If you’re looking for serious cuisine in Cardiff, you’ll struggle to find anything quite as good as Bully’s in the Pontcanna area of the city. In fact, we’d even go so far as to say that it’s our favourite fine dining restaurant in the Welsh capital, possibly the whole of South Wales. It’s not just the excellence of each plate of food that they put in front of you that makes it so special though, as it’s also well stocked with a perfectly selected wine menu, which they’ll happily advise you on to help you select a good match for your food choice.
Located a little way outside of the city centre, visitors to Cardiff will need to travel out to Pontcanna, to the west of Bute Park, to include it in a trip to the city, so your best bet is probably a short taxi ride, which will cost around £5. However, for Taff-strolling locals it should be a bastion of food and drink brilliance that you can call on any time you need to kick things up a notch in terms of your culinary intake.
The food on the menu is on the Michelin Star side of the spectrum, despite Bully’s not having picked one up as of yet, and so the prices are a little higher than the average meal out in Cardiff, but not extortionate and definitely worth every penny. For example, they’re monkfish tail with
saffron ratte potatoes, mussels cider jelly, monks beard and lilliput capers will set you back a reassuringly sturdy price of £19.50, while also serving up a very memorable plate of food.
It’s hard to categorise Bully’s as it doesn’t follow any one type of food origin, electing instead to take elements that work from any and all, while easily avoiding any real reference to fusion cuisine as such. If we had to describe it we’d say that it was hearty and delicate, high in impact and subtle delivery, packed with skill and yet seemingly effortless in its elegant delights. While being a series of contradictions and still managing to make it all work is pretty impressive all by itself, the most important point is that there’s more than enough choice of great food on the menu to please any discerning foodie with a half decent palette.
If you’re looking for something a little sophisticated you can go for a starter of seared scallops with assiette of beetroot, golden raisin and sherry vinegar dressing, but equally if you want to take things up to wafer thin mint proportions there’s the char-grilled Welsh beef fillet
with dauphinoise potato, wild garlic, yellow chanterelle mushrooms and madagascan peppercorn sauce. For desert you could opt for the delicately crafted vanilla panna cotta with bitter orange and basil sorbet or the left-field almond and apple tart with celeriac and honey ice cream.
Our selection of choice for a first time visitor to Bully’s is the five course taster menu, which comes with an accompanying glass of wine with each course, carefully selected to complement the plate. It makes for a lunchtime feast that’s nothing short of perfection, and well worth taking the day off work for if you’re looking for a treat to get you through a tough few weeks (honestly, it’s that good).
The menu changes regularly, but our last outing started out with an asparagus foam broth with homemade bread, which was much more delicious than we could ever really give it credit for. It also included a roast pork loin that was sheer heaven with an excellent gravy jus and a lavish paintbrush stroke of creamed potatoes. The French cheese board is exceptional and the panna cotta with blanched cubes of rhubarb is one of the best deserts we’ve ever been lucky enough to try.
The good news though is that for a restaurant that serves up such high levels of food and drink quality it also manages to accompany it all with a good atmosphere, relaxed surroundings and not a single trace of pretentiousness. The decor is tastefully ramshackle with minimalist chairs and seating combined with an array of random frames and artwork all over the walls, a little like the sketch and paining sections of the Royal Academy Of Arts’ Summer Exhibition.
All of this results in a great restaurant, with genuinely phenomenal food and an approachable quality that’s an important part of its charm. Bully’s is far from being a newcomer to the Cardiff restaurant scene, considering the fact that it was established back in 1996 by owner Russell Bullimore, but it’s still leading the way when it comes to fantastic cuisine. Check out the latest from Bully’s on its Twitter page.
Bully’s Cardiff restaurant review: 5/5
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