The absolute best thing about my job is that I get to travel (and eat) all over the UK.
The brand I work for sent me out to Cardiff to check up on a few potential locations for new restaurants, which was the perfect opportunity for me to book a hotel room and get three utterly filthy meals out – all on the company’s money of course…I ain’t no sucker.
Cardiff’s one of those towns that I’ve visited many times but have never quite got to grips with. Whether that’s because of the confusing* nature of the streets (*they’re really not confusing at all), or because I’ve always left the place in a half-drunk post-hen do stupor will forever be a mystery to me. Regardless, I was more than keen to head back once more to Wales’ capital, especially after I heard from a pal that there were a whole raft of new, hip places to eat there.
So without further ado – here are the 3 Not-So-Square Meals that fuelled my very productive day of company funded research:
Breakfast @ Anna Loka
When I roll out of bed there are only two things on my mind: Food and Coffee. I found both of those things in abundance at Anna Loka, probably one of the most typically hipster places in Wales, if not the world. Roll up, roll up! We got your rough-hewn tables, we got your battered-to-shit uncomfortable chairs, we’ve even got an open plan kitchen with white-tiles and tattooed chefs. And top of the bill – what you’ve all been waiting to see for the thousandth time…EXPOSED RED BRICK WORK!
Decor snobbery aside the *cough* vegan *cough* menu is drop dead gorgeous. I eat Banana & Blueberry Pancakes – I then forget myself and order a Scrambled Tofu Bap which is silly-tasty. As I leave I promise to myself not to take the piss out of vegans for at least a month (the can’t even eat bacon!…damnit).
Lunch @ Katiwok
I had to go just a little bit out of my way to find KatiWok, a cornershop shack serving possibly the best kati rolls I’ve ever tasted. I’m sorry – what’s that? You don’t know what a kati roll is? Oh, I’m sorry. I am so sorry. Kati rolls are basically are as fashionable as burritos were last year, about as cool as gourmet burgers were 5 years ago and 10-times tastier than both combined. I understand that’s not a very helpful answer…
The team at KatiWok have been serving up quality pan-asian food (kati rolls, noodles and the like) for the last 3 years. They offer fresh, fun twists on great Asian classics and have easily made my Top Eats list of the year. Their katis (a gorgeous kebab wrapped in doughy, stretchy paratha bread) are the reason to go there, but I was also surprised and elated by their spicy masala fries and excellent ‘bhajees’ (why isn’t there a standardised spelling for these things?!).
Dinner @ The Clink Restaurant
Credit: @Kelsey Reanne Lewis
The Clink’s premise is akin to a shitty new, BBC soap-drama that only your Dad watches because ‘that guy from Spooks is in it’: a group of convicted prisoners in a Welsh prison are given a chance of redemption by cooking in a restaurant. “Yes Dad, it sounds…cool – yes, I’ll make sure to watch it on iPlayer so we can talk about it next time.”
Fortunately for humanity, this concept has not been green-lit through The Writer’s Room – it’s the basis of a whole charitable organisation that runs four restaurants across the UK. All the chefs are serving time and are also working towards their NVQs in Food Preparation, Food Service and Customer Service. I order a pigeon salad with lardon salad, quails egg and black pudding – they’re classic ingredients, well pre-prepared and cooked. The main is a roast supreme of hake with potato rosti and pickled griolles – this surprises me. It looks like a £30 dish, tastes amazing and costs half the price.