Just over a fortnight ago, Wales’ first ever Australasian fusion restaurant, The Admiral St David launched at the five-star St David’s Hotel in Cardiff Bay. I was lucky enough to be among the first to try it out, when I was invited along to enjoy a Chef’s Table tasting menu with some other bloggers.
Once you’ve mastered the art of saying ‘Australasian fusion cuisine’ without getting your tongue in a twist, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be wondering exactly what on earth it actually is. Luckily, Restaurant Manager, Russell Durnell (formerly of Palazzo Versace Australia – the hotel where celebs go when they’re kicked out of the jungle on I’m a Celeb!) was on hand to talk us through it. Australasian fusion cuisine refers to the dishes that have developed in Australasia and the Asia-Pacific region, spurred by rising levels of immigration. Think pan-Asian dishes with a twist, influenced by the likes of Indonesia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Australia. Executive Chef, Martyn Watkins previously worked for Hilton Hotels and I was surprised to discover that his team of around 14-strong doesn’t actually include a single Asian chef!
Formerly known as Tempus at Tides, the restaurant at St David’s Hotel has undergone a magnificent makeover to transform it into The Admiral St David. Arriving at the restaurant, we were really impressed by its new look. With cushioned wicker chairs, comfy sofas, low beams and plenty of natural light, the atmosphere was classy, yet casual.
Framed Roald Dahl quotes hanging in the bar lounge instilled a sense of Cardiff (for those who don’t know, the author was born in Llandaff, Cardiff).
We sipped on gin cocktails and mojitos as we nibbled on a selection of canapes, while admiring the glorious views over Cardiff Bay.
The Korean beef bon bons (£9) went down very well, consisting of fall-apart beef in a rich, fragrant sauce, coated with golden breadcrumbs. Although I usually run a mile at the sight of any food that looks remotely healthy, I was pleasantly surprised by the quinoa, garlic and herb fritters (£6), servedwith a slightly spicy sesame seed dip.
For our main course, we shared several dishes from the all-day menu. Rather than reeling them all off one-by-one, I’m going to focus on my personal favourites.
A perfect pink medium-rare, grain-fed 8oz Celtic Pride sirloin steak was accompanied by fresh pak choi, tomato salsa and crispy tempura enoki mushrooms. At £26, this was the most expensive dish on the menu; the steak was delicious and I loved the variety of textures in the dish, although I wasn’t convinced the price tag was entirely justified.
Upholding the high standards set by the steak, the Malaysian sea bream (£18) sat on a bed of vibrant vegetable rice and pak choi, drizzled with a mildly zesty lime butter sauce. Pan-fried until the skin was crispy enough to induce drooling upon sight, the sea bream was deliciously fresh and flaky.
In a subtle twist on a traditional Malaysian chicken laksa, a mound of egg noodles, chicken strips and wok-fried veg was topped with crunchy Asian shallots and a fried egg, sitting in a pool of gently spiced coconut-infused sauce (£15). This was my favourite dish of the evening and I secretly wished I didn’t have to share it! According to Russell, this will be the dish that The Admiral St David becomes known for.
I normally gloss over the fries or chips when writing a restaurant review, but these definitely deserve a mention. Golden brown, velvety-centred fries were coated in a seasoning so irresistible, it was impossible to stop eating them. Martyn kindly informed me that it was a combination of five spice, cinnamon, barbecue and nutmeg (if I remember rightly!)
Moving on to our desserts, we were invited to choose an option each from the menu – easier said than done, given the sheer decadence of the choices we were faced with. After much deliberation, I settled for the clotted cream crème brûlée (£6). A sinfully scrumptious variation on the popular French classic, this was paired with macerated blackberries and crunchy apple with a subtle, citrusy taste that left me wondering whether it was infused with lemon juice.
Opposite me at the table, my guest tucked into a bittersweet, smooth lemon tart paired with a sweet, milky vanilla cream and finished with a sharp berry sauce (£6).
I really enjoyed my introduction to Australasian fusion food at The Admiral St David, and I look forward to exploring the cuisine in more depth on my future visits to the restaurant.
On a final note – and I don’t make a point of doing this often – I’d like to say a tremendous thank you to both the restaurant and to Jam Jar PR for putting on such a memorable restaurant launch. I relished the opportunity to mingle with the restaurant owner, manager and head chef – not to mention the treasured friends I’ve made through blogging. All the staff were incredibly friendly, welcoming and passionate – from the doting waiters and bar staff, to the enthusiastic management team and the charismatic Italian man who insisted upon taking photos of everyone against the stunning backdrop of Cardiff Bay!
The Admiral St David
St David’s Hotel
(029) 2045 4045
Do you think you’d enjoy eating Australasian fusion cuisine?