The Lansdowne pub in Canton has developed quite a reputation in recent months. It’s probable that some of that status is due to the long-term residency of Cardiff BBQ legends Hangfire Smokehouse, who often created queues out-the-door as punters came in search of the best slow-cooked meat in town. Well, all good things must come to an end as they say, and with the Hangfire girls planning a move to The Pilot in Penarth starting at the end of the summer, what does that mean for The Lansdowne and its kitchen?
Thankfully, landlady Binki has not made the mistake of trying to imitate the formula of the ‘Smokehouse. Her talented new chef Gavin Owen (previously based in The Hardwick, Abergavenny) has instead created a diverse and interesting ‘gastro-pub’ style menu, catering for almost every taste and spanning a wide range of world cuisines.
At a preview taster evening of the new menu, guests were treated to dishes including tempura haddock goujons with wasabi mayonnaise; welsh beef burgers with prosciutto-wrapped goats cheese and roasted cherry tomatoes; and Thai ‘jungle curry’ served with Asian crackers. Sadly, the meat isn’t higher welfare, (although it is all Welsh and the eggs are free range) but fear not – vegetarian options were very well executed – and with interesting and flavoursome dishes including a feta cheese and beetroot burger with roasted tomatoes, it was easy to say no to the carnivorous options.
The food at The Lansdowne has always been well received, but their new chef’s creative new menu now pushes it that bit further – and it’s paid off.
My number one dish was a starter of the lightest and crispiest tempura vegetables (again served with a hot wasabi mayonnaise and pickled salad), which even had the meat-eaters in my group picking off my plate!
The new Lansdowne menu is a bold and necessary departure from the ribs and briskets served up by the Hangfire girls, and most definitely a smart move. Hundreds of new customers were introduced to the warm and friendly staff at this cosy, quirky pub as a result of the BBQ legends residency, but now it is time for both parties to move on and continue forging their own separate identities. With The Lansdowne’s impressive beer selection having earned it the title of CAMRA’s ‘Cardiff Pub of the Year’ for 2014 and the new menu looking to encompass dishes that will regularly change with the seasons, there really is no better time to check out (or continue supporting) this little Canton gem.