Since it's opening in December last year, this pub, from the Nicholson pub brand, has been busy building it's reputation as the place to go for real ales, and great pub classics with an up-to-date modern twist.
Myself, my husband and teenage son visited at Sunday lunch time, and was warmly welcomed by the bar manager Gareth.
The pub is rich in history. Based on the former site of O'Neils and located almost next to Cardiff market, it's a reincarnation of the pub of the same name that stood in the same ground years previously. It's most famous landlord Joe Holbrook also owned the local circus. When he died an elephant named Lily reportedly drunk a pint in his memory, and from then on wouldn't pass by without drinking her daily pint!
Well you won't find any elephants in The Old Market Tavern today, but I hope this story gave you a sense of the intriguing and quirky history this pub holds.
When you look around the pub you will see it is decorated in warm rich tones, with dark blue walls and oak floorboards, a look that is both traditional but stylish in a retro way.
An important point about Nicholsons pubs is that they are proud of the real ales they serve and they should be too. We had a sample tasting of a selection of real ales and I really liked the Mcewans Signature which had a slightly sweet earthy flavour. If you are not a real ale person I also spotted some nice wines on the menu too such as Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, a personal favourite of mine.
They are proud of the real ales they serve
So as we sat down to peruse the menu I was torn as to what to pick - it all sounded delicious. The steak and pale ale pie sounded amazing and so did the slow braised belly pork - now what to choose?
My son ordered the ultimate beef burger, my husband the roast chicken Sunday dinner and I ordered the belly pork in the end. I was offered to have that as a roast dinner too with all the trimmings even though it was served differently on the menu and I jumped at the chance.
The Ultimate Burger
When the Ultimate Burger arrived we all said WOW! Two double beef burgers with mature cheddar cheese, flavoursome smoked back bacon, sweet and sticky barbecue sauce and crispy onion rings were piled high in a tasty brioche bun. The accompaniments of seasoned skin on fries and crunchy home made coleslaw complimented the burger perfectly. My son really enjoyed tucking into the burger and it was a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. He honestly said it was one of the best burgers he has ever had, and he has eaten a lot of burgers in his time!
Roast chicken dinner
Roast belly pork
Our roast dinners were accompanied with homemade roast potatoes, honey glazed parsnips, green beans, Chantenay carrots, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. Often I find there is not enough gravy, but not in this case as the gravy was plentiful, rich in flavour and depth, and truly delicious.
Everything was seasoned perfectly and very tasty. The belly pork was exceptionally well cooked in my opinion. The meat had caramelised well and was truly unctuous, the fat had rendered down and made the pork moist and incredibly moreish. If I had one small criticism with the over all dish, is that I would have liked the potatoes to be more crunchy as there is nothing better than biting into a crispy, crunchy roast potato with a soft yielding centre.
Vanilla Cheesecake with berry compote
The dessert menu was full of crowd pleasing desserts such as apple and plum crumble, warm chocolate brownie cake and treacle sponge with custard. I was stuffed but couldn't resist sharing a baked vanilla cheesecake with my husband.The cheesecake had a buttery crunchy biscuit base with a smooth creamy vanilla middle. The berry compote served on the side was made up of cranberries and black currants, and added the right amount of sharpness to the dish. I would have liked a splash of cream too but that was just my personal preference.
All the main courses were very generous in size and one thing you won't feel is hungry after you have eaten your meal here.
There aren't that many places in the centre of Cardiff where you can have a tasty Sunday dinner with all the family, that is neither cheap and cheerless or really expensive. The Market Tavern fits into a gap in the market, and we would certainly go there again.
Recommended 4 stars.
* I was a guest of The Old Market Tavern, all words and opinions are my own
Address: 20-21 Trinity Street, Cardiff, CF10 1BH
Telephone: (029) 2037 1263