Sunday, 21 October 2012

Creating a Community Garden 4

In a series of posts (links below) I am following the creation of a Community Growing Area in Dinas Powys, on an abandoned play area between Sir Ivor Place and Nightingale Place.

This project was initiated by Elizabeth Millard (Chairperson of the Dinas Powys Residents Group) and Councillor Keith Hatton. The project is supported by Creative Rural Communities (Vale of Glamorgan Council), with Rob McGhee being the Rural Regeneration Officer involved. More specifically, the Dinas Powys Community Growing Area falls within the Community Foodie initiative, which aims to identify, develop and support community food growing activities.

Rob (pictured) came to Dinas Powys on Saturday (20 Oct) to give an update on progress. The meeting, in Youldon House, was attended by over 30 people. Keith outlined the history of the project and introduced Rob, who summarized achievements to date (see previous posts) that include identification of the site, fund-raising, community engagement, and an initial plan for the site that takes into account all skill levels and includes raised beds for those with restricted mobility. He also talked about successful community growing projects in other parts of Wales.

Funding is in place and a contractor (Gerald Davies) is due to start clearing the site later this month. Security fencing will be erected, top-soil put down, and water pipes extended into the site. A communal shed will be erected near the electrical sub-station.

A tour of the site was followed by a discussion back at Youldon House, in which everyone stuck post-it notes with ideas on the proposed plan (pictured below). Suggestions included a brick BBQ, the use of wood from the felled trees to make benches, water butts, communal compost, solar lighting, increasing the proportion of raised beds, establishing links with schools and the recently-established Food Bank in Dinas Powys, a play area for young children, and a skills database.

The meeting was used to identify those who want to serve on a Growing Group, which will help to drive the project forward. Further meet-ups, including a clearance day, will be held on-site in the coming months. I’ll keep you posted.

This well-attended meeting was a significant step forward in raising awareness and channelling enthusiasm for the project. Elizabeth’s vision of turning this ugly derelict area into an attractive community gathering and food-growing area, where she can come to sit in the sun and read a book, became a step closer to reality.

As a footnote, an upcoming date for your diary: Paul Mobbs (author of ‘Energy Beyond Oil’) will be speaking in Lee Hall Dinas Powys on Thursday 22 Nov (7pm). There will be a small entrance fee to cover costs. Greater community self-reliance, in which growing areas play a significant part, is a key theme of the Transition Town Movement that is planning for the post-oil future. Linda Ware, the organizer of this talk, has initiated another community growing project in the village - the Dinas Powys Orchard Project.

Previous posts on Dinas Powys Community Garden:

Aug 2012
Feb 2012

Jan 2012



Friday, 19 October 2012

filini, Radisson Blu Hotel Cardiff

I went along to filini at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cardiff this week for a ‘Taste of Italy experience’.

The new ‘Amazing Grazing’ menu has been designed to be served both in the restaurant and in the nearby bar and lounge areas.
Executive Chef Mattias Wenngren invited us into the kitchen, where he demonstrated how some of the dishes are made. He even got us cooking.
Anti pasti are served on oak boards and are for sharing. Here Mattias applies the finishing touches to a meat and vegetarian version. Ingredients include roasted vegetables (e.g., aubergine, courgette), buffalo mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, olives, rocket and parmesan. This starter is accompanied by chunks of great-tasting bread with an olive oil/balsamic vinegar dip.

This sausage dish was made using, among other things, chunks of Sardinian sausage, passata, fregola (round pasta beads from Sardinia), chicken stock, chilli flakes, toasted pine nuts and butter. Rich comfort food indeed.
The risotto had al dente rice and was topped with wild mushrooms and truffle oil; garnished with rocket and a shaving of parmesan. A small portion delivers a big hit of flavour.
Hanger beef is used as the main meat event. This cut from the underside of the animal is not often seen on restaurant menus, but is full of flavour. Here it is cooked rare and succulent, with plenty of pepper.
I helped make the two salads that accompany it. The first has onion (chopped, though it was supposed to be sliced!) in balsamic vinegar mixed with strips of roast red pepper. The other salad is grated courgette mixed with lemon juice and grated parmesan. Simple, but very effective.
On the Amazing Grazing menu you’ll also find minestrone soup, sea food (Fritto misto di mare) and desserts (including tiramisu). Caesar salad, burgers and pizza are also always available at filini (they like their lower cases).
The set price for the Amazing Grazing menu includes wine, beer or a soft drink. Prosecco is on tap – a first in Wales.
Hotel restaurants can find it difficult getting non-residents through their doors. In part, this is due to an outdated image of what constitutes restaurant food and a reluctance to negotiate hotel lobbies.
Filini specializes in a distinctive style of Italian food. The versatile Amazing Grazing menu should appeal to those who fancy some back-to-basics Italian food. And filini is not hard to find, it’s just up the stairs by the front door to the first floor.

