We had a babysitter on Saturday night (whoop!) so decided to get the train into town for dinner, something we haven’t done, just the two of us, in a loooong time.
Cardiff City Centre can be crazy this time of year. Groups of blokes wearing cheap Christmas jumpers, girls with flimsy dresses and no coats (not hating, been there myself, I’m just old now) and not-always-friendly door staff mean we usually avoid parts of town such as Mill Lane and St Mary’s Street. But on Saturday we found a gorgeous little safe-haven at Waterloo Tea in Wyndham Arcade.
The night started off with a less than successful trip to The Depot (I had a good moan about it on Twitter if you want to see). We decided to head back into town to grab a warming drink before getting the train home. I’d seen on Twitter that Wyndham Tea would be open so we popped in.
I’m sure you know about Waterloo Tea – the independent tea room has venues in Wyndham Arcade and Penylan in Cardiff and at Washington Tea in Penarth. I’ve written before about how much I love their cakes and afternoon teas.
Their new Saturday night pop-ups are being run in conjunction with The Dead Canary, the secret bar at the end of Barrack Lane (although it’s not so secret any more, last time I went it was PACKED). Waterloo tea’s own staff are providing the food while The Dead Canary works its magic on the cocktails.
We had already eaten, so we just went for drinks. G had a good American IPA while I went for a ‘winter’ cocktail; Penderyn whisky, Vermouth and bitters. It was lovely, definitely a winter warmer and not one to have if you’re driving!
There was a gorgeously chilled jazz duo providing live background music and the quiet arcade (It’s entry for Waterloo Tea customers only, via the gates on Mill Lane) made it feel as though we were in a real haven from the hustle and bustle of the city centre at this time of year.
We’ll be back for food next time!
We paid in full for our drinks at Waterloo Tea in Wyndham arcade and the staff were not told I’d be blogging about them.
I’m on Instagram! Hop over and give me a follow for more Cardiff-related shenanigans.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard that Burger and Lobster Cardiff launched their new menu last week. Most of Cardiff seems to have been invited to try the new additions. As G said; “I’m surprised there’s any lobster left in the sea” – insert laughing emoji here.
Burger & Lobster Cardiff has been open a while but until last week we’d never been. I think the limited menu (a burger, a half lobster or a lobster roll was originally all they had available) put me off. Added to this, G is a vegetarian who eats fish (the proper name for this is pescetarian, but I just say ‘picky’) and although he does eat fish, he’d never tried lobster. So it would’ve been quite a gamble to visit.
Luckily the new menu helps with our quandary. They’ve kept their original menu items but added a few more including various lobster and brisket rolls, smaller ‘chick’ lobsters and a larger selection of burgers, including a kids burger.
We started off with a few drinks – cwtch beer for G and a ‘velour tracksuit’ for me – which went down easily but was very sweet. One of those was more than enough!
G decided to go the whole hog and ordered the half lobster (£24 – comes with fries and salad) while I went for the smack brisket brioche roll (£8) and side of lobster mac & cheese (£5). The server told me that the brisket was the best thing on the menu – high praise indeed.
Both my main and my side were delicious, but the mac & cheese was weirdly really sweet. Teamed with the brioche bun of the brisket and the very sweet cocktail I’d just drunk, everything was a bit too much on the sweet side for me.
The lobster was definitely the stand-out dish of the evening. It was delicious. It’s a little daunting to crack the shells etc if you’ve never eaten lobster before and I’m sure there’s a ‘right’ way of doing so, but we just went for it!
We also had a side of Crazy Blooming Onion (£4), a kind of take on onion rings. The way it was cooked meant the outside of it was lovely, but the inside was almost raw onion. If definitely cut through the sweetness of my meal though.
I was too full for dessert, but G ordered the chocolate brownie sundae (£3), which we only realised was a kids dessert when the bill arrived (!) He said it was really nice with large chunks of gooey chocolate brownies – the perfect size after our mains.
