Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Pontcanna 2

We are in Pontcanna, Cardiff. Turn right into King’s Road. On your left is The Dairy (200 King’s Road). I found little information about this building actually being used as a dairy, but it was formerly Pontcanna Pine Warehouse, a flea market, and it was nearly turned into 14 flats and a convenience store. More recently, it was a design hub and the location for a Ffotogallery exhibition in 2011. Now, at weekends, it has become Cardiff Street Feast: a large-scale Supper Club with Milgi, Chucks, and the Tiny Rebel Brewery.

Opposite, down a courtyard:

Artisan Brewing Co.
183a King’s Road CF11 9DF
Simon Doherty started the Artisan Brewing Co. in a converted garage at the end of the driveway here in 2008. His microbrewery specializes in making continental-style lagers, and he is not afraid to experiment. The beers have been sold under the Bare Naked Beer brand-name. However, Pepsi won a two-year copyright case to stop the use of the word Naked in this context. I interviewed Simon for the Buzz Food and Drink Guide 2011 (link below), and caught up with him again for this post to find out about the rebranding of Artisan Brewery Co. beers.

While Simon was overwintering in Australia and Thailand, a re-branding competition to name ‘The Beer with no name’ (I liked that name!) was running on the Artisan Brewing Co. website. After due consideration, Simon announced the new brand-name last Saturday (2 March). In the end, it was one he had been thinking about himself for a while: Pipes. He is surrounded by pipes in his garage brewery. So we need to get used to ordering “a pint of Pipes”. The new artwork will be unveiled shortly and, reassuring, the beers remain the same. You can buy bottled beers direct from the brewery on Saturday afternoons (noon to 6pm), and get them on draught there on the first Saturday of each month or in independent bars around Cardiff, including Milgi Lounge. I had a fine pint of the Bavarian wheat beer in Gwdihw last week, before a meal in Madeira. Other current brews include Bohemian Pilsner, Helles Lager (Munich style), Smoked lager, and ALT beer.

My interview with Simon Doherty in Buzz Food and Drink Guide 2011 (p. 24): http://content.yudu.com/Library/A1tciv/BuzzFoodandDrinkGuid/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=

Across the road:

Kemi's at Pontcanna
186-188 King’s Road CF11 9DF (2037 2055)
Kemi’s opened here in Septmber 2012, building on the success of Kemi’s@Craft in the Bay (Cardiff Bay). There was a free sampling celebration last Friday (1 March) to mark the first six months. The Lunch Menu offers salads, including Kemi’s salad feast and exotic salads, quiche, baguettes and jacket potatoes; with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. There are cakes and desserts, served with hot and cold drinks, from 9am to 5 pm (10am weekends). Kemi’s is family-friendly, with the Little Menu aimed at little ones.  The café is eat-in or take-out, with a range of food in the deli-style display counter. Kemi’s cater for dinner parties and weddings, and also run a cookery school. This was formerly the site of Wyatt’s Garden Store and, for a while, Crème Café.

On the other side of the King’s Road:

Mimosa Lounge (175 King’s Road) closed in July 2012 and this site is currently empty (Mimosa Kitchen & Bar in Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay, on the other hand, has recently re-opened after a major refurbishment).

The Cinnamon Tree
173 King’s Road CF11 9DE (2037 4433)
A popular and traditional family-run Indian restaurant, owned by the Uzzaman Brothers; their father opened the family’s first Indian restaurant in 1960 on Wellfield Road. Classic Indian restaurant dishes, though the menu also features surprises that have previously included ostrich, duck and venison dishes. The restaurant is one two floors, with the buffet being a popular option.

It's worth having a look in Caban (160 King’s Road), a Welsh-language bookshop that also sells Welsh-language and local artist CDs. You can get a coffee here at the counter, and there are a couple of seats by the window.

King's Road carries on in a southerly direction to join Cowbridge Road East (we visited La Cuina, 11 King’s Road when we walked down Cowbridge Road East).

Turn around, cross Sneyd Street, pass Flowers with a Twist florist, and start walking up Pontcanna Street.

On you left:

Cameo Club
3-5 Pontcanna Street CF11 9HQ (2022 0466)
The Cameo Club Bar Bistro and Lounge is a members-only club that dates from the 1960s. A recent development lets non-members eat in the bistro at lunchtime.

