What kind of restaurant is a ‘must have’ in a capital facing the sea? Well, of course, a fish restaurant. Close to Cardiff’s medieval castle, in the city centre, in one of the major commercial streets in town (High Street), Seafood Shack restaurant opened in June. This brand new nautical-themed restaurant has more than 200 seats, with the recently unveiled the bordello – Champagne & Oyster craft and piano bar – where you can relax with a wide range of drinks (from craft beer to wine or cocktails).
The price of the food is above average (main courses £12-19), but this is in part due to Seafood Shack’s is keen commitment to buying fish from sustainable environments, as well as side dishes and butchery products, which are exclusively from local suppliers. The restaurant works aligned to the NLH (National Lobster Hatchery); they guarantee to free a baby lobster into the sea for every lobster you order. What else? If you really want to be sure that your fish is fresh, you can always ask your server for today’s specials.
However, what’s good about this place is that you can find good quality food for almost every taste and budget. Firstly, there are both Vegetarian (Halloumi Burger and all the different sides available), Gluten-free (both main courses and a dessert!), and non-fish options (burger and 28 day aged prime rib-eye) in the menu. Secondly, there is a takeaway gourmet fish & chip bar, with reasonable prices (£5-8, unless you go for a Lobster burger). It is also assistance and guide dog friendly, showing that Seafood Shack welcomes everyone!
The venue offers live music events. Last month’s artist was Alicia Hooper and Luke Andrews who are performing in the Champagne and Oyster bar. And for the revealing of the bordello they invited Welsh sporting celebrities such as Christian Malcolm and Ian Gough.
So what about my own experience visiting the restaurant?
It was a Friday night and naturally I entered the restaurant without any reservation. Guess what? The place was fully booked; however, they did offer me a place in the pub area just beyond the entrance door. My hunger and curiosity won out, and I couldn’t say no. Unfortunately, the pub area is not as nice as the restaurant one. Cutlery are in a wooden box together with sauces, which is not what you expect if you pay a certain price for a meal, and it was kind of hard to communicate with the servers as they focused more attention on the main restaurant area.
I tried both fish (cod filet) and chips with mushy peas and Shack’s mayo and sea bass on the griddle with new potatoes and Shack’s salad garnish. Personally, the wait was long (20-25 minutes), but all the plates did arrive together. The portions were fairly big; the cod filet was well presented, with a golden, well-fried (not soaked in oil), and crunchy batter. The chips, which were served in a silver basket, were crispy and well fried as well; the mushy peas not only gave color to the plate, but balanced the fat of the mayo and heaviness of the fried chips and filet. On the other hand, the seabass was well cooked with a little bit of seasoning on the skin. It arrived uncleaned – not ideal as we did not have the correct knife to clean it – however, the waitress saw us in distress and asked if we would have wanted it to be cleaned in the kitchen (of course, we accepted the offer). The seabass was served on a bed of colorful greens with confit cherry tomatoes: a good combination between tastiness and sweetness of the tomatoes and the bitterness of the salad. The new potatoes were boiled and served with fresh parsley and olive oil. Personally, having tried both chips and boiled new potatoes I would suggest chips to accompany the seabass. Just because white fish is usually a bit blander, like boiled potatoes. At the end, the seabass was good with a delicate and slightly seasoned taste.
Overall, the plates were filling, the ingredients were fresh and of good quality. Maybe I just need to book in advance next time to see if the service is better in the restaurant area, together with a more formal ambience. I am also looking forward to trying their gluten free warm chocolate brownie next time or their express fish and chips bar. As you might have already understood I honestly think that I will go back again, not too soon though as the prices are not great for a student’s pocket.
If you are a fish, meat, or veggie lover or just fancy a gourmet fish and chips, Seafood Shack will satisfy your desires with their pretty wide range of local goods. You can download their menu on the website or just follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for their latest updates.