This Canton branch of Smokin’ Griddle follows Swansea to become their second on Wales. Originating in Romford in 2012, you may already know them from their brief stint at Sticky Fingers .
You could be forgiven for being reminded of US imports like 5 Guys, whether it’s the huge serving of fries or the brown bag they arrive in.
Thankfully prices here are much more accessible than theirs, which can seem enthusiastic at best and ‘only accessible to those who can WhatsApp their way to a lavishly lucrative PPE contract as quickly as they can type ‘Didn’t we use to play the biscuit game together in our dorm at Eton..?” at worst.
They use Welsh beef in their burgers, patties coming as a single 160g as standard but with the option to double up for an extra £3. The vegetarian and vegan options use Moving Mountains patties made from water, oyster mushrooms, onion, soya protein and the like.
Our first visit is a simple affair, from a large menu. It’s always a good idea to start with the basics. The beef is a capably- seasoned ‘smashed’ style patty with plenty of what I’ve been calling sexy squidgeability for years now and I can’t be arsed to stop yet. It’s not the most photogenic burger in town, but that’s always secondary to flavour anyway. The portion of fries is huge- 5 Guys massive, which means many go uneaten. They spill into the bag: the tall cup can’t contain them and I swear I spot birds nesting in the higher reaches. They’re nicely seasoned with a smoky spice mix, but the sheer volume means they’ll probably be cool and limp before you get anywhere near the end. I’d settle for far fewer.
On our second visit we get the Smokin’ Solo meal deal. There’s impressive value here, with £15 getting you over £20 worth: burger, fries, milkshake and chicken strips, though you can have mozzarella sticks. Have the chicken.
My lunch date is my favourite person, and the kids’ meal (burger and less seasoned fries) gets an enthusiastic thumbs up.
As does the vanilla shake (£3.95), which lasts a reassuringly long time.
I order onion rings, and you should, too. Happily irregular in size, lighty coated and crisp, they’re rather good and manage to sidestep the common issues.
My Black and Blue burger doesn’t quite deliver on its promise. When I order blue cheese on a burger I want tang, I want bass notes: what I don’t want is to have to check whether there’s any of the advertised sauce on mine. I do. There is. It’s just muted, buried way down in the mix until it’s undetectable. Overall it’s a decent enough burger in its own right, and mushrooms and the thick salty little snap are always welcome. At £10, though, it feels like the pricing is a little off on this one.
Chicken strips are a steal. Have them. They come as part of the meal deal, but for four pounds you get five breast pieces which don’t skimp on the size or the seasoning. That’s thunderingly good value and should be on your order.
It’s easy to imagine Smokin’ Griddle doing well in Cardiff. Good, consistent burger options are thinner than you’d expect, and they have a couple of factors on their side. The fact they are actually open 12-10 Monday to Saturday, and until 8 on Sundays, will come as a relief to those who complain schedules in Cardiff can be baffling and exasperating.
Ditto their plans to deliver to a 3 mile radius from the restaurant, which means parts of the city hitherto overlooked now get a look in. That has to be applauded in a city where delivery areas and capabilities can seem arbitrary and capricious. They can do that because their delivery policy is positively enlightened: they employ their own drivers directly. No third party, just everything in house, as befits a business which calls itself ‘The Burger Delivery Company’.
It’s easy to see where Smokin’ Griddle fits in locally. The online eye roll at ‘yet another burger place’ is almost a cliché in itself, though never extended to pizza for example. Besides, there’s always room for another decent option in the city, and their accessibility will win them fans.
Smokin’ Griddle, 86 Cowbridge Rd East, Pontcanna, Cardiff CF11 9DX
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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.