Sort yourself out this Saturday night with Street Food @ Depot!

It’s Saturday, it’s been a long week and you really fancy a good night with good food, beer and friends. This is the place to go: street food socials have started up at Depot as of last week with a range of differing pop ups each week throughout 2017 – so there’s no reason not to go see for yourself!

There’s funky fairy lights and jazzy decorations all over, the usual Depot wooden tree shining proudly in the centre. There’s also a funky little caravan at the back with a super cool inside and a bench for chilling on, whilst bean bags and deckchairs near the entrance allow you to relax and pretend you’re on a paradise beach – although really, you could call food festivals a kind of paradise in my opinion. I’ve said this many times before (and my flatmates know only too well) but I believe fairy lights to be so special for the warm, fuzzy, cosy feeling they instantly bring to any setting, especially when coloured paper lanterns are also involved as is the case here. There’s just something magical about them that brings a lovely atmosphere to a place, trust me.

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Last week when I went down the special guests were: Brother Thai, The Bearded Taco, Doughboys, Got Beef and Slow Pig. All had tantalisingly good-looking menus and the bar was well stocked featuring a local favourite of mine – Pipes beer. Sadly, I was still on my Dryathlon so couldn’t indulge but I can’t wait to do exactly that at their Bar Open event this coming weekend! [As a side note, I raised almost £250 overall which I’m super chuffed with!]

After a wander around and considering all the options, my first meal of choice was file_003-8the vegan Thai roti from Brother Thai: wok fried spring greens, beansprouts and lemongrass in a lush southern Thai style paste, all wrapped up in a paratha (like a chapati) with fresh herbs and some Thai ‘slaw. I’d seen these guys previously at Street Food Circus back in the summer and loved what they had on offer but didn’t get chance to try them then – I’m so glad I did this time because this was delish! There’s nothing like freshly stir-fried spring greens, especially alongside the satisfying crunch of the slaw and with the juices from the paste soaking through nicely to give the paratha a beautiful flavour. I did struggle to keep it all wrapped up but hey, where’s the harm in eating with our hands every now and again? (Plus I did manage to get hold of a fork in the end to help me out)

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The Bearded Taco’s super cute establishment

Next on the menu: a ‘Flawsome Taco’ from The Bearded Taco. This delectable little package was composed of Middle Eastern falafel with hummus, tabbouleh, tzaziki and fresh parsley. As there was a 2 for £6 deal, I shared this order with my flatmate (1 taco File_000 (41).jpegeach) who prior to this had sampled the new and already legendary Donald Trump burger from Got Beef (featured right) – Chinese leaf, bacon, Russian dressing, Mexican nacho cheese sauce and topped with a tiny pickle… Brilliant. It tasted good too apparently, although the cheese was pretty messy. Anyway, the other taco we chose in this deal was ‘Rage Against the Tagine’ (also brilliantly named) consisting of a Moroccan chicken & stone fruit tagine, a carrot, almond & chickpea slaw, harissa yoghurt and fresh coriander. We can’t fault either of them, both went down an absolute treat and hit the spot perfectly! Very well balanced, well portioned, the right proportion of salad/slaw to meat/falafel and altogether a gorgeous little mouthful. The chicken was very tender in the best possible way, I’m told. I’d seen The Bearded Taco back in the summer at Street Food Circus but hadn’t had chance to try them until now (I was waiting for there to be a veggie option to choose from) and I will certainly be going back for more next time.

Every menu at street food social was very tempting and looked delicious and, as I said, there are different pop ups week-to-week so I’d 100% recommend getting yourself down there for a look one weekend. Keep an eye on the Depot Instagram for the latest updates! If you want really good, local, honest food with a great atmosphere and a decent selection of drinks to match, this is the place to spend your Saturday evening!

Diolch i chi a hwyl am nawr,

Charles xx

 

Dash to The Hashery for some great new grub!

