Defined by rugged, towering mountains, an unrelentingly wild Atlantic coastline, borders with France and Portugal and a proud melting pot of language, folklore and - in particular - food, Northern Spain is a cultural, geographical and gastronomic tour-de-force that somehow manages to hide in plain sight. Enter Asador 44: the long-anticipated addition to Tom & Owen Morgan's "44" family of Spanish speciality restaurants in Cardiff and a venue that promises to guide Cardiff's discerning palettes to the captivating foodie-best of this "other Spain".
Impeccably presented and executed with a rare finesse (think effortless high-end as opposed to try-hard hipster), Asador 44 weaves unimposing leather, brushed brickwork and touches of white marble into a trad-modern, atmospheric space. Within touching distance of diners, the chefs work with industry and precision over a wrought iron grill encircled by crystal-clear glass (inviting captivated glances from inquisitive patrons), crafting charcoal-sealed, hand-carved, flame-licked dishes of blushed Chuletón beef, milk-fed lamb and Carabinero prawn. Sommelier Furgus Muirhead carefully recommends rare vintages from an almost entirely Spanish collection (the bottle of Welsh Ancre Hill being the exception) and hosts bustle past air-aged beef carcases en-route from Queso cave to table.
Inspired by Tom & Owen's adventures across the Asador regions of Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria (where they sourced the region's best ingredients and learned from leading Asador restaurateurs how to tame the flames), Asador 44's menu is defined as much by its effortless simplicity as it is by its promise of complex and rewarding flavours. Shimmering with the very best of Welsh, British and Northern Spanish produce, the flame-licked prime cuts, on-point seafood and world-class wines available here really do stand out in a city-centre brimming with quality eating destinations. We'd recommend it in a heartbeat.