Food review: The Old Cottage, Lisvane

July 14, 2011 20 Comments »
Food review: The Old Cottage, Lisvane

old cottage

Dated would probably be the kindest word to describe the former incarnation of the Old Cottage in Lisvane.

Tucked away next to Cefn Onn Park it’s right at the Northern edge of Cardiff before the roar of the M4 engulfs all and sundry – and it was a perfectly standard boozer. A good crowd of locals and decent food was served, but in a reasonably affluent area without many good restaurants the need for raising the bar was clear.

The cottage itself is a listed building and the owners have had to work within the planning constraints to try and transform it from cosy pub into upmarket bustling pub-restaurant. And they’ve certainly suceeded in making it more of a restaurant than a pub.

The main bar remains, with a good choice of guest ales, and a fantastic beer garden out the front to enjoy when the weather decides to stop playing silly buggers with us all.

A raised section to one end allows an elevated dining experience, and also a nice quiet area for private parties wishing to dine without the prying eyes of other guests.

Behind the main bar an huge open-plan kitchen has been revealed, with metalic service hatches greeting you as you step forward into a large, light and spacious dining room.

There’s a nice atmosphere and mix of diners, with some family groups, another young couple and a couple of pensioners heading out for a slap up meal.

We can through the menu and find a great choice, with a good mix of daily specials to boot. For starters we plump for lamb koftas and Arancini risotto balls. What makes the starters is their respective sources, the koftas have a delicious mini yoghurt alongside them and the risotto balls benefit from a mouth-watering and homemade tomato jam to dip them in.

The portion sizes are the right amount, leaving us ready for the main course. My partner goes for something a little unusual – a smoked salmon pizza. I certainly hadn’t seen salmon on a pizza before, and our attentive waiter informs us they swap the tomato in the base for lemon creme freche.

I decided to stick with the fishy theme and ordered a sea bream, whole grilled, which came with a refreshing carrot, orange and olive salad.

Both were cooked excellently and I’m pleased to say the smoked salmon pizza works – while the sea breem was cooked very well and worked well with the flavours in the salad. A glass of chardonnay, with the sea bream, and a pinot grigio with the pizza worked well.

old cottageThere was just enough room left for dessert and we moved onto an eton mess and a sticky toffee pudding. There’s no nonsense with the sweets – just good old fashioned pub choices, although for the more discerning diner there’s a selection of after-dinner cocktails to work your way through.

The spacious surroundings of the dining area certainly help lend a relaxed feel, but also get away from the darkened and slightly clostrophobic atmosphere of some pubs and their restaurant rooms. The only down side are the ridiculously heavy chairs – which need some serious strength to shift out when you need to nip to the loo!

It’s clear the owners have paid attention to their local demographic, and taking the Old Cottage upmarket should reward them as they offer an excellent service and a dining experience which means a taxi won’t be needed to get home. It’s also worth the more adventurous diner heading up, spending a morning seeing the flowers of Cefn Onn, savouring the views across Cardiff and then calling in for lunch and a will earned chillout in the beer garden.

Meal details and cost: Starters: Arancini risotto balls, pea, mint, feta, homemade tomato jam (£5.95) & Lamb koftas, mint yoghurt, kohirabi, cumin and carrot salad (£5.95). Mains: Smoked salmon pizza, courgette, lemon creme fraiche, horseradish, rocket (£10.75) & Whole grilled sea bream with a carrot, orange and olive salad (£14.95). Dessert: Etons mess (£4.95) & Sticky toffee pudding (£5.25). Drinks: 2 pints Doom Bar ale (£6.50), Coke (£2.15), Rubini Pinot Grigio (£4.95) & Luigi Leon chardonnay (£3.95). Total: £65.35

Disclosure: The meal and drinks were complimentary from the Pub PR company.

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  1. Bev Delacruz July 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    Have to agree with the write up about the Old Cottage pub in North Cardiff. Been there prior and since and the transformation is good.
    It was always a decor at odds with itself. It had modern aspects with old farmhouse charm – as it was farmers’ cottages joined together. I am that old, I remember them.

    Now the food standard and whole ‘lightness’ of the pub is better. Would take visitors there anyday.

