What a beautiful week we’ve had in Cardiff! Even after a whole week of glorious sunshine, my weather app is still not showing any signs of rain for the foreseeable future. There are so many beautiful blossom trees and magnolias out in full bloom, only improved by the background of a brilliant blue sky. I’m writing this on Sunday morning where it looks like it’s shaping up to be another gorgeous day, just waiting until it’s an appropriate time to walk down to the Riverside Market and finally get my hands on a Mr Croquewich grilled cheese sandwich – but more on that one later. For now, I’m thinking back to last week’s lunch at Porro in Llandaff, which included a walk around the very beautiful Cathedral and grounds, just filled with those beautiful blossoms.
Last weekend was the first full weekend that the Returning Cardiffian (RC) and I have had in Cardiff since moving here in December. After seeing the lamb rump from Porro on Instagram I knew I had our Sunday lunch destination sorted. Porro is definitely one of the more-mentioned places I have come across since moving to Cardiff. It strikes me as a bit of a local institution – everyone’s heard of it, many have been there and it’s got insanely Instagrammable food. It also didn’t hurt that we’d had such a good experience at The Potted Pig, Porro’s sister restaurant, only a few weeks ago.
We arrived in Llandaff a little early for our booking, so decided to take a wander around the area before lunch. I had been to Llandaff twice before, once many years ago meeting up with friends who lived in the area, and more recently as part of our “where shall we live in Cardiff?” touring shenanigans; but this was the first time that I’d had a proper look around the Cathedral and surrounding area. It has always struck me as a particularly beautiful part of Cardiff, the houses have so much character and now that I am seeing it spring, some of the most spectacular blossoms I have ever seen.
Walking up the main street away from Porro, we first came across the Bishop’s Palace, the ruin of the former residence of the Llandaff Bishops. Whilst not much remains except for the stone border wall, it is quite stunning to look at and the interior of the palace has been turned into a beautiful and tranquil park. I could easily imagine nearby workers and residents coming to sit quietly over lunch in the grounds.
After a stroll around the park and the gatehouse, we headed down the street to the Llandaff Cathedral itself; being a Sunday, there was a service taking place so we didn’t go in, but we did wander down in front of the buildings as far as we could before heading back, going up the steep Dean’s Steps to the Cathedral Green. The Cathedral is just stunning, although difficult to do it justice with an iPhone:
Finally, it was time to make our way back to Porro for our booking. Upon arrival, our table wasn’t ready so we were seated at a little couch in the front window (read: sunshine) and offered drinks while we waited. It wasn’t overly busy in the restaurant at that point, although it did fill up during our meal, so it’s a good idea to book ahead of time. For Sunday lunch, in addition to a delicious a la carte menu, there was a set menu of 2 or 3 courses including the roasts, a choice of pork, beef, chicken and lamb.
I started with focaccia al pomodoro, two slices of warm focaccia, slightly crispy around the edges topped with a savoury tomato glaze with a scattering of herbs. It was served with a dipping bowl of olive oil and a thick, sweet balsamic vinegar, perfectly sized for the portion. RC opted for the mackerel, which looked beautiful on its bed of tomatoes and capers. I accompanied my starter with a Sorrento Sour, a refreshing Mediterranean-influenced cocktail made with gin and lemoncello, and garnished with thyme. It was not only delicious but also potent (!) – the only drink I had but I definitely felt it!
Next, of course, came the star of the meal – the roasts. I’d previously seen Porro’s roast lamb rump on Instagram and was hoping that would be on the day’s menu. However, the lamb option was shoulder, which I tend to avoid as I often find it too fatty. This then left me with a really difficult choice – beef or pork? Beef or pork?! (#firstworldproblems) I finally settled on beef and RC, ever the traditionalist, went for chicken – I think it might be his favourite food, ever.
The roasts were a reasonable but not oversized portion, served with a platter of beautiful steamed veg on the side – romanesco, tenderstem broccoli, carrots and greens together added a lovely splash of colour to the plate. An enormous fluffy Yorkshire pudding sat alongside each portion of meat, and the all-important roasties were crispy on the outside while remaining fluffy in the middle. My beef was a little bit more well done than is my personal preference, but still pink, tender and juicy. RC’s chicken was flavoured with lemon and rosemary, with the skin sticky and crispy.
The meal was really lovely and filling, at £15 for two courses or £20 for three it seemed like pretty good value given the location and reputation of the restaurant. We did look at the dessert menu and whilst there were quite a few options that took our fancy (tiramisu… dark chocolate tart… dessert wine…) we were full enough to be able to resist without feeling overly stuffed. Perhaps though, for the sake of the blog of course, I really should start eating more desserts…!!
I’d happily go back to Porro again, perhaps for something other than Sunday lunch as the a la carte menu looked pretty delicious as well. It’s the kind of place I could see meeting up with friends on a weekend, or perhaps taking family there when they are visiting Cardiff for a nice but not-break-the-bank kind of meal. It was definitely more relaxed than The Potted Pig, which I would class more as a special occasion restaurant. Their brunch photos also look pretty spectacular – I suspect that may well be my next visit…
Until next time, Cardiffians!