Eating Out in Cardiff: Autumn Highlights

We might be half way through October already but I’m still only just coming to the end of the busiest summer of my life…

It turns out that simultaneously working on multiple (pretty massive) food festivals, planning a wedding, and seeing out my first full summer as a full-time freelancer makes for a pretty hardcore couple of months. Who woulda thought? 🤪

Whilst I’ve been head-down and full-speed-ahead, lots has changed in the restaurant / eating-out scene here in Cardiff, from new openings to relocations, and a surge of new pop-up events to look forward to.

Now that I’ve settled back into the ‘normal’ rhythm of life a bit, I thought I’d pull together a little round-up; so here’s where I’ll be eating out in Cardiff this Autumn… 🍽🍁🍷

1. New guest chef nights at Heaney’s

There’s a whole new raft of exciting guest chefs joining Tommy Heaney in the Kitchen for a series of collaborative feasts this Autumn, just as his restaurant celebrates its one year anniversary. Chefs confirmed so far include Ollie Dabbous, Tom Brown and Lee Tiernan, with full details, dates and ticket prices to be announced later this month. Your best bet is to follow the Heaney’s Facebook page for updates, tickets will sell out fast!

2. Vietnamese food in the ‘diff – finally!

Honestly, you wait for Vietnamese food to come to Cardiff, and just like the number 17 bus, two options come along at once (almost). Following on from  chain outfit Pho opening in the city centre last month, Cardiff’s independent Vietnamese coffee shop, Hanoi 1991, has also started selling my most favourite comfort food; chicken pho. You will find me eating in one of these every time I have a hangover from now until forever, Amen.

Side note: we also had our first ever Sri Lankan restaurant open in the city over the summer – Cheltenham export The Coconut Tree. It’s a casual sorta place, offering lots of street food portions for sharing – I’m a big fan of their battered cuttlefish and the pumpkin curry!

3. A new neighbourhood restaurant & natural wine stockist

Nook, a joint venture between the owners of Dusty Knuckle Pizza and The Lamb & Flag pub, is something a bit special. With a similar vibe to the excellent Wrights Food Emporium in Llanarthne, this cosy spot opposite Victoria Park is all about small plates of seasonal food, with vegetarian dishes on the menu treated with the same care and attention as the handful of meat options on offer. Everything can be washed down with a glass (or five) of natural wine – in fact, you can even bring your own bottle and buy said wine to take-away, completely waste-free. Canton’s going up in the world.

4. A Roath relocation for Sticky Fingers

Sticky Fingers in its first iteration always felt very hit & miss to me; a great idea in a terrible location (The Brewery Quarter – ew), and a great platform for independent food businesses vs a hideously decorated interior and a laddish vibe that was off-putting at best. Thankfully, the relocation to Richmond Road (where Varsity used to be if you’re young, and where the old VHS rental shop used to be if you’re really old, like me) takes everything that was good about SF v.1, and adds to it. A big, well-stocked bar; an open, much more grown-up-feeling dining area; and five very good street-food kitchens run by local indies who are definitely worth their salt (including Hoof, Babhaus, DIRT and Two Anchors). I’ll deffo spend an afternoon eating and drinking in Sticky Fingers v.2 this Autumn.

5. A new shipping container home for Dusty Knuckle & The Boneyard

After spending months facing an uncertain future, award-winning Pizza restaurant Dusty Knuckle teamed up with The Boneyard shipping container studios and moved into a new, larger site at the top of Papermill Road in Canton. Whilst developers rip the soul out of the old site on Llandaff Road, these two creative businesses will be breathing new life into a formerly derelict scrap of land sandwiched between a main-road and a railway line. Whilst the site is still in the bedding-in stage at the moment, I’m excited about watching it come to life; as well as the community of artists in residence and Dusty Knuckle’s shipping container kitchen, there are plans afoot for a community veg garden, a farmers market, and more.

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Friday night visit to the new home of @dusty_knuckle after they got booted out of the Printhaus last month. Head right to the top of Cowbridge Road, pop over the footbridge, and there you’ll find their new shipping container kitchen (plus shipping container dining room on the right)! 🙌🏻 . We had padron peppers (my FAVE!) plus tonight’s special – lamb offal, with pickled onions, cool yoghurt, and homemade chilli sauce. I ordered this (with trepidation) at the Canton pop up @streetfoodcircusuk a few weeks ago and was hooked after one bite; it’s sooooo good 🤤 . . @dusty_knuckle make the offal mince in house, then top the pizzas with it and blast it in the wood fired oven. And bloody hell it is delicious (…even though I don’t eat much meat, I’m all for nose-to-tail eating as making the most of lesser cuts and often wasted offal reduces the need to rear as many livestock overall). 🌎 . Hope you’re very happy in your new home guys! 🔥

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6. Ramen nights which sell out in a matter of minutes

I love noodle soup, which is why I love pho. I also love Ramen! So obviously, I signed up to the priority mailing list for a new pop-up ramen supper club in Roath, and managed to get a couple of tickets for the November dates which sold out in a matter of minutes. I absolutely *love* it when someone comes out of nowhere and does something completely different in this city, and Matsudai Ramen is doing just that.

7. More Vegan Options than Ever

With Wild Thing opening their second site inside The Embassy Cafe in Cathays, The Greenery taking over the former Milgi Market site inside Cardiff central market, and the Alex Gooch Bakery now being 100% plant-based, there has never been a better time to be vegan in this city (or to simply enjoy a few more plant-based meals each week).

By the way, these Alex Gooch vegan croncs are pure witchcraft. How? HOW???

8. Fancy French Fare in a Former Toilet Block

I love Bloc, Cardiff’s first former toilet-block turned hipster cafe – the creation of which has spawned a succession of applications to Cardiff Council for projects in a similar vein (see: the plans for the Lufkin ranger’s hut in Thompson’s Park). But this little coffee shop has also become the home of something more refined – the Paysan pop-up from chef Grady Atkins. Offering a sophisticated French bistro-style menu (sometimes accompanied by wine pairings, too), plus a new brunch menu for winter, this is one of the city’s most interesting kitchen takeovers.

9. Asian Flavours and Video Games

Following Burger Theory’s retreat back to the busy streets of Bristol, there’s a new outfit launching a permanent kitchen takeover at video-game bar Kongs – and it’s a joint venture between Keralan Karavan and The Monday Club. I’m excited to see Kongs sticking with the kitchen takeover model, and very much looking forward to trying Nomad Kitchen‘s Asian-fusion food which promises to go from ‘burgers to bhajees, dimsums to dabbhas, and Keralan curries to Korean bibimbaps.’

10. New indie Sunday Lunches

Two of the hottest independent restaurants in the city – Asador 44 and Milkwood – will be offering Sunday lunch menus this Autumn, and they couldn’t have timed it better with the start of Christmas hangover season around the corner. Milkwood has also revealed a fancy new private dining room on the first floor – so if you’re still looking for somewhere for the boss to take your team in return for all your hard work, now you know where to send him.

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