Dine out in a campervan! Restaurant review: Apple Jacks, Cardiff

Apple Jacks opened last year on Church Street, next to the Harvester bar/restaurant, and there’s been quite a buzz about the American-inspired diner ever since.

Last weekend, I finally got round to trying out Apple Jacks for myself with my friend, Sarah.

We booked in advance so that we could reserve the camper van for our meal. Yes, that’s right – the campervan! Apple Jacks has its very own retro camper van, the roof removed and comfy sofa-style seating fitted, along with a table.

This cool, eclectic vibe flows throughout Apple Jacks in the form of geometric and abstract wall prints and seating covers, dim, low-hanging lighting and wooden flooring.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Apple Jacks’ menu features deluxe, diner-style dishes including gourmet sandwiches, waffles, burgers, steaks, meat and poultry options. I was pretty impressed by the amount of seafood on the menu; I counted 16 dishes containing seafood, including several different fish, crab, oysters, mussels, scallops, clams and crevettes.

Alongside food, Apple Jacks serves a tantalising selection of beers, wines and spirits and an extensive cocktail menu featuring American-themed concoctions like the New York Sour, the Maple Manhattan and The Chicago  (all priced from £6.50 – £.7.50).

To start, I ordered the wild mushroom cupcake (£4.95), eager to see what it looked like. As the name would suggest it resembled a cupcake, consisting of a soft, dumpling-like base filled with sliced wild mushrooms and roasted garlic, piped with butternut squash and sprinkled with sunflower seeds. It looked and tasted delicious, and I would definitely order it again in future.

Sarah chose the pulled duck taquitos (£6.50) to start, served with a crisp, green side salad and lemon and lime soured cream. I was lucky enough to try half of one roll, and it tasted fantastic; the batter was golden brown and crispy, while the roll was generously filled with tender pulled duck.

Moving on to our main courses, I went for The Hudson Waffle (£12.95) – confit duck leg with crispy bacon, a poached egg, wild mushrooms, and orange maple butter sauce, sitting on top of an American waffle.

This was presented beautifully and the duck was cooked to perfection with crisp, juicy skin giving way to tender duck meat. It tasted great paired with the poached egg, which was served runny, the yolk seeping into the waffle as I cut it open. I really liked the idea of serving a savoury dish on an American waffle; it was refreshingly unusual compared to other American-inspired dishes I’ve tried in restaurants.

However, I wasn’t so keen on the orange maple butter sauce – or perhaps there was just a little too much of it. It tasted nice – the orange wasn’t too overpowering and it was a good combination with the waffle – but it seemed to soak into the duck too, and after a few mouthfuls it got a bit sickly.

To accompany my main course, I ordered some sweet potato fries with chorizo (£3.75). I’ve never thought to put sweet potato and chorizo together before, but they work very well together! The fries could definitely have been crispier, though.

For her main course, Sarah was immediately drawn to the seafood platter (£20.95). The mere sight of this dish was enough to leave both of us stunned. It was enormous, and could probably have fed two people! Apple Jacks sources all its seafood locally from Cardiff Indoor Market, which is less than a five minute walk from the restaurant.

Consisting of razor clams, mussels, clams, crab’s claw,  crevettes, bubble oysters and deep fried prawns, served with a fresh side salad, home made tartare sauce and fries, with garlic butter sauce for dipping. I’m not a big seafood fan, but this actually looked pretty good. Sarah seemed to enjoy munching her way through it, although neither of us could figure out how to open the crab’s claw with the crab cracker – but we had fun trying!

Having polished off our mains, we had just about enough room left for dessert. Apple Jacks’ dessert menu consists of five sinfully sweet options, alongside a range of ice creams.

I opted for the strawberry knickerbocker glory (£4.95) – creamy vanilla and strawberry ice cream with chunks of strawberry in a tall glass, garnished with a thin, round wafer. The ice cream was creamy and flavoursome, and the dessert was light enough to eat following a big meal.

 
Sarah went for the coconut and lime pannacotta (£4.95) garnished with fresh cream and wafer, the plate finished with alfonso mango coulis. This was well presented, but Sarah struggled to detect the flavour of the lime and the pannacotta wasn’t quite as firm as it should have been. 

 

To wash all that down, I ordered a salted caramel milkshake (£3.95) from the daily specials menu. Made with fresh ice cream and topped with fresh cream, the milkshake tasted strongly of sweet, salted caramel and went down very well indeed.

Meanwhile, Sarah sipped on a traditional coke float (£3.50) – a glass of fizzy cola topped with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. This would make for a tasty, thirst-quenching treat on a hot summer’s day.

 
I couldn’t resist trying out a cocktail before we left, eventually settling for the Rapaska (£6.50) – a mixture of raspberry vodka, lime juice, raspberries and sugar, topped with three plump raspberries on a cocktail stick. 
 
Not too sweet or too strong, the Rapaska was exactly the kind of cocktail I tend to go for – I wasn’t surprised when the waitress told me it’s one of their best sellers!

 

On the whole, Sarah and I were pretty impressed with Apple Jacks. We loved the menu, which featured an array of appealing, American-themed dishes unlike anywhere else we’ve tried in Cardiff. The prices are mid-range and the food is of a fantastic quality, even if my main course was a little rich for my liking.

I will definitely return to Apple Jacks again in future. As a lover of both burgers and Caesar salad, I’m looking forward to trying out the chicken Caesar burger (£11.95). The camper van would be the ideal setting for a special occasion like a birthday – just make sure you book it in advance!

Apple Jacks
17 Church Street
Cardiff
CF10 1BG
(029) 2022 7792

I was invited to Apple Jacks as a guest and our food and drinks were provided complimentary. However, I was not obliged to write a positive review. 

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2 Comments

  1. Mitsuko Benassi
    March 27, 2016 / 9:21 pm

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