5 of my favourite coffee stops in Cardiff City Centre

If, like me, the time distribution of your Christmas shopping trip  in Cardiff is essentially 5% shopping, 10% panicking about shopping, 75% coffee stops and 10% cake  (quick maths), you’ll know that finding the perfect pit stop or two for that caffeine hit is an essential, and possibly the most important and enjoyable part of your day.

To help you with this critical decision this Christmas season, fear not, I’ve prepared a quick guide to my favourite coffee stops in Cardiff City Centre- you’re welcome.

 

  1. The Little Man Coffee Company

Ivor House, Bridge St, Cardiff CF10 2EE

Leave the hustle and bustle of St David’s 2, onward past the sparkly lightening bolt, and there, across the zebra crossing next to the Traders Tavern is The Little Man Coffee Company.

The vibe is always relaxed, with the smell of coffee (usually sourced from local Welsh Roasters) and the sound of funk and soul music in the air.  The food menu offers a selection of classics with a twist, from toasties to colourful salads and, most importantly, they have a breakfast bar filled with fruit, cereals, breads for toasting, and Pop Tarts  for less that a fiver.

 

2. Coffee Barker 

Unit 13, Castle Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1BU

Situated in the Castle Arcade, this quirky little coffee shop is the perfect spot to sink in to a comfy armchair and cwtch up with a cuppa.

If you’re unable to find a a seat inside amongst the eclectic decor, don’t worry, you’re sure to find a spot in the seating area outside, where you can settle down at a candle lit table,  pull on a blanket and watch the shoppers pass you by under the beautiful Christmas lights.

Oh, and the coffee is great too!

If you really want to treat yourself, grab an ice cream in sister cafe,  Barker Gelato.

And they’re not going to stop at coffee and ice cream….soon, you’ll be able to grab a swift one at the new Gin and Juice bar if you’re looking for something stronger to take the edge off!

3. Hard Lines

Castle Emporium, Womanby Street, Cardiff, CF10 1BS

Cardiff Central market, Unit 25, Cardiff CF10 1AU

Grab a speciality coffee to go from Hard Lines as you weave through the hustle and bustle of Cardiff Market or search for unique treasures at the vibrant Castle Emporium.

The shop in the Cardiff Market sports a retro pink coffee machine and neon lights, whilst the shop in Castle Emporium sells newly released vinyls alongside your caffeine hit.

Both shops pride themselves on their passion for providing great single origin coffee.

4. Uncommon Ground

10-12 Royal Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1AE

Nestled near the St Mary’s Street entrance of the busy Royal Arcade, Uncommon Ground is definitely a hipsters’ paradise (and I for one am not going to complain about that!)

The vibe is really laid back and  friendly and the shop itself has so much character with an industrial feel, from it’s exposed brick to the copper kettles and lights hanging in the window.

The in-house roasted coffee is insanely good- possibly my favourite flat white!

Uncommon ground is the perfect place to meet with friends, or to sit in the window, read a book and watch the world go by.

5. The Plan

28-29, Morgan Arcade, St Mary St, Cardiff CF10 1AF

The Plan is often said to serve the best range of coffees in the city centre, and not only that, it has arguably stolen the ideal spot, taking pride of place in the heart of Morgan Arcade, spanning two floors at the cross junction between the 2 branches of this Victorian building.

If you’re lucky enough to grab a much coveted seat, allow the expert baristas to recommend a cafetiere….and you might as well have some Eggs Benedict whilst you’re there too- shopping is hungry work!

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What’s your favourite coffee shop in Cardiff City Centre? 

I’d love to hear your recommendations.

 

 

 

 

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5 of my favourite coffee stops in Cardiff City Centre

About Cardiff: Cafe Brava

What a glorious, balmy summer’s evening we’ve had here in our capital today.

Lol JK, it’s rained for 8 consecutive hours.

Luckily, eating out is one of the best things to do in Cardiff, and you can undertake that particular activity come rain or shine. Luckily.

This evening, myself and one of the besties decided to drag ourselves through the torrential storm (ok…slight exaggeration, but come on…August?! You are kidding me hon?!) to Pontcanna for dinner at the lovely Cafe Brava.

Cafe Brava is situated on the corner of Pontcanna street; it’s cosy, it’s cool and it’s creative (and THAT’s alliteration….it’s why you come here people!)