The Amazing Grazing menu: Two courses with a drink £18.95 (three courses plus drink £22.95).
Radisson Blu, Meridian Gate, Bute Terrace, Cardiff CF10 2FL
Tel (029) 2045 4777

All food and drink kindly provided free of charge by Radisson Blu.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Woodville Road, Cardiff

We are in Cathays, Cardiff, on a walking tour of the city looking at every food establishment on route.

This will build up a picture of the great diversity of food available in the city.

In a previous post, I left you on Crwys Road at the junction with Woodville Road. Today, we will be walking along Woodville Road in a westerly direction, with the odd numbers to your right (north) and the even numbers to your left (south).

A survey from 2010 showed that 65% of houses along Woodville Road are used as student accommodation.


133b Woodville Road CF24 4DZ
(Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. July 2012).

133 Woodville Road CF24 4DZ
International food store (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Feb 2012).

Sainsbury’s Local
127 Woodville Road CF24 4DZ
(Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2012).


Al Mourjan
132 Woodville Road CF24 4EE (2022 0190)
Coffee and Shisha Café with back garden (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. May 2012).


Balti King
107 Woodville Road CF24 4DY (2023 1871)
Indian takeaway (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. July 2012).

The Balti Cuisine
103 Woodville Road CF24 4DY (2022 8863)
Indian restaurant and takeaway (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Jan 2012).


Cardiff Korean and Japanese Food
116 Woodville Road CF24 4EE
Imported Far Eastern food store (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Sept 2011).

114 Woodville Road CF24 4EE (2023 3110)
Takeaway: sandwich shop (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. May 2012).


Café Malaysia
101 Woodville Road CF24 4DY (2023 5616)
Restaurant serving authentic Malaysian cuisine. Cash only. Takeaway (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. May 2012).


Kama Lounge
106-110 Woodville Road CF24 4DX (2037 3272)
Bar café, incorporating The Noodle Bar at Kama Lounge. Food boxes with noodle and rice options; set boxes and build-your-own: choose type of noodles or rice, main ingredient, sauce, extras. The Kama Lounge is a live music venue (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Aug 2011).

Minny Street crosses Woodville Road here.

Zi’s Café
94 Woodville Road CF24 4ED (2021 6294)
Chinese cuisine. Café and takeaway owned by Raymond Kwong. Plenty of vegetarian (tofu) options and was serving bubble tea in Cardiff years before the present trend for it (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. May 2012).

92 Woodville Road CF24 4ED (2115 5309)
Paravel is a coffee shop and bookshop, serving snacks, light Italian dishes and desserts. Run by Elio Lepore and his daughter Gabby, the literature is novels and comic books.

Woodville Fish Bar
86 Woodville Road CF24 4ED (2034 1091)
Traditional fish and chip shop, also serving pizza, balti dishes, fried chicken, pizza and burgers. A late opener (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. June 2012).

After a couple more side streets:

The Falafel Bar
38 Woodville Road CF24 4EB
Mediterranean vegetarian fast-food. The business started life as a catering food in Roath Park in 2008. Owner Ronen Achrak now operates Black Olive catering alongside the eat-in and takeaway café here. Pittas, sabich, humous, falafels and salad bar. Unlicensed, but you can bring your own drinks (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2012).

The location on the corner across Mundy Place, number 34, was Buffalo Lounge until September 2011. This was a sister bar to Buffalo in Windsor Place served food all day and hosted live music. The idea was to provide a lounge bar “next door” to student housing. Other bars that have closed here include Mr Smith’s and The Family Buddha (moved to Charles Street). Maybe students prefer a night on the town. No. 34 is currently CPS Homes, a letting agency


The Woodville
1-5 Woodville Road CF24 4DW (2039 7859)
The Woodville Hotel is a large pub on the corner just before you get to the railway bridge. A Scream Pub that is firmly aimed at its local student customers. Pub menu includes breakfast, sandwiches, fish and chips, burgers and other pub favourites. There is a concentration of Scream-owned pubs in this part of Cardiff; student regulars can make use of a Yellow Card discount scheme (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. July 2011).