I’m back on the blog! Sorry to any of you who’ve been waiting to hear from me over the past month; as you can imagine it’s been a very busy time of year especially as I’ve just moved house! But finally finding the time to sit down and write again, so here goes.

There have been many food adventures since my last post but this one in particular I felt I had to share with you all: The Hashery is brand spanking new in the centre of Cardiff and offers a range of Cubanos, cocktails and mussels as specialty – may sound like a strange combo but trust me, it’s heaven. My mother and I went only two days after its opening and were treated so well that we already plan to go back again. It’s a large space but not cold if you head towards the back, whilst the combination of the dimmed edgy lighting that seems to be so in vogue at the moment and the warm friendly faces of the staff greeting you as you walk in really make it feel welcoming.

file_001-7First port of call: cocktails. What could be better at lunchtime on a Sunday? ‘Electric Tea’ tasted exactly how it sounds; zingy, fresh, exciting, familiar but with a twist. Containing a mixture of rum, tequila, vodka, gin, triple sec and blue curacao no wonder this cheeky cocktail gave us a warm glowing buzz before we tucked into the mains – we loved it! At this point, it’s also very important to mention that cocktails are two-for-one all day, every day and for only £6.95… absolute dream.

Now I must admit; I am not a person who shares food. But I do, however, love going out for a meal with people who like the same sorts of things as me so that we can try a little of each others’ but still enjoy 98% of our own dishes (or rather, I eat my own 98% and then wait until they’re full so I can ‘help them out’ – because we hate wasting food don’t we). For this reason, among many others, my mother is one of my favourite dining partners, 9 times out of 10 ordering the file_005-5other thing on the menu I really fancied trying just so I can finish it later.

On this occasion it was the Mexicano Cubano: avocado, tomato, grated triple cheese, Monterey Jack cheese and the bacon left out for my benefit. I went for the Citron Mussel Pot with an orange, ginger, carrot and coriander sauce ‘with an Eastern twist’ and I can safely say that these were the best mussels my 22 years thus far on this Earth have given me. They were divine. And from local, sustainable sources making them all the more tasty and satisfying. I really can’t recommend them enough! Soft but not overdone, not a single shell unopened, super filling but incredible sauce that I tore up my bread into as many tiny pieces as possible to enjoy, it was just wonderful. I can’t wait to try some of the other flavours! And starting from just £7.95 per mussel pot it’s an absolute bargain. They’ve also just been named as one of the top things for foodies in Cardiff to try in 2017, so I’m certainly not alone in this opinion (see Wales Online’s article).

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A close-up of my stunning Citron Mussels Pot

Going back to the Mexicano Cubano; this was also truly scrumptious. Sometimes with really cheesy grilled sandwiches it can all get a bit too much and fill you up too quickly but the balance was just right on this one, so much so that I had to fight my mother for that precious 2% of her meal. Plus, let’s not forget that the avocado makes it feel healthy and contrasts really nicely with the tomato so everybody’s a winner here – I can only imagine that for meat-eaters the bacon would be the icing on the cake. We also shared some courgette fries which were different and interesting; you’d think they’d be a bit soggy but the batter was done really well just like sweet potato fries, we very much enjoyed. Altogether a solid 8/10, maybe even pushing it to a 9 just for those mussels! But I’d like another few visits to fully make up my mind.

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The contemporary, cool-looking outside of The Hashery

I highly recommend The Hashery as part of Cardiff’s ever-growing foodie culture which I am super excited about and to be a part of. This place has a diverse and different menu which brings a fresh taste to Cardiff’s city centre in the form of amazing local seafood, whilst also being in a convenient location whether you’re out for the evening or just looking for a great sit-down lunch during a busy day’s shopping. Founders Sean Hill and Oscar Garcia have really hit the nail on the head with this one. A brilliant meal with perfectly balanced drinks and great customer service, all at a very reasonable price, we couldn’t have been happier. Their casual name drop in this Wales Online article about things to look out for in 2017 is also kind of a big deal! So go on, dash to The Hashery and see what you think. I promise you won’t be disappointed; I can’t wait to go back.

