A short time ago I wrote about Parador 44. That’s the superlative-inducing hotel found just up the stairs from Asador 44, its stylish sibling restaurant.
Asador 44 has a convenient location just around the corner from the Principality Stadium and the castle in Cardiff. Shoppers are well-served by the wide array of independent shops, chain stores and boutiques just a few minutes’ walk away. No need for your car here. Just park in the multi-storey opposite the restaurant, relax and enjoy the city.
If one is looking for authentic polished Spanish fare, then look no further. Asador 44 is warm and welcoming. The decor is ‘elevated rustic’ and offers a hint to the dishes on this intriguing menu. The bill of fare isn’t huge, and no more should it be. I will advise my dear reader that any small eatery offering a huge list of dishes is likely relying on a freezer and microwave.
The bar is next to the open kitchen. The shelves are stocked with premium spirits, and the wine list is extensive and mostly Spanish, as one would hope. The staff are well informed and able to make drinks suggestions to those unfamiliar with these wines.
The food here tempts diners from far and wide. The chefs preparing meat, fish and vegetables over charcoal adds a little theatre and a good deal of anticipation of treats to come. There is nothing on the menu I would not have happily ordered had I a few more hours and a lot more capacity. I am musing on moving to Cardiff or at least booking into Parador above so I can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner here.
For a starter I had to have Smoked leek, vinaigrette, tomato, Señorio cheese. This is Wales after all. This was a delicate and well-presented portion of sweet leeks, with complexity from the cheese and freshness and colour from the toms. Bread on the side is a good idea as the dressing is too good to leave in a pool on the plate.
My guest was intrigued by Ex-dairy beef tartare, onion ketchup, cured egg and a cracker. The ex-dairy cows are 7-9 years old. They have a higher fat content than a traditional steak, and with age they lose some tenderness, but the flavour is rich and intense. The dry-aging process removes moisture to add to the flavour. It’s the first restaurant I have found in the UK which takes advantage of this beef. It’s well worth trying and won’t disappoint.
Grilled chicken breast, chorizo and romesco sauce was my choice of main course. The meat was perfectly grilled and tender. The chorizo and romesco sauce added so much. Chicken can often be somewhat lack-lustre, but this dish showed how good poultry can be when it’s prepared with a bit of inspiration.
Hake with romesco sauce was my partner’s main dish and he pronounced it fishy perfection. It was joined by side dishes of Asparagus, peas, spring greens, wild garlic and jamon, along with Roscoff onions cooked in beef broth with Señorio cheese. If you can only manage one side dish then go for these outstanding onions. This humble vegetable is something exceptional at Asador 44.
And there was dessert to come. Chocolate and Hazelnut tart, beef fat caramel with cherry sorbet. Every element of this sweet plate worked together in harmony. Beef fat caramel might not sound appetising, but it truly is a brave and worthy inclusion. I am salivating at the memory.
Asador 44 is a cosy gem. It would be noteworthy in any city in Europe, and I am sure Cardiff feels blessed to have it at its heart.
Asador 44 Cardiff
14-15 Quay St
Cardiff CF10 1DD
Phone: 029 2002 0039