I recently went to Lab22 in Cardiff for the first time for the pre-booked 7 course taster menu.
Lab 22 opened in March 2012 and is a creative cocktail bar located near the corner of Mill Lane beside The Hayes in Cardiff. It serves an array of drinks devised and created by ‘some of the cities finest mixologists’ and if you are a first time visitor to Lab22, as we were then the 7-course taster menu is a great idea to get a real feel for what they do here.
“What Heston does with food, we apply to liquid” says Stephen Carwardine venue manager.
Visiting Lab22 is an exclusive experience. We were booked in at 7pm and on arriving at the venue we rang the doorbell to get in. Once inside we passed the glass ceiling and climbed the staircase lined with illuminated bottles of spirits. A lovely lady greeted us at the top and took us to our seats, a little booth with a good view of the bar (to watch the mixologists at work!).
After being brought a pitcher of water with cucumber we were told a bit about the Taster Menu and how it aimed to give a good over view of Lab22 for those who had never been before. Despite having seen a rough menu I wasn’t really sure what to expect. As a taster menu I wasn’t sure if we would get small samples of what was on the menu or full drinks but having found out that 26 hours’ solid scientific preparation goes into creating the seven-course tasting menu I was sure that something special was coming to the table and we were soon to find out as we awaited our first course of the evening.
The Lab22 Mojito
The Lab22 take on a Mojito included elderberry and a beetroot garnish. This was accompanied by a small side salad dressed with orange.
Verdict: Deeeeeeeeeeeeeelicious! I am not a fan of mojitos and would never order one if I was out but this was the best various on a mojito I have tasted. I would definitely go back to Lab22 for one of these alone.
The Einstein drink came in a beaker glass and along with tiny lychee spheres in a ceramic dish.
Verdict: This was a really nice and refreshing cocktail. Not to strong and the lychee spheres were something I have never come across before. They literally exploded in your mouth. A great alternative cocktail.
Having never heard of this before we were told by our server that this is a Spanish drink which alters in taste dependent on the individual drinking it. It was served with a mousse like ice cream on a silver spoon (I had already devoured it before I snapped the photo in fear that it may start to melt!).
Verdict: The lady who served us the drinks said that often people taste vanilla, which is one thing that came through for me. I really like this drink though of course if the taste really does alter dependent on the individual then who know what others may think. Another creative drink brought to the table.
This course was served with parma ham smoked with Applewood.
Verdict: I love champagne, I love parma ham and I love Applewood. A winning combination. The parma ham arrived in a smokey dome which looked fantastic and very intriguing. It tasted faintly of Applewood and washed down very nicely with a lovely champagne. One of my favourite courses all down to presentation.
Creamy chocolate Baileys type drink.
Verdict: The only course which I couldn’t stomach. I’m not a lovely of Baileys or of any creamy type cocktails. This one was quite rich and although I know would be a fantastic, first pick cocktail for many, it just wasn’t for me. Another glass of champagne would have done me nicely!
Strawberries and Cream
A milkshake like drink, which I must be honest I am not entirely sure about the contents.
Verdict: Served with strawberries and dipping chocolate! Can’t really go wrong with a combo like that! This drink was lovely and just like a fresh strawberry milkshake.
Served with cranberry caviar and cranberry cheese and had a meringue topping.
Verdict: Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t resist a bit of cheese so the canapés on this one suited me down to a tee! The drink was great. I am not quite sure how they did the meringue on top but it made a perfect finale to a great 7 course taster menu!
Overall, we loved Lab22. We found out about it via the deal website Living Social so paid half the price for the taster menu compared to what it is usually worth and it was worth every penny and more.
At £75 usually, it is a lot of money but included 7 full drinks with canapés and would certainly go down a treat for a special occasion when you want to spend a little more and get something extra special (take note readers! Valentines Day is on it’s way!).
We will certainly be returning I am sure to sample some of the other offerings that Lab22 has not included on the taster menu. Though on that thought I may have to get myself another Lab22 Mojito!