Think of traditional Sunday lunch, and you’ll probably think of a country pub, or even home-cooked roast dinners in the family home. But where in the centre of Cardiff can you go for a really good roast dinner, perhaps to round off a shopping trip, or just because you want to hit some of the city centre bars before or after? Until recently, nowhere sprang to mind as the obvious choice in the city – but read on, as I may have found the answer!
After attending the Parc Thistle’s recent 130th anniversary celebrations, I was invited to visit again to try their newly launched Sunday lunch menu which forms part of the new offering for their restaurant, The Social, under head chef Iain Inman. I’ve always been a fan of the ambience and design in the restaurant, and it’s particularly conducive to a cosy Sunday lunch on a cold winter’s day. The lunch is only £15 for three courses, which seemed like excellent value, but of course the proof of the pudding (and the starter, and the main) is in the eating.
I started with smoked salmon, which was served with horseradish cream, dark rye bread and a generous portion of capers. Unusually, it wasn’t served with lemon, but some was provided when I requested it. The salmon was good quality and it was nice to have the capers on the side: a simple, but effective dish.
Mr W chose a ham hock terrine which was served with toasted bread and onion chutney. The terrine was meaty and tasty, and the addition of fresh peas gave it an extra edge.
We both opted for roast beef for our main course. This was cooked well, and served with a plentiful selection of vegetables (including some lovely roasted roots), roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings. Gravy abounded, and the way it was presented, with the vegetables all on the side, was really nice. For the price, you’d struggle to find a better roast beef dinner anywhere in the centre of Cardiff.
To finish, I opted for a chocolate cheesecake which could have been risky (sometimes they can be dry!) but thankfully delivered on its promises by being moist, rich and creamy, with a very crisp biscuit base. I did wonder if it might have benefited from some crème fraiche or similar on the side, but as it happened, the accompanying fruit coulis was more than enough to contrast with the rich chocolate.
Mr W chose a cheeseboard which included a good selection of traditional cheeses and came with plenty of biscuits, more onion chutney, and half of one of the cheese muffins that I’d tried at the recent celebration.
Service throughout our meal was absolutely excellent, and on a par with what you might expect in a fine dining restaurant. Several of the staff we met had been there a long time, and were delighted to have a nice new menu to tempt people in.
I thoroughly enjoyed lunch at the Social, and it was excellent value for such a good quality meal with that level of service. It was a bit quiet when we visited, but that was surely because they’ve only just launched the lunch menu, and I hope that word will spread and they will get busier over time – they deserve it.
The Social, Parc Thistle Hotel, Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3UD