I recently spent 12 months working for Cardiff Met University and over the summer, I used to wander past this restaurant in Llandaff village at lunchtime. I would long to ditch the office grind and spend the rest of a sunny afternoon eating pasta and drinking wine, pretending to be in Italy.
As it happens, it wasn’t until a cold and foggy Friday evening in January that I finally made it in to Porro restaurant in Llandaff (owned by the same team behind the acclaimed Potted Pig) for an evening meal I was very much looking forward to.
First impressions were great – a modern yet cosy interior that was warmly lit, and lots of space in the entrance to disrobe scarves, coats and all sorts of other winter layers without feeling like you’re about to flick your cardigan in some poor unsuspecting diner’s soup.
We were quickly shown to a cosy corner booth which meant I could sit to the side of my other half, Pete, rather than opposite – I always prefer this as it feels much less formal. And then it was time to relax!
A large glass of very drinkable Pinot Grigio and a bowl of plump, lemony olives later, and we ordered our starters. I went for the braised leeks and taleggio on sourdough, while Pete chose the luxurious sounding confit duck croquettes with spiced plum chutney – rich and meaty with a pleasing crunch to their golden-brown casing.
Served on a generous slab of sourdough, my starter was creamy and delicious, although perhaps a little bit rustic and heavy to start a three course meal? At home, I want to try something similar topped with a fried egg for Sunday brunch.
Next up – the main course. I went for the sea bream with squid, purple sprouting broccoli, tomatoes & chilli. All of Porro’s fish is sourced fresh from the Gower in Swansea, and as soon as I saw this dish on the menu, I knew it was what I wanted. It’s exactly the kind of food I love to eat most; fresh, delicate and healthy but just as luxurious as any bowl of pasta. Crispy, generously salted fish skin is my weakness!
Pete went for another meaty main – Welsh sliced lamb belly, crispy lamb belly and puy lentils, served with a fresh salsa verde. It seemed like the perfect match for such a cold winter’s night, though I personally wouldn’t have chosen something so rich after those gamey duck croquettes.
After a short break to let our mains settle, it was time for dessert. I’ve talked about my apparent lack of sweet tooth before (give me an extra serving of salty potatoes over a slice of cake anyday) but whilst that is very much the the case, I am still rather partial to an after-dinner affogato – vanilla gelato or ice cream “drowned” with a shot of hot espresso. So that’s what I ordered.
Pete continued his commitment to full-fat feasting and went for a glossy looking dark chocolate torte served with sweet caramel sauce and hazelnut ice-cream. I managed a spoonful or two, of course and can confirm it is as decadent as it sounds.
The verdict? Porro is a real delight. The ambiance of the restaurant is perfect – not too rowdy, not too quiet. The staff are attentive without being intrusive and flitting around the table too much when you’re trying to relax; and the tables aren’t packed in too close, the way they so often are in chain restaurants.
In fact, by coincidence, this piece couldn’t be more perfectly timed, as for all of the reasons listed above, Porro would be a great spot to take a significant other on Valentine’s Day.
Find Porro in Llandaff Village, and on Welfield Road in Roath, Cardiff – as well as online at www.porrocardiff.com.