One of the most fun ways to spend a Friday or Saturday night at Cardiff Bay is an evening at Demiro’s – one of only a handful of independent restaurants in the Bay area, with a pretty much unique blend of great food and entertainment on offer at the weekends.
Anyone taking a walk in the Bay on a summer’s weekend evening (or sometimes even during the day on a Sunday) couldn’t fail to notice Demiro’s, thanks to the fact that there’s normally someone singing outside! The restaurant has a smallish terrace area, with tables, heaters and a small bar, but in the walkway between this and the restaurant, one of their resident singers is normally entertaining diners and passers by alike. The regulars include Dino, who appeared as Dean Martin on Stars in their Eyes around 15 years ago and is a consummate entertainer, not only a great sound-alike, but with all the right mannerisms and even more importantly an ability to engage with the crowd and draw people in to watch. Very often, when he’s performing, a crowd gathers outside. Also on the bill most evenings is Mr Frank Starr, whose speciality is an excellent Frank Sinatra, and a more recent addition to the bill is a lady whose name I unfortunately don’t know, but she does a cracking Shirley Bassey!
Now, all of this could be terribly cheesy and cringeworthy, but it somehow manages not to be – it’s just great entertainment! All of the performers also do a slot during the evening, and later on once the restaurant closes, in the “VIP Piano Lounge” – a champagne bar around the corner and upstairs, owned by the same people as Demiro’s, with a live pianist to accompany the performers. Despite the name, the bar is open to anyone, but does seem to attract a more sophisticated (and older) clientele than most of the other bars in the Bay. It has stunning decor (including an ice bar) which is worth a look and it’s a great way to finish an evening after eating and being entertained in Demiro’s.
But I digress. Unsurprisingly, Demiro’s attracts lots and lots of celebration groups – although probably more along the lines of birthdays (for a wide range of age groups) than hen and stag parties. There are always tables with balloons on, and very often the proceedings will be interrupted for someone to bring out a cake, accompanied with a chorus of happy birthday from some or all of the resident entertainers.
You might think from all of the above (and the fact that I’ve not even mentioned anything about the actual dining as yet) that the food would be secondary to everything else. Indeed, I am pretty sure that a restaurant that offers so much in terms of entertainment and catering for large groups could easily get away with providing a fairly average quality of food – but not so in Demiro’s.
The menu is absolutely vast – again, you could think that this might mean a sacrifice in terms of quality, particularly as it’s such a big place, in that it could be a Jack of all trades and master of none. Unusually, it spans three different (and diverse!) cuisines: Welsh (with this section of the menu in dual languages!), Italian and Spanish. The Welsh section has some local dishes such as laverbread and cockles, Welsh faggots and rack of Welsh lamb. Italian includes an extensive range of pizzas, pastas and salads, and Spanish is more focused on meat and fish dishes with an Iberian theme. All three sections include a range of starters and main courses, so you could easily be completely spoilt for choice.
Mr W and I regularly go to Demiro’s and we have become very predictable in our choices. He always goes for the rack of lamb, and I almost always choose a pasta dish, Pollo Napoletano, which is a whole chicken breast, stuffed with mozzarella and wrapped in Italian ham, served on a bed of spaghetti with a creamy tomato pesto sauce. The quality and taste of the food is very consistent – we’ve had these meals there on numerous occasions and we’ve never been disappointed. The portions are always generous (but not over the top) and anything that comes with potatoes and veg has a plentiful helping of both! I am often tempted to try something else (there’s certainly plenty of options!) but the Pollo Napoletano is so delicious – moist, tasty chicken breast complemented by the mozzarella and ham, and just the right amount of deliciously rich and creamy pesto with the pasta. It’s rare for me to go for a pasta dish when there’s a range of meat and fish options available, but having the whole chicken breast is a bit more special than just having a bowl of pasta with a few bits of chicken and ham tossed in.
On this visit, we just had the one course each. Demiro’s really is about much more than just the food! Prices range from around the £10 mark up to about £20 for a steak, so it’s a little bit more than you’d pay in a chain restaurant, but certainly not excessive, and given the quality of the food, combined with the entertainment and all round buzz of the place, it’s worth every penny. It’s by no means fine dining, but for what it is, it is absolutely excellent.
The decor is also worth a mention. It’s stylish, but ever-so slightly kitsch, in keeping with the type of mood the restaurant is going for; notably, guests are greeted at the door by an enormous champagne flute, filled with a cascade of white LED lights. More lights are featured in the ‘tree’ outside on the terrace – if you look closely, you’ll see why I’ve put ‘tree’ in inverted commas! The ladies’ toilets are of particular note, with glittery toilet seats (similar to the ones I have in my own home, as it happens!) and chandeliers, and it’s clear that a lot of love and thought has been put in to every detail.
The service is always friendly and efficient – again, the mind boggles as to just how they keep the operation running so smoothly, when they have such a big place, such a wide range of menu options and generally several large groups in for the evening. It does sometimes feel quite hectic with lots of waiters rushing around, but that just adds to the atmosphere of the place. There is a call button on every table for waiter service, but we’ve never had to use this so I can’t say whether or not it works!
I’d highly recommend Demiro’s. It’s not the place for a quiet, romantic meal for two, but having said that, we regularly go as a couple and never feel uncomfortable, or indeed as if we are the only couple in amongst a restaurant filled with large groups – there seems to be a good mix of the two. It’s always packed on a Friday and Saturday night, and rightly so. It would appeal to all ages and is a fantastic place for a celebration with family or friends where having a great meal, from a menu that really does have something for everyone, is just as important as getting together and having a good time. It’s in an excellent location, and if you visit on a warm summer’s evening it would be lovely to try and get a table outside so you can enjoy the views and atmosphere of the Bay and get a first hand experience of the singers!
Food: **** Service: **** Ambience: *****
Demiro’s, Unit 26, Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay CF10 5BZ