Saturday evening commnced with food at Cardiff’s Chapter Art centre and a lovely pint of Kaltenberg Hell. Here’s the harissa chicken burger with fries, freshly made coleslaw and sour cream. Although very tasty, considering it was meant to have been flavoured with harissa I was expecting a lot more of a spicy kick to it.
After finishing our burgers attention turned of where to go next. A surprising suggestion was a visit to Pontypridd (just on the outskirts of Cardiff heading towards the Welsh Valleys). Anyone who is familiar with Pontypridd or to give it its more glamorous nickname ‘Ponty’, may be wondering WHY? Well this was my exact thought however I was assured that a trip to the Bunch of Grapes pub would be well worth the £4 train fare, possible bare-knuckle fight with post-rugby international day revellers and colourful locals.
So after a short train journey we arrived in Ponty and proceeded to walk for about 20 minutes through the main town centre. Out of nowhere at the end of a residential street appeared the very traditional looking Bunch of Grapes pub
Inside it was a relief to find not a single Fosters, Carling or Strongbow in sight. Instead the wonderful Brooklyn Beer resided on draught (Brooklyn Brown Ale and Pale Ale were available in bottled form) alongside a selection of Otley ales, Sierra Nevada and local guest ales.
After several beers, attention turned of course to more food. Being late at night, and after already consuming a burger and fries earlier in the evening, somehow the ‘confit leg of mallard’ didn’t seem appropriate. Instead two cheese platters were ordered and quickly devoured. Delicious.
Butter. Not Cheese.
The Bunch of Grapes is well worth checking out and there’s a lot of events coming up including a cheese night, cooking classes and a even a live male voice choir this coming weekend!
Words & Pics: hypervaluevalue
Wally’s Delicatessen is something of a local legend, known for it great selection of olives, meats, cheese and foods from around the world. My first memory of Wallys was as a very young boy and my grandad making the short journey from Newport to get, amongst other delights, molokhia leaves to make molokhia soup (an Egyptian soup that he made with neck of lamb).
Located above the deli is Wally’s Kaffeehaus where they strive to ‘uphold all the traditions’ of Viennese-style coffee houses by serving a selection of Northern European inspired open sandwiches, as well as breakfasts, desserts and of course coffee!
I had the Baden which consisted of German dark smoked black ham, Hereford Hop cheese and ploughman’s chutney with green salad, chopped balsamic onions and sliced pear, served on wholegrain seeded bread. I was quite impressed by the ‘picky’ look of the presentation, lots of bits and pieces to graze on and mix up to get different flavours with each mouthful rather than just the same tastes you usually get with your traditional sandwich or baguette. It feels more like eating a meal really and of course requires cutlery.
It was very good and the ingredients of course were top notch given the plentiful supply from the downstairs deli! It’s not the cheapest though, you’ll be looking at over £10 if you have a sandwich, drink and desert. Also it’s probably not recommended as a quick eat on a lunch break, we did have to wait for a table and space is fairly limited. But this isn’t what Wally’s are going for. The tradition of the kaffeehaus is to take your time so making a quick take away bagel would be kind of against their ethos.
Overall it’s a place well worth checking out on a lazy saturday afternoon.
We recently made a long overdue trip to Bristol. The primary purpose of our journey was to see Kurt Vile playing at the The Fleece (who was excellent) but also as an attempt to sample some of the local eateries.
It seems we didn’t head to Bristol earlier enough and after exploring Park Street, Stokes Croft and St Nicholas Market we were a bit late for the lunchtime sandwich trade. A special mention should go to St Nicholas Market which contained some amazing looking food stalls and cafe’s especially the gloriously titled Sourdough Cafe, this alone justifies a return trip to Bristol!
After a fair bit of walking we settled on Cafe Kino, just opposite The Crofts music venue, which from the outside looked very welcoming. We both went for the spicy option of the Kino Burger. This was a lovingly crafted home made burger that came with mayo, salad, a fennel seed relish, home made ketchup and an option of chips. The price was very good, £4.00 burger or £5.80 avec des frites.
We would highly recommend this, the food service and atmosphere were all excellent and from the posters on the inside there seemed to be regular events on there as well. The only disappointment was that the burger had zero spice to it, despite going for the spicy option!
