Here’s my Pasture hot take: the most interesting bits of their steakhouse menu are on the peripheries. Charcoal-roasted cabbage with bacon butter, caramel pork belly, the ubiquitous short rib croquettes with gochujang. Their small plates-only opening next door should bode well, then.
It’s certainly an intriguing menu. Koobideh for example: a rarity outside Persian-run menus such as Mowlana and Amo’s, alongside mentions of yuzu, hoi sin, nam jim, amchoor and tiger’s milk.
Inside it’s all blacks and deep greens and smoked glass and marble and burnished copper and exposed brick, with just thirty seats including a few up at the kitchen counter. A menu revised daily. It doesn’t feel like a new opening. It feels like it has already found its groove.
I imagine chicken scratchings as skins flattened and roasted. What arrives is so much better: puffed-up curls of chicharrón– style bites.
Beef butter bread is as memorable as it is alliterative. Robata-striped, light and tearable and slick with animal fats: you’ll begrudge washing that smell off your hands. As I make brief notes, I ask my server’s name, so I can only apologise for the eventual scrawl which reads ‘Salty-smoky-aromatic-oozing-Rhiannon!’, which gives the wrong impression altogether.
In penance, I’ll tell you that she’s a true asset to a very polished operation: a veteran of some very good local restaurants, utterly charming and well-informed.
Potato is Japanese-mandolined into hugely long pappardelle-width strips before being cooked sous vide overnight: then curled into a Catherine wheel, buttered and seared on the plancha, before being piped with wild garlic and oyster aiolis and dusted with truffle. It’s ridiculously time-consuming and intricate preparation, and it would all be faintly ludicrous and more than a little sad if it didn’t work. No such fear: I have it twice. This is glorious. And the second one’s even better, being interleaved with lamb breast meat and fat. And lamb breast makes everything better, as we know.
If you’re in the mood for a prediction, there are things here destined to be talked of as Cardiff classics before long. You may as well reconcile yourself to the idea that these are plates which will be on your social feeds for the foreseeable.
In that category we’ll add a carrot- the carrot- given a day’s worth of sous-vide pampering before being finished and dressed: crispy chickpeas, smoked maple syrup are added with tahini, cashew and a deep green pesto. It’s a quietly remarkable thing, all subtle sweetness and vibrant herby notes in a playground of textures. Bravo.
There’s toast, crisp and light on top, snowed under with sweet picked white crabmeat and sodden with bisque below; and subtly-flavouted croquettes, the potatoes cooked a la Gallega with the flesh and the filling studded with little chunks of octopus and finished with saffron aioli.
Hoi sin mushrooms are a nice spin on a familiar idea. Here’s a light little crumpet, plancha-toasted, with spring onions and pickled cucumber topping shredded and fried oyster mushrooms. A sauce rich with black bean and five spice depth makes this meatless spin on Peking duck. (It’s sent over by the manager, who recognises me from his previous high profile role, and doesn’t appear on my bill.)
During my return trip, Rhiannon tips me off about a few koobideh on special. It’s done with a light touch, the beef and lamb mix grilled to a light seasoned crust, dressed with balsamic onions and a bold zhug calmed with yoghurt. When I mention my surprise at seeing it out of its hatural habitat it to the head chef he grins. ‘We were going for a City Road vibe’, he says: and if that doesn’t sell it, nothing will.
Parallel will be another hugely successful opening for the Bristol-based group. It already feels like the finished deal. It is one of three first-quarter Cardiff openings I’m excited about: Antonio Simone’s Poca and Tukka Tuk Canteen from Anand George mean the city’s upward trajectory shows no sign of slowing.
Parallel by Pasture, 11 High St, Cardiff CF10 1AW
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY:
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.