Archive | February, 2011

The Chief recommends Cardiff’s best cheap eats

3 Feb

The Chief, features hidden from the prying eyes of South Wales' restaurateurs

While kicking about ideas for starting this blog, I naturally looked around to see who was writing about food in Cardiff. Two of the most well-respected players I came across were Cardiff Bites and Tea and Biscuits.

To date I have only had email and Twitter contact with CB’s Nicki, but this week I had the chance to meet with T&B’s head honcho the Chief, who “hated going to restaurants, eating a bad meal and feeling there was nothing I could do about it – so I wanted to set up a site with content you could trust.”

When I asked the Chief his opinion of Cardiff as a place to eat out, he argued that while the city may not be stacked high with prestige joints, the number of quality budget to medium-priced eateries more than made up for this – “and how often can most people afford to go to a really high-end restaurant anyway?”

These are sentiments I’m inclined to agree with – I’ve got nothing against swanky dining, but have had way more disappointment at places where pretension stacks the expectations unreasonably high, whereas more basic, often local restaurants that are friendly & reliable have tended to be the ones I’ll go back to time and again.

Obviously my next move was to demand a list of Cardiff’s finest cheap eats. I got the following responses:

  • Cafe Minuet: tiny Italian in Castle Arcade recently said farewell to long-term proprietor Marcello Genesi, but new owner Nadine Lodwick has apparently kept the fires of its “fantastically loyal following” burning.
  • Chai Street: Mint & Mustard’s Indian street-food baby brother is “a bit more more straight-laced than VFS, but really, really good food – you can get lunch for five quid in there – and the breakfast is absolutely brilliant too.”
  • Milgi: City Road’s boho hangout went 100% veggie last spring following a customer poll – “excellent platters for £5-6 – hummous, falafels, slice of pizza.”
  • Kemi’s: a new one on me, this, at Craft In The Bay opposite the Millenium Centre – “cheap food often means unhealthy, but over there you can get a really beautiful slice of quiche, cous cous salad – a big plateful, too – for the price of a visit to the chippy.”

Living large: road-testing the broadsheet pack-up

1 Feb

Basic but tasty: the tuna sandwich as (slightly) remodelled by Allegra McEvedy

A tip of the Bare Grills hat this week goes to the Guardian’s Allegra McEvedy for her recent series on the humble pack-up. I religiously take packed lunches with me wherever possible, because these are three of my vices:

  • I’m tight (especially at this time of year) & buying my midday meal invariably spirals towards a fiver.
  • I’m greedy & am rarely satiated by prepacked cardboardy sandwiches.
  • I’m smug & believe that what I make myself usually tastes better (even if it’s just a cheese & pickle butty).

However you won’t often find me preparing something to eat on the hoof that has come from a broadsheet, as many recipes described as “quick”, “easy” or similar within the pages of our quality nationals require access to a thoughtfully-stocked & Waitrose-sponsored larder.

So I was pretty pleased when I came across the above recipe suggestions, which ask for a bit more than a loaf of bread & some cheese, but not excessively so. I tested several of them out over the last week and found:

  • Barley & bits salad took an hour to prepare and lasted me 3 days. I’m suspicious of food this healthy looking, but it actually tasted damn good.
  • Tuna pepper pitta pockets – ok these are far from rocket science, but 10 mins prep = two days’ delicious filling scran. Which also happens to incorporate cheese & beans. Can’t ask for more than that really.