Is Cardiff the new capital of food? A flurry of new openings make a strong case…
The Welsh capital has a lot of things going on from history-rich events, music and culture to big nights out! But what has caught everyone’s attention is its emerging, flourishing food scene. Restaurants who have made it in the big smoke are heading straight to Cardiff to launch their next venue. The calibre of new openings is worthy of a full round up. Walk this way for the best newbies hitting the streets of Caerdydd.
If you have frequented Steak of the Art in Bristol, you’ll have a good idea of this new Cardiff venue. If not, you have a treat in store. As the name suggests here is where you will find art and steak. It truly is a visual sensation. There’s not just art on the walls, there’s art on the floor, on the chairs, as part of the interior architecture and even a pretty cool (if a bit spooky) set of luminous horses legs trotting over the bar. Once you’ve basked in your newly discovered environment a glance at the steaks proves that there is talent in the kitchen too.
The idea is to provide superb yet affordable food in an exceptional atmosphere. They have certainly hit the nail on the head. Ever had dinner in a sculpture? See if you can get a seat in the Willy Wonka booth. It’s made from one single tree trunk and has been crafted with intricate precision by Welsh-based champion wood carver Simon O’Rourke. Trust me you’ve never dined anywhere like this before.
Whatever you have previously thought about burgers will be turned on its head when you enter The Bagel & Burger Kitchen. It’s a bit like falling down the rabbit hole and discovering all your burger-preconceptions tunred upside down and back to front. It can surely only be in Wonderland that you can find a Krispy Kreme burger – an American pattie, melted cheese and homemade relish sandwiched between a glazed Krispy Creme donut!
The Big Cwtch is worth a punt if you’re not quite ready to take on The Krispy Creme just yet. It comprises a burger topped with slow-roasted pulled lamb and homemade relish and is divine. There are veggie burgers and bagels, plenty of halloumi, barbecue sauce and homemade slaw kicking about to make any burger lover smile from ear to ear. The Burger and Bagel Kitchen has launched to an appreciative crowd, who love the fact that their burgers are halal too.
The award-winning team behind Mint & Mustard have brought Indian street food to the streets of Cardiff. Rocking Cowbridge Street in Canton with fresh, vibrant and tastebud tingling Indian cuisine, the recent reopening has caused ripples of glee across the city. The original Chai Street was closed in 2012 to allow for further developments to Mint & Mustard, and at the time was one of only two Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants in the city. So imagine the delight when they flung open the doors this January.
Stylish yet casual, Chai Street don’t take table reservations, you simply pop in, sit down and order. After all, street food stalls in India are more than just eating places, they are meeting places. Chai Street has captured that vibe brilliantly and brings the same standard we’ve come to expect from the Mint & Mustard team. Chai Street is the fifth venue launched by this pioneering team and they certainly are putting Cardiff on the foodie map.
Cardiff’s first all-Welsh restaurant, Pitch Bar and Eatery claims to offer a fully Welsh menu and is fiercely proud of its wholesome, hearty food. Start the day off with a full Welsh, which includes bacon, pork and leek sausage, black pudding, leek and potato hash browns, eggs, beans and toast – I feel full just reading that! Other breakfast options include Welsh laverbread and potato cake, a Welsh potato stack and the mouthwatering sounding honey-glazed grapefruit for something a little lighter.
With salads, grills, desserts, Sunday roasts and cocktails all gracing the menu, Pitch Bar & Eatery has every base covered. The main emphasis here is on quality, local ingredients and the restaurant has minimal decor to match making it cosy and quirky with a little bit of industrial chic. It is a great new place that has been welcomed by locals and praised by visitors alike.
Tea connoisseurs take heed: the UK’s first authentic Chai Tea House has hit the streets of Cardiff. If you’ve never tried Chai tea, you really are missing a trick. It’s a centuries old deliciously gentle, spicy, milky tea that has many health benefits. The spices are believed to aid digestion and promote the well-being of the immune system . Chaiwallahs (like baristas) are highly trained purveyors of this fine tea and now have a strong Welsh following, inspiring tea drinkers across the land.
At Chaiholics you’ll find everything from lemongrass Chai tea and energising ginger tea to Mumbar Bazaar Chai and Truck Stop Chai – you’ll have to visit to find out more about them. That’s not all, there’s a range of tea-infused cocktails, smoothies, herbal and loose leaf teas. All in all, it’s tea heaven and it won’t be long before you’re a Chai-aholic.
