One of the really lovely things about this blogging lark is that sometimes, extra special treats come your way, and one such treat appeared on the horizon recently when the Millennium Hotel Group asked me to pick my favourite thing to do in Cardiff for their popular Millennium Guide.
I did think long and hard (well, for about 30 seconds) about choosing a family experience that we could enjoy with the kids, since this blog is technically mostly about them. But then the voice of reason pointed out that this might be a perfect opportunity for the Husband and I to actually spend some time together, in a date night type fashion. Get us!
It didn’t take long to choose our favourite Cardiff activity – we both love eating out (or used to, before it became a wallet busting test of logistics, patience and endurance) and we both love Indian food. There’s no shortage of excellent curry houses in Cardiff but our absolute favourite is Chef Anand George’s award winning ‘The Purple Poppadom‘, which has been reviewed in glowing terms by Jay Rayner for the Observer among others, and which also gained a spot in the 2014 Michelin Guide.
If you’re visiting Cardiff, the Purple Poppadom is right in the middle of what Jay Rayner called ‘the endearingly scuffed Canton district’. Very handy indeed for us endearingly-scuffed type people who live in Canton, however it’s also an easy 20 minute walk from the centre of town, and well worth the trip. And what better than a brisk walk to set you up for the feast that awaits you!
The à la carte menu is a mixture of familiar sounding dishes along with more unusual options, and seafood is strongly represented, not least in Chef Anand’s signature dish, Tiffin Seabass. I’m indecisive with food choices at the best of times, however help was at hand with the newly introduced 5 course Christmas Tasting Menu which offered a mouthwatering range of dishes, along with suggestions for the best wine to match each course – great if (like me) you’re nervous with a wine list!
Our amuse-bouche (delicious) was followed by Tiffin Cup Hake – named for being the dish that won the prestigious Tiffin Cup earlier this year. The hake was served delicately balanced on a bed of tapioca mash, surrounded by a coconut and smoked tamarind sauce, and a petite naan that literally melted in the mouth – it was a million miles from any naan I have tasted before!
A platter of tandoori chicken, curried lamb ball, pig’s tenderloin sheekh and Bombay Chat followed – this sounds an overwhelming dish but in fact the portions are the perfect size for enjoying the different tastes and textures; the dish was complemented by another petite naan, this one laced with garlic.
The penultimate dish was Varutharachia Beef, served with rice and thoran – the latter is a sort of dry curry made with cabbage, carrot and coconut. Light, crunchy and flavoursome, this offered a perfect contrast to the richness of the beef; I enjoyed it so much that I’ve even found a recipe so I can give it a go at home for my packed lunches – not that my efforts will be anywhere near as special as Chef Anand’s but hey, a girl can dream!
Though the five course menu is undoubtedly a lot more food than I’d ever usually eat in one sitting, the sensible spacing of the courses meant that we were still able to do justice to the final course – and wow, what a final course it was! Have a look at the picture at the end of the post – in case you’re wondering, that is in fact a triangle shaped bomb of chocolate ganache – flanked by a crême brulée and a piece of tandoori pineapple – oh my goodness, perfection on a plate.
At this point Chef Anand popped out to say hello – I must admit to being a little starstruck by this! I needn’t have been nervous – like the whole Purple Poppadom team, he was absolutely lovely, and was very keen to know our thoughts on the new menu, particularly whether we thought that five courses was the right amount for a meal. I was amazed to learn that due to customer demand, a seven course menu was also available – I honestly do not think I could have managed another mouthful, let alone another two courses!
An evening at The Purple Poppadom is so much more than a curry. It’s a very special treat indeed, and one I would highly recommend to anyone visiting Cardiff. And if you live here, and you’ve not visited yet, then take it from me – you’re missing out!
**Disclosure – Millennium Hotels and The Purple Poppadom invited me to a meal in exchange for an honest writeup for the Millennium Guide to Cardiff**