Oh to dine on Champagne and gold leaf this sunny Sunday afternoon…
It was May Bank Holiday Sunday, and we had decided to pay a visit to Etc… Penarth after all hearing such rave reviews. It seemed like a pleasant leisurely Sunday activity for our stay in Cardiff. Penarth is just a ten-minute drive away and soon we had made the necessary arrangements and were on our way.
Safe to say that we soon realised we had left the city well and truly behind. Our taxi driver dropped us off half way along Stanwell road and vaguely pointed in the direction that we were to take. Our sat-nav on our phone didn’t appear to be working so we trusted to the winds and just meandered along down the road. It wasn’t long before we spied the train station and then the glistening exterior of Etc… just above it.
Etc… is like a whole different world. The interior is black and gold and the stunning unique table decorations sparkled and enticed. By the bar stood the largest Champagne fridge that you’ve ever seen in your life and was absolutely filled to capacity with Mercier Champagne. A fantastic Champers of choice – for me, somewhere between Bollinger and Veuve, so if you’re not a fan of Bollinger’s dryness but would still like a bit of a treat, Mercier is a good option.
We started with a bottle of sparkling rose: Fresita Patagonia, which was ever so sweet and delicious and went down far too easily. It was like drinking strawberries and at only £21 per bottle it was perfect for sharing with the girls.
Starters were quaintly named and we began with It’s a Little Fishy which was beautifully presented on a glass dish and garnished with an edible pansy flower, Bored Panda Vegetarian which was served in a miniature takeaway dish and Quackers which comprised three beautifully presented spring rolls with three different, equally delicious dipping sauces.
We greedily gobbled our starters and commenced waiting anxiously for our mains. I had opted for Dad’s Roast Dinner and I was not disappointed. The beef was cooked to absolute perfection, and the sides were original delightfully lip-smacking. My friend went for their signature dish, the Over Reacting Salmon – appropriately named as it turned out, as the sauce that it came with changed the colour of the dish as you poured it over. It was topped off with 24-carot gold leaf and all-in-all was an absolute work of art. The third dish we sampled was actually another (my friend was attempting to stay away from too many carbs whilst completing the first phase of the Atkins diet) and it was a delicate dish of smoked king prawn. It was delivered on a slate with a glass dish over the top, as you lifted it up, you could see and smell the beautiful whisky smoke escape from the dish. It may have been a smaller plate, but it was equally as dramatic as our mains, and we were impressed.
As we ordered another bottle of Prosecco and chatted amicably to the owners, my companion suggested making the king prawn dish into a main course. This soon led onto to discussions over the smoke effect and how to recreate that on a larger scale. Inevitably, we were heading into Heston Blumenthal territory, and before we knew it, Alex had appeared with a pot of dry ice. He poured the reactant over the ice and soon smoke billowed over our table, like a beautiful cloth.
With all the excitement and wonderful food, we then placed an order for our desserts. We sampled The Boy Who Never Grew Up and got somewhat giddy on the popping candy and crayon sponge. While our more ‘grown-up’ desserts consisted of beautiful chocolate mousse topped off with ice cream and a dreamy crème brulee. With all the sugar and excitement that we’d had, we were left to experiement with some of the leftover dry ice – even the neighbouring table got involved.
We had a ball at Etc… in Penarth, it was laid-back, yet had all the drama and excitement of good fine dining. If Penarth is a little too out of the way for you, never fear, as we have some exciting news: Etc… will also be opening restaurants in Swansea and Bristol within the next few months, so watch this space! We’ll keep you updated on all the latest restaurant news. It’s a brilliant place to hold a staff party or corporate event and they can tailor the offering depending on what you want. From cocktail masterclasses to canapes and wine tasting. Get in touch for more information.