Diolch i chi a hwyl am nawr,

Charles xx

Another Wellfield wonder: give Chai a try!

A welcoming cosy glow irradiates from this cute little catch at the top of Wellfield Road, Roath.  Its bright, bold colours and warm lighting make it stand out from the crowd and appear individual and independent in a cool, funky, hipster-kinda way.  Its fresh take on classic Indian dishes keeps you on your toes and entices you to try new things, mix it up.  There’s also a custom spice chart on the wall inviting you to be daring and experiment a little – because why not?  ‘When in Rome’ as they say.

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The jazzy newspaper-style menus

The first thing to put a smile on our faces was the menus which come in the style of newspapers; something funky and different, a nice personal touch I think.  Tables and chairs feature the same colour scheme as the sign on the front making the décor flow together nicely and creating a comfortable, warm and inviting ambience.  The staff are very friendly and attentive, happy to answer any questions you may have and making a point of explaining that everything is made fresh and to taste; you have complete creative freedom with your dish in terms of ingredients and spice levels – ideal for fussy eaters!  Plus, I feel this makes the whole experience more special and welcoming without the worry of who likes a lot of spice and who doesn’t.

First up: cocktails… obviously.  Chaiholics Rum Special was my poison of choice: gingerfile_002-5 and cinnamon rum swizzle with a burst of peach.  The peach softened the ginger and cinnamon into a sweet, smooth texture which went down very easily; whereas my father’s Chai-jito (adaptation of Mojito) was strong and delicious yet packed a little too much punch for our liking. A good effort, 7/10.

Starters: Okra fries.  These I’ve wanted to try for quite some time so leaped at the opportunity!  They arrived with a choice of two sauces and were fried with an assortment of light spices and chillies, altogether making a very more-ish but amazing starter we couldn’t stop nibbling on!  Delish.

Mains: in my opinion, you can’t really go wrong with a good prawn curry – or in this case, a Goan prawn curry! A top notch treat meal whilst also getting a good amount of protein in – win, win!  Despite wholegrain rice not being available on request, the sauce itself was just the right level of heat for me.  Not too hot, not mild, but just right… like Goldilocks and her porridge you might say.  This was disturbed, however, by my accidental crunching on a chilli seed that’d been hiding somewhere*; that aside, this was lush.  My parents both had lamb dishes which I’m told were succulent and tender, coming easily apart which is apparently rare and difficult to get right (not that I would know).  By the end of the evening we were all absolutely stuffed and thoroughly enjoyed (almost*) every mouthful.  I can definitely say we would more than happily return – and I most likely will.

Wellfield Road is full of little gems like this, of which I have only discussed a few; but whether you live in Cardiff or you’re just visiting for the weekend I definitely recommend taking a look.  There’s so much on offer in such a small area you can’t possibly be disappointed!  It’s small, cosy places like Chai that create the homely, comfortable and laid back atmosphere of eating out on Wellfield Road, in my experience.  Friendly staff, great food, reasonable prices, lots to choose from – what more do you want!  Wellfield strikes again: an overall 8/10.

Diolch i chi a hwyl am nawr,

Charles xx

Juno what’s going on in Roath?

You’ve had a long, tiring day at work: Juno is there.  You’re hanging out of your arse after a heavy night out: Juno is there.  You really just need a good old pick-me-up, even better if it’s just healthy enough not to feel guilty about: Juno is there.

Living within easy walking-distance of this little local gem has definitely been a factor in my falling in love with Cardiff.  Aside from the convenience, the staff are always so friendly and helpful even if you’re there just to get some work done with a few nibbles and a nice atmosphere.  They’re also very accommodating – you’re never too much of an inconvenience, which culminates in the laid-back, super friendly and above all cosy vibe of the place that makes it so special.