Overall I enjoyed Burger & Lobster. The restaurant had a lively atmosphere and the DJ and cocktail menu make it a good place to start a night out or celebrate a birthday.
We were invited to try the food at Burger & Lobster for free, in exchange for an honest review. We paid in full for our drinks.
This week didn’t start off too well, I was struck down with the horrible 24hour sickness bug going around. Luckily the little ones didn’t catch it, but it meant all plans for the start of the week went out the window.
When I was fully recovered Baby F and I ventured over to Penarth for lunch with my Mum in Washington Tea. It’s important to build your strength up with cake after being ill, isn’t it? I’ve now filled my Waterloo Tea explorers card so there’s a free slice of cake with my name on it next time. Who says maternity leave isn’t productive?!
We went for lunch at the new Pickled Radish in Llandaff on Friday. I’m still dreaming about the Welsh rarebit macaroni cheese with Pembrokeshire ham and a brioche crumb. Delicious. The decor and service were great too. Looking forward to going back for an evening meal next week.
Friday night we had a babysitter so went for a quick bite to eat at The Dock in Cardiff Bay, the old Terra Nova pub. The refurb looks great, it’s light and airy and makes the most of the fantastic views of the bay.
We both ordered the superfood salad, which was pretty disappointing, I wouldn’t order that again. There are so many other lovely places to eat in the Bay. I’d go back to The Dock for drinks though, especially on a warm summer evening. Then we went over to the Odeon to watch the new Captain America film in the IMAX, it was awesome!
On Saturday my usual hot yoga class wasn’t on so I went across town to Yoga Fever. Mark’s classes are always really strong and I felt great afterwards.
Yesterday I did the Race for Victory Cardiff 5k run in Whitchurch, along with 799 other people. I was quite nervous about it! Even though I’ve been jogging with the buggy, this was the last time I actually ran 5k. I really enjoyed it though and completed it in 35 minutes, which I was pretty happy with. The race was brilliantly organised and it was great to run around my old stomping ground of Whitchurch. It also meant that there were loads of familiar faces cheering me on along the route. In fact the crowd and atmosphere was awesome, despite the rain!
My only criticism is that we didn’t get a medal. I wanted a medal selfie! But the T-shirts are pretty nice, so that’s a great momento.
Hope you’re having a relaxing bank holiday. Keeping everything crossed that the weather warms up a bit this week as the forecast is promising.
Last week I had the best facial of my life. My skin was glowing for days! I was invited to try the new Comfort Zone treatments at the Spa at Mecure Holland House Hotel on Newport Road.
Comfort Zone is a European brand and Holland House is the first place in Cardiff to offer their treatments and products.
The brand promises a ‘complete system of care for the skin, body and soul’. The lady from Comfort Zone analysed my skin while telling me about the brand’s scientific approach to skincare. They even have a neurologist studying the way changes in our brains are evidenced on the skin – intelligent stuff! Of course, I watch a lot of Greys Anatomy so I knew *exactly* what she meant……ha ha.
The brand also promotes healthy and sustainable lifestyles; for example using natural products on the skin, eating healthily and exercising. A very holistic approach to skincare.
So after a glass of Prosecco (whoops there goes the healthy eating part) and skin analysis (apparently I’m more wrinkly on the left side my face than the right, possibly because I sleep on my left side) it was on to the treatments.
We started off with a Himalayan Salt Massage (55mins £60). I lay face down on the (heated) bed, and the wonderful therapist, Liga, started off massaging me with warm Himalayan salt stones, before exfoliating me with a salt scrub. This does not sound relaxing, but it really was. I nodded off, which I’m told is the ultimate compliment to a beauty therapist (!).
Liga then wrapped me in a cocoon of blankets where I was left to relax while the oils sunk in, before all the salt was buffed off.
