When I think of restaurants to visit for food during the Rugby World Cup in Cardiff, the Hilton hotel isn’t the first venue that springs to mind. I always imagine their food menu to be quite upmarket and I don’t know about you, but when I’m dining out on a rugby day I just want a hearty, comforting meal; something filling and not too fancy.
However, I was pleasantly surprised when I went to the Hilton Cardiff last Friday to watch the Rugby World Cup 2015 kick off with the England vs. Fiji game.
My friend Sarah and I arrived at the Hilton hotel for around 7pm and made our way to the Razzi Restaurant on the ground floor. Initially we took a seat inside the restaurant, but when we were asked if we’d like to dine in the TV lounge opposite and watch the rugby, we jumped at the opportunity!
We had to push a couple of tables together as they were fairly small, but the seating was pretty comfy and it made for a relaxed dining environment in which to watch the game. To top it off, a handful of handsome young men from the Canadian rugby team strolled into the lounge and pulled up a few chairs in front of the TV beside us!
We ordered a large glass of house rosé wine each (£9 per glass), before turning our attention to the menu.
Alongside the regular restaurant menu, Hilton Cardiff and Hilton Newport are currently offering a Rugby World Cup menu featuring a selection of popular international dishes, bar snacks and global wines, beers and ales. Full of cheesy rugby-themed puns, like ‘maul’ a pie and ‘tackle’ a pulled pork bap, the menu features eight main courses including an Argentinian sirloin steak baguette topped with chimichurri and fried onions, French beef Bourguignon with creamed potatoes and stone-baked Italian Margherita pizza.
I opted for the ‘Pride of Britain’ fish and chips; London Pride beer-battered haddock served with chunky chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce (£15). The fish looked delicious, but unfortunately it was a bit of a letdown. It looked like a pretty big portion, but unfortunately it consisted mainly of batter and the haddock fillet itself was quite small. It didn’t have that delicious taste and succulent texture that fresh fish usually has and although the batter was crispy on the surface, it was quite mushy and bland underneath, as though it was too thick to cook properly throughout.
However, I’m pleased to say that the chips were really tasty; big and chunky with a golden brown, crispy coating and a soft, fluffy center, while the mushy peas were hot and tasty and the tartare sauce (green in colour) was homemade and tasted fantastic.
Meanwhile, Sarah decided to ‘try’ the grilled beef burger topped with Caerphilly cheese and bacon, with spicy tomato relish (£10). This was stacked high and looked very impressive and, as Sarah confirmed, it tasted just as good as it looked – the best burger she has eaten in a long time! She said it was full of meaty bite and we both thought that the Caerphilly cheese made for an innovative finishing touch. The burger was served with a portion of chips and a small bowl of dark tomato relish.
We were feeling a little thirsty after polishing off our main courses, so I ordered a Peroni Nastro Azzuro (330ml, £4.70), an Italian option from the world beers menu, while Sarah succumbed to the Coopers Pale Ale from Australia (330ml, £5).
Moving on to dessert, we were able to choose from several mouth-watering options on the regular restaurant menu. I couldn’t resist the sound of the cheeseboard (£8), which was served with quince jelly, large black grapes, crackers and celery. From top to bottom in the below picture, the cheeses included a traditional Cheddar, goat’s cheese, blue Stilton and French brie. This was one of the best cheeseboards I’ve ever tasted; the portion was extremely generous and all of the cheeses were of a superb quality, while I couldn’t get over how big the grapes were.
For her dessert, Sarah ordered the crème brûlée (£6). This had a firm, golden brown surface and a soft, creamy filling, while the homemade shortbread biscuits were incredibly fresh and moreish.
Unfortunately, the waiting service was rather disappointing and nowhere near the standard that you’d expect from a Hilton hotel. Our waitress introduced herself at the start of our meal and although was very polite, she wasn’t overly talkative or friendly and when we finished our desserts, I think she actually forgot to clear our table; our plates were still there when we left – around an hour after we’d finished our food!
However, we were really impressed by the service of bartender, Adam who was very welcoming and conversational. He took our drinks orders at the table so that we didn’t have to queue at the bar and he even popped over a few times to ask if everything was okay with our meal. Being as this wasn’t even part of his job, it made us feel as though he really cared that we had a good time during our visit. If he hadn’t been sent to another bar to provide cover, he probably would have cleared our tables for us too!
On the whole, Sarah and I had an enjoyable evening at Hilton Cardiff. Although I was disappointed by my choice of main course and the poor waiting service, the majority of the food was pretty tasty and it was lovely to have the option of dining in the lounge to watch the rugby, rather than sitting in the restaurant. I would definitely return to the Hilton Cardiff for another meal or to watch sporting events like the Rugby World Cup in future. It’s a fair bit pricier than your average pub, but the queues aren’t as long and the atmosphere is just as lively – plus, you might get to rub shoulders with a rugby team!
Hilton Cardiff’s website
I was invited to Hilton Cardiff as a guest and our food and drinks were provided complimentary; however, I was not obliged to write a positive review.