There aren’t many pubs in Cardiff city centre dishing up food that could rival some of the city’s leading restaurants, and Caroline Street (known locally as Chippy Lane/Alley) is the last place you’d expect to find one of these hidden gems. However, on my recent visit to The Corner House, perched on the corner of Caroline Street opposite Cardiff Library, I discovered that there’s more to Chippy Lane than overpriced soggy chips and dodgy kebabs.
Owned by Mitchells and Butlers, The Corner House opened just over five years ago on the former site of popular gay pub, King’s Cross. I went for Christmas dinner here with work a few years ago and the food was pretty mediocre.
Last month, The Corner House underwent a huge refurbishment to create a more youthful, contemporary vibe, whilst preserving the pub’s welcoming feel. The new look comes with a brand new team to match, and a revamped seasonal food menu boasting dishes like Lobster, Crab and Nduja Sausage Linguine and 30 oz split rib steak sharer with bone marrow butter, alongside daily specials and pub classics.
A fiery Bloody Mary cocktail of Ketel One vodka and homemade tomato juice (£6.95) whet my appetite as I perused the menu, while my guest kept it simple with a pint of Stella Artois (£3.50 approx).
To start, a trio of succulent scallops were lightly toasted and topped with crisp, salty pancetta, paired with a fresh butternut squash paste. The scallops are cooked differently and priced accordingly each day, but if I recall rightly, these cost around £8. You might not find the same scallops dish on the menu at The Corner House dependent on when you visit, but after tasting these, I’d be more than happy to work my way through the restaurant’s other scallop concoctions.
My guest tucked into a dish of golden, lightly battered squid, dusted with salt and Szechuan pepper, paired with a tangy aioli sauce (£5.95). I’m not a huge seafood fan but the hot, crisp batter and the juicy, tender flesh that lay within was difficult even for me to resist; it wasn’t anywhere near as chewy as the squid I’ve tried before.
My main course was more like something you’d expect to see on a typical pub food menu – surf n’ turf – but whereas most pubs would serve this dish with king prawns, The Corner House pushed the boat out with a fresh lobster tail. The steak was a 7oz fillet cut which, despite being cooked medium-well done as opposed to medium-rare as I ordered it, was wonderfully lean and juicy. The steak and lobster were accompanied by extra thick-cut, skin-on chips sprinkled with sea salt, and steamed kale tossed in a citrus-y dressing, with a rich, meaty beef dripping jus served in a dainty silver saucepan.
Unfortunately, this dish no longer appears on the menu (which just goes to show how often the menus are updated), but let’s hope it makes a come-back at some point. I believe it cost around £26 overall, including a supplement for the lobster and beef dripping jus.
Meanwhile, in keeping with the theme of his seafood starter, my guest tucked into two pan-fried sea bass fillets served atop herby Parmentier potatoes, spinach, pancetta and olives in a velvety white wine velouté, topped with fresh parsley (£17.95)
With barely any room left for a sweet treat to end our meal, we were relieved to discover the option of a mini dessert with a hot drink (£4.95). I was won over by the Sicilian lemon cheese cake; a soft, fluffy lemon cheesecake on a sweet, biscuity base, the sharpness offset by sweet strawberry sauce.
Meanwhile, my guest rounded off his meal with a hot, gooey chocolate brownie served with a big scoop of sweet vanilla ice cream and drizzled with dark chocolate sauce. We both agreed that this would normally be too rich to end a three-course meal with, but it was ideal as a smaller portion.
The Corner House certainly brings a touch of class to Cardiff’s Caroline Street, although I’m not entirely convinced this is the right place for it. Wedged in between Cardiff’s infamous Chippy Lane and cocktail bar central, Mill Lane, I have some doubts as to whether the restaurant will be attract the discerning clientele it seems to be looking for. I hope to be proven wrong.
The Corner House
25 Caroline St,
029 2022 8628
I was invited to the Corner House as a guest and our food and drink was provided complimentary; however, I was not obliged to write positive review.