 

Brava has a coffee shop vibe by day, serving brunch/light lunch- the menu is varied and changes daily.

We sat down at 6:02pm meaning our visit fell in to the ‘supper club’ menu. The menu consists of mainly bistro dishes and gastro burgers (which all look delicious).

Now, I’m usually a massive advocate of Wine Wednesday (and Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday, we chilled on Sunday) however there was no wine to be seen today because:

  1.  Bestie is on the C9 diet. If you want to know what that is you can click here. However, in summary, you basically drink pond water and eat 1 meal for 9 days. Horrend.
  2. I am also trying to ‘cut down’ as I am out out on Saturday and I accidentally ate 3 cookies and 2 muffins in work yesterday and so I’m trying to convince myself I can magically lose a few pounds between now and then. LOL.

So the long and short of it is that I had a skinny flat white (because Basic Bitch) and bestie had water. Wild.


Great cup of coffee though!

On to the food. I went for the jerk chicken salad from the specials menu (because No Carbs).

And Oh.My.God.Best salad I’ve had. Not kidding.

It had pineapple and mango and coriander and it was so spicy and refreshing at the same time and YUM.

Like, tbh, cucumber and cherry tomatoes are not going to cut it anymore now I’ve been exposed to the salad high life.
Feast your eyes on this.

 


Bestie had a veggie chilli with rice and guac and grated cheese which also looked dreamy.

The service was slick and the vibe relaxed.

All in all, if you’re looking for things to do in Cardiff on a cold rainy winter’s evening (in August)….Brava is the one.

Also, you can bring your own champagne and you don’t have to pay corkage.

So there’s that.

About Cardiff: Cafe Brava

About Cardiff: The Dock

Well, isn’t Cardiff becoming a right little winner on the food front?

Don’t just take my word for it; our lush little capital was recently named as home to one of the top five fastest growing food and drink scenes in the UK , with a wave of  restaurants opening over the last few years, an 82% increase in food and drink events in the last year alone and a thriving pop up and street food scene (Wales Online, 2015).

I love Cardiff. And eating out is my absolute favourite. Therefore, I thought I’d help a girl out by writing some reviews (I use this definition very loosely!) of some of the places I visit ‘about Cardiff’ given that we are SO spoilt for choice at the moment and settling on somewhere to eat can actually be a bit of a mare (Absolute First World problems).

Seriously though, no one wants to be scurrying up and down the Hayes in a blind and hungry panic, trying to work out which of the 25 new places they should try  out whilst frantically trying to find reviews on TripAdvisor with little to no 3G,to the point where you just decide to eat a Macdonalds and be done with it. We’ve all been there.

I’ll put it out there; I’m not a ‘foodie’ by any stretch.

I mean, a gourmet deconstructed spag bol served in a selection of mismatched champagne glasses is probably going to be in the Not For Me Box (I’m trying to be ironic but I cannot 100% promise that meal doesn’t exist on a menu somewhere in a pop up in and around the Clapham area which makes me really sad for humanity).

So, don’t expect any kind of fine dining, sophisticated analysis or elaborate Master Chef style descriptions here. I’m not your girl. Soz.

But I will fill you in on all of the important things.

Like if the food was lush, whether it was reasonably priced, whether it is looking pretty sexy and totally instagramable inside and what their gin selection is like.

You’re so welcome.

The Dock 

So, this little treat takes prime position in the centre of Cardiff Bay’s Mermaid Quay.

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In a previous life, it used to be Terra Nova, which I have to be honest, was never my personal fave.

I mean, it was ok wasn’t it? It was fine. The food was reasonable. The drinks were more than reasonable. But it was a little bit dark, a little bit dingy, a little bit like being sat on a pirate ship . A pirate ship with a really bizarre layout. In the middle of a pirate battle. Occurring in a thunder storm. And the ship has a hole in it. And it’s sinking (maybe a *slight* exaggeration but you get my drift ).

However the bar/restaurant has had a complete makeover and a new identity; it has undergone a £1.25m refurbishment and reopened as The Dock in April this year.

A party of 11 of us chose The Dock as the lucky venue for our boozy lunch prior to going to the theatre in the evening (I know, we are super sophisticated and cultured but don’t be too intimated).

The Instagram Factor 

Well, the refurb looks great.

The restaurant has stayed true to the nautical theme but it’s fresh and airy and open with lots of natural light.

