There was a time, and it doesn’t feel so very long ago, when Cardiff was a craft beer desert.
City-wide, It Was Brains You Wanted; and even if you didn’t, alternatives were usually uninspiring.
Now, of course, everyone knows their Cloudwater from Carling and Beavertown from their Bud, and we all bore on about our favorite ‘hop-forward’ brews and bergamot notes in our hefeweizens. And among the prime movers of the Cardiff craft beer movement, doubtless, was Urban Tap House.
Now rebranded as Tiny Rebel Bar, with another in Newport, they have recently redesigned their menu. It’s very much pub food, rather than ‘gastropub’ or restaurant. Burgers, pizzas and salads (do you know anyone who typically orders salad in a pub? Answers on a postcard to the usual address) with a smattering of snacks and sides with their eye firmly on their ultimate purpose: accompaniments to good drinks. Vegans are not neglected either, with their own section on the menu.
Beer-battered pickles disappear rapidly with cold beer. Chicken wings are well-crisped and arrive dressed with a tangy blue cheese sauce and a swirl of herb oil- it’s an unexpectedly cheffy twist which works very well.
A black pudding fritter is the only let down. It lacks the expected tangy ferric depth of flavour and the dominant taste is of flour which hasn’t been sufficiently cooked out before forming. It’s a shame as the accompanying spiced apple sauce is excellent, the sort of thing which has you looking around for a spoon.
The arrival of pizza with chicken tikka is enough to give pizza purists a fit of the vapours, fanning flustered brows with their fazzoletti di seta.
No, it may not be ‘authentic’. But in the (rather more relevant) spirit of ‘that looks and sounds delicious, let’s get stuck in’, I can confirm it’s very, very good- the nuggets of bhaji are light and crisp, enough to make you long for a couple of full-sized ones. It’s curry house starters on an excellent dough base, and as such is irreproachable in this context. It’s lovely pub pizza.
A burger of this marinated chicken- topped with this bhaji and laced with spiced raita- would be a terrific thing.
The burger choices work as ‘basic burger plus…’ options rather than packaged entities. We add bacon and cheese and the maple bacon sweetness is a nice touch. Though served ‘well done’- the city lags behind more enlightened regulation- it doesn’t have that offputting ‘tightly-bound’ feel others do, with a more ‘open’ texture and good seasoning making for a hearty pub burger. The generous serving of skinny fries- well-seasoned and crisp- is another plus.
Save the one miss-step, which I’m sure can be easily remedied, this is a well thought out menu. Unpretentious, hearty, satisfying: this is food which will see you very well through a few hours well-spent sampling Tiny Rebel’s enviable roster of beers.
Tiny Rebel Bar Cardiff
We were invited to dine at Tiny Rebel and food and drink was complimentary up to £25. This did not unduly influence my opinion.
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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.