We should give ourselves cool names. Burger Buccaneers, perhaps. Patty Pioneers. Fry Fiends… OH JUST GET ON WITH IT.
Another new opening; another quarry to hunt down. The slogan ‘Handmade with Heart’ is always going to tickle your underbelly. A sought-after location, this- nestled between Mocka and Soda at the St Mary’s St end of Mill Lane; prime café quarter real estate.
The Grill and Barrel
In a city that is welcoming everything from restaurants and food trucks and from posh nosh to real dive bars, it would appear that the menu of Cardiff is truly becoming a melting pot of cuisines. When it comes to what we chow down on, we really don’t discriminate. We have Mexican, Indian, Chinese and Japanese; we have American, Italian and we have Malaysian. Cardiff’s food scene is reminiscent of a UN meeting with a huge array of cuisines standing up and being counted, but what we are really missing, what we are really lacking, is good old, proper traditional Welsh food. I’m talking cawl and laverbread, lamb shanks and Glamorgan sausage. Thank Owain Glyndŵr therefore that Pitch has now opened up to offer a taste of our homeland. But while their kitchen is still in development and their full menu is waiting in the wings, ready to fill the grumbling bellies of the Welsh capital, why not give their burgers a try. They are pretty darned good.
If you wanted to find out a little bit more about them, check out this piece I wrote for It’s On Cardiff: http://goo.gl/fbqBqO
Bun- Brioche is the norm these days. Very rarely do you see anything different and such it was refreshing to not only see that these burgers aren’t encased between the typical bronzed buns of other establishments attempting the ‘gourmet burger’ malarky; they were resting inside a focaccia, a rosemary focaccia. It may not be what you’re used to, but open your mind man, it’s 2015.
Patty- a chunky prop of a patty, hand formed from Celtic Pride beef and well seasoned with herbs that compliment the rosemary adorning the focaccia. The only downside to it however was that I ordered it medium and it came well done, but still the flavours burst through.
Toppings-With the Hoff Burger Chi (You Favourite Burger) there’s an impressive amount of toppings that you can decorate your patty and focaccia with from Perl Wen to Black Bomber Cheese and from chilli jam to garlic aioli, but sometimes you just can’t beat a cheese and bacon burger… especially if it’s made with Welsh Rarebit.
A silky golden crown of creamy Welsh Rarebit dripped down from the top of the patty. I’m a real sucker for rarebit and this one performed. Maybe now you’re thinking to yourself you want to make yourself some of that Welsh Rarebit? Well check out my recipe here: http://thegrillandbarrel.com/2014/07/22/the-top-welsh-burger-toppers-part-1/
The bacon was pretty top notch to boot. Two crispy rashers sat underneath the patty like a smokey, pork cushion.
Sides- Picture a plump, crunchy, roast potato, peacocking about, showing off his crispy bits when he spots a slender exotic beauty in the form of a French Fry. He struts over, breaks the ice by smoothly saying “You must be a respectable news reporter because you ain’t no commentator” (get it? ‘common tater’? Like a potato? Ah, forget it). They have a couple of drinks, head back to his place and wham bam thank you mam, nine months later they’ve given birth to a litter of chip crossbreeds with all the outer crispness of your Sunday roasts, yet with the inner fluffiness of a standard chip.
Drinks-When people think about eating local, they often neglect that drinking local is just as important, and therefore it’s good to see great local brewers such as Brains and The Celt Experience, as well as Welsh distillery Penderyn, holding their own on the impressive drinks menu that features craft beer and real ale, wine and cocktails made by their in-house cocktail waiter who has been responsible for conjuring up their menu and its punny takes on classic cocktails such as the ‘Merthyr Mule’ and the ‘White Welshman.’
Atmosphere-a cosy cross between a cafe and a pub, Pitch is a welcome break from the high street bustling in the January sales. A relaxing atmosphere with personable staff. What more could you want?
The Plate Licked Clean
First impressions: this place is so Welsh, if someone reported a leak in the bathroom your first thought would probably be that of a misplaced Allium ampeloprasum left in the sink. Welsh food, Welsh-speaking staff. It’s at the core of what Pitch is all about: the concept apparently grew from an initial desire to serve small plates (I’ll swerve the dreaded ubiquitous misappropriation of the term ‘tapas’, thankyouverymuch) of locally-sourced food, and has grown into the menu they have today. The full menu is packed with intriguing nods to typically Welsh ingredients- those stalwarts laverbread and cockles make more than one appearance, local cheeses abound- which will be A Good Thing. A breakfast menu promises temptation. Our brief here today is solely patty-themed and burger-shaped, however.
I’ll start with a gripe: although it’s encouraging to be asked how you want your burger cooked- and several places could do well to sit up and take note- it’s a little annoying when that’s not what actually arrives. Mine was on the ‘well’ side of things and is one of those distinctions which separate the very best from the merely ‘rather good’. The beef itself was a very well-seasoned mix which combined very effectively with the rosemary focaccia (wot no brioche?) to make every mouthful rewarding. I’d love to try one of these again, but left at a saucy pink.
I was expecting fried onion along with the mushrooms within the burger; my heart sank a little when I saw onion rings skewered to the bun. The worst examples of these can be limp, leaden slicks of grease, but I needn’t have worried. They were pale, light puffs of crisp batter.
The chips. Oh, those chips.
You know when you’re at home (for reasons which will shortly become clear) and you get that perfect roastie, its golden hues emphasised by the deeper gold of a crisped-up edge or corner? And you pick it up and pick it apart with your fingers, the better to savour those fragile nuggets, those bits that come away and others can hear you crunching across the table?
No? Just me, then. Anyway- the chips here are elongated, hand-cut versions of those. ‘Triple’ or ‘thrice’ cooking has passed into gastropub cliché now of course, but these remind you of how good they can be when executed properly. It’s harder than you might think to find exceptional chips in this city- you’re safe with The North Star of course, or if you’ve been lucky/savvy enough to catch JOL’s Food Co in recent months. Here, they have these off to a ‘T’ and they’d be worth dropping in for, alone.
As m’colleague put it: ‘it’s as if a roast potato wooed a French fry and they had delicious chip babies.’ I shall pass over his far more involved and downright worrying image, above, and exhort you to try these for yourself.
The beer list here holds some pleasant surprises; among the usual suspects and local drinks, some unfamiliar faces. My choice- a Monteith Summer Ale- is apparently a New Zealand brew and was an optimistic counterpoint to the gusty greyness outside. I’m not sure I’d drink many of them in the same session but a twang of ginger makes it a potential diversion on a more clement day. Speaking of which- Pitch makes the best of its Mill Lane location: although the ground floor is tiny- space for 14 I think?- the upstairs is far roomier and there is outdoor seating at street level, so the prospect of watching the world go about its business, with one of these beers in hand, sounds pretty good on a faceless day in early January.
So a solid 7/10 for both, then, which puts this new enterprise among the best we’ve eaten locally. There’s plenty to like here. Pitch? Not perfect, but very much heading in the right direction, and many reasons to suspect that when they really hit their stride they’ll be easily worth your time and money.
Pitch Bar & Eatery
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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.