Review: Boof rotisserie & grill

Boof burger

I can sometimes be hypocritical in my musings, but I think that’s only human – as long as it doesn’t happen too often.
I advocate  local business over chains, especially when it comes to eating out. The food at chains is usually daudry, plain and shipped in frozen – but on this blog I have still reviewed places like Ruby Tuesday.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Ruby Tuesday – and I think it may even be an exception to the rule because it’s Cardiff branch is the only one in the UK and is run by a pair of Welsh businessmen who bought into the franchise – so technically it’s independent, right? Or at least that’s what I’ll tell myself to make me feel less like a sell-out. Their food is good though, and definitely not shipped in.

Anyway, I talk about chains but this review is not of one – but Boof is situated in the domain of the chain, inside a shopping centre. Adjoined by a chain baked potato place and a chain chocolatier, directly across from a chain coffee shop and a chain sushi restaurant, it’s firmly in the land of big business.

Boof opened at the same time as St David’s 2 – in October 2009 – and is owned by the team who ran the stylish and classy Le Gallois in Pontcanna until their decision to close down a few weeks back. Boof remained open and has appeared to be doing quite well since; the majority of tables are taken whenever I walk past - granted there are probably only about 12 tables – but still, that’s not bad for an unknown. When people go to eat at a shopping centre they stick to what they know – this is why the mall concept does well; familiarity and well known brands all under one roof.

Boof intrudes on this party and seems to be doing quite well for it. They have the mall concepts figured out too, a simple menu with familiar favourites – burgers, steaks, salads – and the service is quick too, with our food delivered to the table within a couple of minutes.

We all chose the Boof burger, with varying degrees of cheese and bacon – not being a fan of bacon I opted just to have cheese.

The first thing you notice is the cheese, in fact – you can’t even see the beef for the dairy – all melted over the patty, whitish in colour, proving that it is indeed cheese and not a single wrap slice made in a factory out of pencil sharpenings.
Once you do get to the burger however, it is different. Good different. It’s very hard to describe, I haven’t had another burger like it on my burger conquest (post coming soon!)  - it has to have been ground in a very different way, a method that I have not come across before. Here, look at it:

It’s too tightly packed, too well formed – it’s as though the beef has never been minced. Answers on a postcard please, if you think you know the method to making this type of burger.

Anyhow, once I got past the make-up of the patty I could really enjoy the food. The cheese, beef, moist lettuce and seeded bun all seemed to work together very well. The burger wasn’t too moist, but also not too dry – although I’d probably say it was closer to the dry side than not, but that’s generally fine, a little longer and it would have been overdone.
In my burger conquest post you will hear me rant about burgers that are gratuitously  large, bigger than they need to be in order to satisfy the “bigger is always better” mentality that has seeped into consumers expectations – that if the burger is not massive and popping out at the sides, and holding the bottom and top parts of the bun 10 inches apart then it isn’t a good burger. The Boof burger doesn’t suffer from this, but it fills you up and you will leave happy.

Fries, fries, fries. Fries are a real wildcard, is something I have learned on my burger conquest (post coming soon!). No two establishments have the same method around making, cooking and storing and presenting their fries (or chips), and this makes for some very interesting analysis. With Boof’s fries, the little holder is a nice touch, I think – especially with the little ketchup receptacle on the side, it saves wastage as I’m a real “big splodge, use hardly any” kind-of guy. The fries themselves were hot, straight from the fryer and crispy – just how you would expect them to be. All too many times I have been presented with soggy, nearly cold fries – and this is a real turn-off. So, Boof fries = 8/10.

Service at Boof is odd – semi-table service is the name of the game here, a waiter seats you – but refuses to take your order, you order and pay at the counter, and then the waiter who seated you brings you your food. I can kind-of see how this works to cut staffing costs, because then patrons do not have to wait to get the attention of the one waiter who is on shift to order food or drinks or to get or pay the bill – it’s all done at the counter. In fairness, the more I think about it now the less uncommon I am realising it to be – it’s  just the same as at a pub, except with somebody seating you first.
Food arrived relatively quickly, i.e. not in a second like at a Wetherspoons – which usually denotes microwaved produce, but still quickly enough for us not to think “where is our food” and the service was pleasant.
We took Tristan with us and there was a choice of highchairs – in fact, this was the first time he had ever been in a highchair so we tried two of them, the server was good enough to bring each of them to us to try.

