Sunday, 27 April 2014

St David's 1, Cardiff

We are just leaving Queens Arcade, and crossing into St David’s shopping centre, on this walking tour of Cardiff. St David's was opened in 1981. There are entrances on Queen Street, Cathedral Walk, Working Street, and Hills Street, the last of these connecting to the large 2009 extension. The three main sections in the original part of St David’s, where we are today, are called Town Wall, Cathedral Walk and St. David's Way.
St David’s hosts Cardiff’s main concentration of designer shops, national chain stores and restaurants. Most big UK-wide food companies started in some form as local businesses. Today, as our tangential theme, we will look at what point a business stops being local – with a particular focus on Greggs.

Ahead:

Soho Coffee
2 Town Wall CF10 2DQ (2002 0126)
Soho Coffee has around 25 outlets, mainly in the Midlands and southwest England. The other one in Wales is in the Capitol Centre, also in Cardiff. Their HQ is in Cheltenham, from where their main kitchen supplies their outlets. They participate in community activities and work with several Cheltenham schools, for example, sponsoring rugby, netball and hockey teams. Soho Coffee favour airport locations (e.g., Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Malaga); but have nothing in London and seemingly have no connection with London’s Soho. They describe themselves as an independent, privately-owned business. Fairtrade coffee, roasted in the Forest of Dean. Breakfast menu and a typical range of lunchtime baguettes, paninis, wraps, jacket potatoes, cakes and pastries. Their website has a gallery of froth designs made by staff for their first Latte Art final last year in Bristol, which look more charmingly creative than seriously professional barista; Paulina from Dublin Airport was judged the winner (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Dec 2011).

On you left:


bb’s Coffee & Muffins
1 Town Wall North CF10 2DQ (2034 0851)
Breakfast and brunch are served at bb’s. There are over 30 bb’s in England and Scotland; this is the only Welsh outlet. The website gives no home location and talks of franchises, so it appears this chain is not one that has built up from a successful local business. There are chairs stuck to the ceilings and walls, which is a little odd in a shopping mall context (though would seem pretty normal in some of Cardiff’s local independents), and more seating upstairs (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. March 2013).


Greggs
5 Town Wall North CF10 2DQ
Greggs is everywhere; seemingly on every high street in every town and city. There are at least 25 Greggs in Cardiff. However, Greggs was once a local business. Its history is outlined in a book by Ian Gregg, a former MD and son of the founder John Gregg, called ‘Bread: The Story of GREGGS – How a small family business became the high street favourite’ (2013). The book opens with a barrage of statistics, for example, Greggs serves a million customers every day from over 1,600 shops in the UK. The business grew from a delivery service in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the 1930s. The first retail outlet and bakery opened in Gosforth in 1951; when it became a limited company, though very much still a family business. Through the 1960s the business expanded in north-east England, and then to Glasgow in the early 1970s. For each regional expansion, Greggs introduced local specialities.  In Glasgow, it was the bridie, and in Manchester it was parkin. Meanwhile, in Tyneside, Greggs helped launch a revival of the traditional stotty cake. In 1984, the company went public and was answerable to external stakeholders for the first time – a big step away from being a local family-run company.  Greggs entered the Welsh market in 1985, when it bought Merrett’s, a part of Allied Bakeries. A production unit was opened on the Treforest Industrial Estate (Greggs of Treforest), just outside Cardiff, where the company made Welsh cakes for the first time. Ian Gregg relates that they searched out laver bread in bakeries as a potential regional product, before realising it was not actually a bread product. The Treforest bakery subsequently expanded, and in 2013 it was supplying 170 Greggs in Wales and south-east England. Today, Greggs is a unified single brand, with all its stores supplied by strategically-located regional bakeries and distribution centres. I bought some Welsh cakes in St David’s, but otherwise the range was fairly typical of any UK Greggs.  Ian Gregg’s book includes ten recipes, including one for Welsh cakes. However, these “are the original small-scale, traditional or regional recipes from which Greggs’ recipes evolved.” The food is today produced on an industrial scale, using the ingredients and technology of rapid bread production. Nevertheless, Greggs retains a connection to its home region of north-east England, particularly as a focus for its charitable and community work through the Greggs Foundation. Greggs were an early funder of breakfast clubs at schools, for example, and all the profits of Ian Gregg’s book go to help fund more Breakfast Clubs (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2014).

At the crossways, turn right, and on your right:

The Bagel Bar and Coffee House
13 St David's Way CF10 2DP (2034 5826)
Bagel Bar’s first store opened in Dublin in 2001. They now have around 15 stores, with Cardiff being a rare excursion outside Ireland. There are giant pictures of bagels on the wall, of which they have a large variety of sweet and savoury varieties. Also serving wraps, paninis, toasties, salads and soups, pastries, smoothies and coffees.

