Friday, 28 March 2014

Duke Street Arcade & Duke Street, Cardiff

Duke Street Arcade opened in 1902, as an extension to the High Street Arcade (1885). It connects the slightly older arcade to Duke Street, which runs alongside part of Cardiff Castle’s walls. On this walking tour of Cardiff, we enter Duke Street Arcade from where it branches off the High Street Arcade. Heading north to Duke Street, on your left:

4 Duke St Arcade CF10 1AZ (2066 6914)
Garlands Eatery and Coffee House is a small independent café specialising in breakfasts, brunch, goat’s cheese salads and thick sandwiches for lunches, and Welsh dishes (e.g. cawl, rarebit) made using local ingredients; not forgetting the good-looking home-made cakes. It has been in this location for thirty-odd years. The current management has been here for around a year-and-a-half, however, doing the tweaks and upgrades needed to keep it a fresh and thriving concern. I had one of their all-day breakfasts for lunch today, going for the meaty one rather than the Glamorgan sausage vegetarian one. There were two rashers of bacon, a fine pork sausage, a fried tomato, mushrooms, two eggs (of ideal runniness), baked beans and, best of all, rosemary fried potatoes. Mine came with a plate of thick toast and butter, and my order of a large pot of tea. There’s a little bit of Italy in the décor (with a violin and a picture of a violin on the wall) and on the menu, which features their homemade tagliatelle. In addition to the wonderful array of home-made cakes, the pancakes and coffee are said to be very good. It’s an intimate-sized, relaxed and friendly place, with nine tables inside, a few more in the arcade itself, and with the kitchen where the pasta and cakes are freshly-made downstairs (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. June 2013).

The Duke Street Arcade has some interesting and eccentric shops, including Catapult Records, the Joke Shop, Eccentrix Shoes, a hairdresser, bridal shop and gift shop.

Exit the arcade onto Duke Street. Turning left, there is an odd assortment of shops for a location that is across the road from Cardiff Castle: a closed unit (formerly Calders), Forbidden Planet (sale on), Shop Rugby, Joke Shop, Mountain Warehouse (the closing down sale has finished and its back to normal) and a travel agent. Between the comics and the rugby:

Caffè Nero
6-7 Duke Street CF10 1AY (2023 6660)
Italian coffee shop chain, one of four branches in Cardiff (all within a few blocks of each other), offering breakfast and lunches; porridge, paninis and sandwiches, pastries, muffins, cakes, and espresso (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. May 2011).

Go back past the entrance to Duke Street Arcade, until you get to the old pub:

The Rummer Tavern
14 Duke Street CF10 1AY (2023 5091)
The Rummer Tavern dates from 1713 and is reckoned to be Cardiff’s oldest surviving pub. It retains an atmosphere appropriate to its 300 years. This is greatly helped by it being an independent inn that is strictly an over-18s venue (the regulars are certainly older than this). Food is served from midday to around 7pm during the week; earlier at weekends. The menu is classic pub food (fish and chips, sausages and mash, steak and other grills, pie, chilli, Sunday roast); supplemented by burgers, jacket potatoes and some vegetarian options (e.g. vegetable curry). I usually go for one of the specials, of which there have been three on recently, fish cakes was my choice last week. Around five cask ales usually on tap, with Hancock’s HB and Wye Valley HPA as resident ales, accompanied by guest beers. My most recent pint there was Double Dragon, from the Felinfoel Brewery of Llanelli. They do take good care of their beer. In a public poll of the Best Pubs in Wales last week, The Runner Tavern was in the Top 30 (in at No. 29). I would probably have put it higher, though the Top 10 mainly had views of the sea rather than castle walls (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Nov 2012).

15 Duke Street CF10 1AY (2066 8123)
This Subway is one of the more-prominent of the 13-odd Subway outlets in Cardiff. According to Food Republic, the part-baked bread-like aroma you get when walking past a Subway is due to a caramelisation smell deriving from the sugar in the bread being cooked from frozen – the bread mix is proprietary accounting for its unique smell. The company claim it is not deliberately pumped out, but where you put your vents is a key factor so you can make up your own mind on that. As a baking aroma its low down on my personal list of favourites, but given Subway’s success it obviously draws them in (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2013).

On the corner is a large Burger King (12-14 St John’s Street), which we encountered previously. Turn right down St John Street and head back down to St John Church. This tour is now heading for the Queens Arcade and Working Street. See you there next time.

Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:

High Street Arcade

Church Street and St John’s Street

Cardiff Market

Wharton Street and Trinity Street

Morgan Arcade

Royal Arcade

The Hayes

The Old Brewery Quarter

Caroline Street

Mill Lane and Wyndham Arcade

St Mary Street

High Street

Castle Arcade and Castle Street

Womanby Street and Quay Street

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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