Friday, 11 March 2016

Arobreal - Review

Arboreal have kicked off 2016 in style, a nod in the most recent Michelin Guide will have cemented this restaurants place as a Cowbridge favourite while peaking the interest of those further afield.

Set on the main Cowbridge thoroughfare, Arboreal’s décor is the zenith of shabby chic. Distressed floor boards double as wall cladding, muted colours of blue, green, grey and white combine to give a stylish backdrop along with the prerequisite industrial style light fittings. As you walk through from the bar area to the dining room the place is flooded with light from a glass roof lantern and the star of the show is revealed, their wood burning oven on full display in the open kitchen.

I love open kitchens, being a bit of a cooking show addict this is the real thing up close! I’m fascinated about the flow of service, the synchronicity of the chefs and the communication with front of house.

On this rainy Saturday lunch time the place was bustling and you could tell as the staff whizzed about the place taking orders, answering questions, delivering drinks that they well versed in dealing with busy times.
The menu presented on black boards is a product of the fact that the menu changes frequently to suit what ingredients are available and indeed are seasonal. It is in turn split into day and night menus.
The day menu comprises of flat breads with a spectrum of toppings, to sandwiches to pizzas, pastas and main courses.  The evening menu follows a more traditional proforma of starters, mains and desserts. We were lucky enough to try a bit from both menus thanks to the helpful manager on duty.
The starters that took our fancy were the pan fried scallops with fennel and orange (£10) and the Thai style free range chick skewers (£7). 

Three plump scallops with caramelised edges were topped with sliced and sautéed fennel and orange segments. Beautiful to look at and to eat. The scallops were perfectly cooked, a light aniseed flavour and crunch from the fennel followed by the juice of the orange to cut through it all. Lovely, if a little light on the seasoning. 

The Thai style skewers were a little underwhelming. Well known satay style flavour but no real punch to them.

Our mains comprised of a lamb and pomegranate pizza (£16.50) and pan fried salmon on a noodle broth, with noodles, ginger and coriander (£16).

The salmon arrived sitting proud and crisp upon a mound of glass noodles flecked with spring onion and spinach. The fish itself was cooked well, super crispy skin and flaky flesh. The noodles and broth however were bland, no real chilli or ginger kick or coriander to mention it. Just a back ground flavour of soy sauce. Also it proved rather tricky to eat, every time you pressed down to cut into the salmon it disappeared beneath a mound of noodles which threatened to tip over the sides.

The pizza however was a feast for the eyes! Chunks of slow cooked lamb shoulder, cooked in their wood oven over night then shredded and dispersed across a cheese and tomato base, dressed with mint yoghurt and a generous scattering of pomegranate. The pizza base was crisp and light, the lamb was full of meaty flavour and the pomegranate providing crunch and juice to cut though the cheese. Winner. However yoghurt on a hot pizza does not do it for me.

To finish we went for the chocolate fondant to share (£5.50). I don’t need write anything here just look at the photo! Perfect, sublime, nailed it. The vanilla ice cream from Joe’s ice cream made the ideal partner. Sharing was a massive error.

To drink we had a couple of soft drinks (£2.75 each) and a small glass of house Sauvignon Blanc (£4.95) which was crisp, light and refreshing.

Service was attentive, efficient, and friendly and really is one of their strengths. A warm welcome as soon as you set foot into the place sets the tone. As the food is cooked to order they warn of at least a 15 minute wait for your food and in busy periods a bit longer. Also the portion sizes are to be commended. You can tell the quality of the ingredients is not skimped on either. There is a slight hint of style and look over substance as the food in terms of flavour and seasoning could have delivered more.

 I loved the atmosphere here and as the lunch time rush died down the vibe was lovely. Cosy from the warmth of the wood burning oven, chilled tunes over the speakers and the hubbub of people chatting while eating and drinking. I could have easily stayed until dinner.
I enjoyed my visit to Arboreal and am now more in awe of anyone who embarks on their own restaurant and of the chefs in the kitchen. It literally is case of spinning several plates all at the same time and for the most part Arboreal do it well.

All food was complimentary but this did not influence the review.

Address: 68 Eastgate Street. Cowbridge, CF71 7AB
Tel: 01446 775093

No comments:

Post a Comment