The salt scrub is said to completely detoxify the body and while I’m not sure whether it did that, my skin felt lovely and soft for days afterwards, especially on my back. I kept thinking that this would be a perfect pre-holiday or pre-event treatment to get your skin looking fab.
Next it was on to the Comfort Zone Skin Regimen facial (30 minutes £45) Here comes the science; ‘Supreme Nutricosmeceutical System targets primary causes of accelerated cellular ageing reflected in the skin – inflammation, glycation, oxidation and methylation.’ Got it? What you need to know is that it promises an intensive anti-aging treatment with visible results in just half the time of a traditional facial.
The facial starts in the usual way with cleansing, toning etc. Then Liga applied an acid peel to my face (I kept thinking of that scene in Sex and the City when Samantha has a chemical peel, luckily it was nothing like that), my skin was tingling like mad, I could really feel it doing something.
The treatment also used the Kabat massage technique which involved moving my arms around in certain ways and at one point being told to push my hand against Liga’s hand. It was supposed to align my mind and body but felt a little strange – like doing a bit of yoga mid-facial. Not necessarily a bad thing, just different.
I love facials but often come out feeling a bit disappointed that you can’t see visible results, apart from slightly oily skin. Not this time!
I hate taking selfies but how amazing does my skin look?!? I had no makeup on in this pic, apart from a bit of staining on my lips from the red lippy I had been wearing earlier.
Holland House would never have been my first port of call when looking for a city centre spa. But with 13 lovely-sized treatment rooms and the most gorgeous relaxation area – I’ve been missing out.
After our treatments we were treated to wine tasting, canapés and an evening meal in the newly refurbished upstairs bar and restaurant. It’s been well done out, creating a modern, relaxed space – a far cry from how it looked before and perfect for people watching over Newport Road.
The Comfort Zone treatments will be available mid-May. I’ll definitely be going back!
I was invited to try the new treatments at Mecure Holland House for free, in return for an honest review.
Street Food is one of the biggest trends on the food scene at the moment. Basically a posh way of saying ‘burger vans’ street food is ready-to-eat fast-food sold from vans, stalls and carts. It’s seen huge growth in places like LA where their regular food markets have some of the best vendors arriving in one place for a weekly street food festival. But places like LA have warm weather and glorious sunshine 12 months of the year; it’s not so much fun if you’re shivering in the rain with a soggy burrito. But spring is here and Cardiff’s street food scene has well and truly kicked off with the Street Food Warehouse.
Open on weekend evenings throughout the spring and summer, Street Food Warehouse takes place under the eves of the Millennium Stadium and Cardiff Arms Park. It’s a rustic and funky set up with a huge communal covered seated area with fairy lights and laid back tunes being played by a live DJ, who’s tucked away behind and fruit and veg stall. We visited during opening weekend, over the Easter Bank holiday. It was £2 to get in, which I do think is a bit weird; paying to go and buy food, but really, it’s nominal. The tickets also said £1 for children, but our four-year-old was welcomed for free and given some Easter chocolate treats on the way in.
We’d been reading the menu while we waited to enter and were looking forward to trying pizza from the Dough Boys. But when we got inside we were disappointed to see they weren’t there. We asked a member of staff who said they hadn’t shown up – gutted. Still, there was plenty to whet our appetites. The toddler and I shared a delicious pulled pork roll with coleslaw and a box of Mac n cheese from Passion & Soul BBQ. The pork was perfect – slow cooked in their ‘Big Betty’ smoker, the meat was tender and juicy with a tangy BBQ sauce and crunchy home made coleslaw, all served in a brioche bun. The toddler and I were fighting over the last bite! The Mac was creamy with a good hint of mustard, also very moreish.
Gavin went for one of the veggie options on offer, a chickpea burger with halloumi from Rad Burgers, accompanied by Rosemary chips. He enjoyed the burger and we all polished off the chips. To finish we went for churros from South Wales-based Mr Churros. Freshly fried in front of us, dusted with sugar, cinnamon and accompanied by a warm chocolate sauce, they were yummy and were gobbled up in seconds.
