A few months ago, Cardiff’s Queen Street gained a new coffee shop in the form of 200 Degrees, on the former site of Base and Barley restaurant. Owned by a Nottingham-based independent coffee roaster, the Cardiff branch is one of six of its kind, with shops located elsewhere in Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds and Leicester.
When I heard there was another coffee shop opening on this end of Queen Street, my first thoughts were “Really? Not another one!” This area of Cardiff is saturated with coffee shops including the likes of Starbucks, Caffè Nero, Costa, Coffee #1, Milk and Sugar and the Second Cup Coffee Company (just off the top of my head).
Arriving at the coffee shop during a weekday lunch-time, it was busy and most tables were already taken. I ordered at the till and found myself somewhere to sit as I waited for my coffee and food to arrive.
Decked out in wooden flooring and dining furniture, with brickwork walls and dim lighting, the coffee shop has an eclectic, contemporary vibe. A glowing neon fireplace sitting next to two armchairs at the rear of the restaurant helps to cosy things up.
The coffee menu features all the usual suspects, alongside house espresso, Brazilian Love Affair, the Mellowship Slinky Decaf (made using Mexican beans) and cold brew, including nitro coffee (200 Degrees is the first coffee shop in Wales to offer this option). Meanwhile, the food menu is updated every Wednesday and features a range of salads, soups and sandwiches.
I sipped on a regular strong, creamy latte (£2.90); the surface of which featured a swan on water drawn in foam.
The salad and sandwich selection was so impressive, I couldn’t decide which I liked the look of most, so I ended up trying a sandwich and two salads (I can feel myself being judged right now!) At 200 Degrees, you can choose from innovative creations like beef and pork meatballs with Provolone cheese, rocket and creamy white mushrooms, or cider and mustard pulled pork with Stilton, sweet apple chutney and watercress, served in either a flatbread or a baguette. The salad options are equally as inventive.
I eventually settled on the basil chicken flatbread with beetroot hummus, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and feta (£4.95) served warm. Two flatbread wraps were rolled up in baking parchment-style paper, secured with brown string tied into a bow. They were as soft as a cloud. Inside, bite-size chunks of aromatic basil chicken, creamy diced feta, earthy beetroot hummus and fresh spinach combined to produce an unfamiliar, yet delicious, flavour, and a satisfying range of textures.
My first salad was a combination of crunchy kale, sliced chilli-roasted carrots and cubes of sweet Pink Lady apple in a tangy sage and red currant dressing (£4.95). I like the idea of using kale as opposed to lettuce in a salad; it helps to bulk it up a little bit, so that it fills you up more.
This was followed up by a vibrant garlic-sauteed green bean, spinach, yellow pepper and cherry tomato salad, drizzled with a lemon sesame dressing. I liked the green beans so much, I’ve already recreated them myself at home. However, the rest of the salad was a little too bland for my liking and I struggled to detect the dressing.
If you fancy something sweet to go with your coffee, treat yourself to a toasted coconut and dark chocolate flapjack, honeycomb Rocky Road, banana and chocolate loaf, or whatever catches your eye from 200 Degree’s mouth-watering display of baked goodies.
My first visit to 200 Degrees Cardiff has left me feeling pleasantly surprised. The range and quality of food and drink on offer was very impressive, and I don’t know of any other coffee shops that update their menu every week, let alone every season. A week on from my review, I still can’t stop thinking about that amazing flatbread. I look forward to seeing what’s new on the menu next time I visit 200 Degrees Cardiff!
115 Queen Street
(029) 2132 0708
Where’s your favourite place to go for a sandwich? Do you have a favourite filling?