I have to confess that since my first visit to Mint and Mustard in Cardiff’s Whitchurch Road, I haven’t been back – not because I didn’t want to, but because it’s a little bit of a trek from home in Penarth – so I was rather thrilled to hear that Mint and Mustard were opening a takeaway here, under the banner of Mint and Mustard at home. The Cardiff restaurant has numerous accolades to its name, including a Bib Gourmand, so its arrival in Penarth was much anticipated (albeit beset by a little bit of confusion) and is the subject of my first ever review of a takeaway.
As discussed at length in a recent review, I’m not a huge fan of ‘curry house’ curry, but in common with fellow Cardiff restaurants, Moksh and Purple Poppadom (another favourite), Mint and Mustard offers something much more contemporary, so I was interested to see how this would translate into takeaway food where it’s less about the presentation!
We took the risk of ordering on the first Saturday night that they were open (having opened on the Tuesday). We ordered by phone around 8.35 p.m. and were told that we would have to wait at least an hour, which was fine with us. By 10.15 p.m. our order still hadn’t arrived, so I called them to find out where it was. I completely appreciate that these things do happen, and it’s unfair to judge a place on its first weekend of opening when timings and turnover of orders are no doubt still bedding in, but what I always say is that it’s not the fact that things go wrong, it’s how you deal with them that matters. Unfortunately, in this case, they did rather let themselves down, as the person I spoke to offered no apology or explanation, just told me rather accusingly that our order had already gone – as if I may have not noticed that it had in fact been delivered! Fortunately, when it eventually turned up (at 10.30 p.m.) the delivery driver was more apologetic. I’ve since spoken to a few people who have experienced similar delays, or even been told that they can’t place an order because they are too busy. If nothing else, it proves it’s very popular!
Anyway, enough of that, and on with the food. I found the online menu rather difficult to read: it’s a PDF and has a swirly pattern as part of the background, which conflicts with some of the writing. The prices don’t display at all on my computer either! We managed to decipher it, however, and ordered poppadoms and chutneys, then Aleppy Swordfish Curry for me, Chef Homestyle Lamb Curry for Mr W, and sides of steamed rice, olan butternut/cowpeas and a peshwari naan. I have to admit we did rather take pot luck with our orders, as none of the curry dishes had any descriptions. I think this is a mistake for a takeaway, especially one that doesn’t feature the standard range of kormas, madrases, dhansaks and rogan joshes, as it’s not easy to ask someone what a dish comprises, and there wasn’t even anything to say how spicy each dish was. As it was, we chose our main courses simply because I liked the sound of swordfish, and Mr W likes a lamb curry and that one sounded the most appealing of those on offer.
The poppadoms were excellent, having been cooked in small pieces and served with a few small pots of chutney that differed from the usual curry house selection, but reflected what I’d tried when I went to the Whitchurch Road restaurant. They were crisp and not at all greasy, having not suffered at all from being packaged up and delivered.
My Swordfish didn’t disappoint. The fish was cooked well, and would probably have looked plentiful if it had been served in a restaurant, but in the tub it was swimming (no pun intended) in sauce to the extent that I had to fish (still no pun intended) around to find the few pieces of fish. For me, there was way too much sauce for the amount of fish – but on the plus side, the sauce was extremely tasty, a little bit sweet, not too creamy, and with a surprisingly spicy bite to it (had I known it was going to be that spicy, I probably wouldn’t have chosen it – another reason why I think the menu needs more explanation).
My side dish was tasty: the cowpeas were similar to lentils, and were accompanied by a few small cubes of butternut. Again, though, the dish was absolutely swimming in sauce. It may be that it was meant to be like this, as I’ve never tried the dish before, but combined with my swordfish dish it was way too much sauce. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, a more detailed description on the menu could have avoided this situation (and the need for me to have my food in a bowl instead of on a plate).
Mr W’s lamb dish was excellent: a generous helping of beautifully tender lamb and a rich, mild sauce. Given the choice, he would have chosen something spicier (I’m not going to say it again!) but despite this he really enjoyed it – and for me it had the right level of spice, so I’d consider having it in a future order. None of the dishes suffered from the greasiness that sometimes afflicts takeaway curries.
The rice was cooked well and one portion was more than enough for two of us to share. The peshwari naan had the right balance between crispness and softness, and, again in common with the one I tried on my visit to Mint and Mustard, had a hint of mango in the filling along with the usual coconut.
I will definitely try Mint and Mustard at Home again. Being able to have the more contemporary style of Indian cuisine that I prefer, delivered to my door, is fantastic, and a concept I didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to come across! Despite a few moans in my review, the main thing is that the food was excellent. I just wish I’d known more about what I was ordering! I’m sure they will sort out any teething troubles they’ve had in fulfilling orders (and, indeed, the early rush to try the food will die down and make their business levels more manageable) and I hope that their future handling of any possible issues might be a little bit more sympathetic than what I experienced. If they can make their menu more detailed (and easier to read!) then even better – but if not, we’ll just have to work our way through the dishes until we’ve tried them all and can decide on our favourites!