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Uisce in a nutshell
Following the success of his first solo restaurant, chef Tommy Heaney introduces a second helping of his relaxed dining concept less than a year after opening Heaneys. With a focus on wine and a succinct – yet seriously impressive – menu of tapas-style small plates, Uisce (pronounced ish-ka) is the neighbourhood bar everyone wishes was at the end of their street.
Where is it?
Right next door to Heaneys in Pontcanna, a leafy suburb which has become a mecca for Cardiff’s resident foodies.
What’s the vibe?
The original restaurant’s muted grey palette has been brightened with house plants, exposed brick and a tiled bar straight out of a Mediterranean bistro for the second instalment. A chilled playlist and buzz of chatter from neighbouring tables creates a casual atmosphere.
The restaurant’s interior
What’s the drinks menu like at Uisce?
Rather than replicating the restaurant’s wine list, Tommy and team have curated a seasonally shifting line-up to compliment the dishes being crafted in the tiny open kitchen behind the bar. It’s an eclectic list which roams the new world as well as more traditional terroirs, with a couple of funky additions from the natural wine contingent. Learn more about natural wines here.
Wines at Uisce
Is there any food?
If you can’t stretch to a splurge on the tasting menu next door, this is your opportunity to indulge in Heaneys clever cooking without committing to multiple courses. Taking inspiration from the tabernas of Spain and then adding his own local stamp, Tommy has assembled a bill of snacks, plates and charcuterie where shepherd’s pie (not as you know it: potato foam, crispy onions and unctuous ragu) shares menu space with giant gambas, smoked duck croquetas and tortilla topped with silky garlic aïoli.
What should I order?
Take bar manager Owen’s advice and pair a glass of the deliciously oaky Cantos de Valpiedra rioja with the wipe-the-plate-clean delicious Welsh lamb crumpet laced with peppy salsa verde. There’s a tempting collection of whites to explore, but the fiery hit of cayenne from the home-cured “Kick in the Head” charcuterie led us to the Clare Valley’s Unico Zelo Truffle Hound for its stone-fruit depth and liquorice undertones.
The Welsh lamb crumpet with salsa verde
If you really are just stopping by for one, order the vibrant Brazilian Casa Valduga fizz (expect classic buttery notes with exotic fruits on the nose) and a side of puckeringly punchy boquerones. Learn more about South American wines here.
Like any tapas joint worth its salt, Uisce stocks a sound selection of fortified wines. Follow dinner with a syrupy Monteagudo Pedro Ximénez, or Ferreira 10-year-old tawny port.
Don’t even think about leaving before dessert; pillowy churros with decadently dark chocolate dipping sauce, and espresso panna cotta – just the right side of bitter – are worth staying out for.
Words by Kathryn Lewis, @kathrynlewis92
Photographs by clearcutweb.com