I’d never normally put vegan and fine dining in the same sentence – or so I thought. Then I tried the tasting menu at Park House Restaurant in Cardiff, and let me tell you, it changed everything.
These days, it’s so much easier to eat out as a vegan – I mean, we can even go to Nando’s – and we enjoy delicious meals at restaurants up and down the country, but it’s hardly haute cuisine. And that’s fine by me because that’s not the kind of food I want to eat every day.
For a special occasion though, and especially if your meat-eating friends want a slap-up meal, options can be a bit thin on the ground if you’re not a carnivore. Fortunately for us friends of the animals, fancy restaurants are starting realise that vegans like food, too.
I really like food and I really liked the dishes at Park House Restaurant, and as with all good restaurants, there’s an emphasis on using quality seasonal ingredients that are locally sourced. Any chef worth his or her salt can create something exquisite with vegetables and chef patron Andrew Frost is la crème de la crème of the Welsh culinary world so we’re in safe hands. My friend Cara had the regular menu and was just as impressed, and we enjoyed every morsel of our eight (yes, eight!) courses.
The menu changes weekly (which makes sense with all the lovely seasonal veg that’s around) but here’s what I ate when I visited last week:
- Leek and wild garlic veloutte
This was the perfect start to the meal and came with bread and some amazing garlic and lemon ‘butter’.
- Heritage tomato (cannelloni – capers)
The cutest little cannelloni with juicy tomatoes and tart capers.
- Cardiff salad (mixed vegetables and black garlic).
This came from just down the road in Bute Park and was simple and delicious.
- Pertuis asparagus (morels and vin jaune jus)
The asparagus hailed all the way from the town of Pertuis in Provence and was served with morels, a type of funghi, and a jus that tasted just like heaven.
- Fricassee of beans and peas with garlic
A goddess of green goodness. Very, very moreish.
- Heritage carrots with ras el hanout, grilled vegan halloumi and local sea herbs
The star of the show – and yes, vegan halloumi is pretty swell, especially with all these flavours.
- Rhubarb with Brecon gin sorbet
Two of my favourite things combined in a dessert. Sharply sweet and refreshing.
- Apple tart tatin
Just lovely, especially when served with vegan vanilla ice cream.
At £75, it’s not cheap – and it costs the same as the regular menu which obviously contains meat – so I can understand why some vegans won’t want to fork out that much money. But when you take into account the cost of running a restaurant (paying staff wages, rent, ingredients etc.), and the skill involved, it seems a fair price to pay. You can also try the five-course tasting menu for £55.
So yes, it’s a treat (and full disclosure: I didn’t have to pay for this) but like the food, the service is exquisite, so you’re paying for an experience. It’s a grand old building, too (Grade 1 listed), so it’s the perfect place to be wined and dined. If you’re celebrating or simply want to spoil yourself with some vegan fine dining, book a table – you won’t be disappointed.
Park House Restaurant is at 20 Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3DQ.