This is the strand on this food blog in which we are slowly walking around Cardiff, checking what's current on the Cardiff food scene and reaching occasional conclusions about food trends.
We previously left Eastside in the St David’s centre, and
are now outside looking up at the new Admiral Building (South Wales-based insurance company), which is being erected
in front of you. Turn right, and negotiate your way past the building work to:
Mary Ann Street CF10 2EN
15-screen cinema, where there is still time to buy fizzy
drinks, coffee and popcorn in the foyer before the film starts. Includes Gala
Electronic Casino (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. March 2012).
Across the road:
Mary Ann Street CF10 2EQ
Formerly the Cardiff International Arena (CIA), this large
concert venue also hosts conferences and events. My next scheduled trip here is to see the Peter Gabriel 'So' tour later this year (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very
good. June 2013).
Opposite, the Flaming Dragon Chinese restaurant on the
corner is closed. Across Mary Ann Street:
Park Inn by Radisson
Mary Ann Street CF10 2JH
Hotel with the RBG Bar and Grill, offering a range of
British classics, pasta and pizza etc, with an outdoor café/bar terrace (Food
Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2013).
Follow Mary Ann Street around, walking away from the
Heard the one about ‘Location, Location, Location’? US-based
Hooters haven’t. They opened their second UK outlet along here in 2011 (the first is still open in Nottingham), in the
worst location in Cardiff city centre. The Sports Café and Bar that replaced it
closed within months. Pass this empty unit. We are now at the back of the St
David’s 2009 extension.
Mary Ann Street CF10 2EN
A convenience food store, with a convenient cashpoint
Pass on Boots, on your right, which has its main entrance
inside through the entrance into the Grand Arcade where we were last time. On
your left is anchor store John Lewis. Head toward the new library building and
keep right, following the building round to:
69-70 Lower Ground Floor (outside), St David’s, The Hayes
CF10 1GA (2002 7792)
I remember watching Jamie Oliver’s TV series on Italian food
and thinking he had nothing particularly original or interesting to say on the
subject. In hindsight, the TV production company was forking out for what was
effectively a research trip for this venture. With the right business partners
and chefs in place, Jamie’s Italian has been a big success. In addition to this
one in Wales, there are nearly 40 Jamie’s Italians in England and Scotland, and
others in countries around the world (though not Italy).
Cardiff’s Jamie’s Italian doesn’t feel like a traditional
Italian restaurant, with its industrial design and retro British music. There
are no pizzas, instead the approach is to adapt to British tastes and mainstream regional Italian
dishes less known in the UK (e.g. turkey Milanese, arancini, Caprese and Bresaola
salads, porchetta, crispy squid). Planks remain popular here: long wooden
boards for shared platters, which you can buy on the way out (if you so wished).
We lunched here last week. I drank the Liberta lager, brewed
for Jamie’s by the Freedom Brewery in Staffordshire (a understated lager brewed for food from a 'microbrewery' that appears to now be a fairly big brewery), while my dining partner had a refreshing home-made
lemonade. For starters, we ordered the homemade breads from the ‘nibbles’ section:
rosemary focaccia, sourdough, music bread and grissini, with olive oil/balsamic
vinegar and a sun-dried tomato/olive tapenade. A good choice: the most
interesting being the thin crispy Sardinian music bread (pane carasau), laden
with seeds and ‘aniseedy’ flavour. Grissini, incidentally, are good
old-fashioned breadsticks (why don’t they say so!).
My partner had the wild rabbit casarecce (a pasta shape
similar to fusilli), with the rabbit ragù slow-cooked with garlic and herbs,
mascarpone and lemon. I had the fish-of-the-day special: pan-fried hake with
butter/parsley sauce, steamed mussels, roasted vine-ripe tomatoes and
chargrilled asparagus tips, which was most enjoyable. The crunchy salad is very
A shared frangipane tart (almond tart, akin to bakewell),
with peach being the day’s seasonal fruit filling, and coffees concluded our
meal. Look out for the £10 off vouchers
on a leaflet as you go in, which keeps the bill manageable (Food Hygiene Rating
5: very good. Nov 2011).
Lower Ground Floor, St David’s, The Hayes CF10 1GA (2034
Starbucks arrived in the UK in 1998 (a 'game-changer' as the annoying phrase goes), via the acquisition of
Seattle Coffee Company stores. This one has the usual range of coffees, and some prime-location outdoor seating. I have not been in a Starbucks for years, so really cannot comment further.
Since we were in The Hayes last, the Hayes Island Snack Bar has been joined in the central square by a Sidoli’s ice cream stall for the summer, selling a good range of flavours produced by this family-owned Welsh ice cream company.
Turn right at the corner, into Hills Street:
1 Hills Street (upstairs) CF10 2LE (2020 5998)
Go through the doors and up a rather OTT staircase, where
you will find a bar and a dining area. Cardiff blogger Pint of 45 has already
noted that this is not cosy and it’s not a club. It is an expanding chain
though. The Cardiff Cosy Club, which opened in November 2012, is the largest of
the seven Cosy Clubs to open so far (stretching all the way from Exeter to Cheltenham). The
food is very British – pork belly, Cornish fish pie, duck’s shepherd’s pie,
steaks, mussels, spinach and cheese soufflé. Brunch served most of the day and
they cater for vegans. The burger range encompasses falafel, salmon and
crayfish, and possibly even beef (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory.
1a Hills Street, CF10 2LE (2037 2249)
Started in London in 2004, by Daniel Spinath, there are now
around 13 crêpeaffaires, in the UK (and Hamburg). Ten sweet and fourteen (4 of them
veggie) savoury pancakes on the menu, along with breakfasts (including the
Londoner breakfast crêpe) and waffles. Savoury crêpes served with salads for
lunch, or can be taken in specially-designed triangular boxes. There’s a focus
on the coffee (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. July 2013).
Red Hot World Buffet
3-6 Hills Street, CF10 2LE (2034 2499)
I was here for opening night in October 2011, and have been
back on several occasions since. It’s good when you are in a group, especially
with people having very different tastes in food. It’s the longest buffet in Wales,
designed by Red Hot’s corporate chef Deepak Bahuguna; serving around 300 dishes
from around the world, including Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Cajun, Tex
Mex, Italian, Mediterranean and British. You can spot the first timers – plates
piled high with foods that should never be seen on the same plate. Red Hot
World Buffet started in, you guessed it, Nottingham in 2004, and there are around eight now in the UK
(Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2013).
Walk back down Hills Street to The Hayes, and I will see you
there next time.
Red Hot World Buffet opens in Cardiff:
Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:
St David’s 2
St David’s 1
Queen Street Arcade
Duke Street Arcade and Duke Street
High Street Arcade
Church Street and St John’s Street
Wharton Street and Trinity Street
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