Previously, on this walking tour of Cardiff, I left you by the Angel Hotel on Castle Street in the City Centre. Walk in an easterly direction along Castle Street, until you get to the turn into Womanby Street/Stryd Womanby, between the Nisa Local and Dempseys (Castle Street and Castle Arcade are in the next instalment). We are in Cardiff’s Castle Quarter.
Turn right down Womanby Street. This is one of Cardiff’s
oldest streets, which used to link the castle with the city’s main quay. The
street dates back to at least the 1300s and its name probably had Norse origins
(e.g., Hundemanby Street). Inns along here, such as The Horse and Groom, were
notorious for the press-ganging of sailors.
The recent restoration and large new paving stones have compromised
some of its historical character (and grime; though I guess there are fewer
twisted ankles of a Saturday night), but Womanby Street retains enough period
detail for it to be a popular film location (e.g., Doctor Who: The Empty Child
and other episodes).
On your right, just past Nisa Local:
Cardiff Fashion Quarter
Womanby Street CF10 1BR
Opened in October 2012, CFQ is an emporium of independent
businesses (e.g., vintage clothing, crafts, antiques, flea market ware, vinyl) located in a former cinema. There’s impressive
street art outside; the striking woman’s face was painted by Diego Zelaya. A
stroll down Womanby Street these days may involve negotiating the fashion
5 Womanby Street CF10 1BR
A rock music club opened in 2012.
The Full Moon
Womanby Street CF10 1BR (2037 3022)
Bar and music venue that opened in 2011. Upstairs it’s
called The Moon Club. Unlike its immediate predecessor (Y Fuwch Goch), it does
not serve food. This was the site of the
former Red Cow Inn, a pub dating from the old quayside days to the early 1900s.
Opposite, after Dempseys:
clwb ifor bach
11 Womanby Street CF10 1BR (2023 2199)
Opened in 1983, Clwb Ifor Bach is also referred to as The Welsh
Club because of its promotion of the Welsh-language and Welsh music. This is
one of the Cardiff’s most famous music venues. Seminal Welsh music acts such as
Super Furry Animals and Catatonia have played here. Among the acts I have seen
here in the past couple of years have been Meic Stevens,
Colorama, Charlotte Church, Jonathan Powell, Jodi Marie, and British Sea Power.
In fact, I saw BSP again last week at The Coal Exchange: what a great band (but,
Just past clwb ifor bach, we come to gates into the courtyard
at the back of Revolution (see Castle Street).
Further along in a courtyard off Womanby Street is Jones
Court. These Grade I listed estate workers cottages have been thoroughly
modernized and media consultant is now a more typical job description.
On your right/west side of the street, you pass back entrances
to The Gatekeeper (a Wetherspoon pub), Pica Pica (tapas and cocktails) and Fire
Island (For these three establishments, see Westgate Street).
Opposite Fire Island, on the corner of Womanby Street and
Quay Street/Stryd Y Cei:
The City Arms
10-12 Quay Street CF10 1EA (2022 2528)
This traditional Brains pub is one of the best places to
drink beer in Cardiff; it’s no surprise CAMRA named it Cardiff Pub of the Year
2012. Exceptional care is taken over the beer and you are guaranteed to find an
impressive range of real ales on tap. The City Arms was built in the 1880s
(when Brains Brewery was also founded). It was formerly known as The Cattle
Market Tavern and then the Dovers Arms, changing its name again in 1905 to The
City Arms – the year Cardiff was given City status. A full range of Brains
beers is available on draught, along with British microbrewery and guest cask ales,
and beers of all styles from around the world. They serve beer in 1/3 pints for
those wanting to sample a goodly variety, while there is a City Arms Beer Club
(for loyalty card discounts and beer information). There’s no food served, but
Brains have opened their flagship food establishment Greenwood & Brown a
couple of doors down the street (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2011).
13 Quay Street CF10 1EA (2034 4044)
Casanova is without doubt one of Cardiff’s best Italian
restaurants (in a city renowned for its Italian restaurants). It was opened in
2005 by three Italian friends and offers authentic Italian food. We had a
celebration meal here recently, which lived up to expectations. I had scallops
(campesante) for starters, served with black pudding and pumpkin puree;
followed by agnello, tender slow-cooked lamb served with mash and sweet and
sour peppers; concluding with tiramisu and coffee. My partner also had good
things to say about the intense flavours in her duck, leek and wild mushroom
bruschetta starter. There is a seasonally changing menu and plenty of local
food sourcing (e.g., Riverside Market Garden, Ashton’s fishmonger, and JT
Morgan for Welsh salt marsh lamb); while wine and other food ingredients are
imported directly from Italy. When my partner searched for ‘Casanova’ on her
Internet phone, the site was blocked as adult content (do restaurants really
need to consider such things these days?), but we can reassure you that there
is nothing dodgy about Cardiff’s Casanova! (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good.
Greenwood & Brown
14-15 Quay Street
CF10 1EA (2022 7972)
This is Brains’ first restaurant venture. It opened in Dec
2011 (see below for a link to my opening night comments). They do the simple
things well, especially steaks and seafood. Typical lunchtime specials recently
have included deep-fried goat’s cheese, SA Gold-battered hake, and roast
monkfish with vegetable and tomato cumin sauce. Features on the fish and
shellfish menu include a kilo of Welsh coast mussels, lobster tails, and the
fruit de mer platter for two. Puddings are also a feature. Welsh products and
local food sourcing are the order of the day (e.g., Welsh beef comes from
Celtic Pride, free range eggs from Birchgrove Eggs, seafood from Swansea Fish,
and cheese from Caws Cenarth). A pub has been on this site since at least 1600,
when it was a waterside location, which was called The Model Inn for many
years. Brains bought it in 1956 and it has now been massively refurbished into this
Across the road:
Bistro One Café
4 Quay Street CF10 1DZ (2038 8888)
Established in 1970, this is more traditional café/diner
than bistro, serving breakfast and lunch. Fried food in a booth: Classic. Food
is eat-in or to-go. (Food Hygiene Rating
3: generally satisfactory. Jan 2013).
Across the road, and just past Gill’s newsagent, on your
18 Quay Street CF10 1DZ (2034 4900)
This is a friendly take-away for breakfast and sandwiches,
and is home of the £1 lunch; soup, various rolls and coffee all at £1. I had
the bacon roll from this menu recently: soft bap, rasher of bacon and ketchup;
to keep you going rather than fill you up (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Nov 2012).
Across the road, on the corner is Costa, at the junction of
Quay Street with High Street/St Mary Street. I’ll see you here next time.
British Sea Power at clwb ifor bach
Opening of Greenwood & Brown
on the walking tour:
Road East 3
Road East 2
Road East 1