It doesn’t serve fish and chips (perhaps the only thing not on the menu!), but in a break from tradition, we decided to “live the moment”. Keyif is a new addition to the Penarth food scene, and if you like good vibes, big portions and parsley, it’s well worth a visit…
Now I’ll be honest with you, the Keyif wasn’t our first choice. In fact, eating out in a restaurant wasn’t our first choice. Who else knew that Penarth has such a dearth of decent fish and chip shops?
Well, thanks for telling me!
On a humid summer’s evening, the intention was a short stroll along the Penarth pier.
We managed that:
With a bag of fish and chips (maybe I’d stretch to an ice cream).
No, let’s put this right, Penarth failed… miserably. We saw – that awkward moment when you try to look casual as you squeeze between two benches to catch a decent close-up – what was being served at the Penarth Pier Pavilion.
“I was decidedly underdressed compared to the diners on the veranda.”
The Fig Tree was an option, but the menu sounded heavy – and I was decidedly underdressed compared to the diners on the veranda (combat shorts and flip flops).
And I could tell I was making the staff at James Sommerin nervous just glancing through the window…
So, it was a pleasant stroll through the Windsor Gardens into town… and time to test Mrs B.B.’s patience!
We hope it’s chips, it’s chips…
Still no chippy in sight.
Mint & Mustard was tempting – we had a memorable meal in Cardiff several years ago. Even with the front windows open, it looked like the patrons at Bar 44 were struggling in the heat… We could’ve just “made do” with Wetherspoons… When we (eventually) detoured off the main street and found Plassey Fish Bar, Mrs. B.B.’s face said it all.
“What about Chez Francis?” she asked, recalling a fantastic – but sweat inducing (even in winter!) – meal from several years ago.
By that point, I could sense I would be pushing my luck with even 5 more minutes of indecision and gave in.
When we arrived, there was a little confusion:
Penarth is hardly big enough to get lost in. Fortunately, I vaguely remembered an online farewell message from the Dupuy Family.
A quick Google search confirmed that Keyif, Mediterranean Turkish Cuisine was now the new inhabitant of 21 Glebe Street – in fact, it had opened that week!
“I stared at the clientele.”
A yet to be scored hygiene rating meant I would be using up my quota of rock’n’roll antics for the month, but it looked modern and I stared at the clientele long enough to determine they seemed to be enjoying themselves… perhaps less so after I then entered.
A summer’s evening chez Keyif
There were a few diners, but most of the tables were free.
Still, the waiter seemed unsure if they could accommodate – maybe I looked scruffier than even I thought. In fairness, it did subsequently fill up, so maybe there were concerns looking at my midriff that we’d spend 4 hours consuming everything on the menu (you’d probably need 4 days).
When we were seated, the waiter was very pleasant – they switched during the service, but everyone appeared keen to accommodate. It was attentive without becoming an irritation.
Admittedly, you’d expect that extra effort given the restaurant has just opened – but it felt genuine.
“They didn’t want to miss out on that £4!”
I was quite impressed when they swiftly corrected our mineral water order – we weren’t drinking alcohol so I’m sure they didn’t want to miss out on that £4! And there was no messing about with the bill at the end – in fact, we were offered a free baklava and hot drinks, which was a nice touch (and Mrs. B.B. was told by a Turkish friend that it’s a tradition of her home land)…
Anyway, we’ll get to the food later…
Relief! a chilled ambience
I can only assume it was a floor standing air conditioner behind the far table. It wasn’t the prettiest sight (and may not have been the most comfortable neighbour for the couple who came in towards the end of our meal), but the room felt cool and airy.
It no doubt helped that it had been freshly decorated, but the white walls, common sense table spacing, minimal features and chilled out music gave the restaurant a decidedly fresh vibe.
However, it did lack a little character. A few wall rugs and generic canvas spice pictures didn’t scream “authentic” – and being able to see the plastic cutlery tray next to the entrance is something I would expect at a greasy spoon café.
On a busy weekend night, the room acoustics could also be an issue. When the restaurant did fill up, there was a lot of echo, with conversations running simultaneously. Any busier and there was potential for the noise to become overwhelming – ironic given “Keyif” partly means “quiet relaxation.” An alcohol fuelled table of diners could easily spoil it for others. Especially if you are looking for a romantic evening.
CHIPS! Finally… AND MEAT!!… oh, and veg!
