Y Dosbarth / The Classroom, CAVC City Centre Campus, Dumballs Rd, Cardiff, CF10 5FE. Tel.: 029 2025 0377. www.theclassroom.wales
On a recent trip to Cardiff from Caernarfon in North Wales, I diverted from my usual go-to chain restaurant lunch spot, to visit The Classroom on Dumballs . Road. This well-regarded hot-spot on the top floor of Cardiff and Vale College, is a stone’s throw away from the central station. The unlikely location for a dining destination was a timely lesson in opening the mind. Much to my surprise, after whizzing up the lift, I found an elegant, contemporary space. Through the panoramic windows, I took in the stunning cityscape, all the way from Caerphilly Mountain and the Principality Stadium, to Penarth Head and Cardiff Bay. Usually abuzz with hospitality students, I savoured the peaceful half-term lull, and noted the high quality of the service that is a constant all year round. Whilst scanning the seasonal menu, the egg confit starter caught my eye, served with a crispy pork croquette.
The rich, contrasting flavours were given an added depth with the earthy taste of crumbled black pudding. What lightened the dish for me – and made it a perfectly balanced starter – was a refreshing drizzle of apple vinaigrette. For the main, I opted for the chicken supreme: deliciously moist and tender, it was paired with an intriguing combination of flavours. This ranged from the delicate, soft button onions to a sharper sherry jus. The Classroom’s emphasis on seasonal produce was most evident with this dish, as instead of potatoes, it was presented with a tasty pumpkin fondant, and finished off with a nutty pumpkin purée. To complement the dish, I opted for the house Merlot: rich in complexity to parallel the full-flavoured chicken.
For dessert, I went straight for the pear frangipane tart, which is a favourite with the family in Caernarfon. I loved the raspberry purée and the light pistachio ice cream, which helped to lift the slightly dense pastry tart. But it couldn’t quite compete with my mother’s lighter version and melt in the mouth pear and frangipane. Another lesson learnt for me; sometimes, follow the road less travelled. And at £17.95 for a three course lunch, there will definitely be a next time. A visit to The Classroom is not to be missed, for visitors and savvy foodies alike. What you get for a great price is a contemporary mix of fine dining and a warm sense of familiarity. But ultimately, The Classroom offers a brand new perspective on a promising Welsh capital food scene.