Review: Breakfast at The Dock Bar and Kitchen (Cardiff)

DSCF1059Earlier this month myself and my boyfriend visited The Dock Bar and Kitchen for the first time (see review here). We left feeling happy, full, and eagerly anticipating a second visit to sample their enticing breakfast menu. It will therefore surprise no one that when The Dock very kindly contacted us asking if we would like to come along for breakfast, we jumped at the chance with two pairs of very greedy hands. Not only did it give Mr Chef a chance to be on the receiving end of the kitchen for a change (the pressure of chef life!), but also meant we got to enjoy what we enjoy best. Eating.

Upon arrival at The Dock we were kindly asked where we would like to sit. Now, despite my incredibly indecisive tendencies, I do love it when a restaurant gives you this freedom. There is nothing worse than being shown to a pre-determined table, only to sit down and realise that you hate where you are sitting. Naturally, we chose to sit next to one of the floor to ceiling windows. I really cannot recommend enough these seats if you are visiting The Dock for the first time. Not only do they give you stunning views of the waterfront landscape, but they allow the sun to shine through in all its brilliant glory. Considering the scarcity of this good weather in Wales, the sunbeams streaming across our table were definitely symbolic of what was to follow.

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Lovely outside seating area!

I can be quite fussy. For a girl who grew up on chicken dinosaurs it has certainly taken Mr Chef a lot of time, patience and endless energy in the kitchen to get me to the level in which my taste buds currently reside. Despite this, it took me an age to decide on what I wanted to eat. From classic fry ups, American style pancakes, breakfast sandwiches and the healthier yoghurt and fruit pots; there really is a multitude of dishes to set anyone’s mind into a frenzied food blur. This definitely makes it a great place for a family breakfast. Thankfully, I was given a quick respite when our drinks order was taken by a friendly staff member.

Working a chef’s long, crazy hours, my boyfriend cannot function in the morning without a coffee of some variety, however mild. Unsurprisingly, he did not hesitate to order the Latte. Being a very vocal and avid coffee hater, I spent several torn minutes within the juice section (mt favourite!), before opting for the Apple and Raspberry flavour.

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Despite the glare, there is actually a lovely foamy Latte there . . .

The drinks quickly arriving, Mr Chef promptly engulfed his latte. As the photo above shows, it was a good seized cup for £2.40. I refuse to try anything coffee related, but Mr Chef assured me that his drink had a good solid flavour, with a smooth creaminess. We also noted the perfect balance between liquid and frothy top. Mr Chef especially appreciated the addition of a sugar cube. It really does add that extra touch of refinement to the taste over stereotypical sugar granules. I was equally pleased with my juice selection, priced at £2.50. It was classically simple in its refreshing and fruity nature (as expected), with a good blend between the sweeter raspberry and the sharper tang of the apple juice. Again, the extra raspberries scattered on top produced a well presented drink. As my ice cold glass stood glistening in the midday sun, beads of moisture lazily gliding down, I had to give myself a hasty reminder that I was not in fact on holiday, but actually still in Cardiff.

By this point we had both committed to our breakfast choices, which were quickly brought to the table. I had opted for The Dock Eggs, with the addition of oak smoked salmon, whilst Mr Chef went down a more classical route with The Dock Breakfast. One of the points I really want to stress is the presentation of the dishes served at the Dock. Just like our mains from our previous expedition, these dishes looked physically perfect, and made photographing them a relatively easy job – or as easy as it can be for a complete photography novice! Yet despite their photogenic qualities, my tummy won the battle, and it was time to tuck in.

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The Dock Eggs consisted of two poached free range hens egg (especially pleasing to the animal lover within me), sat atop a toasted breakfast muffin, including wilted spinach, hollandaise sauce, and the optional oak smoked salmon (you can also choose to have grilled mushroom or smoky streaked bacon).  Now, this is a bit of an early spoiler, but the eggs really were the star of our dishes!