I will see you at The Woodville next time!


Crwys Road

Wellfield Road

Albany Road
City Road

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Crwys Road, Cardiff

We are in the Cathays and Roath areas of Cardiff, on a walking tour to discover what people like to eat in different parts of the city.

Previously, I left you walking back down Albany Road after a tour of the coffee shops of Wellfield Road in Roath. You should now be at the Junction of Albany Road with Mackintosh Place, Crwys Road, Richmond Road and City Road.

This 5-way junction is known as “Death Junction” and I recommend you cross with the green men as it’s a bit of an accident black-spot. However, the junction got its name because it was once the site of the Cardiff Gallows.

Before we hike up and down Crwys Road (Cathays), we will take a quick look at a few establishments around Death Junction, starting with the block at the start of Mackintosh Place.

On your right:

6 Mackintosh Place CF24 4RQ (2045 4234)
Takeaway pizza (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Jan 2012).

8 Mackintosh Place CF24 4RQ (2031 8249)
Polish bakery (Food Hygiene Rating 0: immediate improvement necessary. May 2011).

Bonjour Baguette
16 Mackintosh Place CF24 4RQ (2047 3030)
Bakery and sandwich shop, takeaway and delivery (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Nov 2011).

Orient Express
18 Mackintosh Place CF24 4RQ
Chinese takeaway (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Nov 2011).

The Saffron
22 Mackintosh Place CF24 4RQ
Indian takeaway (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Aug 2012).

Over the road, on the sharp corner between Mackintosh Place and Crwys Road:

Royal George
1-5 Mackintosh Place CF24 4RJ (2043 5901)
Built in 1878 as The Royal George Hotel, and known for many years as Clancey’s Irish Bar, but since 1999 part of the Scream pub group (under the umbrella of Mitchell and Butler); underwent renovation in 2012. Pub food, child-friendly, live music and sports on large-screens (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Dec 2011).

Cross Crwys Road; at the start of Richmond Road (in Roath):

199-201 Richmond Road CF24 3BT (2048 4480)
Pub food served from breakfast to 9pm. Series of rooms with bars having differing ambience. A popular party venue. One of 40 Varsity outlets in the UK (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Sept 2011).

On the NatWest building near the Varsity is a plaque commemorating two Catholic priests who were executed on this site in 1679 for practising their faith.

We are now going to walk up all the way up Crwys Road on the right (eastern) side, with the even numbers (we will walk back on the other odd-numbered side):

8 Crwys Road CF24 4NJ (2048 8070)
Café Bar Restaurant serving Mediterranean food (especially Greek) that opened in 2012. Some essential building work and mixed reviews, but seems to be back on track; has recently applied for a license for live music. Takeaway. Kurdish owner Bauer Merza replies to comments on Internet review sites, providing an insightful correspondence on the running of an independent restaurant.

Lucky Chef
14 Crwys Road CF24 4NJ (2048 7766)
Chinese takeaway (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Jan 2012).

Over the railway bridge and then cross Woodville Road (which dead-ends on this side of Crwys Road at a railway line):

The Crwys Hotel
34 Crwys Road CF24 4NN (2037 1075)
Built in 1891. It was extensively refurbished and modernized by owners Brains in the autumn 2011 and now looks very inviting. Serves pub food all day. Beer garden out back (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. July 2012).

Café Atma
40 Crwys Road CF24 4NN (2039 0391)
A vegetarian/vegan café, with an alternative bookshop. There is a Hare Krishna connection and the food is said to be very good value for money. A venue for meditation, yoga and other activities (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. July 2012).

Phoenix Garden Chinese Restaurant
48 Crwys Road CF24 4NN (2037 1075)
Chinese takeaway (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. June 2011).

Cross Lucas Street:

50 Crwys Road CF24 4NN (2038 7555)
One of 13 Subway outlets in Cardiff. Despite a couple of tables, this one is essentially just a takeaway (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Nov 2010).

Pizza Hut
56 Crwys Road CF24 4NN (2039 6969)
This Pizza Hut is just a takeaway and delivery service (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. May 2011).

Elmer's Café
60 Crwys Road CF24 4NN (2064 4382)
Elmer’s Take a Break Café serves traditional British café food: breakfast, lunch, snacks and coffee shop. Eat in or takeaway. Garden with outdoor seating (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Aug 2012).

