Tuesday, 13 May 2014

St David’s 2, Cardiff

Previously, I left you at Starbucks on the bridge between the original St David’s/Dewi Sant and the 2009 extension. Walk into the impressive Grand Arcade.

Keep to the left side and at the crossways look down and read a couple of lines from the Welsh national anthem on the arcade floor below: Tra môr yn fur i'r bur hoff bau, O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau (While seas secure this land so pure, O may the old language endure). Turn left into the upper floor of Eastside – the food and drink district of St David’s.

On your left:

Signor Valentino
90 Grand Arcade/9 Bridge Street Arcade (Unit KUGO1), Upper Eastside CF10 2DP (2022 4944)
Signor Valentino was launched in Cardiff Bay in 2001. Building on their success in that location, this local company, steered by Director Babak Arabestani (who also owns Bellini’s and Demiros), opened its second Cardiff outlet in St David’s a couple of years ago. The food is described as ‘contemporary Italian’ and the menu breaks down into the following sections: Antipasta, Pasta, Secondi (focus on chicken, veal and steak), Pizza, Dolci and gelati, Express lunch, and Bambino (here defined as the under-10s). Roughly, Bellini’s is more child-friendly, and pasta and pizza orientated, while Signor Valentino offers a wider Italian menu. The company supports the charity Action Against Hunger (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Dec 2013).

11 Bridge Street Arcade (Unit KUGO2), Upper Eastside CF10 2EF
This Mexican-style restaurant chain has two outlets in Cardiff (the other in The Old Brewery Quarter). Fajitas, burritos, enchilada, quesadilla and, indeed, chimichanga (a deep-fried burrito) – this chain helped these enter the English language; although the chain has very little connection with Mexico. The first Chimichanga was opened in Braintree Essex in 2004 as part of the Prezzo restaurant group, which still own it. Prezzo’s Mexican concept restaurants are undergoing a period of expansion (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. May 2012).

Café Rouge
13 Bridge Street Arcade (Unit KUGO3), Upper EastsideCF10 2EF
This French bistro-themed restaurant chain serves a range of classic dishes, such as croquet monsieur, baguettes, steak frites and boeuf bourguignon. There are two Café Rouge in Cardiff, the other being in Cardiff Bay. The first Café Rouge opened in London in 1989 and there are now over 125 Café Rouges throughout the UK. Café Rouge is owned by the Tragus Group, who also own Strada and Bella Italia (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2014).

T.G.I Friday’s
15-17 Bridge Street Arcade (Unit KUGO5), Upper Eastside CF10 2EF
T.G.I. Friday’s is an American-themed (they mean USA) restaurant, serving ‘American favourites’, including Prime Choice Burgers, Ribs, BBQ, and (I am sure they made this one up) chicken cooked in Jack Daniel’s whiskey. The focus is on grilled food, and the bar. Current promotion is tapas. The website gives the bestsellers for each T.G.I Friday’s outlet. In St David’s, the top-seller is The Chicken Finger BLT, followed by The Monster Burger, The Downtown Chicken Finger BLT, and The Friday’s Jack Daniel’s Burger. That’s probably all the information you need, as to whether you will love it or loathe it. There are over 60 T.G.I. Friday’s in the UK, with another in Cardiff (just) as you start to come into the city on Newport Road. T.G.I. was founded by Alan Stillman in New York in 1965, as a singles’ bar. The chain now promotes itself as a family restaurant and it is certainly popular with kids. A Harley Davidson motorbike and The Hulk set the tone for the décor in the St David’s branch. A noisy ambience usually prevails (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2013).

On the other side of Upper Eastside (across an empty space where seats used to reside):

Ruby Tuesday
18 Bridge Street Arcade (Unit KUGO6), Upper Eastside CF10 2EF (2034 9930)
This represents a bit of a coup for St David’s ,in that this was the first Ruby Tuesday in the UK (they have since opened a second in Cheltenham). The very first Ruby Tuesday was opened on the campus of the University of Tennessee in 1972. However, it was not until the 1990s that the brand really took off. There are now nearly 900 company-owned and franchised restaurants across the United States and worldwide. The US-based Ruby Tuesday offers ‘simple fresh American dining’. That means lots of burgers, salads, chicken, steak, crab cakes and fish, and BBQ ribs. The burgers include their new range of pretzel burgers and the triple prime bacon cheddar burger. Hickory bourbon chicken continues a cooking-with-whiskey theme. It’s flatbreads not pizza. Something slightly difference then, as it’s a chain you probably won’t have encountered before; although vegetarians might want to give it a miss (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Dec 2013).