I mean, I felt like I was on a much improved, much sturdier ship sailing in to the sunset with a Mojito in hand, and had complete confidence that we were going to reach our destination in one piece and not get like, hi-jacked by an enemy pirate ship or indeed, shipwrecked .
The views across the bay are stunning especially from the upper floor, where our table of 11 were sat. The restaurant has a lovely terrace area which I’d imagine would be delightful on a sunny summers afternoon. I have to imagine because on the day we visited, it was in fact belting down with rain all day, because Wales.

The decor has lots of nods to the bay’s industrial past which is great.

There is a massive bar in the middle of the ground floor with an impressive bar-to ceiling feature piece filled with  bottles, and so I had to take an insta pic (obvz).

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They also have a gin wall; basically, a wall with loads of different types of gin bottles displayed on it, and it’s absolutely HAUNTING me that I did not get a picture next to it.

Regrets. All of the regrets.

The Food

The menu is essentially your  gastro/pub food classic with some nice little twists. I’m talking bacon crumb hens eggs, black and blue cheese nachos and venison burgers. There’s variety and definitely something for everyone.

They also have an extensive breakfast and brunch menu which I must try #BasicBitch. The steak and eggs, crumpets, avocado on toast and american style pancakes all sound amazing.

We went ALL IN and had 3 courses.

I had scallops to start (because…nautical) which were just lush and cooked to perfection.

For my main, I had the ABC burger which was a naughty little combination of a chicken breast, avocado, melted Monterey Jack cheese and bacon. And so yeah my diet is going well.

The burger was massive…I couldn’t fit it in my mouth (heeeey…watch it!) Oh and It had this little breaded jalepeno on top. Cute.

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I have to be honest I am kind of generally a bit over the whole “let’s serve our food in absolutely anything other than a plate” trend and I’m very much part of the We Want Plates Brigade (if you don’t follow them on twitter….do it!!)

However, the presentation wasn’t too over the top at all and it did fit in with the general theme and I know it’s what the kids love these days so I just went with it. No issue.

The fish and chips did come with vinegar in a fragrance, spay bottle thing (I can’t remember the proper name).I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about that and my butty next to me did spray some on her arm thinking it was a nice complimentary perfume…so, MEGA LOL.

There was a an irresistable  selection of deserts, from Baked Alaska to  gooey chocolaty fudge brownies and lemon meringue pie.

I went for the peanut butter cheesecake.

I didn’t even get chance to take a picture of it because I practically inhaled it.

(I ABSOLUTELY LOVE PEANUT BUTTER…I can’t even keep it in the house because I eat it straight out of the jar…it’s a real problem but admitting it is the first step).
It was the dream. It was all rich and peanut buttery and chocolatey. I can’t explain it, you just have to try it (HA.. I know, I’m totally nailing this reviewing /describing food thing).

The service was great-friendly staff and our food for the 3 courses all came out at the same time which is always a tick isn’t it?

Drinks

At our table we mostly drank Prosecco and Beer. Some of our party did have the Pina Coladas from the specials menu which looked fit as.

There was a large selection of cocktails and craft beers available.

After dinner, I basically bullied everyone in to having a jug of White Sangria with me (essentially by repeating White sangria? White sangria? White sangria? White sangria? on repeat until people just gave in).

It came in a really cool crystal decanter thing- I really wanted to put it in my bag, it was so pretty.

I didn’t though. Everyone just calm down for a second.
It was basically white wine with some peach and grapefruit but it looked lovely and it was really refreshing.
We enjoyed The Dock so much that we decided to return after the theatre for an evening drink.

They have an extensive gin selection complete with recommendations for the perfect accompaniment which is a nice touch. I went for the Portobello served with tonic and a twist of grapefruit. It basically came in a vase which I can’t complain about.

I also have to mention the packet of choirzo crisps that made the rounds. Because crisps are important. We all decided they were essentially just smokey bacon but they were really nice all the same.

In a nut shell…

The Dock is the perfect little haunt for a casual and relaxed dining experience. The food was good quality pub food with a twist, the menu was varied and it was great value for money.

It was ideal for a pre-theatre boozy lunch but equally there was a mix of birthday parties, hen parties (Cardiff Bay…standard!), couples and families.

Put it this way; it’s going to be an absolute winner on our next beautiful sunny day when we all stampede our way down to the Bay on mass and fight over a seat in the outside terrace.

You know the drill.

About Cardiff: The Dock