The drinks were a selection of Celt Beers and Cocktails, which were served in a quirky take-away container. I went for the mocktail which, at £3 was a bit ‘style over substance’. It was tasty but I would’ve liked a few more non-alcoholic options, especially something a bit more child-friendly.
We were at the 5pm sitting, which had a good family atmosphere, there were loads of kids enjoying the music and we were lucky the weather was pretty good. But I can imagine as the sun goes down and the nights get warmer, its the perfect place to enjoy a laid back cocktail with friends.
Overall I enjoyed Street Food Warehouse, but it’s struck me since that I would’ve liked the food on offer to be a little more local. For example Passion & Soul are from Surrey and Rad Burgers from Kent. That’s not to say their food wasn’t lovely but I know there are Cardiff-based vendors doing food that’s just as good.
If you live in Cardiff and you’re at all interested in the food scene, the arrival of Wahaca can’t have escaped your notice. Before its grand unveiling the Wahaca food truck on the Hayes had queues around the block (great marketing idea) and when it finally opened, local businesses were given the opportunity to try the place for free, leading to a glut of excited Twitterers and Facebookers recommending the Brussels sprouts (more on those later).
Last week was the official opening and I was invited along to try Wahaca Cardiff for myself.
For those that don’t know, Wahaca is the brainchild of 2005 Masterchef winner Thomasina (Tommi) Miers. The first Wahaca opened in London in 2007, focusing on Mexican Street food, serving dishes with real Mexican tastes and spices – rather than the Tex Mex Americanised versions we’ve been used to seeing. (You won’t find nacho crisps coated in melted Monterey Jack here…)
My two excited friends, Niki and Kath and I were welcomed by our fantastic waiter Bruno, who was funny, attentive (but not overly so) and recommended we try the pure classic margarita cocktail, which he explained was a traditional strong margarita (not made with a sugary mix as so many often are) and one for die hard tequila fans. He was right and as the night wore on a few more definitely graced our table.
Bruno recommended some nachos with guacamole while we perused the menu (£3.95). The nachos were authentic deep fried tortillas and the guac was rustic and delicious.
The main menu is split into small street food dishes (sort of a Mexican tapas, where diners are recommended to order 2-3 dishes each) or larger plates.
The girls and I love trying a bit of everything so we ordered two street food dishes and a side dish each, and shared them all. Wow, they were all wonderful. Personal favourites included the slow-cooked pork pil bil tacos (£4.10), plantain tacos (£3.95), smoky sweet potato wedges (£3.10) and the roasted sprouts mole with almonds and feta. We were lucky enough to meet Tommi herself on the night, who told us the sprouts, with their chocolatey sauce and crumbly feta (believe me, it works) are the dish of the moment.
Desserts were also delicious. We shared the churros with chocolate sauce (£3.95) and the plantain fritters with ice cream and candied peanuts (£4.50). I say ‘shared’ but I definitely ate the bulk of the fritters!
The atmosphere was great as well, the place is really family friendly, we’ve eaten in a branch in London with our son who loved the food and the hustle and bustle. The night we are in the Cardiff branch, there was a friendly party atmosphere. There’s also a bar up on the third floor, if you want to continue the night.
If you’re looking for a fun night out with good food and excellent drinks – Wahaca is the place!
Chances are, if you live in Cardiff, you’ve heard of The One Mile Bakery. Brainchild of journalist-turned-baker Elisabeth Mahoney the bakery delivers homemade bread and seasonal soups to subscribers within a mile of her home. Elisabeth also runs hugely popular baking classes from her own kitchen at weekends.
I’ve wanted to do a baking class with the One Mile Bakery for some time, after seeing people raving about it on Twitter (taking a class is even on my Cardiff Bucket List). When I saw that Elisabeth had teamed up with Bristol-based yoga teacher Tracey Johnson, to start running Stretch and Knead – yoga and baking day workshops and weekend retreats – it was right up my street! So I was really chuffed when Elisabeth contacted me to see if I wanted to go along to their inaugural session.
