Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Caroline Street, Cardiff

In the few hundred yards of pedestrianized Caroline Street / Stryd Caroline there are over a dozen food outlets, nearly all doing take-away. A survey conducted by Wales Online in 2011 asked what Caroline Street is really called. The result: Chippy Lane 47%; Chippy Alley 19%; Caroline Street 27%. The fish-and-chip and kebab houses open late to cater for the post-pub and nightclub crowds. Some open so late that there’s an overlap between clubbers and those seeking an early breakfast!

Caroline Street is undergoing change due to being sandwiched between the Café Quarter in Mill Lane and the Old Brewery Quarter. In particular, Caroline Street was redeveloped when the Old Brewery Quarter was established. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of long-established and no-nonsense chippies and kebab houses. Cheesy chips, jumbo sausages and chicken off-the-bone curries are among the favourites here.

Previously, I left you at The Corner House at the end of Mill Lane. We will be walking down the left (south) side of Caroline Street to St Mary Street, then turning around and walking along the other (north) side. Next time we’ll go into the Old Brewery Quarter from the Caroline Street entrance.

The Corner House
25 Caroline Street CF10 1FF (2022 8628)
The Corner House Bar & Dining Rooms opened in December 2011. It replaced The Kings Cross, a drinking pub and focus for the local gay community. There has been a pub on this site for 137 years. The Corner House is the first of Mitchell and Butler’s new Mayberry gastropubs. It covers most bases: breakfast, lunch, afternoon deals, and evening meals. Downstairs mainly operates as a bar, with dining upstairs. Pub classics with a bit of a twist to some pretty fancy cooking served, with plenty of choice on the menu. Last time we ate here, we enjoyed the fishcakes and the lamb rump steak. The Corner House has one of those annoying computer-crashing websites.

29 Caroline Street CF10 1FF (2022 4811)
Smartened up since the Food Blog last chronicled Caroline Street, Griller is a take-away specializing in fried chicken; serving peri-peri chicken, chicken nuggets, burgers, lamb kebab and wraps (rolos). For the health-conscious, there’s “fried-style chicken without frying”. This is the only Griller in Wales (around 38 in total across the UK). Like a number of outlets along Caroline Street, it’s Halal. It made the news in 2011 for being one of the first takeaways in Cardiff to have bouncers on the door for late-night Thu-Sat openings, by order of a district judge. Staff thought the ruling over-the-top.

30-32 Caroline Street CF10 1FF (2132 8148)
PiPi’s Greek Coffee Shop, Patisserie and Restaurant opened in this location in 2009, after moving from a smaller location in Church Street. The upstairs restaurant closed last year, however, and is now an Indian restaurant. The patisserie and coffee shop opens in the mornings and through the day, with croissants, spanakopita (filo pastry with spinach and cheese filling) and other pastry delicacies. The eating-in menu features Meze, Taramosalata, Calamari, Soutzoukakia (meat balls), keftedes, Stifado, Moussaka, Greek salad, and other authentic Greek dishes. Desserts include Baklava, Kataifi and Greek yoghurt with honey and nuts. PiPi’s also get out and about. They had a stall at the recent Cardiff International Food & Drink Festival, where I sampled their fresh honey-drenched baklava and kataifi (the ‘shredded wheat’ one): like eating nectar in the blazing Cardiff Bay sunshine.

Spice Berry
30-32 (upstairs) Caroline Street CF10 1FF (2009 9199)
Opened in February 2013, in what was previously Pipi’s upstairs Greek restaurant. Spice Berry (”Savourix Indian Dining”) specialises in the cuisine of Southern Indian, with authentic dishes from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and in particular the Malabar coastal region. Seafood options include crab, scallops and a shellfish feast; fish dishes include sea bass wrapped in banana leaves and tandoori salmon. Kerala curry, slow-cooked lamb shanks, duck milagu pirattal and Malabar biriyaani also feature. The owner is Sheikh Renoj Mohamed and head chef is Sundara Moorty Krisshnasamy, whose signature dishes include Navadhamiya Patties. Influenced by the success of the nouvelle Indian cuisine found in Purple Poppadom and Mint and Mustard in Cardiff. Highly rated (#4 today) on TripAdvisor. Spice Berry also operates a catering service.

