Last year was a big one for Cardiff’s food scene.
Several big-name restaurants from London arrived in the city centre, two Welsh Masterchef finalists set up their own takeaway business, the humble ice-cream got a Willy-Wonka style make-over, and ‘street food’ found itself a magical new home inside a disused warehouse.
Here, food blogger Jane Cook picks seven of the most exciting new destinations for food-lovers in Cardiff to try in 2015.
Burger & Lobster
New York. London. Cardiff? It doesn’t sound likely, but Wales’s capital city was the next destination of choice for this successful restaurant chain. They have transformed the top floor of the old Habitat building on the Hayes in to a gorgeous open-plan dining space, complete with cosy booths, long tables and a fully stocked bar serving impressive and original cocktails. Choose either grilled or steamed lobster, a lobster brioche roll, or a huge Nebraskan beef burger, cooked to your liking, served with fries and a side salad; all priced at £20 each. Not cheap, but worth it.
9-11 The Hayes, Cardiff, CF10 1AH, www.burgerandlobster.com
Since opening just a few months ago, Hogwurst has had rave reviews from bloggers and the general public alike. It’s a student café more than a restaurant (only open until 4pm and no alcohol licence) but their menu focuses solely on coffee and chunky, fully loaded franks, made with quality meat from native-breed pigs on high welfare farms; this is proper tasty comfort food with a feel-good factor to boot. Keep it simple and order ‘ze German’ – a British frank topped with sauerkraut, ketchup, mustard and crispy onions. Delicious.
56 North Road, Cardiff, CF10 3DZ, www.hogwurst.co.uk
In November, London’s favourite Mexican chain opened their first Welsh branch – a trendy, three story restaurant complete with funky dangly lighting and a mezzanine tequila bar. Serving a vibrant menu of fresh, tapas-style, Mexican street-food, the service is quick and friendly and the food itself is surprisingly good value. My favourite is the sustainable fish tacos; three beach-shack style tacos with panko crumbed MSC cod, shredded slaw, chipotle mayo and pickled cucumber.
51-53 The Hayes, St David’s, Cardiff, CF10 1GA, www.wahaca.co.uk
Restaurant James Sommerin
There was a huge buzz around the opening of RJS, the most hotly anticipated new Cardiff (well, technically Penarth) restaurant in 2014, and the menu includes luxurious dishes like slow cooked shredded oxtail with sweet onion and parsnip purée, served with pearl barley in parsley sauce and a single parsnip-skin crisp. Excitingly, as of next year, the rooms above the restaurant are set to open, meaning that die-hard foodies can bed and breakfast here, too. Sommerin himself is aiming for a Michelin star, and the decadent 10 course tasting menu (£85) certainly suggests that it will only be a matter of time until he gets it.
The Esplanade, Penarth CF64 3A, www.jamessommerinrestaurant.co.uk
Not strictly a restaurant, DEPOT is actually a 24,000sq foot, disused warehouse just 5 minutes walk from Cardiff central station, transformed into a versatile, pop-up events space. Since opening its shutters in October, it has welcomed more than 10,000 visitors to experience its unique atmosphere, and played host to a busy calendar of ‘street food’ events, rugby screenings and three-course, hog roast feasts. Keep an eye on the twitter feed for info on what they have planned for 2015.
Dumballs Road, Cardiff CF10 5FE, depotcardiff.com
Wales’s first liquid nitrogen ice-cream parlour is run by Carly Karran, a former laboratory scientist who traded her microscope for an ice cream scoop in early 2014 – she has been delighting locals with her smooth and creamy frozen treats ever since. With a boiling point of -196°C, liquid nitrogen rapidly freezes the cream before evaporating entirely, producing much smaller ice crystals than in traditionally made ice-cream, hence the unbeatably smooth texture. The process also means that making vegan coconut-milk based ice cream is a doddle too!
28 Castle Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1BW, www.sciencecream.co.uk
The brainchild of Masterchef finalists Dale Williams and Larkin Cen, Hokkei is a Chinese takeaway with a difference; rather than ordering from a huge menu, customers choose from a limited selection of dishes and pay between £13 and £15 for a complete meal. Mains include a twist on Larkin’s signature Masterchef dish – slow cooked lamb in a rich curry sauce – and come served alongside a ‘Dim Sum’ side of choice, and a hearty portion of chow mein noodles, rice or chunky chips. The demand for Hokkei was so great in the first few weeks that they had to close down for a few days to recover, but with extra staff being taken on to cope with the demand, this exciting enterprise looks set to be just as popular in 2015 and beyond.
92 Crwys Road, Cardiff CF24 4NP, hokkei.co.uk
• Jane Cook runs HungryCityHippy, an award-winning Cardiff and London-based food, travel and lifestyle blog with an ethical / eco-friendly focus. You can follow her on Twitter @HungryCityHippy and @janechicomendes
Find these new eateries on our Cardiff map:
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