Saturday, 15 November saw seven of us arrive at the Steiner School in Llandaff North, to spend the day stretching our bodies and kneading loaves.
We were welcomed with a hot drink (extra points guys for having real coffee and not instant) before introducing ourselves to each other and talking about what we hoped to get out of the day. There was a real mix of ages and abilities on the course; in both the baking and the yoga. One lovely lady even told us how she’d tried, and failed, to make bread throughout her life – even giving herself an actual heart attack in the process. But she was determined that stretch and knead day would be the day she finally made a successful loaf.
Then we were given our special stretch and knead aprons and it was time to start baking. Elisabeth talked us through the ‘yoga loaf’ a bread she’d devised especially for the day; made of wholemeal flour, oats, muesli, nuts, seeds, dried berries and other goodness. Elisabeth outlined the basic principles of bread making, including which are the best ingredients to use and the tricks of kneading the dough (you MUST do it for at least ten minutes).
Then it was time to pop shower caps over our loaf tins (yes, shower caps to help them prove), before starting the first yoga session.
Tracey took us through a fantastic vinyasa flow class, while working really hard to ensure that all levels of yoga were catered for. There were plenty of adjustments for those people with knee injuries and so on, while also giving advanced options to those of us who’ve being doing yoga for a while. Tracy kept weaving in the baking theme, even giving some of the poses special bread-related names. (The ‘touch-your-buns’ pose sticks in the mind – just use your imagination!)
After 90 minutes of invigorating yoga we were treated to a homemade green juice, consisting of pineapple, mint, lime and kale (delicious) and Elisabeth’s toasted yoga loaf with lashings of real butter. Yum.
After this fortifying snack, it was aprons back on and we made a basic white loaf (more kneading, my wrists and shoulders were starting to ache at this point), which Elisabeth taught us how to plait and shape. I’ve tried to plait bread in the past and it just turned into a dense breadstick, but Elisabeth showed us the knack to keep the bread’s shape and consistency. I’m already looking forward to attempting a plaited garland loaf for Christmas.
Then it was time for a well-deserved lunch. Elisabeth treated us to homemade bread, quinoa and winter vegetable soup and a selection of salads and vegetable side dishes. It was absolutely scrummy, I can see why there is such a long waiting list for one Mile Bakery Delivery slots. But one of the nicest things about lunch was the opportunity to chat to the other people on the workshop. They were such a mixed and lovely bunch and really made the day.
It was the first time Elisabeth had ever cooked in the venue and she told us there were some teething problems with the oven, but we barely noticed a thing.
After lunch it was time to shape both loaves ready for baking while Tracy took us through another 45 minute yoga session. This was much less dynamic than the morning session. Tracey concentrated on mainly sitting and lying poses, with a focus on exercises to stretch our wrists, shoulders and backs, all of which had been working hard kneading and shaping that dough. As we went through the session, the dark evening drew in and a fantastic smell of baking started to drift into the room, it was really atmospheric.
When we finished the session we came out to the reception area and I was delighted to see my two loaves sitting proudly there. I couldn’t have been more chuffed!
The day finished with a gin cocktail with roasted plums and vanilla sugar (a non alcoholic ‘mocktail’ version was also offered, which no-one wanted!) and we sat down for a final chat and a toast to Tracey and Elisabeth for a wonderful day.
The bread went down really well when I got home (the aching muscles from the yoga lasted longer than the bread!) The workshop has really boosted my confidence with bread-making and I can’t wait to try making the yoga loaf at home myself.
The next Stretch + Knead workshop will be held on December 13th, at The Steiner School, Cardiff. The day, including all ingredients, food and drink, costs £125 per person. Aprons and all yoga equipment is provided.
Stretch + knead will also be running weekend retreats next year.