Last Saturday, I went to the Imperial Cafe on Cardiff’s Splott Road for lunch with my Dad. He is rather fond of the cafe as he dined there many years ago, but I wasn’t expecting anything special – just your average greasy spoon – or so I thought…
Known affectionately by the locals as Joe’s Cafe, the Imperial Cafe is owned by Benedito’s, a shop just down the road selling gourmet Portugese food and drink.
Inside, the cafe is brightly coloured in shades of yellow and orange, with the food menu scrawled onto a large blackboard which stretches along the top of the serving area. The menu is quite impressive for a small cafe, featuring paninis and baguettes, jacket potatoes, all-day breakfasts, omelettes and burger meals, alongside traditional favourites like fish and chips, faggots and mash and roast dinner.
We each order a coffee (£1), which come served in a white mug complete with a frothy layer and chocolate sprinkles.
To eat I order a ham and cheese panini, served with homemade chips and a side salad of iceberg lettuce, onion, carrot, tomatoes, coleslaw and red cabbage (£3.90) – on a seriously big plate. The panini is generously stuffed with quality ham and cheddar cheese, and the chips are a delicious golden brown.
My Dad knows what he wants to order before we even get inside, remembering that they do a good paella. Unfortunately this dish isn’t on the menu anymore, although when he works out that it’s probably been about 30 years since he last came in here, it’s perhaps no surprise. He opts instead for the liver and bacon in onion gravy with chips, carrots and peas (£4.90), and he seems very pleased with his choice.
As we eat our meals the cafe starts to fill up with diners, and by the time we leave people are queuing for seats. The cafe has plenty of seating for a food outlet of its size, but it’s clearly quite popular in the local community and attracts a range of clientele, from children to the elderly.
My Dad was right about the Imperial Cafe. With a selection of traditional comfort food at affordable prices, I’ll definitely be visiting again – not just your average greasy spoon, after all!
The Imperial Café
33 Splott Road
(029) 2046 3900