Here, St David’s exits to Working Street, by the St David Hall:

Costa
2 St David’s CF10 2DP
With a main door off Working Street, we’ll pass this Costa again later (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2013).

Turn around and go straight across Town Wall.

There’s a Boots on the left, which we will pass on Queen Street (to where it extends). There is a statue of Welsh rugby legend Gareth Edwards about to launch a ball down this length of mall.


The turning takes this section out to Queen Street. Turn around and back to junction, turn left down the southern section of the Town Wall. Go to the very far end, behind the escalator, on your right:

Krispy Kreme
42 Town Wall South CF10 2EW
Krispy Kreme was founded in Winston-Salem, USA, in 1937. The first UK store was opened in Harrods, London, in October 2003. This Krispy Kreme Coffee Bar arrived in Cardiff on 19 April 2011 (I was at the launch party the night before – see link below). Around this time, there were queues of people snaked round the city centre for free doughnuts.  There is only the one Krispy Kreme Coffee Bar in Wales; most outlets are in-store cabinets in Tesco, MOTO and Welcome Break. The latest coffee bar promotions are for some pretty thick-looking Kreme Shakes (Chocolate dreamshake, Strawberries and cream, Caramel Crunch, and Caramel latte), and the new chocolate range of doughnuts, including Raspberry truffle and Peanut butter kreme. I went for the latter with a latte. The Peanut butter kreme has only been on sale for a few weeks, but it is already one of their biggest sellers. It was a very good doughnut, though the peanut flavour was a little more subtle than I was expecting. That’s nearly 20% of my daily calorie intake accounted for then (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. May 2011).


Go up the escalator to the bridge to the St David’s extension, which was opened in 2009:

Starbucks
Bridge, 19-21 upper level Town Hall South CF10 1BA
Convenient shoppers' rest station, with the usual Starbucks range of coffee and cakes (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2014).

I will see you here next time, for a tour of the cathedral-like Grand Arcade of St David’s.

Just to finish, I have noticed that public seating both here in St David's (near TGI Friday Eastside) and elsewhere in Cardiff has disappearing recently, so that the only seating available in such shopping areas is attached to the range of coffee shops and restaurants. Anything I should know about? Cheers.

Krispy Kreme opening in Cardiff:
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/krispy-kreme-cardiff-launch-party.html

Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:

Queen Street Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/queens-arcade-cardiff.html

Duke Street Arcade and Duke Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/duke-street-arcade-duke-street-cardiff.html

High Street Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/high-street-arcade-cardiff.html

Church Street and St John’s Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/church-street-and-st-johns-street.html

Cardiff Market
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/cardiff-market.html

Wharton Street and Trinity Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/wharton-street-and-trinity-street.html

Morgan Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/morgan-arcade-cardiff.html

Royal Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/royal-arcade-cardiff.html

The Hayes
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-hayes-cardiff.html

The Old Brewery Quarter
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-old-brewery-quarter-cardiff.html

Caroline Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/caroline-street-cardiff.html

Mill Lane and Wyndham Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/mill-lane-and-wyndham-arcade-cardiff.html

St Mary Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/st-mary-street-cardiff.html

High Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/high-street-cardiff.html

Castle Arcade and Castle Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/castle-arcade-and-castle-street-cardiff.html

Womanby Street and Quay Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/womanby-street-and-quay-street-cardiff.html

Westgate Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/westgate-street-cardiff.html

Riverside
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/riverside-cardiff.html

Cathedral Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/cathedral-road-cardiff.html

Pontcanna 2
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/pontcanna-2.html

Pontcanna 1
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/pontcanna-1-we-are-leaving-canton.html

North Canton
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/north-canton.html

Cowbridge Road East 3
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-3-llandaff-road-to.html

Cowbridge Road East 2
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-2-wyndham-crescent.html

Cowbridge Road East 1
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-1-cathedral-road-to.html

Bute Park
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/bute-park-cardiff.html

Cathays Park
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/cathays-park-cardiff.html

Cathays Terrace
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/cathays-terrace-cardiff.html

Salisbury Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/salisbury-road-cardiff.html

Woodville Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/woodville-road-cardiff.html

Crwys Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/crwys-road-cardiff.html

Wellfield Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/wellfield-road-cardiff.html

Albany Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/albany-road-cardiff.html

City Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/city-road-cardiff.html
 

 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Queens Arcade, Cardiff

There is seemingly a line running through Cardiff City Centre. It runs down from St Johns Street to The Hayes. On one side are ornate Victorian and Edwardian Arcades, small local and independent businesses, centuries-old pubs, and the indoor market, with its local butchers, veg and fishmonger. On the other side are modern shopping malls, where the chain stores and restaurants cluster. This is a little simplistic, of course, but we will see a slightly different side of Cardiff today as we cross that line.


