Canton’s SEN Bros is where ‘Hoja’s by SEN Bros’ was, and is moments away from SEN BBQ on Cowbridge Road, but has nothing to do with either.
Got that? All clear? Marvellous.
It’s the former owner of BBQ- ‘call me Sen’- who built its strong reputation, but sold up last year and now runs Bros.
Now unrecognisable from the daytime café which did a good line in breakfasts and industrial-strength Turkish coffee, the right hand side is dominated by a hefty charcoal grill which is the heart of the place.
There’s little on this menu which doesn’t come straight from the coals. Sure, there is a short list of Turkish staples like yoghurt and cucumber cacik, cheese-stuffed sigara boregi, hummus and those robust beef sucuk sausages; and a couple of meat-free mains in hellim and falafel, but really, it’s all about that grill.
Permutations of chicken and lamb- kofte, shish, chops, wings- make up the bulk of what’s on offer.
In contrast to the occasionally-disappointing bread at BBQ, which I found ‘limp and uninviting’ in my review last year, SEN Bros’ version is a treat: brittle-crusted, warm and soft, with the lightest sheen of lightly-dabbed clarified butter and a few moments pressed against the flat top grill.
Sen is ably assisted by his niece Leyla- it’s rare to see a woman on a grill round here, and she has enviable skills. XL mixed shish is the key order, and deftly done it is, too. This is grill work with a light but confident touch.
Lamb chops are a highlight: sizeable cuts, beaten into tenderness before grilling, with everything you want from them: that charred ‘catch’ along the bone, the little nuggets of meat waiting to be teased out, the sweetness of the flesh.
Chicken wings bring a hit of heat, the doe-eyed way they give up their meat in start contrast to the punch of their chilli marinade. Speaking of which: ignore the standard bottled sauce, and go for their homemade sauce: a rough, smoky paste you’ll keep coming back to.
A bed of rice (yes, you can have chips: but why would you?), sumac-sprinkled salad, and a few grilled meats. Sometimes, that’s all you need, isn’t it?
Well seasoned, well marinated, well cooked. That trough full of embers produces some very good things: throw in a ringside seat for some prime Canton people-watching (is there an area of the city which can come close to the sights, sounds and smells of Cowbridge Road East..?) and you have yourself a winner.
122 Cowbridge Rd E, Pontcanna, Cardiff CF11 9DX
Tuesday 2–10:30 pm
Wednesday 2–10:30 pm
Thursday 2–10:30 pm
Friday 2–10:30 pm
Saturday 2–10:30 pm
Sunday 2–10:30 pm
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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.