One half of the sandwich club made a trip to Manchester for a friends stag celebrations. The weekend started with a Frunch (Fresh for lunch) trip on the way to Cardiff Central station. The Fresh special of the day was cherry tomatoes marinated in roasted garlic oil, mint, capers and red onion with wild rocket and chicken. Superb as usual.
The train journey seemed to take a tour past several English football stadia. The afternoon of ‘stadium spotting’ was supplemented by several cans of a well known Jamaican lager and an amazing slice of Fresh chocolate brownie.
On arrival in Manchester we checked into a hostel that lived up to every ‘Mad-chester’ indie stereotype*
There were many high/low-lights of the weekend, quality ales, prolonged heavy drinking, a hungover amateur level 6 a side football match, an extremely dire Welsh footballing performance, a jockey outfit, free toast, and a brilliant, if not somewhat bizzarly set, sub-£5-curry**.
Sunday morning and with hangovers onboard we went on the search for suitable nourishment. We stopped at the Koffee Pot. I had been there before on a previous trip to Manchester some years ago. It was very good then and again it didnt disappoint.
I originally ordered the goats cheese and pepper hot ‘posh’ sandwich. This comes on ciabatta bread with fries, dill pickle and coleslaw. When placing my order I was informed that only breakfast items are served on the weekend. With this in mind, I went instead for the Smoked haddock rarebit on toasted crumpets with tabasco tomatoes and poached egg.
It was a superb breakfast and totally justifed our decision to leave the other half of our party at Wetherspoons. We left Manchester wishing for a swift end to our hangovers, at least we got to enjoy the return leg of National Rails English football stadia tour on the way home.
*the Mick Hucknall jacuzzi was out of order, probably
**plastic bucket seats, an owner who was angered by an order of rice, and no chicken curry
Last year we took our first visit to Fresh in Royal Arcade. Impressed by what it had to offer we thought it deserved an updated write up, so much so we’ve been there twice in nearly the same number of weeks.
Tucked away in a tiny space just along from Wally’s Deli. Fresh is consistently very very good, with the owners having a real passion for what they do. They specialise in baguettes (no sandwiches!) and also have a range of paninis, salads, cakes and drinks. The chalk board is crammed with a wide variety of staple fillings as well as some very intriguing daily specials.
Lunchtimes will often mean a queue out the door and down the arcade but service is very good and you don’t have to wait long. Here’s a sample of what we’ve had from Fresh recently.
Salami, pastrami, caramalised onion, mustard, mayo and salad on brown baguette
Ham, chicken, dill pickles, gherkins, mustard on brown baguette
Friday special (28/01/2011): Asian pork balls panini with super special homemade chilli sauce!
We even got to sample the home made chilli sauce that comprised twelve ingredients whilst waiting for the paninis to toast:
The clubbers were pretty unanimous on the the fact that this was one of THE BEST fillings we have tasted. Fresh do it right, they are friendly, inventive and know what the customer wants. They are one of the best in Cardiff.
Follow Fresh on Twitter to keep up to date with the daily specials and whats going on:
A good crowd was in attendance for the first full outing of 2011. PiPi’s was the final destination after much in depth discussion on a suitable venue.
Greek cuisine is the order of the day with a fine selection of Greek cakes and savouries at the counter. Tucked away at the rear of the store is a fridge with a small selection of sandwich fillings. A notice states that you can select up to 4 ingredients for a set price of £3.45 to eat in and £2.95 to take away.
The ingredients on offer are limited and out of the four attendees, I’m the only one to go for a sandwich! I chose salami, ham, olives and sun dried tomatoes on brown bread.
The other selections were as follows:
1x vegetarian penirili
2x spinach & ricotta slice
Here’s how it all rated, along with notable quote:
Vegetarian Penirli – feta, black olives and tomato.
“dough is amazing”
Spinach & Feta Slice
“hungry and it worked”
Ham, Salami, Olives, Sun dried Tomatoes, brown bread
Bundaberg ginger beer
“Delicious. Very sweet!”
Overall it was a slightly disappointing sandwich selection, but this isn’t really what they specialise in. Although reasonably priced, some of the sandwich ingredients weren’t the freshest. The big disappointment was that salad counted as one of the 4 choices of ingredients! It’s a bit like having to pay extra to have seats put in a car, surely a little bit of rocket or lettuce could have come ‘as standard’.
The spinach and feta slices were a bit bland with the balance of feta to spinach not right, even the pastry seemed undercooked at the bottom.