If you’ve heard tell of London’s highly acclaimed Bubbledogs then Hogwurst should next on your radar. They use the same charcutier as Bubbledogs (Native Breeds) and stack them in a bun baked fresh at local bakers, Allen’s, to create downright delicious dogs like Slum Dog, Chilli Dog and the Hogamama. This Bring You Own establishment is already going down a storm. It’s got that funky independent vibe, the food is sensational (if a bit naughty) and they don’t underestimate the importance of great coffee. Hogwurst is a place to get excited about.
There was a time when the future looked bleak for this hotel, despite being a bit of a celeb hot-spot. Holm House Hotel in Penarth was a favourite for stars like Kylie Minogue, but sadly closed its doors in 2012 and remained closed due to a series of legal issues. Thankfully it has been restored and revamped and the new owners have created a very appealing venture. Yes, I would like to visit a luxury hotel with its own tea garden, spa and restaurant. So will you when you get a load of what this establishment is all about. Its strength lies in understated luxury, natural tones, coastline appeal and emphasis on the finest produce and service – making Holm House is an idyllic retreat, just on the outskirts of bustling Cardiff.
FED stands for: Food Exploration Destination and it’s been making waves on Cardiff’s culinary scene. This new two storey restaurant plays host to Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Italian food to meet the needs of Cardiff’s cosmopolitan culture and feed a city hungry for new ideas. Creative brothers Sachin and Shailesh Bajpai had a vision to make nine cuisines available to the foodies of Cardiff, but not in your usual vat style buffet form. Instead all the dishes are cooked fresh by highly trained chefs. Diners can choose exactly how their meal is prepared and everything on offer has been carefully chosen to showcase exciting dishes from across the globe. Set to be the next big thing, FED are already looking to expand northwards in Scotland and the Midlands. We can’t wait.
Offering the unlikely and intriguing combination of Hungarian and Indian cuisine alongside Peri Peri chicken, La’Shish offers something a little bit different in an area already crowded with kebabs and kofte. The falafel served here has been raved about and the charcoal grill begs for your full attention. Meat eaters are well-pleased at La’Shish but vegetarians too are just as well catered for and the tagines contribute to this restaurant’s popularity. Be warned you’ll need to bring your appetite.
Five Guys is spreading like Wild Fire. Not long since it welcomed hungry Bristolians, it has popped up on Cardiff’s shores to veritable applause. Five Guys has plenty of followers, so its launch in Cardiff has been greatly anticipated. Can’t see what all the fuss is about? Well, it’s a fast food joint that really does take pride in their ingredients and produce. That’s why the burgers are so darn good. Everything is made fresh, from scratch that morning. Think of it like a burger version of Pret and you see where we’re headed. It’s still fast food, and it’s still burgers – but Five Guys are making a mark on our dining scene for good reason.
Burger and Lobster have launched their biggest ever venue, and, yes, it’s in Cardiff. Lucky you. If you’ve yet to visit one of these fine establishments (you’ll find branches dotted across London and New York) you’ll find it a little different to the norm. There are no menus for a start, simply enthusiastic staff to talk you through the options. And they’ve kept it relatively simple: burger and lobster – what else? Corn-fed beef from Nebraska goes into making some of the juiciest burgers you’ve ever tasted, and the guys at Burger and Lobster are pretty proud of them. You see they use three cuts of steak which contain natural marbling and that’s it – no wonder the burgers are so juicy. The lobster is flown in from the Atlantic Ocean and Nova Scotia Canada and you can have it one of three ways: grilled, steamed or in a lobster roll. All you need is a twenty pound note and your appetite.
Aye caramba! Yet another dining destination that has been coveted by the capital. Wahaca has an impressive number of venues in London, but has recently taken a leap of faith and branched out to Cardiff. Surely a clear sign that Cardiff city has become a dining destination. Offering the ‘tidiest tacos on the Taff’, eating at Wahaca is a vibrant, Mexican taste sensation. Another laid-back venue, there’s no need to book a spot, just rock-up and join the party.
The decor is pretty cool here too, and worth having a gander at. Strings of light bulbs cascade from the ceiling and the walls are adorned with brightly painted murals. It’s a little arty, a little industrial and was winner of the Best Cheap Eat in The Observer Monthly Awards. When it comes to food they clearly know their stuff. Taste you way through a full Mexican market menu of street food and maybe treat yourself to a pud! My favourite is churros and chocolate – classic.
Have we missed anyone? Let us know your favourite opening in Cardiff.