There’s a new chef at the helm at the St Davids Hotel restaurant, Tempus At Tides and he’s had his say on the new menu, too. On a drizzly Tuesday evening in June, I went to try out his cooking and see what this iconic waterfront hotel now has to offer the foodies of Cardiff.
The new Executive Chef at the St David’s Hotel is Martyn Watkins. He has over 20 years experience in the industry working across the UK, and most recently, he was the Executive Chef at the Marriott Royal Hotel in Bristol before joining the St David’s Hotel team this summer.
His menu is designed to be ‘refreshingly simple’ and is prepared using a variety of seasonal Welsh produce and locally sourced, certified-Welsh meat. Sadly at present there is no indication of the welfare conditions of said meat – I would love to see them move towards guaranteeing whether the beef is grass-fed, the chicken free-range and the pork outdoor reared in the future.
On a miserable Tuesday evening, we were quickly seated at a table for two with sweeping views over Cardiff Bay and the barrage – it was still lush, even in the drizzle. I dived straight in and ordered the Rillet of Salmon with chive cream, pickled cucumber, orange salad and crostini (£9.50) to start. I was particularly impressed with our waiter’s suggested choice of wine by the glass to accompany my fishy starter – a light-bodied Arc des Anges Vermentino Sauvignon Blanc (£6.00). Pete meanwhile went for the meaty option and ordered the confit duck terrine with ham hock, celeriac remoulade, capers and shallots (£8.50).
Both starters were excellent – more delicate in flavour than expected, and Pete’s terrine in particular was presented very well. In terms of portion size, mine was definitely on the generous side but I finished the lot – my only request would have been for one more crostini to go with all of that lovely salmon!
On to the mains, and this time it was Pete’s turn to order the fish dish – spiced monkfish with new potatoes, wilted lettuce, and curried mussel velôute (£21.00). The meaty monkfish, spicy sauce and crispy potatoes reminded me of a posh fish ‘n’ chips with curry sauce (if you took away those chunky mussels). I mean that as a definite compliment!
I chose the lamb for my main, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’m Welsh, so it’s the done thing really, isn’t it? Secondly, I chose as it as with lamb, I can always be 99% sure that it was reared outside, on Welsh pasture, rather than in a more intensive system (since less than 1% of British sheep are raised in this way).
My lamb rump with braised shoulder was served with rich boulangere potatoes, an aubergine puree, mixed veg and a pepper and olive sauce (£22.50). I ordered the lamb pink and true to my request, it was cooked perfectly to my liking – tender and soft to the bite. The serving size was also just right for me, especially after I finished off my starter with such gusto!
To finish, Pete and I did manage to show some restraint by ordering the profiteroles with vanilla cream & salted caramel (£8.00 ) to share. These were huge, more like choux buns in size – and devilishly moreish. Though indulgent and creamy, they were not too rich, and we could easily (and maybe should have) eaten 3 each!
All in all, the service, food, and ambiance at Tempus At Tides were top notch. It’s on the pricey side, but we were very well looked after by the staff, our meal was beautifully cooked and presented, and of course, you have that fabulous, 180 degree view over Cardiff Bay to enjoy. I’m desperate to go back on a clearer evening to enjoy more than the one glass of wine on that inviting balcony!