The last week feels like a bit of a blur – moved, moved in, New Years (I think I made it to 11pm-woot! I know how to party!), started a new job, sorted out fun things like internet, council tax, two trips to IKEA etc. etc. Unfortunately all this running around means we haven’t been able to go out out, but we’ve had a few quick interludes here and there. So, I’ve taken the ‘snippet’ approach to round up some of the new places I’ve now visited:
Crafty Devil Brewing Co.
As a non-beer drinker, you might wonder why on New Year’s Eve, I ended up at Crafty Devil Brewing Co., a local Cardiff company brewing up such fun sounding beverages as ‘You love us’, ‘Ale house rock’ and, my favourite, ‘Beery McBeerface’. We had actually set out for Chapter (see below) who, unfortunately, were closed in preparations for their NYE sheningans, but that just paved the way to get into this little gem. The RC frequents this cozy shopfront/bar/lounge/beer garden before/after watching Wales play football and suggested it as a round the corner alternative to Chapter. We tucked ourselves and some mates into the back room, a cosy lounge-room type affair where we then proceeded to spent many merry hours getting, well, merry.
At one point, when chatting to the staff (who recognised my accent immediately – it’s definitely getting a lot more attention in Cardiff than London) and noting sadly that I was not a beer drinker, one of them mentioned that she didn’t really like beer either.
“Really?” said I, surprised at the thought of working for a brewing company and not particularly liking beer.
Ah – but she went on to explain that the Crafty Devils stuff was actually pretty good even for the non-beer-drinkers among us. Aha! “So, what would you recommend then?”
“Actually”, she said, “the Safe as Milk stout. Tastes like coffee”.
Hmm, thought I. A stout? For a non-beer lover? Hmmmmm
Fair play though, they cracked one open and shared it with us. And – actually (and perhaps I was slightly merry at this point) but it did! It did taste like coffee! Mmmm a beer that tastes like coffee, this I could get on board with…
I have quickly come to learn that Chapter is a bit of a Cardiff institution. Part cinema, part cafe, part all-kinds-of-art, walking in you instantly feel that this is the kind of place that has something (or many things) to offer everyone.
We pitched up on the bank holiday Monday to meet up with some friends around noon. It was already pretty buzzy inside, tables full of hipsters and students on laptops, families and groups of friends having teas and coffees, young people, older people, you name it.
For lunch I ordered the chicken burger, and upgraded the fries to the sweet potato variety on our friends’ recommendation – and wasn’t I glad I did! Crispy and textured on the outside, sweet and fluffy in the middle, these are the kind of sweet potato fries you could come back for specifically. The chicken burger was a proper chicken breast, which always goes down very well in my book. The RC opted for the bangers and mash, which came out with three fat sausages, plenty of mash and greens and lashings of dark brown gravy. The place was absolutely packed and I think we were lucky to have got our orders in when we did!
Ah, Wahaca. The one restaurant I couldn’t face (or stomach?) leaving behind. For the last three months, anytime anyone has asked about how I feel about moving to Cardiff, my response has been “everything will be OK. There’s a Wahaca”.
We went to Cardiff Wahaca on Tuesday night as a mini-celebration for me starting my new job. On entering, there were two things that excited me: (1) the size of the restaurant – this place is huge! Three floors, including a tequila bar, happy days! (2) we did not have to wait an hour for a table, squeezing in at the bar trying to balance guacamole and a drink while waiting for a buzzy thing to go off and alert you that your table is ready. Cardiff wins that round, sorry London.
The menu always makes me happy – enough new things to mix it up with the reliable favourites which must be ordered each and every time. I always go for the street food options (many small plates makes me a happy girl) and normally the RC opts for a burrito but on this occasion, let me order for the both of us. Love it! As an extra bonus, Tuesdays in January are Taco Tuesdays, where you get your first plate of tacos for £1 when you order something else from the menu. Any excuse really…
We feasted on steak tacos (with cheese, always with cheese) swimming in chili sauce and guacamole; crunchy sweet potato and feta taquitos with the sweetness of the potato complimenting the creamy saltiness of the cheese; super tasty grilled chicken ancho tacos with fresh slaw; and the ever comforting black bean quesadillas oozing melted cheese. The only dish I didn’t love was the smoked salmon tostada; the combination of avocado slices, smoked salmon and caramelised onions was slightly cloying when I was hoping for the freshness of Wahaca’s previous fish tostadas (bring back the prawn and scallop ceviche with its chili-lime zing!).
My very favourite comfort food of them all, we will be back. And then some.
Finally, Salt in Cardiff Bay. Normally not a fan of chain bars, I ended up in Salt on New Years’ Day as there was football on and RC had bribed me with a roast dinner if I came out with him. Besides, I feel like it’s the kind of pub most people in Cardiff will have been to at least once, and I am trying to become a local, after all.
Not surprisingly, it was pretty quiet around the Bay – it was absolutely freezing that day and most people had probably been up very late the night before. Ho ho, see what a sensible early bedtime gets you? Out and about during that day, that’s what.
There was a choice between roast beef and pork and on the bartender’s suggestion, I went for the roast beef. I also opted for the Sunday special of two courses for under a tenner – not bad, not bad at all.
The food came out pretty quickly (understandably as we were two of very few people in there) and whilst perhaps not the best roast I’ve ever had, I was pretty impressed with what I got for my money. Thick slices of beef, steamed veg, roasties and a boat of gravy for £7-ish.
I’m sure we will need more sports-watching options in the future so suggestions of local places with great food as well as a TV always welcome….
Until next time, Cardiff!