I’ve been meaning to visit Heaney’s for nigh on four years! We moved from London to Abergavenny at the start of 2019 and Heaney’s (in Cardiff’s Pontcanna neighbourhood) opened only 4 months earlier. It had gained a great reputation already and went straight onto my wish list to visit. Offering only a tasting menu though, I kept saving it for a special occasion splurge. Indeed I ended up visiting Heaney’s sister restaurant Uisce (read our review) first, a more casual space offering a small plates menu, located directly next door.
When I learned that Heaney’s now offer a long and short version of their tasting menu (£75 and £55 per person) as well as a set lunch menu from Wednesday through to Saturday, it was time to rectify my failure to visit. The set lunch menu is priced at £25 for two courses or £30 for three courses, with bread and side vegetables available at a supplement.
Despite the elegant cuisine served, Heaney’s is a warm and welcoming space, no starched linens or formal place settings. In fact, I was very taken with the custom wooden cutlery holder; much nicer than a table half-covered in work-from-the-outside-in cutlery per course!
A ‘Cheese & Onion’ amuse bouche was the first bite. Ethereal mouthfuls that dissolved on the tongue, these delicious bites were tiny tartlets of brick pastry filled with black garlic puree and caramelised onion, and topped with Comté foam and grated Parmesan cheese. Gone far too quickly, we could have demolished a large plate of these!
At the same time as the tartlets, we were served ‘Sourdough | Marmite Butter’ (£4.50 supplement). The sourdough was superb, served freshly warmed with a thick and crunchy crust and soft crumb, and slathered with whipped Marmite butter.
I had the ‘Smoked Ricotta Agnolotti | Beetroot | Beef Fat & Sourdough Consommé | Hazelnut’ and whilst it was very pleasant, it was definitely outclassed by Pete’s starter! That said, I enjoyed the delicate handmade pasta filled with smoked ricotta, served in a broth made from beef fat and toasted sourdough, served with kohlrabi cubes and discs, hazelnuts and micro leaves.
Pete’s ‘Cottage Pie | Potato | Shallot | Crackling’ was a stand-out starter! Hidden by a cloud of potato foam was a rich, slow-cooked lamb and beef layer. On top of the foam were shallots, tiny shards of crispy crackling and a herby green oil. So good!
Both of us fancied the ‘Beef Short Rib | Beetroot | Sanbaizu | Salsify’ over the ‘Hake | Buttermilk | Waldorf’. A generous slice of intensely meaty and meltingly tender beef was served with beetroot (in a solid cylinder, as a silky pureé and as pickled flowers), a piece of salsify (coated in burnt and powdered salsify skin), a sanbaizu gel of mirin, rice wine and vinegar, a few seasonal green leaves, and an intense, glossy jus. We savoured every last mouthful!
I would recommend ordering a side as the mains come only with their small garnishes. We chose the ‘Potato Terrine | Truffle | Parmesan’ (£8 supplement) and ordered one portion between us, which was plenty. The slabs of potato terrine were crunchy, soft and heady with the scent and flavour of truffle, lifted further by a generous snow of Parmesan cheese.
The other available side was ‘Spring Onion | Potato Puree’ (£6).
Yes of course we ordered dessert!
I had the ‘Chocolate | Blood Orange | Pedro Ximinez | Hazelnut | Vanilla’. A gratifyingly punchy blood orange and chocolate mousse filled a wedge-shaped dark-chocolate and hazelnut shell. On top were cream and a light, hazelnut sponge. To the side vanilla ice cream, a Pedro Ximinez sherry reduction, and some vanilla-flavoured crumbs. The mousse filling was the star of the dish, though I do wish there had been a bit more of that PX reduction, it wasn’t quite enough to get more than a hint on the palate, and the hazelnut sponge seemed more of a visual decoration than a carrier of extra flavour. But overall, very enjoyable!
Pete ordered the ‘Baked Yoghurt | Rhubarb | Ginger | Walnut’. A wibbly-wobbly disk of baked yoghurt (like a tangy panna cotta) was topped with vivid, boldly flavoured rhubarb sorbet, rhubarb gel, and rhubarb compote, along with aerated ginger sponge and a walnut crumb. Micro leaves added colour to this very pretty dish.
After desserts came a little bowl of ‘Treats’. Tiny canelés with beef fat were perfect in taste and texture – just the right crispness to the surface, and a soft, dense interior. Caramel white chocolate fudge with sea salt were smooth, sweet and perfect to enjoy with coffee.
We loved our meal and hope to go back for the tasting menu next time.
Have you been to Heaney’s? What did you think and what was your stand-out dish?