*Thanks to Grey for inviting us to dine with them
I must admit that Grey – the bar and restaurant at Cardiff Hilton – had never occurred to me as a venue for a family lunch with young children.
Their bottomless Prosecco brunch however has been on my radar for a while… although I’m yet to experience it for myself. I must admit I still associate the hotel with the business meetings f my pre-kids 20s and after-work cocktails in Steam bar which is now a Costa Coffee!
However that all changed at the weekend when Cardiff Hilton invited us for a one night stay (which you’ll be able to read more about soon) including lunch at Grey’s.
Being a family with young children we tend to dine early so we arrived at the restaurant at 12.15pm straight from seeing What The Ladybird Heard at the New Theatre. My children were full of excitement from the show not to mention the idea of staying in a hotel… and I was beginning to wonder if dining in the restaurant of a four star hotel was a bad idea.
We were seated in the window annex area of the restaurant at the front of the hotel with views of the castle and the busy roads outside. Amazingly though we couldn’t hear a thing from all the traffic. Even a passing ambulance was decidedly muted. The hotel must have invested in some heavy duty sound-proof glass windows and with chilled low level music playing in the background the experience felt so relaxed as we calmly watched the world go by. It had the magic touch on my children because their behaviour was pretty much impeccable for the hour and a half we were there. Thank goodness!
As soon as we were seated, the waiting staff brought over colouring pencils and activity sheets which double as children’s menus – always a winner with my three while they wait for their food.
After a generous basket full of bread (£3.50; I especially loved the rye bread) and lovely juicy olives (£3.50) to share, Little Man O, age 6, and Littlest Boy I, nearly four, ordered burgers and fries at a cost of £6 each. Their little eyes lit up when they saw their meals arriving at the table – huge thick patties in a toasted brioche bun filled with lettuce (which they both removed; sorry Hilton) and tomato. Eight-year-old Little Miss E’s margarita pizza cost £5 and she told us several times how yummy it was.
All of their food was served on wooden platters with the fries in metal baskets. The children loved the presentation and being made to feel their food is as important as the grown-ups. And I loved that they were being served good quality food at a reasonable cost. Other choices on the children’s menu included salmon, vegetables and new potatoes at £6 and lasagne and fries at £5.
Cardiff Daddy went for the Usk Valley Lamb Shank, slow-cooked and honey-glazed and accompanied by bubble’n’squeak. Priced at £17 he said it was succulently delicious and flavoursome. Neither of us had eaten bubble’n’squeak for years and it’s inspired us to give it a go at home some time.
I was on desperate need of something healthy and so had Grey’s Feel Good Salad, which was busting full of quinoa, avocado, butternut squash, sweet potato, tender stem broccoli, golden and candy striped beetroot, pomegranate, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, pine nuts, chilli and lime.
So many of my favourite foods in one bowl, it did indeed make me feel good. It’s available in two sizes, priced at £6 and £10. I was pretty hungry so opted for the larger size and accompanied it with sweet potato chips, £4. I’ve had bad experiences of ordering salad bowls before and being disappointed paying a fortune and still feeling famished afterwards. But in this case the portions were so generous I could have easily just had the salad on its own or opted for the smaller size with the chips.
For dessert the children each had a scoop of ice cream (£2). Again the presentation was great with a generous scoop coming in silver cups (which Littlest loved because he thought they looked like sports trophies) and topped with chocolate hearts scattered over the ice cream and a chocolate straw.
Cardiff Daddy opted for Vanilla Crème Brulee (£5) accompanied by shortbread. He loved the crunchy sugar topping and rich creamy texture.
It was great to see so much Welsh influence in the various dishes on the menu under the guidance of head chef Mark Freeman. Much of the meat comes from Cefn Mawr farm. The goat’s cheese in the spinach cannelloni comes from Pant-ysgawn. The steamed mussels are flavoured with Ty Gwyn cider. The strawberries in the Eton Mess come from the Wye Valley; there’s Penderyn liquer in the dark chocolate fondant. Plus lots more besides. With Hilton being an internationally-recognised chain, and several of the other guests we met coming from outside of the UK, it’s great to see Welsh produce at the forefront of the menu.
We were lucky to be invited to review Grey – but I was really surprised at how affordable the various menu choices were. I had expected everything to be a lot more expensive considering it’s in a plush city centre hotel.
We didn’t have any drinks other than water but the total bill for the five us would have been £62 – if I’m honest we’ve spent more on food at chain restaurants and gastro pubs and not been anywhere near as happy with the food and the service.
We were thoroughly impressed with the attentive staff and the flavoursome quality food at Grey and it’s most definitely now on our radar. For a special family meal it’s perfect.
Thanks so much for inviting us along. We hope to be back soon.
Visit Grey’s website here or follow them on Twitter or Instagram.
For more ideas of things to do with the family in and around Cardiff see the Cardiff section on Cardiff Mummy Says.
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