Cardiff is a Goldilocks city – not too big, not too small, but just right. The home of Welsh rugby, Doctor Who, and some of the finest cooked cheese on the planet, the Welsh capital is a Celtic gem waiting to be discovered.
Words Rob McGovern
*Featured in Crave’s Issue 82, April 2017
| First Things First
What to Do
Head to Danish cafe Brod in the Pontcanna area for coffee and a Danish, obviously.
Be first into Cardiff Castle and explore for a few hours.
Noon lunch at Madame Fromage – ask about cawl or Welsh rarebit.
Time for a pint of Brains SA at the Goat Major – just one, mind. It isn’t nicknamed Skull Attack for nothing.
Head to the arcades for a few hours of browsing, perusing and purchasing.
Time for an early dinner. For something casual, go to the Hashery for good burgers and mussels. Feeling fancy? Head to Restaurant James Sommerin in Penarth, but be sure to book in advance.
Treat yourself to some entertainment. See a band at Clwb Ifor Bach (Welsh Club), take in a concert at St David’s Hall, visit the Welsh National Opera, or catch a stand-up at the Glee Club.
End the evening with a nightcap at the secretive Dead Canary speakeasy cocktail bar.
Where to Stay
Best location: The Royal Hotel Cardiff
800 metres from the Millennium Stadium, the hotel is on one of the city’s main arteries.
88 St Mary Street, Cardiff CF10 1DW
T +44 29 2055 0750
Best view: St David’s Hotel and Spa
Overlooking Cardiff Bay, it has one of the top spas in the UK. Demand and prices go up when Wales are playing.
Havannah Street, Cardiff CF10 5SD
T +44 29 2045 4045
Newest hotel: The Exchange Hotel
Originally the market floor of the Coal Exchange, once the centre for trading coal in Cardiff and later a noted music venue until 2013, it has been reborn and seems destined to become one of the best hotels in Wales.
Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff CF10 5EB
T +44 151 236 0166
A Welsh stew made with lamb. There are many variations of this too, but traditionally it is made with neck of lamb, swede, carrots, potatoes, and leeks. Parsnips or any root vegetable will be good. Try it at Cafe Castan.
Recipes for this vary wildly, but essentially it is a mixture of good Welsh cheese, mustard and a few tablespoons of something to loosen it up that is melted together and poured on bread and toasted. Egg yolks make it richer, Worcestershire sauce is a common addition, and the liquid is often a good beer. Whisked egg whites can be added before spreading on bread to make it lighter. Have it at Madame Fromage.
Faggots Chips and Mushy Peas
Have that or a rissole and chips from a chip shop on Caroline Street a.k.a. Chippy Lane. Faggots are essentially pork and liver meatballs, and they are better than they sound. Rissoles, meat and potato croquettes that are often coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried, are probably more palatable for most visitors.
Enjoy the very best of Welsh lamb, beef and pork at Y Mochyn Du (the Black Pig) roasted and served with all the traditional Sunday dinner trimmings.
Available all over the city, but the CAMRA. recommended Cambrian Tap is a good bet. They have a large range available including classics, seasonal beers, and even a range of craft beers. Brains SA, which was first brewed in 1958, is probably the best known of the lot.