Standing on Cardiff’s Caroline Street, known locally as Chippy Lane because of the density of fast food shops which occupy it, Pipi’s Greek Café and Restaurant is a hidden gem lying undiscovered amongst the greasy takeaway outlets which make up its neighbours, like a diamond in the rough.
One of only a handful of traditional Greek restaurants in Cardiff, PiPi’s has been established for three years and serves both light snacks and main meals, alongside a selection of freshly ground coffee.
Pipi’s also houses a small shop selling Greek produce including items like dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), tahini (ground, hulled sesame seed paste), cous cous, pasta, spices and regional cheeses.
The main menu features Greek classics like moussaka and meatball and sausage dishes alongside other meat, poultry and fish option and salads, with a separate meze/starter menu.
Arriving at PiPis with a friend, we find a place to sit and we are soon approached by a friendly and welcoming waitress. She hands us a menu each and kindly talks us through the different foods on offer. Although foreign she speaks very good English and has an extensive knowledge of the menu.
For starters we decide to share the tiropitakia (£4.50) – crispy pastry parcels filled with creamy feta, served with a colourful salad. The hot feta tastes delicious inside the crispy pastry (so delicious in fact that I tried to make my own at home – see my attempt at the end of this post!)
I am also feeling rather full after my meal, but we really want to try the traditional Greek desserts. PiPi’s bake their own cakes and sweet pastries, which are laid out on display both at the front of the restaurant and in a refrigerated glass cabinet opposite. If this isn’t temptation, I don’t know what is.
We decide to share two desserts so that we can both try a pastry and a cake. The waitress is particularly helpful here in helping us to figure out what to order, especially as there is so much choice. We order her recommendation of galactobureko (£3.95), which is a fairly large and crunchy filo pastry filled with sweet semolina which has a custard-like taste. It tastes good but it is rather rich and heavy on the stomach – I’m glad we decided to halve it because I couldn’t eat a whole one.
To accompany the galactobureko we choose a play-it-safe option in the form of the chocolate slab (£3.50). This looks mouth-watering on the plate, encircled by rings of chocolate sauce. Consisting of dark chocolate and crunchy, chopped nuts, the chocolate slab tastes just as good as it sounds, but does get a bit sickly after a few bites.
All in all we are really impressed by our first visit to PiPi’s. The coffee shop and restaurant offers a truly authentic Greek experience, right through from the traditional food menu to the friendly, doting staff.
The only downside is that the majority of the meals are served with chips,and there aren’t any substitutes available for those who might be fancying something else. I’d like to see PiPi’s start offering diners the opportunity to swap chips for rice, cous cous, cooked veg or salad.
But I wouldn’t let a few chips stop me from visiting PiPi’s again in the future, whether for a quick coffee or a sit-down meal.
Finally, as promised here’s my first attempt at making tiropitakia, using a recipe I found in a cookbook. I had some pastry left over and so I made some breadsticks too. Not bad, eh? I used ready-made puff pastry because I couldn’t find filo in my local supermarket, but next time I think I’ll try and hunt down some down.
*This restaurant is now closed
31-32 Caroline Street,