    The menu is more adventurous, which was needed. Loved the orzo risotto! Staff were helpful and ale was good. Hope the standards remain high as I expect to be there this weekend too.

  2. carregbica July 14, 2011 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    Hopefully the Cottage will rival the Maen Llwyd and drag the standard of north Cardiff cuisine upwards. Too many pubs in the nearby area are content with food straight out of a freezer.

    • Mrs Thompson June 19, 2012 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      Went for the first time since refurbishment last year. Absolutely awful and will not return again. Prior to refurb although a little tired looking this establishment was warm and welcoming and the food wasn't bad either. Now overpriced and pretentious the cottage lacks all of the warmth and friendliness it once had. Advertised as a lamb burger at approx £10 came a shrivelled sawdust textured offering that was laced with nutmeg and cinammon which took approx 50 minutes to arrive and we were the only diners !! Needless to say it went back. Overpriced wine at nearly £8 a go served up in thick rimmed cheap wine glasses. If you're going to charge prices like these make sure the ingredients are top quality and cooked accordingly and work needs to be put into the ambience to make the cottage what it once was !!!!

  3. Kate July 18, 2011 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    I think you mean "sauces" not "sources"

  4. Cobalt Stargazer July 19, 2011 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Highly recommended, very good review shame about the lack of spell checking…..

  5. davislove3 July 21, 2011 at 8:52 am - Reply

    Are you serious carregbica? The Maen Llwyd is now completely terrible according to Trip Advisor. Taken over by CHef and Brewer!

  6. Local Veggie July 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Disappointing vegetarian choices on menu.

  7. azzuri August 7, 2011 at 11:45 am - Reply

    Just what this area needed !!! We live within easy walking distance and can't stay away!!
    Some tips:
    ** Particularly good value for 3 course Sunday lunch –works out about £16.00 per head.
    ** download the wine voucher from their website —- £11 per bottle for a choice of 20 excellent wines(be quick!!——-this offer ends 26/8/11)
    ** the Pizzas are wonderful—- if you can visit between 3.00p.m and 6.00p.m Monday to Friday they have a ' 2 for £10' pizza offer. Went last week and we had 2 enormous pizzas and a lovely bottle of rioja — total cost (with the wine voucher)–£21.00—-brilliant!!!.

  8. lea August 14, 2011 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    Visited the cottage with a girl friend, and we loved it !!!!!! Back there in under a week with my hubbie.
    Have nt stopped talking about the garlic bread let alone our pasta. We waited a little longer than expected for desert but we were acknowledged twice then it was served with an apolgy and then told they will be taking it off our bill. Great service from Hannah !!!
    *Garlic bread £5.95 but plenty for 2 persons

  9. REBECCA BABBAGE August 16, 2011 at 12:40 pm - Reply


  10. Daffyd September 1, 2011 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    Let’s cut to the truth here, I have lived in the area for the last twenty years and there was not much wrong with the old Old Cottage.
    Yes it’s quite nice inside, but it’s the price’s that are a shocker.
    You don’t mind paying a bit more for better quality food, where do they think we are in the middle of London?
    I reckon they have taken a look at the area, seen it’s fairly affluent and thought” we are onto a winner here”.
    The trouble is I know loads of people, (not sort of a bob or two), who will not pay these prices. They must think we are a bunch of mugs.
    When the summer’s over and you cannot sit outside then the test will come.
    Take my advice go to say the Traveller’s Rest a mile up the road, it’s always busy and no wonder this New Old Cottage must be a gift for them.
    How long before the promotion leaflets are dropping through our letter boxes?

    • carregbica September 2, 2011 at 10:27 am - Reply

      The Travellers Rest? Straight out of the freezer. Might as well go to Harvester.

