Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Westgate Street, Cardiff

We have left Riverside and have walked across the River Taff on the bridge to the south of the Millennium Stadium. We are in Cardiff’s City Centre.

On your left:

Vue Cinema
Stadium Plaza, Wood Street CF10 1LA
Multiplex cinema (13 screens) selling popcorn, sticky sweet drinks and confectionary. A banner outside optimistically proclaims Stadium Plaza as Cardiff’s Leisure Quarter, though the nightclub unit under the cinema is currently empty.

Set back on a side street past this entertainment complex is the Media Wales building (South West Echo and Western Mail).

Walk straight along Wood Street. This is a street in transition and we will return here at a later date. To your right is Cardiff Central railway station and the recently re-built bus station. A demolished building has being replaced with sporty surfacing that promotes Cardiff as a city of sport.

Many units along the north side of Wood Street (St David’s House and Noble House) are now empty. Food businesses once here have included Thai Empire (formerly no. 6-7), Café Novo (no. 6) and Noble House (a Chinese/Japanese restaurant formerly at 9-10 Wood Street).

On the ground floor of Southgate House, at the corner of Wood Street and Westgate Street:

JJ’s Sandwich Bar
Wood Street CF10 1EW (2066 5278)
A sandwich shop and catering business (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Nov 2012).

Across the road are a Coffee #1 and The Prince of Wales (later on the tour). Start walking up Westgate Street / Heol Y Porth.

On your right, past the back of The Royal Hotel:

Double Super Happy
31 Westgate Street CF10 1EH (2022 7773)
This Tokyo-style dim sum and cocktail bar opened in 2012. It serves pan-Asian Dim Sum, rather than being authentically regional, and is under the same ownership as Pica Pica (a tapas and cocktail bar) further up Westgate Street. Satay, tempura, dumplings, salads: meat, fish and vegetable options. This location was previously Tabu nightclub.

Cross Golate / Y Gwter. This side street is one of the oldest in Cardiff and has previously been called Frog Lane, Gulleygate, Porth Llongau and several other names (listed on a blue plaque on Golate House). A stream used to run down here to the River Taff, which ran along what is now Westgate Street, before it was diverted to its current position further west.

The Queens Vaults
29 Westgate Street CF10 1EH (2022 7966)
A Victorian pub on the corner of Westgate Street and Golate, with Queen Victoria painted above the front door; the outside features some attractive tiling. Extensively refurbished in the mid-1980s and, according to, the present name dates from as far back as 2002, when it replaced the rather naff Flyhalf and Firkin. The pub food menu is served from midday until around 8pm. A neon sign promotes the fish and chips. Feels like a locals’ pub and is one of the closest tafarnau to the Millennium Stadium. Currently owned by Mitchells & Butler (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Oct 2010).

27 Westgate Street CF10 1DD (2022 9494)
This high-concept industrial-chic restaurant-microbrewery, in a former garage, has a menu that focuses on fresh and modern food. Gourmet pizzas (from a stone woodfired oven), salads, mussel kilo pots, pasta dishes and speciality sausages are the order of the day. You can see the shiny beer tanks in the window: wheat beer, Continental-style pilsner, pale ale, black lager and fruits beers are brewed here. Balconies for al fresco drinking, with good views of the Millennium Stadium – my picture of Zerodegrees was taken from the stadium (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Nov 2012).

On the corner of Westgate Street and Guildhall Place / Plas Y Neuadd:

Burger King
2 Guildhall Place CF10 1EB (2023 5865)
A large Burger King on the corner of Westgate Street and Guildhall Place, with upstairs and downstairs dining areas. The unchanging 1980s décor could soon put this place on some sort of fast-food heritage tour (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Oct 2011).

Guildhall Place CF10 1EB
Bomber’s Sandwich House opened ten weeks ago, in February this year. The menu changes daily, with food being cooked fresh in the morning. Yesterday’s specials included roast smoked gammon with pineapple, BBQ pulled pork, and curried vegetable soup. I went for the togarashi chicken (a Japanese 7-spice with ginger and lime). From the daily meats you can assemble sandwiches with an appealing range of salads – including homemade coleslaw – and sauces; there is also the salad box option if you just want vegetarian. The largest bun is the Bomber; a Bomber Big Boy is two meats and any amount of salad; the Atomic Bomb gives you all you can eat. Bomber’s is very handy for the Millennium Stadium (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Feb 2013).

Across Westgate Street:

Millennium Stadium
Westgate Street CF10 1NS (2082 2080)
The massive Millennium Stadium dominates the area. The home of Welsh rugby; there’s a fantastic atmosphere in and around the stadium during match days. The roof can be closed and the venue used for large concerts – though I find it a bit soulless as a music venue. Letheby & Christopher have exclusive catering rights inside the stadium and are based here. This changed in a rather curious way during the Olympic Games last summer (see link below).

WRU Shop/ The Cardiff Arms
8 Westgate Street CF10 1NS
This building on Westgate Street pre-dates the Millennium Stadium, but is now part of the same operation. The café bar is upstairs (Brain’s beer), and the Welsh Rugby Union gift shop downstairs. Open during the day only, with extensions on match days (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Nov 2012).

