Fat little cockles and nuggets of bacon are tumbled on to toast, itself generously slathered with laverbread and sodden with those salty, silky juices. It feels like a peculiarly Welsh pleasure, a bracing walk on a Pembrokeshire beach: ozone in the air, but without that annoying family with their litter and their screeching at each other. It’s a simple enough bringing together of ingredients, confident in the knowledge they will get along famously, and this version the one against which all others will now be judged.
As the man said, That’s a bingo.
It’s a lovely way to start a meal. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I started this to answer one of the most frequent questions I get, often from those in hospitality: the evergreen ‘Where can I eat well in Cardiff on a Monday?’
The answer always includes The Potted Pig (for reference, answers to other FAQ include ‘to the right’ and ‘Colonel Wilma Deering’.)
However, in the meantime, and after years of opening on a Monday, they recently decided to close until Tuesday. Hopefully that’s temporary and we shall press on together, because there’s plenty here worth investigating, and good lunches aren’t easy to come by in Cardiff’s centre.
It has been a while since I ate here. It has been even longer since Jay Rayner vowed to never again review in Cardiff, deterred by furious local ‘foodies’ wielding both pitchfork and ‘spittle-flecked invective’.
But when he still did, he called The Spotted Pig (downstairs from its entrance on High St) ‘a gift to the city.’
This former bank vault feels like an escape from the busy streets above, and from a street which is particularly cluttered at that end. Cosy banquettes, exposed brick and intimate lighting all work to make this feel like the right place for shared confidences, for indiscretion. The good stuff.
Two courses from the lunch set menu (the à la carte is also available) will set you back £14.50 and 3 courses £19, with the option to add a glass of wine for another £3.
Pork tenderloin glazed with barbecue sauce sounds tempting, as does the clean simplicity of an heirloom tomato salad. My starter’s a winner, though.
There’s always a vegetarian main course and this one impresses too. A zesty wild garlic gremolata, piped whorls of whipped goats cheese sharp, asparagus, prettily assembled and a lovely light dish for a lunch.
Of course, all that vegetal virtue demands some balance. It comes in the shape of ‘cheeky chips’. I could forgive most puns if they arrived like this: and chips are very good here, ruffled and crisp and light and even better draped- crowned- with chunks and strands of that beef in a glossy gravy.
A rewarding set lunch, on a day you’d scrabble around for proper grown-up dining in Cardiff. The Potted Pig is there for you when others are shut, as an added incentive, and it wants to feed you well. We need independents like this more than ever: add this one to your list.
The Potted Pig, 27 High St, Cardiff CF10 1PU
Wednesday 12–2:30pm and 6–9:30pm
Thursday 12–2:30pm and 6–9:30pm
Friday 12–2:30pm and 5–9:30pm
Bar snacks outside served all day
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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.