Rating: 7/10
Bill: £21.90


Why I decided not to run a follow-up to the food hygiene ratings post


Back in February I posted regarding the Food Standards Agency website where you can see scores from local food hygiene inspections, at the time the website had minimum publicity – very few people knew it existed. After I sent a flurry of tweets about the site and some astonishing results from the local area, and then the blog post, it seemed a lot more people were in the know. WalesOnline and yourCardiff both picked up on it, giving more exposure to this website that is so important to every consumer who eats – and I’m pretty sure that’s everyone.

I made particular light of establishments that received a 0/5 rating, for by it’s nature this must mean there are some considerable failings in hygiene and public safety at these places – what else could it possibly allude to? A vendetta by council officials on mass scale? I don’t think so.

Almost immediately I was contacted directly by four of these establishments, each in their own way explaining to me that the inspections aren’t fair, they caught them on the wrong day, you get a zero for even opening the door, blah blah blah and at the time these all seemed genuine enough – but after giving it some thought I have come to this conclusion;
The rules are strict to protect public safety, if you don’t like the rules or cannot comply with them – get out of the business.
If these companies want to exonerate themselves, get up to standard and ask for a re-inspection.

In 2005 there was an outbreak of E-coli that originated from a butcher in Merthyr Tydfil – the meat was distributes to local schools and one boy, 5 year old Mason Jones died as a result.
In no circumstance would I ever, ever want to be of the worry that the food provided to me, either for me to cook at home or to be cooked for me, should have any chance of hurting me or my family.

I can empathise with small business owners, coming up to code can cost money – installing new washbasins, etc isn’t cheap, but those are the rules and they’re the rules for very good reason. A lot of people believe that car insurance is an expensive scam, but it’s the law to have it and for very good reasons.

Why taxi drivers striking would be dangerous

St Mary Street, night

“The Cardiff Hackney Carriage Association, which says it represents about 700 of the city’s 950 drivers, said its members would strike as part of a dispute with the council over fares.”

This is what the South Wales Echo (WalesOnline) reported this week. The report goes on to explain exactly when taxi drivers in Cardiff are proposing to strike;

“Mathab Khan, the association’s chairman, said the industrial action – between midnight and 4am next Saturday and Sunday – would cause “total havoc” in the capital.”

So here we have the chairman of an association threatening to cause “total havoc” – excellent. What a man.
Striking from midnight to 4am on a Saturday night, and not just any Saturday night – a night when the city is hosting a sold-out international football match and a Kylie Minogue concert.

Speaking from experience, taxis can be hard enough to get on a weekend night around kicking-out time as it is – or at least, it was before structured taxi ranks were introduced, now there is a long wait at best.
But under the previous system, where you near-enough had to stand in the middle lane of Castle Street to attract the attention of a car arriving back into the city from the suburbs, there were times when I had to admit defeat and to walk home.

I lived in Tremorfa then, and to get there you have to walk through areas with some of the highest crime rates in Cardiff. Roaming gangs, speeding cars, drug dealers and prostitutes were all things that I encountered and had to deal with on these walks home.

Luckily I never got into any trouble, through being street smart – avoiding streets that I knew were bad news or poorly lit, but mostly this was down to plain luck; I’m sure of it.

Making hundreds of people have to seek alternative routes home at that time of night, most of whom will elect to walk, is just plain irresponsible. With horror stories of sexual assaults in Cathays and others, can Mathab Khan and his members really go ahead with a strike with a clear conscience? Do they serve the people or Cardiff, or do we serve them?

The Cardiff Hackney Carriage Association is trying to make a point, but using vulnerable people as pawns. Could they justify their strike if a person got stabbed, raped or assaulted – because they had to walk home when they would usually get a taxi?

I suppose the advice has to be – if you cannot get a taxi home that night, arrange to walk home in a group, or at least in a pair. Be safe everyone.

Taxi drivers split over strike action [WalesOnline]