Monday, 22 April 2013

Womanby Street and Quay Street, Cardiff

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 photographers.

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, I digress).

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. May 2012).

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 smart brasserie.

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 right:

Baguette Xpress
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.

See also:

British Sea Power at clwb ifor bach

Opening of Greenwood & Brown

Previously, on the walking tour:

Westgate Street


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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