I wouldn’t normally write about a meal during a soft launch: service and kitchen deserve time to bed in, to hit their stride. Here at Pasture in Cardiff, though, it’s immediately clear any ground has been hit running. Everything is slicker than a baby seal in extra virgin: service is warm, keen and knowledgeable, the introductory menu tried and tested in their Bristol home.
Pasture is red in tooth and claw: from the shaggy wall-mounted head of a Highland bull to walls festooned with various antique hacking, slicing and sawing implements, it sends subtle and not so subtle messages of craftsmanship and historical precedent. It’s a big money refurb with nods to steakhouse classics- gleaming white oblong tiles, exposed ceiling ducts, dark wood floors, marble tabletops. Brick ‘n’ banquettes.
Now a well written menu is a thing of joy, and a poorly written one much less so. Thankfully this one doesn’t need fluff you with succulent and juicy and delicious: it just need to dangle words like short rib croquette and lobster toast and dripping chips or scallops and padron peppers in front of you and let your imagination and appetite do the rest.
Those croquettes come with a pokey gochujang mayonnaise. They look innocuous enough but are a luscious, piping hot tangle of long-braised short rib in a light shell. It’s a lot of heat and texture for only a fiver, a spicy hot mess which lets you know you’re in safe hands here.
Pork belly (£7.50) plonks a sizeable finger of admirably tender meat with a dense, sticky caramel glaze down with a mild apple remoulade and a tangy barbecue sauce.
‘Lobster toast’ (£9.50) is a neat twist on the Chinese takeaway staple: a thin bread shell, crusted with sesame seeds, wrapped around pressed lobster tail and bathed in a mild tarragon emulsion: a touch more spike from the herb would have helped here.
Pasture lives and breathes steaks, and the visual centerpiece is a sizeable display cabinet of Oriel Jones and Aubrey Allen beef, an undeniably impressive sight.There are meat-free options of course for that vegetarian member of your party- they’ll even make you feel part of the fun with their ‘Impossible steak’ (watermelon) and you can pick chicken or lamb or a formidable sounding burger if you must: but I’d suggest you come here to roll up your sleeves and get stuck into various bits of cow.
Mind you, you probably don’t come here for cabbage either. But you should, and you’ll find it among the ‘sides’. Here it’s the surprise hit of our meal: a Sweetheart, brined overnight and wrapped and roasted for 8 hours in the coals, until it resembles some blackened meteorite which opens to reveal a heady transformation. All that time cosseted from direct heat gives you something lubricated from within, something dripping with its own juices before being anointed with bacon butter, a hot salty meaty juices overload precisely as wanton as it sounds right now.
The steak itself, a kilo of tomahawk (£7/100g), is clearly properly aged, requested and cooked medium and comes with two sides and two sauces. With mineral depth and creamy, lustrous fat, it’s a formidable cut: these ‘house cuts’ are sold by weight and availability chalked on boards, Hawksmoor style.
From a choice of seven, sauces are a perky chimichurri and a rich brown butter béarnaise. Chips are a given and rustle and snap as demanded, and it’s all backed with that cabbage. Expect to hear much more about that cabbage in coming days and weeks as more and more try it.
Finally, then, Cardiff has an upmarket steakhouse worth the name.
To preempt the inevitable queries: I don’t consider Asador 44 a steakhouse. Obviously, their beef is a rare and remarkable thing, yet fish and seafood hold equal sway on that parilla and their vegan menu would be the envy of many specialist restaurants. You could eat sumptuously there, indulging yourself with chipirones or those prized Sanlúcar prawns, or whole fish on the bone, or smoked leeks, or mussels treated to nothing but a spritz of Albarino, a touch of oil and fierce heat. You could have a memorable meal indeed and not touch the beef, and that’s why it stands shoulder to shoulder with that Northern Spanish asador tradition (see also: Gueyu Mar or Mannix, both reviewed on this blog). That’s the difference.
But Pasture? Pasture is an uncompromising, foot to the floor steakhouse, and puts daylight between themselves and the local steakhouse competition.
8-10 High St
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.