Tag Archives: Grangetown

Chai Street: if you were the last curry in Cardiff

23 Aug


A few weeks ago I decamped to Bristol for work, chalking up one final budget Cardiff chow-down at Chai Street, Anand George’s Indian street-food outlet on Whitchurch Road (the last bit of town you’d associate with street-food) before doing so.

This blog kicked off 10 months ago with an entry about traipsing through Grangetown in search of the Vegetarian Food Studio’s thalis, so it seems appropriate to end its Cardiff existence by reviewing a similar meal.

If I’d have been feeling more flush I might’ve headed next door to CS’s big brother Mint & Mustard for a farewell blowout. But had I done so I’d have been deprived of a) one of the best returns I had on a tenner in South Wales and b) the chance to write it up here.

Hitting Chai Street rather than thali benchmark VFS gets you tightly-packed leathery seats, garish Bollywood meets pop art décor, and (obviously) a more aspirational postcode in which to eat your platter. These little luxuries mean you pay about a quid extra for your selection of small dishes, but getting change from £7 for a meal is still ridiculously reasonable.

And sad to say it, but it seems the best thalis in Cardiff are no longer being made west of the Taff.

Chai Street may be on the cramped side, but there’s no mystery as to why they’re cramming punters in. A creamy cow-pea dal, a dry, pungent potato dish and a rich, moist chicken one were all distinctively spiced, with curry leaves the most dominant – though not overpowering – flavour. Rice, bread, a shared side of lamb patties and cardamom-heavy masala chai rounded out a meal that’d suck me back regularly had I not so rudely skipped town.

Grangetown and the Vegetarian Food Studio

24 Oct

Grangetown’s Vegetarian Food Studio was an obvious place to start: it’s pretty well known, it’s had praise lavished on it in the national press, but a lot of people I’ve met so far (some of whom have been living here for years) have no clue as to its existence, or if they’ve heard of it, don’t know where it can be found.  Something to do with the location?

From St Mary Street, pass by the turnoff into Central Station, veering right onto Penarth Road and ducking under one of Cardiff’s many Brain’s bridges.  Enjoy the vista of the station car park as you follow the bend to the right and head into a bleak landscape of call centres and self-storage facilities.  Cross the river, pausing on the bridge to admire the view of the Brains brewery and Millennium Stadium.  If you’re lucky, some passing rowers may provide a nice contrast to the urban grit.

Ok, congrats, you’re in Grangetown.  Stroll down the block, but not too quickly or you may go straight past the Studio’s tiny frontage.  Pop into the offy next door, grab a couple of beers and you’re all set.  Oh, did I forget to say it may’ve been worth booking?

If you’ve got a wait on your hands, take a stroll across Penarth Road.  Head into Dinas Place, along the side of the well-kept Pentre Gardens and down Dinas Street.  Hang a left at Merches Gardens and (I’m being serious this time) check out the domed splendour of the Shree Swaminarayan temple nestling in among the terraces.  Capture Cardiff did a nice little piece on the temple, which you can find here.  If, like me, you used to live in Sheffield, you can then have a little chuckle about the fact that it lies on Mardy Street, and speculate about whether this reflects the general misery of the citizens.

Unless you’re really unlucky, a table is probably ready for you now.  Retrace your steps and go fill your face.  The Studio’s Gujurati Thalis provide a complete meal in themselves for £5.99, but if you’ve got a full tenner to burn then you can look forward to being levered out of the place.  You may need a little walk at this point, so saunter for ten minutes back into town and the next move is yours.