With gentle downwards pressure, my poached egg split to reveal an avalanche of bright yellow yolk (see mouth watering above picture). There really is nothing more satisfying than an egg – be it poached, fried or boiled – that has been cooked to perfection, and both me and Mr Chef were extremely impressed. As Mr Chef can testify, eggs are an extremely simple yet brilliant ingredient when well cooked, yet all too frequently they can fall short of their deserving greatness. Not these. Likewise the hollandaise sauce was beautiful. This was my first time trying hollandaise and I am now officially converted. The sauce was silky in texture, almost gliding off of the poached eggs, with a lovely creaminess that did not overwhelm the dish.

Cutting further into the meal, I was once again pleasantly surprised at the sheer amount of smoked salmon nestled underneath the egg. I’ve found that many food establishments can often skimp on the smoked salmon due to variables such as pricing, but as the above photo justly shows, there was plenty of this fresh, smoky tasting fish to fill my belly here. Lastly, of course, was the toasted breakfast muffin. Something as humble as bread is always going to fall somewhat into the background against the likes of smoked salmon, yet here it added an excellent crunch of texture to an already wonderful marriage of flavours. Perhaps the only criticism to be made (if any!) of this dish was the wilted spinach. I found the flavour to be somewhat lost amongst the other ingredients, but then by its very nature spinach is not the strongest flavour. Additionally, what it might have lacked in flavour it made up for by adding another dimension to the texture.  At £6.50, this was a dish I would have been more than happy to pay for, and as you can see I cleared my plate.

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The Dock Breakfast

As stated, my boyfriend went for The Dock Breakfast. We all know that a full English breakfast is never going to manage to look impeccably tidy or refined, but we were both very impressed with how smart this classic actually looked. The food was carefully arranged and layered to give a clean presentation that avoided the typical greasy spoons aesthetic. What was also great was the way the beans had been neatly separated into their own pot, stopping an orange river from staining the remaining food, as can often happen. This dish consisted of the aforementioned beans, a butcher’s sausage, two rashers of smoky streaked bacon, black pudding, two free range hens eggs (cooked to your preference), hash brown, grilled mushrooms, toast and butter. I have a few vegetarian friends, and it is something I have thought about doing myself, so it is great that they also offer The Veggie Breakfast; basically the same as above but with vegetable sausages, slow roast tomato, and the bacon of course omitted.

I sampled a piece of the sausage, and can testify that it had that great meaty taste reminiscent of a family BBQ, as only the best sausages can do (without the burnt requirements of a home BBQ, of course!). A proper British specimen. The bacon was likewise well cooked, with the right amount of fat to please Mr Chef. The black pudding was of a substantial quantity, and I am told it tasted as good as it looked. The hash brown, which can often run the risk of becoming burnt, had a lovely deep golden colour, with a lovely crisp outside, encasing a fluffy interior. The toast was again a lovely golden colour, with the butter handily placed in a separate pot to enable you to slather on to your own heart’s content. Ketchup was also handily provided, as it always should be with a cooked breakfast! Yet, as already mentioned, the eggs again stole the show. Mr Chef chose to have his served scrambled (he has an unfathomable love for scrambled eggs), and they were perfect. Light, fluffy eggs that were seasoned well, with none of the bland or rubbery texture which can often be found. Mr Chef declared that he would have been extremely happy to serve both my poached and his scrambled eggs within his own workplace. Sadly, these had been inhaled within the first five minutes, meaning I did not get to sample this for myself. But on the plus side, another excuse to visit again! At £7 for the Cooked Breakfast, the price was readily justified with both the quantity and quality.

I always judge a restaurant or kitchen by how much I have to critique at the end of my dining experience. I know it’s a great place when, as was the case here, I am actively looking for things to critique. Whilst our first experience at The Dock (see here) may have had a few minor teething problems, this proceeding visit has shown that they are more than capable of getting better and better. This really is a fantastic place to sample both classic and the more exotic tastes at very reasonable prices. We would also like to show our appreciation to the welcoming staff, whom were friendly and not afraid to strike up a conversation.

With its picturesque setting and great emphasis on the variety of drinks, The Dock Bar and Kitchen epitomises a perfectly relaxed environment. Whether that is  early morning breakfasts, evening drinks, and everything in between – it is definitely worthy of a visit!

Disclaimer – The breakfast on this visit was complimentary. We will only ever post our own, honest opinions, and will NOT write a favourable review in return for a complimentary meal.

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