Domino's Pizza
62 Crwys Road CF24 4NN (2022 9977)
Takeaway and delivery pizza service (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. July 2012).

Cross Fanny Street; after the large British Heart Foundation shop and the Co-operative store, cross Gower Street.

Venus Kebab
70 Crwys Road CF24 4ND (2039 4040)
Independent pizza takeaway, also serving burgers and shish kebab (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Jan 2012).

XL Fish Bar
74 Crwys Road CF24 4NP (2022 6545)
Fish and chip takeaway.

It's Pizza Time
78 Crwys Road CF24 4NP (2038 8788)
Independent pizza takeaway (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. June 2012).

Central Eating
80 Crwys Road CF24 4NP (2023 2428)
Distinctive café for coffee and snacks (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. March 2012).

Uncle Sams
96a Crwys Road CF24 4NQ (2066 8181)
American fast-food takeaway established as long ago as 1981, noted for its fried chicken (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. April 2011)

98 Crwys Road CF24 4NQ (2039 8352)
Chinese restaurant and takeaway.

Love Curry
100 Crwys Road CF24 4NQ (2037 2660)
Indian takeaway, catering and delivery service. There is a second Love Curry outlet in Cardiff (Victoria Park, Canton).

New York Pizza
104 Crwys Road CF24 4NQ (2066 5180)
Takeaway pizza (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Feb 2012).

D. Ping
108 Crwys Road CF24 4NQ (2066 5180)
Family butchers (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Feb 2012).

Lifestyle Store
110 Crwys Road CF24 4NQ
Convenience food store (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. May 2012).

Cross Tewksbury Street, and carry on up the hill:

114 Crwys Road CF24 4NR (2038 4263)
Bakery: sandwiches (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Nov 2010).

Café Aroma
120 Crwys Road CF24 4NR (2022 2055)
Café with a Moroccan décor; serving breakfasts, lunches and milkshakes. A Torchwood location. Recently up for sale (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Jan 2012).

Arabian Nights
122 Crwys Road CF24 4NR
Takeway, which is currently closed for business (Food Hygiene Rating 0: immediate improvement necessary. Jan 2012).

Shah's Finest Fish and Chips
132 Crwys Road CF24 4NR (2039 5003)
Takeway fish and chips, kebabs, burgers (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. May 2012).

Thé Pot
138 Crwys Road CF24 4NR (2025 1246)
Cosy, friendly and lively café. Good for vegetarian food, though it’s all good locally-sourced food here from breakfast into the evening. Licensed with live music, film, Supper Club and other event evenings. Upcoming, for example, Raising Arizona Dinner and Movie Night (16 Oct) and Burger Night (3 Nov) (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. March 2011).

Emma James Cupcakes
146 Crwys Road CF24 4NR
Cupcake shop and tea room (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Nov 2011).

We are now at the junction at the top of Crwys Road. This intersection with Cathays Terrace, Whitchurch Road and Fairoak Road has historically marked the northern limit of Cardiff. Today there's plenty of interest north of here, of course, but Maindy, Whitchurch and other areas of Cardiff are not on this part of our tour.

Opposite is Cathays Library. If it's a pleasant day, I highly recommend turning right here and walking along Fairoak Road to Cathays Cemetery. Inside the gates is a hut with information leaflets and details of tours. You’ll find spectacular Victorian tombs, plenty of fascinating history to contemplate, and it is a great place to look at trees.

Meanwhile, back at the junction, cross Crwys Road and walk down the western side, with the odd-numbered businesses:

153/155 Crwys Road CF24 4NH (2023 2261)
Lorenza's Ristorante Italiano is one of Cardiff's longest-established Italian restaurants (and longevity is a feature of Cardiff’s Italian restaurants). Named after the owner's daughter and serving regional dishes as well as all the standards (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Feb 2012).

151 Crwys Road CF24 4NH (2054 3705)
Mowgli’s Restaurant and Lounge is one of several restaurants in Cardiff taking an innovative approach to Indian cuisine. The specials, for instance, include mussels, crab and ostrich. Vegetarian taster menu. Whole leg of lamb. You’re certain to spot something on the menu you have not tried before (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2012).

Café Calcio
145 Crwys Road CF24 4NH (2039 7575)
Long-established Café Bar Restaurant serving British food, including breakfasts, jacket potatoes and burgers. There’s a soccer theme going on; the Fat Bastard Breakfast should keep you going to the final whistle (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Oct 2011).

