.
The desserts punch well above their weight. A pot of chocolate, shot through with rosemary is as rich and thick and decadent it should be something in line to the throne; a bergamot-scented pannacotta is all wobble and shimmy.
And to add yet another success story to the mix- they are serving ice cream from Gwynne’s, a still-young enterprise from blogger ‘Munchies and Munchkins’ and her husband. And damn good it is, too.
This has everything it needs to become an absolute gem of a place. Canton continues to impress.
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.