After Colin’s Books (you won’t find any Harry Potter), there is a weed-infested gap behind the hoardings on this side of the street. This plot (34-35 Caroline Street) used to be Bloomers nightclub, which was petrol-bombed and burnt down many years ago; the site has never been redeveloped.

Morgan’s Fish Bar & Kebab House
36 Caroline Street CF10 1FF
Take-away: fish-and-chips and kebabs. You can also order online. Morgan’s is one of the establishments that leapt from an original zero to a perfect 5, if you are in any doubt about the value of the compulsory ‘scores on the door ’ Food Hygiene Rating system in Wales.

Mamaris Kebabs and Pizza House
38 Caroline Street CF10 1FF (2023 0208)
This take-away, previously called Kebab Land and Pizza House, serves shish kebabs, pizzas and other fast food.

Dorothy’s Fish and Chip Bar
39-40 Caroline Street CF10 1FF (2064 5813)
Dorothy’s Fish Bar is probably the oldest establishment in Caroline Street - opening in 1953 - and is well-used to catering for the post-pub and nightclub queues. It proudly boasts that it was the first to bring chicken curry to Cardiff city centre around 40 years ago, and chicken-off-the-bone curry with chips is still a house speciality. Traditional fish and chips, fish cakes, chicken spit-roasted daily, scotch eggs and a range of fast-food. Several generations of Cardiff families will have dined here. Dorothy’s key-rings available as a souvenir.

Tony’s Fish & Chip Bar
41-42 Caroline Street CF10 1FF (2034 2078)
Tony’s has been served chips to Cardiff’s late-night crowd for decades, and it’s still one of the most popular late-night chippies in the city. A traditional takeaway fish and chip shop, but also serves jumbo sausages, kebabs and other Chippy Lane favourites.

The Red Onion
43-44 Caroline Street CF10 1FF (2033 1284)
The Red Onion Fish & Chip Shop was established in 1971. Fish and chips, chicken curry, and other take-away choices.

Kebab King
45 Caroline Street CF10 1FF (2033 1284)
A kebab and burger take-away.

The door to the former Charleston Brasserie is still marked: it used to occupy the upstairs of the corner unit (46 Caroline Street). We have now reached St Mary Street.

Turn around and walk back along the other (north) side of Caroline Street:

kitty flynn’s
51 St Mary Street CF10 1AD (2064 4952)
Irish pub on the corner of St Mary Street and Caroline Street, owned by local brewery Brains (just a couple of blocks away). Apparently the pub was named after a famous Cardiff landlady; a drinking rather than dining destination.

The next unit was occupied by Mamma’s (pizza), until it closed in 2012.

We are now passing the Caroline Street entrance to the Old Brewery Quarter, with Bella Italia on this side and Thai Edge and Spice Quarter on the other. We will be going under the archway here next time. Carry on along Caroline Street:

Rosario’s Steak House (19 Caroline Street) closed and is still an empty unit.

Capital Takeaway
21 Caroline Street CF10 1FG (2039 8600)
Take-away, mainly doing pizza, kebabs, burgers and fried chicken. I read somewhere that it was once referred to as “6 fingers” because someone who worked there had six fingers on one hand.

Lab 22
22 Caroline Street (upstairs) CF10 1FG (2039 9997)
Lab 22: The Molecular Cocktail Lounge is run by Matt Zain and Stephen Carwardine, and serves avant-garde cocktails in the spirit of Heston Blumenthal. This is bar as theatre. Jellied gin, oak-smoked coke and whiskey, solidified champagne on a spoon. Don't ask for Brains.

22-23 Caroline Street CF10 1FG (2022 7896)
This is one of at least 15 Greggs bakery and sandwich shops in Cardiff. This one is the only major chain in Caroline Street and keeps regular opening hours, unlike its neighbours.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Mill Lane and Wyndham Arcade, Cardiff

The Food Blog was last on Mill Lane  / Lon Y Felin in September 2011, when we noted the changing nature of its eating establishments. In recent years, it has been out with the French bistro and traditional Italian, and in with South American cuisine and Hawaiian cocktails. This is Cardiff’s Café Quarter. It comes into its own during the summer, when the outside tables under the trees are bustling.
On the corner of St Mary Street and Mill Lane:

Peppermint Bar & Kitchen
63 St Mary Street CF10 1FE (2039 9199)
Peppermint opened in August 2011 (taking over from Zync in this corner location). It’s an independent party, drinks and food venue on two-floors (with another one in Swansea). The food menu offers a wide range of light dishes, and there’s a late-night bar. Outside seating on pedestrianized Mill Lane.
The Mocka Lounge
1-2 Mill Lane CF10 1FL (2022 1292)
The mocka lounge is a café and nightclub. It opened in 2009 and serves food, lunches and light bites until 7pm. Cocktails a speciality. Open until the early hours.
Sushi Bento
3 Mill Lane CF10 1FL
Opened in 2012 Sushi Bento is a restaurant and take-away offering bento-style Japanese street food. This location was formerly occupied by Flavour Eurasia.
Soda Lounge
4 Mill Lane CF10 1FE (2039 8380)
This large bar and nightclubbing party venue is part of the Le Monde complex, which also fronts onto St Mary Street. A ground floor lounge (comfy seats) and bars on several levels, including a roof terrace (and exclusive Attic bar). Some food served, especially for parties. The original Soda Bar operated on St Mary Street from 2002 to 2008.
Retro Lounge
7 Mill Lane CF10 1FL (2039 8380)
The Retro Lounge is the “home of the 90’s vibe”. A place to party and drink cocktails, rather than eat and, I can’t lie to you, it's also the “home of Stacey’s Hen Night”.
The next shop (Cardiff Bridal Centre) sells wedding dresses.
Las Iguanas
8 Mill Lane CF10 1FL (2022 8373)
This was the first Cardiff location for the Bristol-based chain (with another in Cardiff Bay). Las Iguanas’ Latin American cuisine offers something different and has become very popular in Cardiff. Menu features Mexican classics, popular Brazilian dishes, grilled sandwiches and salads. There are popular dishes from other Latin American countries and special nights featuring the cuisine of particular countries. Cocktails (seemingly obligatory on Mill Lane) and pitchers of Sangria are popular.
The next shop (Private) sells sex aids.
It looks a little sad and out of sorts today, but The Private Shop was here in pre-Internet times (when shops like this were the main outlet for porn) and therefore it pre-dates all the bars and restaurants around it. Private was here when the area opposite (now a Marriott Hotel) was an outdoor vegetable market, recalls Peter Finch in Real Cardiff who describes the contents of its shelves (p. 70), and nearby was “the infamous rock and blues Moon Club.”
10 Mill Lane CF10 1FL (2037 7668)
Juboraj Indian Restaurant in the Café Quarter is part of the local family-owned Juboraj group, serving high-end Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine. They have been in Cardiff for around 20 years, with establishments also in Rhiwbina and Lakeside, and most recently in the Big Windsor building in Cardiff Bay. The Mill Lane restaurant has undergone an extensive refurbishment recently, to bring it up to standard. An extensive menu of classic and authentic Indian cuisine.
Aura (“dedicated underground music venue”) opened in 2012 and is now shut. The adjacent The Ladybird Lounge nightclub opened in 2011 (upstairs 10 Mill Lane). The latter’s advert boasts: “as featuring in The Valleys.” You have been warned.
11 Mill Lane CF10 1FF (2066 5500)
Kapu Exotic Cocktail Bar and Island Grill opened in June 2012, and as one of the year’s most radical refurbishments. The previous outlet, operated by same owners, was Gios Italian restaurant. The food menu in Kapu focuses on grilled steaks and chicken, ribs, burgers, fish and shrimps; with tofu skewers for vegetarians. Kapu is Hawaiian for forbidden; other Hawaiian phrases and pineapple chunks characterize the menu. Palm tree décor completes the Hawaiian theme; in case you missed it.
Opposite, just beyond Carluccio’s at the end of the Library Building:
Marriot Hotel
Mill Lane CF10 1EZ (2039 9944)
The Cardiff Marriot is a four-star hotel in a prime location, handy for the railway station and the restaurants of the Café Quarter. The main dining location is the Centrale brasserie. Chats downstairs has an outside terrace and is promoting sharing platters and sparkling wine for the Café Quarter crowds this summer.
The Library Building has three eateries on the ground floor. These are also listed as St David’s Centre restaurants (in the centre’s information), but here they will be considered as part of Mill Lane:
16 Mill Lane (3 Library Building) CF10 1FL (2023 2630)