Walking south down St John Street, keep left of the church and enter Queens Arcade (no apostrophe in the branding – it does not belong to a queen).  Queens Arcade connects through to Queens Street, by a left fork ahead at the atrium, and into St David’s shopping centre, by a right fork. A different management operates in Queens Arcade to the much larger St David’s. Queens Arcade is owned by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a major UK property investor. They have a Cardiff office in One Kingsway. Today’s Queens Street Arcade was opened in 1994; it was built on the site of the demolished old Queens Street Arcade.

As the tour moves through the modern undercover shopping areas, it will give us the chance to explore the latest fashions and fads, to test the 2014 zeitgeist, if you will; and ponder what future mall archaeologists will make of the British diet based on the evidence they unearth.

Just inside the entrance:

Le Rendez-Vous
48 Queens Arcade CF10 2BY (2034 1345)
 
This café has undergone modernisation. The old canteen-tray café has gone, and the counter area is now only in the centre of the mall. This is all shiny coffee machines and attractively displayed sandwiches and cakes. The seating is in the main unit to the side, by the escalators and, very pleasant in summer, outside (although this can be a bit of a smokers’ zone at times). I had a breakfast latte and a very good cinnamon Danish pasty here recently. This independent café, with friendly and efficient service, specialises in filled baguettes and Italian coffee, and remains very popular with Cardiff’s shoppers (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. June 2013). Incidentally, this is one of the Cardiff businesses to have exercised its right-to-reply on their Food Hygiene Rating: “inspecting officer returned since inspection [June 2013] and has signed us off on the points raised. Our refrigeration units now running properly and being monitored more regularly. All the other points raised have also been dealt with and procedures put in order to ensure they are carried out correctly in future.”

Turning left at the atrium, head for New Look and take the escalator up to the section of Queens Arcade that exits to Queen Street. As if entering from Queen Street, to your right:


Americandy
Queens Arcade CF10 2BY
Uncle Sam is outside pointing at you; inviting you inside to stock up on candy like it’s some sort of patriotic duty. Everything here is “Made in America” (they mean the USA): Hershey Bars, Oreos, M&Ms, Pop Tarts, Reese's Pieces, Pez sweet dispensers, Twinkies, Cheetos, Mountain Dew. There are pick-and-mix novelty candies (false teeth and so on), while Angry Birds is the branding in fashion at the moment. The price tags suggest these chocolates and candies are luxury goods in Wales. There is another Americandy in Mermaid Quay, down Cardiff Bay (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. July 2013).

Over the way:

Whittard
Unit 14 Queens Arcade CF10 2BY (2037 4489)
The focus is on quality teas in Whittard of Chelsea; with a good range from around the world, in loose leaf, pyramidal teabags and instant teas (a bit of a Whittard speciality). There’s also coffee, and some hot chocolate and ‘flavoured drinks’. ‘Sale’ signs up, but mainly on teapots and mugs. Whittard have also opened a ‘pop-up’ shop in the modern part of St David’s (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2013).

Millie’s Cookies
Unit 15 Queens Arcade CF10 2BY
Millie’s Cookies are purveyors of Unites States-style cookies, muffins, cupcakes and ice cream. They trade on their cookies’ fresh “just out of the oven” smell and the “chewy, soft in the middle, crunchy on the outside” bite. They do giant cookies, which are like cookies but very big, mini cookies (half the size), and cookies on a stick. There are 12 regular cookie flavours, including Double chocolate, Praline, White Chocolate and raspberry, Coconut, Jaffa, and Salted caramel and pecan. Millie’s Cookies is owned by the SSP Group Limited, whose head office is in London (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. May 2013).


In the central area of Queens Arcade, stalls trading in the latest trends set up shop. A couple of years ago it was people sitting around with their bare feet in aquariums, while fish fed on those flaking plates of meat. Luckily, these fads tend to come and go. Currently, we have electronic cigarettes and Bollywood eyebrow threading. Electronic cigarettes, the latest nicotine-delivery device, were first sold in the UK in 2005. One report suggests there are now over 2 million users in the UK. Recent press reports have revealed a tendency for them to explode, a rising number of small children being poisoned by them, and cynical industry campaigns marketing them at youngsters, both to get around the smoking ban and to normalise nicotine use in a new generation. Eyebrow threading:  I’m not going there. However, the latest food and drink related fashion here is:

bubble base
Unit 35 Queens Arcade CF10 2BY
Wales' Bubble Tea Specialists operate from a kiosk in the upper floor atrium, serving ‘authentic Taiwanese Bubble Tea’ and four flavours of Fat-Free Frozen Yoghurt. This is an independent local business, owned by Kishan Varsani, who had the inspired idea of bringing a modern Asian tea trend to Wales for the first time. Bubble teas started in the 1980s in Taiwan, originally as a tea for children, and spread around Asia, and now the World. Ordering a tea at the kiosk is a surprisingly complicated process. Firstly, you have a choice of three tea brews (Ceylon black, green jasmine tea and a red oolong), and then whether to go milky or not. Thirdly, choose whether you want it hot, cold or slushy, and finally you choose your toppings (jellies and pobbles). The Taiwanese drink that started it all had black tapioca balls and this is the standard here, from which they have diversified with all sorts of different flavoured agar jellies. You drink and suck these up through a fat straw. Personally, I do not like bits in my tea, though bit-free green tea flavours like lychee and peach do sound appealing. It’s well-worth trying for yourself (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. May 2013).

Back downstairs, and heading towards the St David’s Centre:

Cafè Mattia
Unit 43 Queens Arcade CF10 2BY
Italian café with a pleasant ambience; away from the entrance, and the busy mall thoroughfare, it’s surprisingly quiet and relaxed, and it has comfy chairs and settees. Cafè Mattia advertises itself as ‘fine dining’, though presumably that is in the context of shopping mall cafés. The best thing is that all the food is made freshly to order. They do salads, baguettes, paninis , wraps, jacket potatoes, soup of the day, crepes, and there are some very good-looking cakes. This week, I had a quick lunch here of a salmon and cream cheese bagel, with a large latte. The food arrived on a triangular plate: nicely toasted bagel, a decent amount of smoked salmon and the cream cheese was not overdone, as is sometimes the case; with a small side salad (red onion, slices of tomato and cucumber, water cress and rocket). Cafè Mattia is licensed, so you can have a glass of wine with your light lunch (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Oct 2012).

Simply Shakes
Unit 44 Queens Arcade CF10 2BY
This kiosk is popular with kids. It sells milk shakes, with a speciality of blending ice cream and your favourite chocolate bar ( it sounds pretty creative), smoothies, soft drinks, novelty sweets (e.g. candy made to look like a packet of sandwiches), and even some healthy-looking fruit in cups to take away (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Nov 2010).

One theme that immediately emerges (and I believe this might apply to shopping mall food generally), is that it often caters to children, and to adults who still like the types of snacks and drinks they enjoyed as children, whether for nostalgia, a sugar rush, get down with the kids, or whatever reason.

Shopping malls have a reputation for being generic, whatever city you are in some say you could be anywhere. However, thus far this feels very much like Cardiff and nowhere else, with local businesses, bilingual signage on the Post Office, and in many other respects.  

So, with our St David’s map in hand and sweet tooth firmly in place, we’ll explore deeper into the labyrinth next time.

Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:

Duke Street Arcade and Duke Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/duke-street-arcade-duke-street-cardiff.html

High Street Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/high-street-arcade-cardiff.html

Church Street and St John’s Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/church-street-and-st-johns-street.html

Cardiff Market
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/cardiff-market.html

Wharton Street and Trinity Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/wharton-street-and-trinity-street.html

Morgan Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/morgan-arcade-cardiff.html

Royal Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/royal-arcade-cardiff.html

The Hayes
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-hayes-cardiff.html

The Old Brewery Quarter
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-old-brewery-quarter-cardiff.html

Caroline Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/caroline-street-cardiff.html

Mill Lane and Wyndham Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/mill-lane-and-wyndham-arcade-cardiff.html

St Mary Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/st-mary-street-cardiff.html

High Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/high-street-cardiff.html

Castle Arcade and Castle Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/castle-arcade-and-castle-street-cardiff.html

Womanby Street and Quay Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/womanby-street-and-quay-street-cardiff.html

Westgate Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/westgate-street-cardiff.html

Riverside
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/riverside-cardiff.html

Cathedral Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/cathedral-road-cardiff.html

Pontcanna 2
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/pontcanna-2.html

Pontcanna 1
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/pontcanna-1-we-are-leaving-canton.html

North Canton
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/north-canton.html

Cowbridge Road East 3
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-3-llandaff-road-to.html

Cowbridge Road East 2
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-2-wyndham-crescent.html

Cowbridge Road East 1
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-1-cathedral-road-to.html

Bute Park
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/bute-park-cardiff.html

Cathays Park
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/cathays-park-cardiff.html

Cathays Terrace
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/cathays-terrace-cardiff.html

Salisbury Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/salisbury-road-cardiff.html

Woodville Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/woodville-road-cardiff.html

Crwys Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/crwys-road-cardiff.html

Wellfield Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/wellfield-road-cardiff.html

Albany Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/albany-road-cardiff.html

City Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/city-road-cardiff.html