Of course, whatever I had was going to come with chips, which narrowed down the choices for the main slightly – but it took us a while to settle on a starter…
I counted 23 starters between the Cold and Hot offerings. For the Mains, there was a list under The Grill (11 options), then there were the Specials (8), Seafoods (3), Steaks (I stopped counting at this point), Vegetarian & Vegan, Salads…
It was a little overwhelming.
On the plus side, there was a decent selection for Mrs. B.B. who does tend to ‘go veggie’ when we eat out – and is often limited to the token risotto.
It would help diners if they specified what was included in the Cold and Hot Mix Mezzas – I was more than a little envious to see the large and colourful dishes brought out to fellow diners after I’d already ordered.
But hey, I couldn’t complain too much:
Sucuk is a grilled Turkish spicy sausage. It reminded me of a donor kebab in taste and texture – quite firm, but with enough fat running through to keep it moist. I was expecting a little more heat. If anything, the predominantly flavour was garlic, which I liked – but then I’ll happily bake up a bulb if I’m feeling peckish.
The fresh salad arguably made the dish – the balsamic dressing cutting through the fat. You knew it wasn’t the healthiest dish, but at least you didn’t feel greasy. Although I wasn’t sure about the amount of Parsley that had been included.
Cutting a couple of sausages in half and layering them was about as fancy as the presentation would get.
Mrs. B.B. started with Kisir:
A bowl of quinoa, mixed with tomato, herbs (there was the parsley!), hazelnuts and walnuts. Not too sloppy / not too dry (which is where her home-made quinoa efforts tend to veer between) – with an unexpected spicy kick, which really helped the dish shine.
The bread was an odd accompaniment:
Served warm, with a slightly chewy exterior, the bread (Turkish pide) was tasty enough. However, it didn’t really go with either of the starters – and really needed a dip of some sort or butter. It was quite dry on its own.
I found myself trying to mop up the dregs of balsamic vinegar, but in the end gave up and watched sadly as one piece returned to the kitchen.
For me there was only once choice – (a massive plate of) Lamb Shish:
I figured if it was good enough for everyone else (not sure they need such an extensive menu), it was good enough for me – plus it came with chips! I’d searched far and wide for these!
The lamb was tender, but there was quite a lot of fat running through – in fact, one cube was inedible for the gristle. It wasn’t quite the advertised “prime cut”, but it was subtly spiced and enjoyable nonetheless.
“I did live dangerously and have a few nibbles.”
I’ll admit, I was a little fearful of the large griddled chilli – but I did live dangerously and have a few nibbles; the salad was as fresh as the starter’s (well, it was the same as the starter’s) – although I’m not a huge fan of raw carrot chunks (or so much parsley!); and the chips were crisp on the outside with fluffy potato – I think they were frozen, but good quality.
I didn’t understand the strip of tortilla wrap – not enough to really wrap anything (maybe a cube), it just become a bit of sogginess on the plate. And an accompanying sauce would have really elevated the dish. I was offered some chilli sauce at the start, but a home-made tzatziki would have been a special addition (you could order it from the starters as a side dish, I suppose). Without the salad’s balsamic dressing, I’d have found it too dry.
As it was, I felt fairly satisfied for £12.95’s worth of eating.
Mrs. B.B. went for the Vegetable Mussaka:
This could have quite easily gone wrong: either undercooking the carrot and/or overdoing the aubergine would have made for a disaster. It was too simple a dish for any mistakes.
In fairness, everything was cooked perfectly, and there were clear layers when Mrs. B.B. cut through.
And whilst the cheese and tomato flavours dominated, you could clearly taste each vegetable.
It was also a very generous portion considering it was accompanied by pilau rice and a salad – Mrs. B.B. was less forgiving of the parsley than myself.
No room for baklava?!
The dessert options were limited (shocker!), but I was very tempted by the rice pudding.
But alas, after two dishes each, we were done.
There wasn’t even enough room in either belly for the complimentary baklava – and if you know Mrs. B.B., it hurt to turn it down!
We rolled out feeling extremely full – but content that we’d received our money’s worth.
It was by no means perfect – a few complimentary sauces and more restraint on the parsley would have taken it up a notch – but overall you must respect the price point.
We paid less than £40 for two courses each and in return received a no-nonsense, tasty fill. And, crucially, I got my chips!
We’ll be back again.