Carluccio’s Caffe is a deli and café. This Italian food venture was started by celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio. It is the only Carluccio’s in Wales. Pasta is the big thing here (not pizza), with other features of the menu including the risotto of the day, fish dishes (e.g., fish soup, pan-fried sea bass) and meat dishes (e.g., slow-cooked beef stew, Milanese-style chicken, veal). Open for breakfast. I left with some olive bread and chocolate brownies last time I visited the shop. Events held here include pasta and risotto making classes, and wine tasting evenings.
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
15 Mill Lane (2 Library Building) CF10 1FL (2066 8379)
gbk was ahead of the game on the gourmet burger trend, but has now lost some of its usp as gourmet and posh burgers are everywhere. Interesting options include Persian lamb, Wild boar, Avocado bacon, and Blue cheese; though ordering the Bunless burger is probably an indication that you’re in the wrong place. The kids enjoyed it here more than I did, with the milkshakes proving popular. There is another gbk in Cardiff Bay.
14 Mill Lane (1 Library Building) CF10 1EX (2064 1564)
I like the refectory tables and ethos of Wagamama. The food does not seem as economical as it used to be back in the day, but the free green tea helps keep the bill down (and it’s just the thing). Large bowls of ramen noodles have always been the staple, but I’ve been exploring other areas of the menu. On my last visit I went for the Teriyaki chicken donburi: teriyaki-glazed chicken in a bowl on sticky rice, with shaving carrot, water cress, spring onions and sesame seeds on top; served with a fresh crunchy hot relish. Some of the dishes can be surprisingly spicy (in a good way). There is another Wagamama in Cardiff Bay. Take-away can be ordered. The Wagamama Lounge is touring Bestival festivals this summer.
On the corner is the entrance to the main Cardiff Library; head up to the fourth floor for the Food and Drink book section. Outside is Jean-Bernard Metais’s impressive sculpture Alliance, with its circle and spike elements. Peter Finch was responsible for the concrete poetry underneath: twelve historical ways of spelling Cardiff.
Back on the main stretch of Mill Lane, next to Kapu:
ASK Italian
28-32 Wyndham Arcade CF10 1FJ (2034 4665)
ASK Italian restaurant is on the sharp corner of Mill Road and Wyndham Arcade. A 2012 rebrand (with Italian being added to the name) involved a new menu devised with the help of the Theo Randell. Seems a few of the Italian chains are taking these steps to become more distinctive in a crowded marketplace. At first, pizzas on a plank, Frutti di Mare stew, Panzanella, and Sicilian-style gelati; though may have toned the novelty down a notch by now. Good list of imported Italian wines.
Wyndham Arcade was built in 1887 to a design by J.P. Jones. It runs at an angle between St Mary Street and Mill Lane. In Real Cardiff Three (p. 69), Peter Finch describes a throughfare that once housed fruit and veg stalls and an army surplus store. Walk towards St Mary Street: on your left, after Havana House (tobacconists stocking plenty of cigars) and The Bear House (there's a stuffed bear in there somewhere).
6-10 Wyndham Arcade CF10 1FJ (2039 4054)
Servini’s has been in this location for 16 years (after 15 years around the corner in St Mary Street). It’s a family-run business, currently owned by Melvyn Bishop. Servini’s is particularly noted for its large breakfasts; also lunch (e.g., hot baguettes, pasta dishes, salads, and burgers). Seating inside and outside along the covered arcade.
55 St Mary Street CF10 1FE (2039 8965)
Bar encountered when we walked down St Mary Street, where it has its front door. Kiwis used to be in a smaller location in the middle of Wyndham Arcade.
Walk back along the arcade. On the other side, past Rebel Rebel (tattoo parlour and lots of alternative stuff, including those pottery dragons my sister likes):
27-39 Wyndham Arcade CF10 1FH (2023 1524)
Bill’s Restaurants have their origin in London’s Covent Garden and retain a market feel. You first enter a shop section that sells a range of products (e.g., relishes, cooking sauces). Breakfasts are a popular option here. Varied lunch menu encompasses burgers, skewers, mezze plate, salads and plenty of puddings. Meat can be swapped for halloumi for vegetarian options. I ate here last year and thought there was a bit of a mismatch between the rustic image and the fussy food we were served (e.g., very small mussels in a very small pot). There are now over a dozen Bill’s around the UK, owned by restaurant entrepreneur Richard Caring.