On your right (east side of Westgate Street):

The multi-story car park was once the headquarters of the Fire Brigade (1917-1973). A plaque nearby records that this was also once the entrance to the Town Quay, Cardiff’s main gateway to the sea; Blount’s Gate on this site was demolished in 1785.

Cross the entrance to Quay Street / Stryd Y Cei:

Fire Island
25 Westgate Street CF10 1DD (2023 6091)
Fire Island opened in November 2012 on the corner of Westgate Street and Quay Street, with another door out back on Womanby Street. It is owned by Beatbox Bars Ltd, who also operate Buffalo and 10 Feet Tall in Cardiff. There are bars upstairs and downstairs, with the downstairs bar specializing in an impressive range of craft beers and cider (over 40 of them). Featured micro-breweries include Tiny Rebel Brewery (who make house beer Beatbox APA) and Bristol Beer Factory. On our recent visit, I enjoyed a Continental Drift, a Welsh Red Rye IPA brewed by the Celt Experience Brewery (the first brewing of which was live-broadcasted – check it out on Youtube), while my partner had a Dabinett cider. The tables for eating are mainly in the downstairs bar. Home-smoked meats, BBQ, slow-cooked pulled pork, grills, ribs and burgers star on the menu. Previously, this red-brick Grade II listed building was used as the Glamorgan County Council Staff Club. Planning restrictions have helped dictate the moody minimalist/industrial chic interior. It’s a live music venue (e.g., jazz on Thursdays). Rooms upstairs and downstairs can be booked for private functions.

Pica Pica
15-23 Westgate Street CF10 1DD (2034 5737)
Mediterranean restaurant and cocktail bar, specializing in mezze, tapas and other ‘small plate’ food options. Dishes include piri-piri chicken, meatballs, vegetarian tagine, and gambas pil pil. The cocktail menu breaks down thus: long coolers, short and strong, classics, fizz, shooters, sweet and creamy, martinis, non-alcoholic (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Oct 2011).

The Gatekeeper
9-10 Westgate Street CF10 1DD (2064 6020)
Lively J D Wetherspoon pub that opened in 2001. There’s a good range of real ales, as you would expect, with an extensive pub food menu and themed food nights. We like Thursdays: Wetherspoon’s curry night. This was originally the site of the Grand Theatre (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Dec 2011).

Mango House
5-7 Westgate Street CF10 1DD (2023 2266)
Indian restaurant and take-away located in what was formerly the Grand Hotel: Indian food in classy surroundings.  The original Mango House was opened in Magor, Monmouthshire, in 1998. This one in Westgate Street opened in around 2008. A large menu celebrates the diversity of Indian cuisine rather than focusing on a particular region;  with traditional Indian dishes, plenty of vegetarian options, and some modern and fusion choices (e.g., small-plate Indian tapas). Seafood specials include traditional Bangladeshi fish dishes. Tandoori, Balti, Biriyani, and all the styles you would expect, as well as lesser known Handhi style dishes. Mango House also do corporate events and catering (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Feb 2012).


Cardiff Arms Park
Cardiff Rugby Club, Westgate Street CF10 1JA
Home of Cardiff Blues / Gleision Caerdydd. The club came back here in 2012 after an unsuccessful ground-share with Cardiff City FC for a couple of years, at the Cardiff City Stadium in Leckwith. I believe Camelot Event Catering still do the stadium food (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. May 2011).

A slight detour to the left on Castle Street / Heol Y Castell. Before you get to Cardiff Bridge (over the River Taff):

Holiday Inn, Castle Street CF10 1XD (20234 7247)
Bar on the ground floor of the former Intercontinental Hotel, which was built in 1973 and is now a Holiday Inn. record that the original bar was called Toucans, which changed into the Irish-themed bar Callaghans in 1999. Food is mainly grills, burgers, pizza, sandwiches, along with popular All-Day Irish Breakfast. Guinness, live music (e.g., Irish folk and Celtic rock). I guess the beer garden used to be by the river before the building of the Millennium Stadium walkway (Holiday Inn: Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Sept 2011).

Back on the corner of Westgate Street and Castle Street:

Angel Hotel
Castle Street CF10 1SJ
The Angel Hotel opened here in 1878 (though Images of Cardiff: Central Cardiff, 1998, states the hotel dates from 1666, moving up the road after the demolition of the Cardiff Arms Hotel). Residents can opt for Castell’s Restaurant for dining or the Angel Bar. It is part of the Puma Hotels Collection. I regretted missing the recent Darkened Rooms pop-up cinema showing of The Shining in the ballroom of this hotel.

On the other side of Castle Street is Pettigrew Tea Rooms, which we visited on a previous walk around Bute Park. Carry on walking along Castle Street, back past The Angel, and I’ll see you there next time.

See also:

An Olympic Diet (at the Millennium Stadium)

Curry night at The Gatekeeper

Pasta Pot (now closed)

Previously, on the walking tour:


Cathedral Road

Pontcanna 2

Pontcanna 1

North Canton

Cowbridge Road East 3

Cowbridge Road East 2

Cowbridge Road East 1

Bute Park

Cathays Park

Cathays Terrace

Salisbury Road

Woodville Road

Crwys Road

Wellfield Road

Albany Road

City Road

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