Pizza Express
16 Bridge Street Arcade (Unit KUGO7) Upper Eastside CF10 2EF (2035 9200)
Pizza Express was launched in 1965, in London’s Wardour Street by Peter Boizot. It serves authentic-style Italian pizza, pasta, salads and desserts. The thin, crispy Roman-style pizzas are commendable, compared to the indignities the humble pizza has suffered in the hands of some chains. There are over 400 Pizza Express outlets in the UK, with three in Cardiff (the others being on the High Street and in Cardiff Bay). Chefs with stripy tops, designer touches, and being known for live jazz (though not in this branch) have helped make this is a distinctive brand (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. March 2012).

14 Bridge Street Arcade (Unit KUGO8) Upper Eastside CF10 2EF
Prezzo ("price" in Italian) is a UK chain of Italian-style restaurants. The first opened in London in 2000, and there are currently over 150 branches in the UK there's a second branch in Cardiff on St Mary Street.  Prezzo build their design around impressive stone-baked pizza ovens, and serve pizza and calzones, pastas and risottos, chargrilled chicken and salads. Prezzo is operated as part of the Prezzo restaurant group, which also includes Chimichanga and several other restaurant brands in the UK (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2013).

12 Bridge Street Arcade (Unit KUGO9) Upper Eastside CF10 2EF (2066 7878)
Peri-peri chicken is the main dish in this popular chain, which started in South Africa and derives from a Portuguese-southern Africa food fusion. If you want to spot celebrities (they can blag free dining), then you best go to one of the other two Cardiff Nando’s: Mermaid Quay (Cardiff Bay) or The Old Brewery Quarter (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Sept 2013).

Turning right when you enter the Grand Arcade:

Auntie Anne’s
68 Grand Arcade CF10 2ER
This USA-based chain originated in 1988 from a stall in a Pennsylvania Farmers’ Market. However, any resemblance to a down-home country stall has long since gone, as this multinational snack food brand now has over 1,200 stores in 24 countries. In the UK, Auntie Anne's operates around 20-and-rising mall kiosks in busy, high footfall locations. It continues a previous shopping mall theme on this blog, which is the focus on selling US kids’ foods to adults. Auntie Anne’s sell sweet (e.g. vanilla sugar, chocolate) and savoury (e.g. cheese, pepperoni, sesame) pretzels. I must admit, pretzels are a food stuff which I find inedible; and even George W. Bush choked on his patriotic pretzels once while watching the Superbowl (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Nov 2013).

Carrying along to the end of the Grand Arcade, to one of several entrances to:

John Lewis
The Hayes CF10 1EG
Opened in September 2009 as the anchor store for the St David’s 2 extension, this four-story shop with its triple-glazed prow, designed by Ericsson Architects, is one of Cardiff’s new iconic buildings. Within that glass frontage on the third floor is John Lewis’ restaurant, The Place to Eat, a spacious, light-filled and relaxing lunch stop for shoppers. There is a good selection of hot and cold food at lunchtimes, it’s family-friendly and there is seating for 293 people.

Descend to the ground floor and walk back toward the Eastside dining zone:

Whittard Coffee
A pop-up in the middle of the Grand Arcade’s ground floor , selling coffee, tea and hot chocolate; whereas the Whittard we previously encountered in Queens Arcade sells it for you to make at home.

Grand Arcade CF10 2ER
Coffee shop, with seats spilling out into the arcade, which here, as a disruption to all the clean lines, is a good thing (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2013).

Turn right into the ground floor of Eastside. On your right:

2 Bridge Street Arcade CF10 2EF (2034 2741)
This jacket potato and filling franchise serves jacket potatoes and a range of fillings. The first Spudulike opened in Edinburgh in 1974. Today there are around 50 Spudulikes; the other one in Wales is in the Welsh Designer Outlet Village, Bridgend. I had one with chili con carne once, when I needed something substantial quickly. Slow-cooked and served fast is a modest usp, but they delivered. In addition to the classic jacket potatoes, they now crushed boiled potatoes with salad and lighter fillings on top (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Feb 2013).

Toby Carvery
Bridge Street Arcade CF10 2EF
There are two  more typical Toby Carvery restaurants on the outskirts of Cardiff. This new Toby sandwich express outlet represents a recent departure for the brand. It offers take-away carvery meats in a baguette. There are seats, but not as many as you would expect, as the kitchen area has taken much of the seating space used by the previous occupier (which had the film screens and I can’t remember its name).  Mainstays of the menu are sandwiches with roast beef, roast pork, roast turkey and stuffing, and the token ‘veggie one’.

