Sunday, 24 June 2012

Caffi BARICS, Cardiff

When it opened earlier this year, Caffi BARICS seemed to have chosen a curious location: around the back of St David Centre’s on the corner of quiet Barrack Lane. There’s a particular reason for this location (see below). The staff admit to a certain amount of thumb twiddling since it opened, but things will certainly be looking up. Across the road, building work has started on the new Admiral Building. This 12-storey office block will transform this area by spring 2014, from backwater to busy business hub.

Last week we went for lunch at Caffi BARICS to see what was on offer. There was plenty of seating inside (and outside when the weather improves), while the café also does take-away. Our fellow customers were construction workers and staff from nearby shops. There were plenty of staff working in the café, and service was very efficient and very friendly.

My partner had the lunchtime meal deal; choosing the jacket potato with chilli con carne, served with coleslaw and green salad, with a mug of tea or coffee included for price of £3.95. The chilli was good, home-made rather than homogenous, with a creeping hotness. Lunchtime meal deals start from £2.50, with a range of sandwich, baguette and panini options. The carved roast beef bap with chunks of roast potatoes looked tempting. Soup of the day when we visited was Tomato and Basil.

I had one of the freshly made all-day breakfasts, which are a feature of the café. The Sizzling Seven comprises bacon, sausage, grilled tomato, beans, fried egg, black pudding and toast; with tea or coffee included in the £4 cost. I had a mug of coffee.

Nothing fancy here, but good food and certainly good value. There’s a hint of nostalgia in the décor, which is traditional British café. The Union Jack bunting is still up from the Diamond Jubilee (maybe it’s permanent) and there was free samples of Victorian sponge cake by the till.

You may be fooled into thinking, given the competent branding, that Cafi BARICS is part of a UK-wide chain. However, Cafi BARICS is a one-off (although success may spawn others). It’s location on Barrack Lane is also highly significant. Barrack Lane is part of Cardiff’s new Retail Enterprise Quarter. The lane, which falls within the St David’s Centre development, is owned by Linc-Cymru, who specialize in the affordable housing, social care and health sectors. In Barrack Lane, Linc-Cymru manages 9 retail units, of which Caffi BARICS is the first to open, and 27 small residential apartments.

Cafi BARICS is therefore a Social Enterprise business. As they say on their website: “We are a socially responsible business that reinvests any surplus (profit) back into the café for the benefit of our customers rather than directors or shareholders.” In addition: “Whenever possible we support the local economy by sourcing products, goods and services from local businesses and suppliers in South Wales.”

Out of the café window, the view of the Motorpoint Arena will soon be replaced by one of Admiral HQ. Caffi BARICS will be a good place to watch the building go up and to contemplate, over a coffee, the ongoing reinvention of Cardiff.

1 Barrack Lane
Cardiff CF10 2EF
Tel: (029) 2035 9059

Open Mon-Sat. 8am-5pm.


Twitter: @caffiBARICS


Barrack Lane Retail Enterprise Quarter:

Admiral HQ plans (with a drawing of how the completed building will look):


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