Restaurant review: Tempus at Tides Bar & Restaurant – St David’s Hotel & Spa, Cardiff Bay

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to be invited to sample the new menu at Tempus at Tides Bar & Restaurant along with my friend Dan and some fellow food bloggers. 

Situated within the luxurious St David’s Hotel and Spa, Tempus at Tides offers relaxed fine dining in the scenic surroundings of Cardiff Bay. The decor is simple yet stylish, with leather seating, elaborate silk shade chandeliers and shimmery mesh curtains, in shades of beige and brown.

Tempus at Tides; photo courtesy of St David’s Hotel and Spa

Floor-to-ceiling windows help to make the most of Tempus at Tides’ idyllic location, with breathtaking views across Cardiff Bay and out towards Penarth. During the summer you can dine al fresco on the terrace, where you can relax and soak up the scenery (and, if you’re lucky, a bit of sunshine!)

Tempus at Tides has a view that could rival many restaurants in Cardiff Bay

Tempus at Tides’ new menu has been carefully concocted over the past month or so by the restaurant’s Executive Chef, Dominic Powell and his team, with a helping hand from Steve Tonkin, former Executive Chef at The Ivy in London ’s West End. The focus is on fresh, locally sourced seasonal produce, with a selection of seafood dishes on offer to complement Tempus at Tides’ coastal location.

We begin with a selection of warm artisan bread rolls, served with Netherend butter (from the Netherend Dairy Farm in Gloucestershire), olive oil and balsamic vinegar (£5.50). Each roll is a different flavour – Parmesan, olive, onion and tomato. I choose the Parmesan roll. It’s incredibly soft and I can definitely taste the cheese, but it’s not too overpowering. Still warm from the oven, it tastes even better spread with a knob of salted butter.

Clockwise from top-left: onion, tomato, Parmesan and olive bread rolls

To start, I order the chicken liver parfait, served with “Little Black Hen” chutney and toasted brioche (£8). The parfait is smooth in texture, as it should be (parfait differs from pate because the liver is passed through a sieve to remove any brawny bits), but whilst the flavour is definitely ‘there’, it is somewhat lacking and could do with being stronger. Nevertheless, the parfait still goes down rather nicely smeared onto the warm brioche along with with a dollop of chutney. A yellowy-orange in colour with a thick consistency, the chutney looks and tastes fantastic and is presented in a small glass jar, creating a traditional, homely feel. For those of you who may be wondering, “Little Black Hen” is a small family-run business based in Llanelli, near Swansea, producing homemade chutneys, jams and cakes.

Chicken liver parfait

Dan starts with the heirloom tomato, barrel smoked feta and basil bruschetta (£7). This is a really summery dish, featuring a colourful variety of tomatoes in reds, oranges and yellows, topped with chunks of smoked feta and paired with two slices of crunchy basil bruschetta. Dan is particularly impressed with the smoked feta cheese and the tomato selection.

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Fresh, juicy and vibrant – the perfect Summer starter
 
For my main course, I follow Dominic’s recommendation of the Burry Port wild sea bass, served with cucumber and brown shrimps (£24). Freshly caught on the morning of our meal, the sea bass is served kippered in two fillets, making for an ample serving. It is served skin-side up and topped with a heap of chopped cucumber and tiny shrimps, paired with a lemon wrapped in a muslin cloth to squeeze over the dish for extra flavour. I can honestly say that I’ve never tasted bass as fresh as this before – it’s just so tender and full of flavour. Several of us chose this dish for our main and I don’t think any of us were disappointed!
 
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From Burry Port to the plate, fish doesn’t get much fresher than this
 
To accompany the bass I order a portion of chips (£3.50), served wrapped in greaseproof paper in a dainty stainless steel basket that resembles a deep fat fryer – very quaint! Thick cut, with a golden crispy layer and a soft fluffy centre, you can tell these chips are homemade and they seem to go down well with the rest of our table, although they’re a little overcooked for my liking.
 
Rustic chips
 
For his main course, Dan chooses the 10oz Welsh ribeye steak (from Pembrokeshire to be exact), served with grilled plum tomatoes, portobello mushroom, watercress and chips (£27) with a choice of three sauces – Béarnaise, green peppercorn and garlic aioli (all £2 extra). The photo below doesn’t do the dish justice as the portobello mushroom and the tomato are both hidden behind the steak, but onion rings are also included in the meal, despite not being mentioned on the menu; a nice surprise for Dan! The steak itself is cooked medium-rare to Dan’s liking, but he finds it quite gristly in places.
 
Behind the steak, sits a juicy tomato and a portobello mushroom        
 
Moving on to dessert, I order the lavender creme brulee with Welsh cakes (£6) because I am keen to taste what this combination is like for myself. I’m a big fan of creme brulee, but I’ve never heard of it being made with lavender before. At first impression it looks perfect, with a hardened caramel disc on top. Unfortunately however, the brulee hasn’t set properly and although it tastes delicious, with a subtle hint of lavender, the consistency resembles that of runny, lumpy custard. The Welsh cakes on the other hand, are amazing; freshly baked with a traditional taste.
 
Lavender creme brulee – a new experience for me

After a heavy main course Dan chooses a lighter option for dessert, opting for the icecream and sorbet selection (£6). A wide range of flavours are available and the dish includes three scoops. Dan settles upon Baileys, white chocolate and milk chocolate icecream. The presentation of this dish really deserves a mention. The icecream is served in a spherical, tilted glass bowl with an open top, each scoop carefully placed inside and around the rim of the bowl. A layer of frozen water sits at the bottom of the bowl to keep the icecream cold and prevent it from melting – ingenious!

I’ll never look at a bowl of ice cream in the same way again

If you’re looking for a restaurant in Cardiff Bay that offers relaxed fine dining, Tempus at Tides is a good choice. The new menu is exciting and varied, and the seafood dishes really anchor the restaurant to its location in the Bay. I seriously recommend ordering a fish dish if you go here. It’s not cheap to dine at Tempus at Tides, although prices are pretty much on par with most of Cardiff’s other fine dining venues. I’d be more inclined to book a table for a special occasion rather than for a casual meal, but either way, I’d love to dine at Tempus at Tides again.

Tempus at Tides Bar & Restaurant
St David’s Hotel and Spa
Havannah Street
Cardiff
CF10 5SD
(029) 2045 4045
 

I was invited to Tempus at Tides as a guest and our food and drinks were complimentary. 

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