In the 1930s eighty-six was soda fountain and lunch counter slang for an item that the kitchen had run out of. A server who had just plated the last piece of apple pie might shout, “Eighty-six the apple pie” (except that the pie would have a more colorful name, like “Eve with the lid on”). The word may be rhyming slang for nix (from German for ‘nothing’.)source from:  vintage vocabulary

So have you guessed where we’re going from our first date ‘peek-a-boo’? A tower? In Wales? Yes, you’ve got it, our first stop involves climbing up a few flights of stairs – with the help of the elevator – on to the high clouds of Grape and Olive. The restaurant is located on the 28th floor of the Meridian Tower, Abertawe. Being the tallest building in Wales, it provides a stunning panoramic view of Swansea Bay, the Marina and a bit of the ‘cityscape’.

As soon as we stepped out of the elevator, the sun-drenched restaurant kindled alight our summer spirits. After confirming the name for our booking with a fairy-godmother-lookalike, a young gentleman led us to our table by the glass wall overlooking the Marina.

As the sun warmed up the glass bubble, a nice, cold drink is more appreciated than ever. After the young waiter had left us with one menu – perhaps they were being eco-friendly and have ran out of menus, or that we look just like the kind of cute couple that loves sharing the menu – it took over ten minutes for him to come back to us for the drinks. While Cath ordered a glass of white, I wanted something that I could glug down in huge quantity.

Joie: Some sparkling water for me, please.
Waiter:  Sorry, we don’t have sparkling water yet.

I’m still not sure I understand what he said by not having sparkling water yet. Does that mean they haven’t had sparkling water since they opened in November? Whether this is the case or that he was trying to tell me that their order of sparkling water today hasn’t arrived yet, they are missing one important necessity. After another ten minutes or so, the drinks have finally arrived and that we’ve finally ordered our food. And after another two lots of ten minutes our food was finally splatted down on the table for us – this waiter must be having a bad day.

Oven baked cod loin £10.95
With Catalonian romesco roasted pepper, garlic and nut crust

The poor cod looks so lonely on its own with all that white space on the plate. Cath didn’t want any chips or potatoes with it but the salad could have sat next to the cod so the plate didn’t look so empty. Texture-wise, the cod was slightly overcooked and it the fact that it was just lukewarm suggests that it had been sitting in the kitchen for a while before it got to Cath. The pepper and pine nut crust on the other hand was mild but flavoursome enough so that it wasn’t dominating over the fresh fish – a lovely combination.

Vegetable antipasto £7.45
Grilled artichokes, stuffed roquito peppers, buffalo mozzarella, sun-dried cherry tomatoes, marinated aubergines, rocket, borlotti bean and mint salad, caperberries, green and black olives, bread, extra virgin olive oil and basil

My antipasto on the other hand looked a lot more hearty and homie with the roughly scattered veg and salad and freely torn bread and mozzarella. The stuffed peppers were succulent and sweet, however, the grilled artichokes and aubergines were too coarse for me. There were a few rocket leaves but the mint salad and olives must have wandered off as they weren’t on the platter at all. We also shared a Truffle oil and parmesan fries £2.95 which could have been more crisp and an extra sprinkle of parmesan would be appreciated but that delicate hint of truffle was definitely worth its price.

Grape and Olive, Swansea, is definitely worth a visit on a sunny day for the stunning view of the ocean and its unique birds-eye view of the Marina and the town centre. There is still room for improvement on the food and let’s hope our waiter is in a better mood next time.

After luncheon we strolled into town and had a rummage through the charity shops dotted around Swansea, clothes-and-accessories-wise there weren’t many good vintage pieces but we did manage to find a few gems…

And as the sun went down it was time for a drink at The No Sign Bar – a real vintage bar that was first mentioned in a document dated 1690 AD. In the 1930s Dylan Thomas, the famous poet, was one of the bar’s regulars. According to Dylan’s Literary Pub Crawl, the bar only sold wines, port and spirits in the old days and each year on the third Thursday of November becomes the centre of Swansea’s ‘Beaujolais Day’, celebrating the importing of new Beaujolais wine to this region. This venue also holds live music every Thursday and Sunday.

As for dinner, let’s go to one of our favourite spots – Truffle – a cosy and friendly restaurant that serves the most hearty meals including a wide range of vegetarian and vegan dishes – which is rare in many usual restaurants. What we most love about this place is that we can bring our own wine at no extra cost.

Before we go straight to our dinners, the olives here are worth a mention – they are so delicious – succulent with a hint of garlic and chilli, definitely the best in town. As for starters, I ordered a refreshing combination of melon and lemon sorbet with ginger syrup – it was perfect. The melon – sweet and juicy, the sorbet – a perfect balance of zing and sweetness, the ginger syrup – not overpowering. I could have it everyday. Cath on the other hand, opted for a more flamboyant option – Vietnamese beef patties with a satay dipping sauce. To Cath’s taste buds, it was more like a Mediterranean kofta with a Thai satay sauce rather than Vietnamese but the beef patties were perfectly cooked, a scrumptious mixture of fat-marbling succulent meat and flavoursome gelatinous meat fibres.

For mains, we both had tagines as we miss the authentic North African stew from when we were in Morocco last Summer. While I had the aubergine tagine, Cath had the slow cooked lamb tagine with garlic and cumin, both came in a rustic terracotta cookpot, served with Moroccan rice and couscous. The lamb was juicy and tender and the sauce was thin but bursting with flavours and spices, Cath was back in the backyard of Morocco’s Riad, under the shade of the orange trees, with little sparrows singing by the flowing fountain. My tagine on the other hand was lacking in structure – the aubergine was cooked soft and silky but it was the structural quality of butternut squash or chickpeas that was missing. On the other hand, the sweet raisins in the rice make the perfect complement to the spicy juices that linger in the mouth.

My evening ended on a perfect note with a warm apple and cherry crumble with vanilla ice cream. The apple chunks and cherries were soft and juicy and complemented each other perfectly. I would however, leave the crumble in the oven for another five minutes or so, so that not only it’s golden but crispy as well. The vanilla ice cream was a real treat as it was made with real vanilla pods.

The whole three-course meal was £21 per person + olives £2.00, with the restaurant’s friendly atmosphere and superb service, Truffle is the perfect place to hang with friends after a hard day’s work. Don’t forget to bring along your own vino!

I do hope you’ve enjoyed your first date with us. Our second date takes us back to the Victorian era, P.S. a certain number of furry friends is involved.

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