This was never going to be just about the food, was it? The first meal ‘out’, I mean.
Whether your it’s the resumption of the school run, queuing hours for a McDonald’s (or laughing at those who do, while lining up for our £4 sourdough), we all need our little dose of normality. Those comforting rhythms of everyday life, whether it’s catching a bus or sitting waiting for a haircut. Which is where I’m writing this, and I expect it’ll show.
Reclaiming them from our current reality is going to take time, but Saraztro got us off to a good start.
It’s the first day of reopening. The staff are clearly a little apprehensive and are at pains to show how mindful they are of precautions. The rest of us? It’s clear how much everyone is enjoying being here, being ‘out’, all smiles and anticipation and a taste of old habits revived, even when it comes with limits and caveats.
It’s the eating out experience shorn of many of its refinements. Whether it’s ordering through a screen at the front desk, or disposable tableware and the hazard warning chevron tape on the floor, reminders are all around.
It’s damp out here when we arrive, the back doors opening into their courtyard and their limited capacity further encroached on by the weather.
The rain thickens from trickle to torrent as we eat. Even the massed choir of braying bellends in the beer garden next door- they seem to have more sad wankers in than an International Symposium for Depressed Masturbators- can’t spoil it.
Despite this, it was lovely. The bottle of Peroni could have been some hefty Trappist like Chimay Bleu for all it would have mattered: the rain could have run down my neck and back for all I cared. We were Eating Out At Last.
The menu is much reduced, a short list of grill classics aimed at serving customers quickly. A salad with a block of sharp, crumbly feta comes in a cardboard box, far better to avoid the soggy bottom likely on our disposable tray plates.
The cutlery is disposable and wooden, not that anything needs cutting with anything more sophisticated than teeth. Besides, there are plenty of deadly weapons making themselves heard from next door at the Small Penis Overcompensation Club AGM, bless their hearts.
Mezze are dive-straight-in appealing, too, the hummus humming with garlic and delicate, herby dolma the highlights.
The pork and chicken souvlaki are simple things done right, the meat well seasoned and smoky and with some lovely ‘catch’ from the bars of the grill. You get a mound of thick, creamy tzatziki, a handful of serviceable fries and bread slowly soaking up salty, meaty juices. Uncomplicated and satisfying stuff.
‘Chic’ this is not. Intensely welcome, it certainly is.
All this, with a juice and a gin and tonic too, and change from £30, for unpretentious food which sends us away full and happy. This is the world we eat in now, at least for a while. The menu was always going to be of secondary significance to the occasion itself, though we thoroughly enjoyed it and my daughter’s ‘deeeee-licious!’ as she ate her chicken skewer side on (cartoon corn on the cob fashion) speaks volumes.
She was enjoying it so much it left a wide grin of meat juices either side of her mouth. And it says something about how much she has missed all this, that she sported what she called her ‘chicken beard’ all the way home. Somehow I didn’t have the heart to wipe it off immediately.
This is simple food, of meat kissed by the grill, of salads with snap, of bread you want to tear and fold. It’s an easy way to slide back in to this thing we took for granted. I’d be keen to come back here to try more of the menu: I’m painfully aware I haven’t done their cooking justice here, but other things were on my mind. So here’s to the simplest pleasures of all: good food, good company, and the realisation that even in straitened circumstances there are some things even the Welsh weather can’t dampen.
57 Wellfield Road
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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.