Previously, on this walking tour of Cardiff, I left you at the corner of Caroline Street with the Duke of Wellington pub.
Facing across The Hayes, pedestrianized when the St David’s extension you see in front of you was being built, and to your right is the new Cardiff Central Library building. There’s no café inside the library itself, but you’ll find tea/coffee and crisp/chocolate bar vending machines on the Second Floor. Today, in the entrance lobby, you were confronted by rows of Jamie Oliver's books, because staff from the nearby Jamie’s Italian are doing cookery demonstration at the weekend (7 Sept). On the outside ground floor of the St David’s extension:
LG 69/70 St David’s, The Hayes CF10 1GA (2002 7792)
I remember watching the TV series where Jamie Oliver toured Italy, which was relatively short on new insights into that country’s food. In hindsight, it was obviously a research trip for this popular venture he started in 2008 in collaboration with Italian chef and restaurateur Gennaro Contaldo. There are now around 35 branches of Jamie’s Italian in the UK. The Cardiff branch opened in late 2009. There used to be a chef making the daily fresh pasta in the front window, but he is now mainly confined to the open kitchen. Pasta dishes are a feature on the menu (e.g., sausage pappardelle with slow-braised fennel sausages, wild rabbit taglionini, and crab spaghettini). There are two types of vegetarian ravioli and two featured risottos (wild truffle, land and sea). Mains include burger, steaks, and ‘Jamie’s favourite turkey milanese’. You won’t find pizza here. As you would expect from someone who has campaigned for better school dinners, there is an effort on the kid’s menu to raise the bar from your average chicken nuggets and chips. You can buy Jamie’s books, planks (the slabs of wood on which much of the food is served), balsamic vinegar and so forth by the till. The outdoor seating sprawls across The Hayes, making you wonder where the property actually ends (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. March 2013).
Across the way:
Duke of Wellington
42 The Hayes CF10 1AJ (2033 7190)
Brains-owned pub that was once considered a bit of “a dive”. It is that no more, being smartly refurbished and re-opened in July 2010. This red-brick building was originally a Post Office and dates from 1892. Breakfast (to midday), sandwiches, burgers, ploughman’s lunches, and traditional pub food (e.g., fish and chips, pie of the day, Sunday roast) sit alongside more contemporary choices (e.g., Pear and fig savoury cheesecake) on the menu. We ate here today. I had one of my pub favourites, sausage and mash, which here takes the form of Welsh lamb dragon sausages (a bit of chilli in there) on plentiful mash with gravy. It was served on a deep plate, though most of the food comes on planks (or old breadboards as I have called them before; being a plate man myself); however, these sit fairly comfortably with the sandwich and ploughman’s aesthetic in the Duke of Wellington. My partner-who-always-choses-best went for a very fine warm steak baguette sandwich (on a plank) with separate bowl of gravy and ball of stuffing. The standard Brains range on draught (mine’s a Reverend James) and Brains craft ales on tap and in bottles, plus ciders and wine. There’s an outside seating area on The Hayes, contained relatively closely to the building (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. May 2013).
Next door is The Tabernacle Welsh Baptist Church (built 1821, rebuilt 1865). Then:
38 The Hayes CF10 1AJ (2022 0077)
Giovanni’s restaurant was established in 1983. It is a family-run establishment serving authentic Italian food. Owner Giovanni has been photographed with many Welsh sporting and entertainment stars, who have frequented his restaurant over the years, and he was involved in establishing the Café Quarter in this part of Cardiff. The cooking is described as provincial Italian. On the extensive menu are starters (e.g., Polpette della casa); pasta main courses and specials (e.g., Lasagne emiliane fatte in casa); poultry (e.g., Pollo al Pepe Nero), veal (e.g., Vitello ai funghi porcini), Welsh beef and Welsh lamb (e.g., Misto di carni alla griglia), and fish (e.g., Branzino cartoccio) dishes; pizza and salads. The two-course lunchtime special menu is probably the best value; you could have opted for sardines followed by pollo tarragon today. Wines include Chianti and Barolo. There is a take-away menu. They have not succumbed to the fashion for planks, last time I looked (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. June 2013).
Next door is Dr Martens and then the entrance to the Royal Arcade. Directly opposite is the entrance to St David’s, past which you’ll find:
LG 59 St David’s, The Hayes CF10 1GA
One of two Starbucks in St David’s (the other is on the link bridge between the original and newer malls). Currently promoting a new Ethiopian blend, and giving out free samples in The Hayes.
Cross back, past the entrance to the Royal Arcade and further on are the two entrances to the Morgan Arcade. You will see a statue of John Batchelor (often with a pigeon perched on his head) at the start of the island in the middle of The Hayes. John Batchelor (1820-1883) was a Liberal politician and one-time Major of Cardiff who campaigned against slavery.
4 The Hayes CF10 1AH (2022 0007)
The Cardiff outlet of Hotel Chocolat opened in December 2012; the first in Wales. Founded by Angus Thirlwell, the shop sells artisan chocolates with intense flavours. Chilli, alcohol and botanical ingredients are a feature. I recommend the chocolate amaretto sultanas. There are also chocolate-flavoured drinks and a culinary range; I have some of their balsamic vinegar with chocolate nibs (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. March 2013).
2 The Hayes CF10 1AH
Newsagent and confectionary (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Oct 2011).
Waterstones next door marks the end of The Hayes as it is today on this side. In the centre of The Hayes, before the Old Library Building, is a snack bar and some of the best-preserved listed Victorian public toilets in the UK. These toilets were renovated in 2009. They were a very useful public amenity and of great historical interest, being the first public toilets in Cardiff opened in 1898. Cardiff Council shamefully closed these Victorian toilets earlier this year in a round of petty budget cuts.
The Hayes Island Snack Bar
The Hayes CF10 1HA (2039 4848)
The original building in the centre of The Hayes was built in 1911 as a parcel-collection office, on Cardiff’s tram route. It has been run as a café for over sixty years. Currently operated by First Cafes, it remains a distinctive Cardiff landmark. Seating is outside, under the trees, with shoppers streaming past on two sides. Typical orders include tea, coffee, bacon butties, baguettes, burgers and chips (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Jan 2013).
You can sit and watch the large screen on the side of St David’s Hall while having a snack at the snack bar. Today the Council were also setting out extra seating for the showing of the Last Night of the Proms (live from the Albert Hall) on the screen this Saturday evening.
St David’s Hall is at the start of Working Street. La Fosse, the restaurant alongside it closed recently. At the end of The Hayes, on this side, is the building formerly occupied by Habitat. A planning application has been submitted to split this fine building into three units with a communal entrance area.
Backtrack down The Hayes to the entrance of Royal Arcade. I’ll see you there next time.
Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:
The Old Brewery Quarter
Mill Lane and Wyndham Arcade
St Mary Street
Castle Arcade and Castle Street
Womanby Street and Quay Street
Cowbridge Road East 3
Cowbridge Road East 2
Cowbridge Road East 1