Barocco on Wharton St is no longer just another city chain bar.
Now under independent ownership, free from the yoke of Brains Brewery, it is also home to brand new pop up Snufflers.
The kitchen is run by Max and Shaun, who have done their time in some well respected kitchens across the city- Bar 44, Curado and perhaps most pertinently Chronic Fried Chicken among others- and are now putting something characteristically Welsh on the menu.
That ‘something’ has hot dogs at its heart: but with a whole slew of topped chips, ribs and wings, Snufflers sets its stall out to serve quality comfort food to the capital.
The menu is slicker than most- no single A4 on a clipboard- and done in-house. It’s in keeping with the surroundings. With sections for ‘Herbivores’, ‘Carnivores’ and ‘Omnivores’ there’s impressive choice here. There are six meat-free dogs listed- only one fewer than the carnivorous counterparts. All meat and vegetables come from Cardiff Market, moments away.
In the ‘Hot Dog’- it’s often telling to start with the basic model- you get a light, fluffy white roll, the black pepper and pork sausage comes with classic dressing- onions, ketchup, mustard.
This isn’t your typical emulsion style frankfurter but a classic butcher’s banger. (We’ll leave the whole Dirty Harry ‘ketchup or no ketchup’ debate to one side for now.)
Crisp slivers of red onion are impeccable, more of them sautéed bringing some sweetness. That sausage is very well made, peppery and porky and made within throwing distance, a custom mix from long-established butcher JT Morgan who kept many of us going with home deliveries during 2020.
I have one reservation about the build of the dog, but not its components, and it’s nothing that can’t be tweaked in moments. It’s the old ‘dress the dog’ issue.
Loading wet ingredients into the ‘hinge’ risks the whole thing collapsing and that threatens to be the case here, turning what should be a carefree handful into something that needs careful supervising en route to my expectant maw. But as I said- an adjustment, not a reinvention.
There are plenty of topped chips listed, most of them with the plant-based sausages. The ‘Gravy Trough’- anything with trough in the title promises much- manages to keep the triple cooked chips crisp, unlike so many I’ve had elsewhere. Thick slices of sausage, a hearty gravy, mature cheese just starting to melt into the best kind of tangy thick mess… And why not? It’s a hefty portion for £7. A spicy, fruity curry sauce would be a lovely thing to add here.
Those sausages are the star of pigs in blankets ‘Cocktail Snufflers’ (£5). wrapped in salty streaky bacon seasoning the sausage and a smoky tomato ketchup for dipping.
Ribs are a highlight. Braised for 8 hours in stock, slathered in a honey-based barbecue glaze and roasted in a pizza oven to finish, it’s time well spent. With a twist the bones emerge ‘cleanly unmeated’ (to borrow Cormac Mccarthy’s deft phrase). It’s impressive work, each rib thick and sweetly meaty. A must-order.
There’s a lot here which bodes very well. A good sit-down hot dog place is long overdue in the city centre, but you could easily eat substantially without them.
The name plays on two ideas: noisy pigs, and music obsessives ratching through crates of vinyl for that missing record. There has clearly been some serious consideration given to this menu and how to make it work.
With an inclusive, largely allergen-free menu and sourcing from- and collaboration with- locally owned independents at its core, this is another new opening which deserves your support.
Snufflers, Barocco, Cardiff 12-9, daily
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.