    • samantha September 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm - Reply

      I used to frequent the Old Cottge before the refit and was very dissappointed in the menu, it tasted as if the food had been defrosed and some even reheated, the standard of menu was attrocious, I don't think making negative comments about a business in your area is needed,,, The prices are fair for what you get and I am visiting again for the 3rd time in a fortnight… Yes each to their own opinion but shouldn't we be supporting new local business's that will create more jobs for younger people thus keeping the economy in our area at a nice level???? People can also save up to have a great dining experience instead of generic pub food thats just tasteless and quite frankly disgusting? You don't have to go every week but if you counted up how much one couple may spend on take away food or prepacked rubbish in one month then they could save that money to eat out once a month, I do respect your point of view and it is a shame that most cannot afford to experience this restaurant but I for one am going to support The Old Cottage and will continue to enjoy it's fayre for as long as I am able,, Have a good meal at the Travellers Daffyd 😉

  11. JohnG September 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Agreed, the facelift has freshened the place considerably.. Although I do lament the passing of the Old Cottage's previous incarnation, if it had been properly managed, and not allowed to fall into disrepair – it would have been successful still (especially if they'd emptied the septic tank and not allowed it to flood the pub!). One suggestion I would make to the management is to expand the menu slightly, and put a few more meaty dishes on offer.

    I'm afraid I can't resist the urge to serve as a member of the spelling police, and note:

    "Metalic" = Metallic
    "We can through the menu" – surely this should read "scan"
    "Sources" = Sauces
    "Sea Breem" = Sea Bream
    "Clostrophobic" = Claustrophobic

    Now repeat. 50 times!

  12. Lynda September 6, 2011 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    Visited the cottage for lunch today, one of our Dad's favourite places. He loved the ambience and food of the Old Cottage, but far too expensive for him now, and the menu is far too posh now also. Glad to see that Jenny is still there, she was always so pleasant and helpful. Would have liked a few more 'plainer' meals on the menu. Lynda (Australia) and Jackie (Dorset)

  13. samantha September 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Have booked today for the 3rd time since the refit, I know I will have good food, good service and a good time, The area has been in dire need of a good quality restaurant with fresh quality food and The Old Cottage is that place….The menu is more expensive than it was before but I couldn't eat the food before the refit and am happy to pay for a good quality menu with good service, will most definately recommend The Old Cottage to friends for a fantastic dining experience,,, Hope the quality of service is consistant………..

  14. mcc November 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    I visited the Old Cottage, Lisvane on the 18th November 2011.

    The fruit juices taste like syrup out of tinned fruit and the food is over priced and lacks flavour.

    Grossly overcooked pasta, under cooked soggy fish batter,

    They serve frozen chips!!! UGH! (fries) – I can get those at McDonalds.

    I expect 100% fresh food at these inflated prices and I also want to be able to taste it. .

    The decor is nice but each to their own.
    I won't be going back until they replace the 'chef.'

  15. Shez November 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    What a difference sine the refurb… it here now.

    Sunday lunch was lovely. The veg was beautifully cooked though I was disappointed not to see any plain boiled potatoes included given the price of the food……expensive!

    I was also disappointed not to see many vegetarian options……apart from Pizza or Pasta on offer and what Vegetarian wants either of those for Sunday lunch in a nice restaurant…..come on guys this is a major let down…. You have the technology don't you?.

    Hope all the staff including chefs keep up the good work as there is a tendancy for standards to slip once the novelty of a refub has worn off.

    By the way last time I visted prior to the refurb this place was positively manky and I had dirty cutlery!

  16. Leanne November 27, 2011 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    Having just come back from a family meal at The Cottage I would say do not bother going to this pub ! Yes the decor is lovely and the surroundings but this does not make up for the bland food and appalling service! I was very excited at the thought of a rib of beef for sunday dinner after the Park Plaza has now decided to serve topside beef! Starters arrived – I chose butternut squash risotto which was bland dry and under seasoned. I was asked how I wanted my beef cooked and chose medium to rare as did my three guests. Our beef arrived and it was well done. The waitress asked if the meal was okay and we explained that the beef was overcooked and that we had asked for medium rare. She responded by saying do you want it cooked more and proceeded to take away our plates. We explained that the last thing that the beef needed was to be cooked more.

    At the end the waitress still did not seem to understand that our issue was that the beef was not cooked as per our order. She said it must be a misunderstanding.

    This pub is lovely from the outside and for a summer drink in the garden yes I am sure it is lovely but please do not waste your money on eating there. It is a chain restaurant with a good paint job!!

  17. caroline harrhy April 29, 2012 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    yes i agree, poor veggie choice, but the pizzas are nice and very good service!

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