Start a restaurant from scratch – for free! Restaurant review: CF24 Project – Crwys Road, Cardiff

Photo copyrighted to CF24Project.com

As a food blogger, I am lucky enough to have been invited to review a number of highly successful restaurants in Cardiff, like Moksh (Cardiff Bay), Mint and Mustard (Whitchurch Road) and Jamie’s Italian (The Hayes, city centre). However, there’s nothing I love more than reviewing smaller restaurants that might be just starting up, unable to afford to spend too much on PR or advertising but still keen to drum up some extra trade.

 
Cue CF24 Project; a new eco-friendly cafe/restaurant started by four young professionals who had an idea for a new and exciting where everything that you can see is either begged, broken, borrowed or stolen. Virtually all of CF24 Project’s furnishings and fittings are either upcycled or made using recycled materials. 
 
From the bicycle hanging on the wall…
 
… to this lovely wooden piano…
 
…to this eclectic home made lamp shade hanging above the stairs leading down to the basement.
 
 
The dining area sits alongside the bar and features two rows of wooden bar stool seating, in addition to comfy, low-seated sofas with wooden crates as tables. 
Photo copyrighted to CF24 Project

 

The wall opposite the bar is decorated with a series of abstract painted murals; a nod to CF24 Project’s artsy approach.All of the food on the menu is locally sourced, with dishes including ‘build your own’ burgers and hot dogs and diner-style dishes. Outside, there is a small courtyard where the team grow their own veg. They also use the garden to host markets and teach local residents new ways to save money, recycle and reduce wastage.

 

At present CF24 Project only serves alcohol during special events, so it’s very much a case of bring your own bottle, although with no corkage fee this works out to be a cheap option. However, the venue is planning to obtain its alcohol licence in March.Visiting CF24 Project on a school night, my friend Sarah and I weren’t particularly fussed on drinking alcohol with our meals anyway – especially not after we’d caught sight of the fantastic range of fresh milkshakes and smoothies on offer.

I went for the chocolate milkshake. At first glance, you’d have been forgiven for thinking it was strawberry milkshake because of the pink-tinted glass it was served in. This was teamed with a matching jumbo pink straw, making for a fun finishing a touch. The milkshakes was freshly blended using whole milk, ice and chocolate powder and it tasted great, although it could have done with being a bit creamier and perhaps slightly sweeter.

Sarah tried out the strawberry and banana smoothie which came in a blue-tinted glass with a complementary jumbo blue straw. All milkshakes and smoothies cost just £2 each.

 
For starters, we shared a portion of onion rings (£2.00) and a portion of beer battered pickles (£3.00).
 
These onion rings were the biggest and the best that I have ever tasted, and there were plenty of them. The batter was golden brown, rich and crispy – just like the batter you’d expect from a decent fish and chip shop. I couldn’t get enough of these and when I get round to visiting CF24 Project again, I’ll certainly be ordering some more!

 

 
We were really intrigued by the sound of the beer battered pickles when we saw them on the menu, so we just had to try them out. Inspired by a dish served up in some pubs in London, this starter consisted of several pickles (eg. pickled cucumber, gherkin) deep fried in a delicious beer batter, served on greaseproof paper in a small dish. As pickles are quite wet because they’ve been left to soak for so long, we thought the batter might be a bit soggy. However, this was not the case, as the pickles are patted dry with kitchen roll before being placed into the fryer. This means that the batter stays perfectly crispy, while the inside of the pickle remains juicy and flavoursome.
 
 
I knew exactly what I wanted for my main. I’d had a cheeky look at CF24 Project’s menu online before arriving at the venue, and I had my eye on one of their award-winning Big Apple hot dogs (£5), supposedly served in buttered brioche rolls. When my hot dog turned up in a soft white finger roll, I was a bit let down to say the least. However, the size of the sausage really made up for it – it was fat, juicy and meaty, with none of the fat or gristly bits that you sometimes find in cheap sausages. These sausages are sourced from London-based deli brand, the Big Apple.
 
The fries were better than average. They’d been sprinkled with a tasty seasoning and tasted great, while the serving size was just right – not too big, not too small. 

 

I ordered avocado, cheese, fried onions, jalapenos and chilli con carne as sides with my hot dog (£1 extra each), each of which was served in a dainty silver bowl.

Avocado
Chilli con carne
Fried red onions

All of the extras were enjoyable and appealing, although I did have a feeling that the chilli con carne was a tinned version rather than home made. I appreciate that this may be intended to keep costs as low as possible, although I would recommend that CF24 Project prepares a batch of meaty home made chilli to serve as an extra. They could even get away with including slightly less chilli in each serving to save money, and the dish could even be offered as a new main meal to increase selection and maximise profits.While I munched my way through my hot dog, Sarah tucked into a aged Welsh beef patty with cheese and bacon (£6.00 + £1 each for cheese and bacon). Her burger was accompanied by a portion of seasoned fries and fresh lettuce, sliced red onion and tomato. The burger bap was soft and white, with a golden brown crusty surface – a decent quality. Sarah said her burger was very meaty and full of bite, while she too was very fond of the seasoned fries.

At the time of visiting CF24 Project the dessert menu was still under development, but planned dishes include a range of freshly baked fruit pies.

Besides dishing up delicious grub, CF24 Project is big on art, music and shopping, with constantly changing artwork from well known urban artists, starting with Andy Morris’ Little Big Art Commission, which uses Lego.

 

 

Meanwhile, the venue plans to host a series of pop-up shopping stalls selling everything from vintage clothes to street art prints, books and records. This is in addition to CF24’s regular entertainment schedule, which features live music from DJs and open mic nights, music industry seminars, book readings and sporting events shown on big screens. 
 
In the basement, there is plenty of space available which would be ideal for a private function, talks, demonstrations or screenings.
 
 
CF24 Project is well worth a visit for some casual food and drinks with friends, and I’d be very keen to find out how busy they get on their live music and open mic nights. If you’re fancying popping in to give it a go, I recommend going on Tuesday (17th February), when CF24 Project will be serving up a selection of mouthwatering pancakes for Pancake Day, with toppings like maple syrup and bacon, peanut butter and banana, greek yoghurt, blueberries and cream cheese and butternut squash and rocket.
 
CF24 Project
8-10 Crwys Road
Cardiff
CF24 4NJ
+44788876285 
 
I was invited to CF24 Project as a guest and our food and drinks were provided complimentary. However, I was not obliged to write a positive review.
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