Despite being underwhelmed by the slices their pastries are on the whole pretty good. PiPi’s is probably a better place to go and relax with a strong black coffee and one of their home made Greek pastries.
(Although not the greatest score for it’s sandwiches, PiPi’s must be one of the only outlet’s I’ve come across in Cardiff to sell such a wide selection of Greek pastries.)
It may have surprised us early this year but the inevitable snow day came where offices closed their doors and shops were raided for milk, bread and tins of soup. The Sandwich Club once again took advantage of the snowy weather, making a visit to Cocorico Patisserie.
Cocorico is a fairly new establishment specialising in French cakes and patisseries, the proprietors being French themselves. In addition to the bakery, there is a small café serving a selection of fresh baguettes, croque-monsieur, pastries and cakes.
First up was ham, emmental cheese and wholegrain mustard on a white baguette*. The bread was superb, having been baked fresh, and came topped off with a variety of seeds. The baguette was on the smaller size, but I liked this as I find most ‘normal’ sized baguettes just too much bread. The ingredients were fresh and all very tasty, a generous helping of rocket finishing it off perfectly.
Second was black forest ham, avocado and sun dried tomato on a brown baguette. Again the fresh homemade bread was a great starting point. The flavour of the ham was excellent and the overall flavour of the ingredients was very well balanced.
The service was welcoming and friendly and the prices were pretty reasonable for a sit in sandwich and drink. Other points of note were the tea being served in a FORLIFE teapot infuser (see previous post) and although not tasted on this occasion, the cakes by all accounts are pretty special and also very reasonably priced. An excellent establishment and well worth the trip.
*Originally both sandwiches were requested on brown baguettes. However, they only had one brown bread baguette left. In the interests of fairness a decision was made via the trusted method of paper, scissors, stone.
Cathedral Road is a place where you can find a fine selection of independant shops – butcher, wine merchant, deli, greengrocer and baker.
The Hot Pantry bakery is a tiny space with a counter crammed full of the usual homemade treats, as well as a wide selection of freshly made sandwiches.
Halloween season is upon us and they have decided to bake loaves of pumpkin bread which in turn have been used as the fundamental component in some of todays sandwiches.
Eager to try the pumkin bread I searched out my next victim like a recently freed Michael Myers. The only filling on offer (or only one left?) with the pumpkin bread was tuna and sweetcorn. Other sandwich clubers may well baulk at this choice, but I actually dont mind sweetcorn in a sandwich.
So on to the tasting. The bread is really good, a nice sweet and nutty taste with a generous helping of pumpkin and seaseme seeds. Filling is nothing spectacular but there is plenty of tuna and sweetcorn packed in without any of the usual bulking out with mayo.
Overall I was very pleased with this, more so given it only cost £1.65.
Total: 14 / 20
Glamlamb celtic lamb burger – lamb burger, cheese and mushroom.
From the outside, Hudsons looks a bit like a building site. Outside there is ample seating, ideal as an office gettaway when its raining.
Inside is pretty small. Theres a selection of baguettes, paninis and fresh baked potatoes. After much deliberation I go for the cajun tuna with peppers baguette. Unfortunately I’m informed that this is off the menu because they have ‘run out of chilli sauce’!
Firstly, a pretty big fail seen as there are at least 3 cajun spice themed baguettes on offer. Second, since when was cajun spiced anything made with chilli sauce? Zero times as far as I can recall. Never did I see a slobbering Jamie Oliver ploughing through a Southern American state with a bottle of Tesco Finest chilli sauce looking for an alligator to cajunise*. At this point I skewed my head upwards to rescan the menu board, during which time one of the staff could be overheard discussing how he only just found out what cajun was and how to pronounce it correctly!
This unsettling background waffle hurried me into a decision and I go for the chicken tikka and mint mayo baguette. I’m handed a pre wrapped package and asked for money. No choice of bread, salad, spread or even just making it from fresh.
Bread was pretty standard fayre and the filling was very dry. I could taste a hint of the mint but there was no mayo to be seen anywhere. The salad was made up of a few shreds of lettuce. Personally I like a good helping of salad and always feel a bit cheated if it falls short.
This wasn’t very enjoyable. Despite this the jacket potatoes looked very appetising. Im sure this place does a roaring trade simply due to its location however, I’d prefer to make the effort and head to one of the arcades if I was after a good baguette in the city centre .
Total: 9 / 20
*the act of infusing food stuffs with cajun spice