Keep walking along Pontcanna Street. On the corner with Estyn Street:

71 Pontcanna Street CF11 9HS (2037 1929)
Brava café and restaurant opened just over a decade ago. It offers breakfast and brunch, from 8am (e.g., American pancakes, eggs benedict, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs), and lunch (e.g., soup, quiche, burgers, pasta dishes and salads). In the evening, Brava takes on a bistro atmosphere and serves meals until 9pm. Brava encourages BYO: no corkage after 6pm. Owners Andrew and Lee are keen to source Welsh produce. Brava displays work by local artists.

The Smoke House
77 Pontcanna Street CF11 9HS (2034 4628)
Earlier this year, Diner 77 closed on this site. It had operated here since 1977. Fans of its American dining ethos, however, need not fear, because new venture - The Smoke House - will retain the American-style diner feel while updating the style. The new owners are Richard and Jaz Davies, and the Head Chef is Sean Lewis. Authentic American BBQ will be on offer from their Hickory Burning Smoker: ‘Memphis’ style dry rub pork ribs, Hickory slow smoked beef brisket and BBQ chicken. Also on the menu will be grills and burgers, including classic rib-eye steak and blackened butt (I guess that one might taste better than it sounds), while you will also find dishes for “non-smokers”, including shrimp and tuna. All will be revealed when The Smoke House opens later this month, on Friday 15 March.

83 Pontcanna Street CF11 9PH (2023 2226)
Cibo Italian Café Bar opened here about 15 years ago and is popular for its Italian bistro food and coffee. The menu features pizzas, such as the Fiorentina (spinach, egg and nutmeg), calzones like the Calzone al Cibo (Gorno’s Italian sausage, tomato, spinach, parmesan and taleggio), pasta dishes, and main course salads. They do take-away and delivery, which can now be done online.

Fish at 85
85 Pontcanna Street CF11 9HS (2002 0212)
Fishmonger and restaurant operated by Channel Fisheries (of Brixham, Devon). Opened in June 2011 and managed by John Lester, this is the company’s first retail outlet (although they supply many restaurants, shops, and even the Royal Family by appointment). Padrig Jones is Chef. Mussels, oysters, scallops, squid and a wide range of fish on the menu and on the fishmonger’s slab, some fairly unusual. You can come in and purchase fish to cook at home, or choose your fish and get them to cook it. They supply several top local restaurants with fish and seafood; when I walked past the small Pier 64 van pulled up outside. A new a la carte menu has been launched in the 20-cover restaurant, which includes Roast Monkfish, boulangere Potatoes and creamy curried mussels; and Sole, pak choi, mash, sherry and shallot Jus. There’s also a fixed-price menu. Eating here is not for everyone, with the sight and aroma of the long fish counter nearby, but it has become a minor mecca for Cardiff’s fish and seafood lovers. Fish at 85 has recently starting cooking classes.

Pontcanna Post Office and Pontcanna Stores
89-93 Pontcanna Street CF11 9HS
Convenience food store, off-licence and post office.

At the end of Pontcanna Street you’ll see Coffee #1, the big Brains-owned coffee shop, which we will pass again shortly when we walk down Cathedral Road. Take the left turn down Mortimer Road.

Walk along to the junction of Mortimer Road and Conway Road:

The Conway
58 Conway Road CF11 9NW (2022 4373)
The Conway pub had a major overhaul when the Knife and Fork Food Company (who also own Woods Brasserie in Cardiff Bay) took it over in 2009. Inside, the division of traditional drinker’s bar for locals and lounge dining room has been retained. The new Conway quickly gained a good reputation for food (and has had repeated entries in the Michelin Pub Guide). Chef Stefan Nilsson likes cooking fish and offers signature dishes like Hake, new potatoes, samphire and cask cider sauce. Vegetarians are well-catered for, with dishes such as Halloumi stack with sweet pepper and avocado butter chips and onion rings. The menu is constantly changing, as you would expect when good seasonal food is on offer. In addition to modern takes on classics like fish and chips, expect the odd curveball (e.g., Chocolate ganache with Irn-Bru caramel). Wye Valley ales are the house beer. A model gastropub (just when it was becoming a dread word). Quiz night is Sunday. The Conway also hosts special event evenings. Recently Nick Otley was here launching a new Otley Brew, while on 12 March there’s a Pudding Club, with the patisserie chef Stefan Romare visiting from Stockholm.

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