Muffin Break
12 Bridge Street Arcade CF10 2EF
There are close to 50 Muffin Break franchises in the UK, but this is the only one in Wales. The HQ is in Cambridge, from where the latest news is they have started a new range of tartlets. Muffins, cakes, baguettes, wraps, toasties and paninis, plus coffee, milkshakes and the rest. Their website 'uses cookies (but not the type you eat)'; a joke I am surprised I don’t see more often (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2013).

Mt Fuji
11 Bridge Street Arcade CF10 2EF
The newest addition to Eastside, this Teriyaki restaurant has made best use of its long thin space by styling it like a Japanese Shinkansen (bullet) train. Mt Fuji serves traditional bento and non bento meals, including chicken teriyaki, chicken karage, pork tonkatsu, Japanese curry, donburi bowl meals, tempura and sushi. It is licensed and drinks include sake, Japanese beers and soft drinks, and green tea. This is a Japanese-based company, with another UK restaurant in Birmingham’s Bullring Centre. Mt Fuji operates an online Japanese import food shop for UK deliveries.

8 Bridge Street Arcade CF10 2EF
Cadwalader’s was started by David and Hannah Cadwalader in 1927 in Criccieth, north Wales. There are around 11 Cadwalader ice cream parlour and coffee houses in the UK, with another in Cardiff in a prime location jutting out over the water in Cardiff Bay. In addition to classic vanilla ice cream 'made to Hannah Cadwalader’s original recipe', expect a wide range of ice cream and dessert flavours. Recent company promotions include cream teas and soups served in bread (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Nov 2011).

Bellini’s Express
7 Bridge Street Arcade CF10 2EF (2022 0225)
This is the third of three Welsh-based businesses in St David’s 2 (though it has the same owner as Signor Valentino). The original Bellini’s is still in Park Place, Cardiff. This one opened in 2010 and offers a more informal Italian dining experience.

Yo! Sushi
5 Bridge Street Arcade CF10 2EF (2060 2174)
The chain that introduced the conveyor belt, from which you select your colour/price coded sushi. Yo! Sushi has around 54 UK outlets, but this is the only one in Wales. They serve over 80 Japanese inspired dishes, including hot classics, soup/broth, rice and noodle dishes, sashimi, sushi, tempura, salads, hand rolls and desserts (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2013).

Pret a Manger
3 Bridge Street Arcade CF10 2EF (2079 325433 – yes, I know this number is probably wrong, but it’s the one on their website)
Pret a Manger first opened in London in 1986. They suffered a bit of an image problem as a high-end sandwich shop when McDonald’s had a stake in their ownership, but McDonald’s are no longer involved in Pret a Manager, which has operated since 2008 as a private company. The CEO is Clive Schlee. The company are going from strength-to-strength, with impressive annual sales climb figures, partly as a result of closing small sandwich shop outlets and opening bigger shops with plenty of eat-in seating; expanding in the process, with 26 new outlets in the UK opening last year.  I was at one of their newest branches in London recently and was pleasantly surprised by the wide selection of food on offer, particularly the options for a healthy lunch (we sampled Lebanese flat breads, a falafel wrap, and some sushi, but were tempted by many of the interesting flavours of soup, salad, and sandwiches). Pret currently have around 350 shops worldwide, mainly in the UK.  There are two in Cardiff, with a more recent one opening in the revitalised Capitol Centre last year (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Dec 2011).

Ed’s Diner
1 Bridge Street Arcade Eastside CF10 2DP (2037 3706)
A retro-American (i.e. USA) diner experience, with 1950s jukebox classics setting the scene. There are 27 Ed’s Easy Diner locations in the UK, with the other Welsh outlet being in Bridgend. The main thing here is burgers (10 types), along with grilled chicken, hot dogs, and all-day breakfasts. The first Ed’s Diner opened in 1987 in London's Soho (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. August 2013).

Those in the know will tell you that the letting agency for St David’s have done a fantastic job attracting businesses, from the anchor stores and top designer stores, through to national and international food chains and some more unusual (for the UK) eating outlets. The Scandinavian imports also add character, with Tiger (good range of spices) now joining Clas Ohlson in St David’s. It has put St David’s in the top 10, in terms of visitor numbers, for UK shopping centres.

Leave by the nearest exit. Opposite you will see the new Admiral Building nearing completion. We will be turning right, for a walk around the outside the St David’s Centre.

See also:
Bellini's Express

Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:

St David’s 1

Queen Street Arcade

Duke Street Arcade and Duke Street

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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