Cross Whitchurch Place (opposite New York Pizza and Love Curry):

129 Crwys Road CF24 4NG (2023 3511)
Kasturi promises authentic Indian cuisine. Traditional curries, specials and fusion food dishes. Also takeaway. Bring own wine and beer – no corkage (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Feb 2012).

There is a long stretch on this side of Crwys Road without any food businesses, so keep going past the Cardiff University site (named after Roy Jenkins) to Fanny Street (Domino's Pizza on the other side):

Café Junior
Fanny Street CF24 4EH (2034 5653)
Café Junior is a large Café Bistro in the hall at the back of Cathays Methodist Church, just off Crwys Road along Fanny Street (opposite John Truelove House). There's a children's playgroup and other church-related family activities, so lots of kids around. Membership scheme for regulars (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. March 2011).

53 Crwys Road CF24 4ND (2037 4757)
Amalfi Ristorante Italiano.

49 Crwys Road CF24 4ND (2038 3727)
Akash Tandoori Restaurant and takeaway (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. June 2012).

Hollywood Pizza
47 Crwys Road CF24 4ND (2022 7036)
Takeaway pizza.

I Cook Thai
45 Crwys Road CF24 4ND
Thai cooking classes are held here.

43 Crwys Road CF24 4ND (2023 5212)
Mina Restaurant and Café Bar first opened in 1990. It used to be a just a café, but has developed into a top Lebanese restaurant under owner Biar Darwish. Authentic Lebanese cuisine, including Mezza, Shish Tawk, Lamb Couscous and Kubbabil Sayniyeh (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2012).

Walk down to the Spar on the corner, opposite The Crwys Hotel.

You are now at the junction where Woodville Road cuts across Crwys Road. Take a breather. I will see you here next time, when we will walk along Woodville Road.

Wellfield Road

Albany Road

City Road


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Wellfield Road, Cardiff

We are in Roath, Cardiff, on a walking tour to discover what people around the city like to eat.

Along a couple of roads we have already passed a dozen Indian takeaways and restaurants, and almost as many kebab and Chinese take-outs. There have been many cafés, coffee shops, bars, and Mediterranean (especially Italian) and Middle Eastern restaurants. We are starting to get a glimpse of the wonderful diversity of food that this city offers.
In a previous post (link below), I left you walking along Pen-y-Lan Road from Albany Road. You should now have arrived at Wellfield Road, by the St Andrews United Reform Church.
Turning right will take you to Ninian Road and the bottom SE corner of Roath Park, but we are turning left and walking down Wellfield Road back to Albany Road. On your left will be the even numbers and on your right the odd numbers.
Opposite the Pen-Y-Lan Road junction:
Dolce Vita
57 Wellfield Road CF24 3PA (2045 0358)
Italian bistro/café bar opened around nine years ago. Owned named Enrico and the food is said to be authentically Italian (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Oct 2011).

Coffee #1
43 Wellfield Road CF24 3PA
Gourmet coffee, teas, cakes and sandwiches are available in this newish branch of the Brains-owned coffee house (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Oct 2011).

39 Wellfield Road CF24 3PA (2048 5399)

One of 15 Greggs sandwich shops in Cardiff (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Oct 2011).

Bentley's Coffee Lounge
35 Wellfield Road CF24 3PA (2945 7373)

The “greasy spoon” café of Wellfield Road, though that’s not necessarily a criticism: noted for good-value no-nonsense food (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Oct 2011).

Tea and Cake

36 Wellfield Road CF24 3PB (2021 8815)

Small family-run tea room in the back of a gift and sweet shop. In addition to tea, coffee and cake, they serve breakfast, brunch, snacks and light lunch; also takeway. Child-friendly (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. July 2012).

Go into the narrow arcade of nearby Wellfield Court:
Wellfield Diner

6 Wellfield Court Arcade, Wellfield Road CF24 3PB (2049 1578)

Café in a quiet location serving breakfasts (including vegetarian), sandwiches and lunch, as well as ice creams, milkshakes etc (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. June 2012).

Back and along the road:


24 Wellfield Road CF24 3PB (2049 1722)

Restaurant and takeaway: Tandoori and other styles of Indian food (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Jan 2012).
18 Wellfield Road CF24 3PB (2049 4166)
Think boutique Iceland: freezers full of frozen gourmet ready-meals, with name of cook responsible on the packaging of each dish. British meals, some Indian and Thai, and desserts (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Oct 2011).

