Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Plan, Cardiff

The Plan Bar and Café has been running in its prime location - a divide in the centre of Morgan Arcade - for nine years now; four years with the present décor that brings out the best in the building (such as the wooden floors). The owner is David Nottingham (no relation). He’s created a light and airy space, ideal for people-watching in the arcade. There are tables downstairs and upstairs.

Breakfasts finish at 11am, and then the lunchtime menu kicks in. Prices start at £5.40 for baguettes, £5.85 for jacket potatoes, and £6.95 for salads. I had a beef baguette with horseradish, which came with an uninspiring salad. The baguette seemed to contain no horseradish, and it was nothing special.

I had no complaints about the coffee, however, which is something The Plan is renowned for. I had an excellent latte (complete with decoration). They do a range of specialist coffees and teas. The café is also fully licensed.

The Plan is listed among the “Top 50 Coffee Shops in the UK” in The Independent and in a similar Top 50 café survey in The Guardian. This raises expectations about The Plan that can be difficult for it to live up to. [note: please read the subsequent comment below by Trevor the head barista, who explains why The Plan deserves their place in these award listings]

At the till, my bill was found to be a little short of the minimum needed for a promotional CD that was piled on the counter.

I wanted to like The Plan more, but today I thought the food overpriced. If the kitchen raised its game to match the quality of the coffee then this place would be brilliant.

The Plan, 28 Morgan Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1AF

1 comment:

  1. Hi there,

    Nice to meet you briefly the other day, and glad you enjoyed your latte!! ...Sorry you didn't enjoy the rest of your visit to the café more.

    I'm head barista at the café, and it's the coffee side of things in particular that I specialise in. Great coffee is my passion, and I have worked hard over the last few years to learn my craft to the highest level, and also to develop what the café does with coffee - which is now really rather unique in our region.
    It is more specifically for this aspect of what I/we do that the café received the publicised listings.
    In March 2010, I personally came 4th in the UK in the final of the official UK Barista Championships in London, after competing in a regional heat, the semifinals, and the final.
    It was as a result of my achievements both in competition, and at the café, that the Independent saw fit to list us in their Top 50 Cafes 2010, and shortly afterwards we were mentioned amongst just 6 other top artisan coffee shops in the UK by the Guardian (both in March 2010). Many other prominent independent 'third wave' coffee shops that I know of as a professional barista were also listed in the same top 50. As such, I feel the listings were both quite well researched, and deserved.

    Admittedly, the rest of what the café is, as lovely as it can be, does not necessarily always meet the high level of expectation that people might have when seeing the listings and my awards publicised on our walls (which is frustrating for me). It's unfortunate if some people feel disappointed or even misled. But these were genuine listings, and both David (the owner/manager) and I continue to be proud to display them, even though they were more specifically for one aspect of what I/we do – an aspect for which I have real integrity and passion.

    The recently publicised zero rating from the FSA that we received for our kitchen last year was deeply disappointing for me, given how much work I've put into achieving and promoting a reputation for the genuine quality of what I/we do with the coffee. The kitchen and the food is not my area, and as such I cannot really comment on this, suffice to say an unfortunate situation that was promptly turned around (within 24 hrs), several months ago.

    Apologies for the waffle – but hope it goes some way to explaining some of your findings for you...

    By the way – sorry you didn't get the CD too! Technically, we're giving this away with orders over £10, and I guess the member of staff who served you at the till just felt they were doing their job. If I'd served you, and you had expressed an interest in having one, I'd gladly have given you a copy anyway!

    Head barista, barista trainer, and assistant manager at the plan café.