The warm, cosy interior of Juno Lounge, Roath. [Photo credit: Trip Advisor]

Menu: burgers, salads, hangover breakfasts and specials; Juno has it all.  Whether you’re a meat-eater or a fussy eater, there’s no shortage of incredible options, including a whole menu of vegan and gluten-free.  For meat-lovers: the Hero Burger.  Highly renowned as one of the best burgers in Cardiff, this beast is composed of a 6oz beef patty, chorizo, mature cheddar, fried red onion, chimichurri, chipotle mayo and marinated chilli.  10/10 for sure.  For veggies: Yossi’s Falafel Burger.  Full of flavour and goodness, this isn’t your standard veggie burger!  A wood-roasted pepper, rocket, tomato, red onion, basil pesto and garlic mayo all accompany the falafel to create this fantastic, fresh feast that will surely keep you coming back for more.  9/10 from me; close but not quite as good as the following…

Specials: I’ve had the last two special burgers in a row (I’m basically a regular now) and I can safely say both were incredible.  The first, a spiced hummus and halloumi burger, was stunning.  I’m a huge fan of halloumi anyway especially in burgers, trying new variations whenever I get chance (e.g. Street Food Circus).  On this occasion I wasn’t sure how the spiced hummus was going to work but it was perfect – salty meets sweet & spicy, with a juicy roasted pepper in the middle, whilst the all-important salad balanced it all out.

The second, a butternut squash and edamame bean burger, featuring halloumi (obviously) and served in the beauty that is a brioche burger bun, I went back for twice because I loved it so much.  I just want to be clear on one thing… this was a chunky-ass burger.  I mean it was more than just a two-hand job…  This is the first time in my life I’ve ever had to be one of those bell-ends that cuts their burger using actual cutlery instead of our God-given hands; like those people who insist on cutting pizza with a knife and fork despite the fact that it was MADE to be eaten with our hands – even cut into portions to do so!  Anyway, this burger was huge, but it was so so good.  Packed full of veggie goodness (butternut squash being rich in fibre, vitamins & minerals, antioxidants and very low in calories, similar to pumpkin) and well-balanced flavours, it’s a solid 10/10 from me – for both of the specials, in fact.

Burgers aside, I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every single meal I’ve had at Juno (hungover or otherwise).  The Avocado Brunch is perfect for that hangover fix due to its cheeky sprinkle of chilli flakes; the Grilled Halloumi & Falafel salad is great for those days when you want to eat out but don’t want to stray too off-plan; the Triple-stacked Buttermilk Pancakes with banana, strawberries, peach sauce and Greek yoghurt are a very filling but very rewarding breakfast to bring you back to life after a heavy night or a stressful week (also available with smoked streaky bacon & maple syrup); and lastly, but by no means least, the classic poached eggs & smoked salmon on toast which has saved me on some of my darkest days.

One of the things I especially love about this place is that the friendly chilled-out vibe is also reciprocated in the staff, meaning that when the struggle is very real and the waiter or waitress can see it on your face, they give that service with genuine smile and you know that they know what you’re going through.  (Sort of like a Friends “we know that they know, we know” situation).

My cute & cosy set up whilst writing at Juno

 There’s so much more I could say about Juno Lounge; I haven’t even mentioned the Cruiser Atlantic pale ale they serve on tap, specifically a Loungers brew, or the cocktail menu I’ve been dying to try for ages, or even the tasty-looking tapas menu!  But I will certainly be back time and time and time again.  I’d recommend it to any of my fellow Roath residents and Cardiffians: embrace it as your local/regular because that’s half the beauty of the place.  It’s convenient and it’s cosy, but it’s also really good, reasonably priced, wholesome food in a place you’re always made to feel totally welcome.

Diolch i chi a hwyl am nawr,

Charles xx

*special thanks goes to my fave waiter Juno George for the genius title suggestion!

P.S.  I don’t actually know if his name is George