Right, past the Tesco Express:
25 Wellfield Road CF24 3NZ (2046 0721)
One of 13 Subway outlets in Cardiff (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Oct 2011).

Wok to Walk
17 Wellfield Road CF24 3NZ
The first Wok to Walk in Cardiff opened in St Mary Street. This new branch has just opened. Stir-fry to go.

Left, on the corner with Wellfield Place:
Juno Lounge

14 Wellfield Roar CF24 3PB (2019 8990)
Opened in 2007 (in converted convenience store), Juno has carved itself a niche as a neighbourhood café bar. Food is served from breakfast through to the late evening on two floors and a roof terrace (the kitchen is above all this on the third floor). Extensive menu includes sandwiches, burgers, tapas and monthly specials (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Oct 2011).

The Coffi House
3 Wellfield Road CF24 3NZ (2045 5198)
An independent coffee house, serving all-day breakfasts (including vegetarian), brunch, sandwiches, pies, pasta and other light lunches. Courtyard with seating out back (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. June 2012).

Caffè Nero
1 Wellfield Road CF24 3NZ

One of 5 outlets for this Italian coffee house in Cardiff. I believe this was previously a Starbucks (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Jan 2012).

Left, on the corner with Albany Road:
The Pear Tree

Wellfield Road CF24 3PE (2025 2042)
The Brains-owned Pear Tree Café Bar is open for breakfast, brunch, sandwiches, tapas and main meals. Extensive menu. Generally considered a vast improvement on the Australian-themed pub (Billabong) that preceded it (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. July 2012).

Turn right and walk along Albany Road back to the junction with City Road, Richmond Road, Crwys Road and Mackintosh Place. I will join you there next time, for a hike up and down Crwys Road.


Albany Road

City Road

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Andrew Buchan, Albany Road, Cardiff

It is not often you find a new bar just serving drinks. The trend seems to be for new pubs to look more like restaurants than traditional “locals”. The opening of The Andrew Buchan last month (Sept 2012) therefore bucked the trend.

This real ale bar is the first Rhymney Brewery pub to open in Cardiff. Rhymney Beers are on draught (Rhymney Bitter, Rhymney Dark, Hobby Horse, Rhymney Export, Bevan’s Bitter). Ciders, wine and other drinks are available, but food is pretty much limited to packets of peanuts.
Alcohol licences have become harder to obtain in this area. In their Premises Licence application (to convert the old Choices Video Store), Rhymney Brewery stressed that the bar would not be aimed at young people and that there would be no loud music. They stated that there would be no alcopops and no pool table, just good beer and good conversation; recreating a good old-fashioned “local”.

Their stated target audience is the over 50s. This appears to be based on the age of clientele in three of their existing bars: The Winchester in Merthyr Tydfil, The Prince of Wales in Aberdare, and the bar at their new brewery and visitor centre in Blaenafon. However, among the objections submitted against the application (mainly concerning drink-related anti-social behaviour in the area), one questioned the likelihood of the over 50s being the customer base on the Albany Road. 
I must admit, as a member of their target audience (just), this was my sort of bar. The beer is good and the welcome genuine. Children and U21s are discouraged. The lack of clattering cutlery (and not waiting while someone makes a complicated food order before you can get a pint) is a pleasant change.

Will The Andrew Buchan become a good old-fashioned “local”? In many respects the signs look good. However, the large TV screens showing Sky news and, presumably, sports, do not correspond with my memories of good old-fashioned locals; they are certainly not conducive to good conversation, and the place risks becoming a sports bar. Call me old-fashioned, but I think a rack of newspapers and some well-chosen background music provides for a more relaxing drinking experience.
Of course, to be a good old-fashioned local you need to have locals and also I believe be a focus for some community activity (such as a village pub has a darts or soccer team). It will be interesting to revisit The Andrew Buchan in the years to come to see how well it’s carving out such a niche.

The Andrew Buchan, 29 Albany Road, Cardiff CF24 3LH
See also:
A walk along Albany Road:

The Andrew Buchan is named after the founder of the original Rhymney Brewery in Merthyr Tydfil in 1839. By the 1850s, it was the biggest brewery in Wales. Andrew Buchan died in 1870, aged 77.
Rhymney Brewery: