Restaurant review: Irie Shack – Woodville Rd, Cathays, Cardiff

 

 

A photo posted by Irie Shack (@irieshack) on

 

Irie Shack Caribbean bar and grill opened in April last year on Woodville Road in Cathays, Cardiff, after moving from its former site in Cwmbran. In Jamaica, ‘irie’ is a general term of approval meaning ‘nice’, ‘good’ or ‘alright’ and is often used by Rastafarians as a friendly greeting. Earlier this month, owner Iftekhar Harris opened a second branch on James Street in Cardiff, on the former site of the White Hart pub in the area of Cardiff Bay previously known as Tiger Bay and home to a large Caribbean community.

I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t been to Irie Shack before, although I spent a few months in Jamaica in 2014 and I love Caribbean cuisine. I went to Caribbean restaurant chain, Turtle Bay on High Street, Cardiff when it opened in December and I really enjoyed the food and atmosphere but the menu lacked a number of authentic Caribbean dishes, like ackee and saltfish and my personal favourite, callaloo. 

Irie Shack’s menu features both traditional and contemporary Jamaican starters and sides, one pot dishes (including callaloo and ackee and saltfish), jerk pit classics, burgers, roti wraps and salads. This is complemented by a drinks menu featuring a number of Caribbean-inspired cocktails (2-for-1 every day except for 7pm – 9.30pm) and authentic beers, including Red Stripe.

 

 

A photo posted by Irie Shack (@irieshack) on

Inside the Cathays branch of Irie Shack, the walls are painted with colourful, hand-painted murals and plastered in posters advertising reggae performances, while reggae music plays in the background. 

The Caribbean theme continues through the restaurant and out into the heated garden and smoking area, which features a wall mural of a stunning orange sunset,  palm trees and a picnic bench painted in the Rastafari colours of red, yellow and green. 

Smoking area and garden

As we studied the menu, I sipped on a can of Ting (£1); a refreshingly fruity and sharp grapefruit soda, popular throughout the Caribbean. 

Ting Jamaican grapefruit soda

My starter of halloumi bites (£4.95) was served as a skewer of grilled salty halloumi, tomato and green pepper, topped with sliced spring onions and served with jerk mayo (a tangy, slightly runny jerk dressing). 

Grilled halloumi

Meanwhile, my friend began with the Stamp n’ go (£4.95) – deep-fried salted cod fritters. The batter was crisp and well-seasoned, but unfortunately the fritters were a little over-cooked and the cod was chewy. 

Deep-fried saltfish fritters
Craving some spice for my main course, I ordered the hot curry chicken (£8.95) served with rice n’ peas, Caribbean slaw and dumplings, in addition to a small side of callaloo (£8.95 as a main – we requested a smaller portion, which cost around £4). 

The curry contained huge chunks of tender chicken breast served off the bone in a creamy, yet spicy curry sauce. Personally, I would have liked it to have been slightly hotter. A large portion of rice n’ peas was well-flavoured, while the Caribbean slaw was fresh and crunchy and the dumplings were rather more-ish, although not as nice as the festival dumplings I tried in Jamaica. 

The callaloo was perfectly cooked with scotch bonnet pepper, sliced onion, spring onion and diced potato and it had a nice, fiery kick to it. 

Chicken curry, rice n' peas, Caribbean slaw, dumplings and callaloo

Meanwhile, opposite me at the table my friend tucked into the coconut curry (£8.95); tender chicken pieces slow-cooked with bell peppers, herbs and spices in a creamy, yet spicy coconut milk sauce served with fried dumplings, Caribbean slaw and rice ‘n’ peas. 

Coconut chicken curry, rice n'peas, Caribbean slaw and dumplings

The restaurant was fairly busy for a week day evening and there were several large groups in, but luckily the service doesn’t run on Jamaican time and we didn’t have to wait very long for our food at all! 

The quality of the food was good but not mind-blowing, although I’d say it was on par with Turtle Bay. However, Irie Shack is definitely my favourite of the two restaurants because it serves callaloo, the prices are cheaper and it has a heated garden and smoking area. 

Peter Smith (pictured below) has been one of the chefs at Irie Shack since the restaurant first began in Cwmbran back in 2013. Originally from Kingston, Jamaica, Peter has always enjoyed experimenting with food and enjoys coming up with new dishes for the menu, revealing that the rasta rice (basmati rice with onions, bell peppers and ackee) has been a popular addition.  

Peter Smith, Chef at Irie Shack

If you’re thinking of visiting Irie Shack, why not make a night of it and go on the weekend, when the restaurant plays host to popular reggae acts like Aleighcia Scott? On the other hand, if you’re fancying a night in, you can also choose to order food for home delivery!


Irie Shack
106-110 Woodville Road,
Cathays,
Cardiff
CF24 4EE
(029) 2037 3272
www.irieshack.com

If you enjoyed my review of Irie Shack, take a look at my post on Caribbean restaurant chain, Turtle Bay.

 

46 Comments

  1. February 19, 2016 / 11:13 am

    I live in Cardiff and I have heard of this restaurant but I’ve never been I think I will definitely be trying it now after reading your review it sounds superb

    • February 19, 2016 / 6:44 pm

      Awww, glad you liked it Katie 🙂 I am so glad I checked it out, we had a lovely meal there.

  2. February 19, 2016 / 1:27 pm

    You had me with the halloumi starter, I am a sucker for halloumi. x

    • February 19, 2016 / 6:43 pm

      Hehe, me too. I think I’ve developed a slight obsession with halloumi just lately!

    • February 19, 2016 / 6:43 pm

      Aww, I know the feeling. Ever since I got back, I’ve wanted to return. What part did you go to?

  3. Shareen HD
    February 19, 2016 / 2:31 pm

    Hmmm looks like a nice place to eat and somewhere enjoyable enough to go again. I love Caribbean food but it’s so time consuming to cook and we are yet to find somewhere in London that delivers food we actually enjoy!

    • February 19, 2016 / 6:42 pm

      Luckily, this place does delivery, so I’m sorted 😀

  4. February 19, 2016 / 3:18 pm

    I haven’t heard of this place but the coconut curry looks really authentic. I will have to check this place out when I’m in Cardiff next. It sounds like a fun place with reggae as well!

    • February 19, 2016 / 6:41 pm

      I really like it here 🙂 The atmosphere’s great!

  5. February 19, 2016 / 4:17 pm

    Oh my goodness what an absolutely delicious looking meal – I want to reach through the screen and take some to try! x

    • February 19, 2016 / 6:40 pm

      Hehe, I know the feeling. It makes my stomach rumble writing up these reviews!

  6. February 19, 2016 / 4:32 pm

    Those fritters look so tasty!! Shame to hear they were overcooked because that’s the sort of thing I would’ve loved :/

    • February 19, 2016 / 6:41 pm

      Thanks Laura. Yes, it was rather disappointing. I would’ve loved these usually too.

  7. Tara
    February 19, 2016 / 5:52 pm

    Oh this looks amazing, especially the fritters!

    • February 19, 2016 / 6:40 pm

      Thanks Tara; they were nice, just a shame they were slightly overcooked 🙁

  8. February 19, 2016 / 6:03 pm

    It looks authentic for sure! 🙂

  9. February 19, 2016 / 7:29 pm

    Never tried before but certainly looks tasty

  10. February 19, 2016 / 7:35 pm

    Oh wow the deep-fried salted cod fritters sounds delicious, I would love to visit this restaurant 🙂

    • February 20, 2016 / 9:09 pm

      Thanks Claire, I’m sure you’d love it here!

  11. emma white
    February 19, 2016 / 9:57 pm

    oh I am so jealous and so hungry right now this looks totally amazing

    • February 20, 2016 / 9:04 pm

      Hehe oops 😉 It makes me hungry reading it again.

  12. February 19, 2016 / 10:33 pm

    I adore Caribbean food and this place sounds divine. The Coconut Curry sounds especially appealing.

    • February 20, 2016 / 9:03 pm

      Thanks Tori. It really is lovely here, I’m so lucky to live nearby!

  13. Mel
    February 20, 2016 / 3:35 am

    O wow, that looks like my kind of night out. The food looks amazing!

  14. February 20, 2016 / 8:20 am

    Looks like a great venue with some seriously great eats! I’d love to visit there one day.

    • February 20, 2016 / 9:08 pm

      Thank you. It is a great restaurant 🙂

  15. February 20, 2016 / 11:11 am

    Do they have any good veggie options too? The coconut curry sounds tasty glad you enjoyed it!

    • February 20, 2016 / 9:03 pm

      The veggie choice wasn’t amazing, but the halloumi was lovely and I think they do jerk veg kebabs and a veggie burger.

  16. February 20, 2016 / 4:16 pm

    All of these amazing places you keep eating at is making me wonder why I am not on a train over there x

    • February 20, 2016 / 9:07 pm

      Thanks Rachel. It really is lovely to have so many fab restaurants in Cardiff.

  17. Idaintyit
    February 20, 2016 / 10:45 pm

    I can’t believe this is in Cardiff! Looks like it is in a sunny exotic place. Have seen so many reviews on places in Cardiff lately I think I need to head over for weekend. This place is my favourite of all the ones i have seen.

    • February 22, 2016 / 5:05 pm

      Definitely, we really do have so many quality restaurants here. We’re very lucky indeed!

  18. February 20, 2016 / 11:43 pm

    I am 100% going here when I’m in Cardiff next month. Thanks for a great review!

    • February 22, 2016 / 5:04 pm

      No probs 😀 Hope you have a great time in Cardiff, it’s a lovely city!

  19. February 21, 2016 / 4:31 pm

    Looks and sounds absolutely delicious! I love this type of cuisine! xxx

  20. Gaby
    February 21, 2016 / 9:36 pm

    How do you find places to eat when you are in a new city?

    • February 22, 2016 / 5:00 pm

      When I travelled to Jamaica, I generally just visited the restaurants that I really liked the look of or that locals had told me I would enjoy. However, Tripadvisor is a good way to find out which restaurants you should visit in a given city.

  21. February 21, 2016 / 10:40 pm

    Ah if I ever go to Cardiff I will be trying it there! Looks lovely

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