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Tir a Môr at voco: Let’s Do Lunch!

Tir a Mor at St David's Hotel opened its doors recently and we thought it would be remiss of us not to give it a try.
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In case you are wondering, the name is Welsh and simply means Land and Sea, which makes perfect sense given its Cardiff Bay location (yes, it enjoys great views), and that it aims to celebrate the very best Welsh produce.

Not a bad view for lunch…

Now we’ve eaten at St David’s before and, to be fair, it’s always been competent. But, generally, we never expect great food from hotel restaurants. They rarely deliver something truly special.

So, on a pretty gorgeous Wednesday in November, we drive down to the Bay to sample the offering – I’ll be perfectly honest, we were just looking for a decent lunch – that would be enough.

St David’s Hotel is easy to get to, just a minute off the A4232 as you come in to the Bay and parking is easy. A few pounds easily covers the time you’ll be there, unless you choose to go for a wander before or after lunch.

Today, the Bay is glorious. The sun is shining, and it is at its best. The one thing you notice entering the bar area is the interior makeover. Teal colour blocking is the order of the day and that sits very comfortably with the stylish, understated design. It works, and on this particular sunny day, the background deep aquamarine of the Bay and perfect blue sky complemented the design perfectly. All very Côte d’Azur.

With the scene set, our waiter Simon took our drinks order, and we checked out the menu.

Tir a Mor isn’t a cheap lunch. If you’re looking for one of those, there are plenty of other chain restaurants around the Bay, plus some fairly decent independents. No, Tir a Mor is offering quality ingredients and makes no claim otherwise; the question is, is it worth it?

The menu is excellent. Plenty of variety but, for our lad, he was looking for a plain cheeseburger with bacon, and the obligatory fries. Simon suggested the Bar Menu and Jack’s happy.

For Jennifer, the 8oz Cefn Mawr Farm rib-eye steak, king prawns, laverbread butter, and triple-cooked chips. For me the same, but I substituted the chips for the Black Bomber mash.

We’re sort of working backwards here. We ordered our mains before deciding on our starters. Sometimes we do that.

Jack ordered the Trealy Farm charcuterie with pickles and sun-dried tomatoes. With nothing but an empty plate to show ten minutes later, this clearly was enjoyable. My Pembrokeshire crab cake, poached egg and warm tartare sauce was very nice indeed. Crab can sometimes be too subtle in its flavour but this was well balanced and pretty scrummy. Jennifer pushed the boat out with a Cefn Mawr Farm beef tartare, crispy capers, pickled shallot, cured yolk and Caerphilly cheese – she was not disappointed. It was perfect.

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If there was a little trip up in the delivery, it was the timing. It seemed to take a good thirty-five minutes to arrive, which seemed a while given what we had ordered. In fairness, this was our only cause to grumble – after the starters, normal timing resumed. And you shouldn’t be bored. There’s great artwork on the walls and the view is quite relaxing.

On to mains. Jack’s cheeseburger was as expected – it wasn’t going to win any awards; just a good, solid, well-made cheeseburger.

This was not to be the case for our rib-eyes though. These were anything but ordinary. They were quite simply fantastic. The meat was of exceptional quality – perfectly cooked, tender, and rare as we like it. The three large prawns sat on top were equally delicious. Plump, juicy and perfectly cooked on the grill, and all topped off with the laverbread butter which was sublime.

We both agreed this particular ‘surf and turf’ combination was a huge hit. Jennifer venturing to say this was the best steak we’d had in Cardiff for a very long time. The Black Bomber mash was pretty good too, but I think it could have been cheese bombed a little more – gorgeous though. We do like a bit of Black Bomber – one of our favourite Welsh cheeses.

If our rib-eyes and prawns were perfect 10s, the dessert had a bit of a mountain to climb to come close.

Jack declined dessert, the charcuterie and burger and fries had beaten him fair and square. We, however, were keen to see what Tir a Mor could deliver.

We were not to be disappointed. My Bara Brith bread and butter pudding with Dairy Farm vanilla ice cream (plus a dash of double cream) was one of the best I’ve tasted. If the ribeye was a 10, this was a 9.5 in anyone’s book.

As Jennifer nibbled away at her Welsh cheeseboard with Pembrokeshire biscuits, we all agreed that Tir a Mor had delivered a pretty fine meal indeed.

So the question is, would we eat here again? Absolutely. Tir a Mor isn’t cheap, but it is value for money. The food is exceptionally good. The location is superb (who doesn’t love a sea view when dining?), and the staff are excellent – special thanks to our waiter Simon – he was super helpful.

To find out more about Tir a Mor, click here or visit their website below.

Where’s your favourite steakhouse in Cardiff?
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