Last weekend I was treated to a day out in Cardiff from my bestie Jen (@jen.on.tour on Insta), for belated birthday celebrations, culminating in a meal at San Martino. NB: My birthday is in Jan – but hey, we’re not that organised! 🙈 Plus the weather was slightly better than it would have been 😎
Jen had attempted to book an outside table with a view but unfortunately they couldn’t reserve these, however they did say they would try their best. When we arrived we were seated inside, however we reminded them we’d be happy to eat outside and also didn’t mind moving mid meal – and as luck should have it, a table became available right as our starters arrived, so we swopped spots and nabbed two of the best seats in the house just before our first mouthful!
Feeling indecisive, they kindly let us order our starters then have a break before ordering our mains! We decided to share and had the Mozzarella di Bufala in Abbraccio di Zucchine (pictured above), which was essentially mozzarella wrapped in courgette, with sun dried tomatoes, a pesto reduction, pine nuts and rocket. This was a really fresh, light, delicious choice, and I loved the texture the pint nuts added. My only complaint would be more pesto please – you can never have too much pesto!! – but I think they were going for fine dining style.
Our other starter was the classic Italian favourite (pictured above), rolled aubergine stuffed with – you guessed it, more mozzarella (can you see a theme yet?!) – oven baked in a tomato sauce, with a bit more cheese on top and a toasted bit of ciabatta. Yum!!! The sauce was rich but not too tangy (I hate italian restaurants that can’t get a tomato sauce right! Surely that’s basic requirement?), the cheese was plentiful and the whole dish was just very comforting, without giving me that pasta bloat. Possibly more a winter-y starter, but we really enjoyed!
The piece de resistance (when we finally got around to ordering, plumping for the same dish, no sharing this time!), was the Filetto al Dolcelatte – minus the dolcelatte as we are a pair of fuss pots!! The kitchen kindly agreed we could have peppercorn sauce instead, although this meant we missed out on the sauteed spinach and roasted walnuts which I’d have enjoyed anyway. On the plus side, they were happy to provide extra sauce when asked!
Ordering steak anywhere besides a steak house can be a bit risky, and I’ve had a couple of misses at steak restaurants in Bristol recently, but this was a great piece of fillet. My steak was soft and tender, the knife sliding through with ease. The meat was flavoursome even with the sauce (sometimes peppercorn can overpower). We probably could have done with a bit more veg (sauteed potatoes, carrots, and broccoli came with the dish) but what we did have was well cooked – I can’t be doing with soggy carrots!
To finish, we ordered the trio of desserts, but unfortunately we waited so long for them to arrive we had to cancel them as we had a train to catch! 😞 They were very apologetic, and took two drinks off the bill (without us asking, may I add). Overall the food was really tasty and the staff were very keen to help, if little slow on occasion, but I would definitely return.
Ambience: 8 (Outside)
Where: Unit Upper 9. Mermaid Quay, Cardiff, CF10 5BZ
On a side note, a bonus was location – the views were fantastic and the area was buzzing due to the Cardiff International Food Festival that was on at the weekend and the football being shown on a large screen. We only had a little time to explore the food fest, but I would definitely like to return there next year too – we met with quite a few local business and had some yummy samples, we even bought a couple of Thai curry pastes from R and G.
Thanks for reading (and thanks for a yummy meal Jen! 😘)