There’s nothing I love more than a stroll down Cardiff Bay on a sunny day. From the scenic views and marine wildlife, to the quirky souvenir shops and the endless selection of restaurants and cafes, there’s not much I don’t like about Cardiff Bay. In fact, the only downfall that springs to mind is the abundance of chains. If there were more independent food outlets in Cardiff Bay, I would definitely come here more often.
I was therefore delighted to hear that Canton-based Chapter have opened their first ever ‘culture cafe’ in Cardiff Bay. For those of you who don’t know (where have you been?), Chapter was set up 47 years ago to bring alternative art, film and theatre performances to Cardiff. Over the years, it has grown to become a friendly, community space with a Caffi Bar serving fresh, wholesome food and drink.
Opened in June, Caffi Sïo is based at the flourish on Lloyd George Avenue, suitably placed at the Craft in the Bay exhibition and art gallery. With it’s bright, uplifting yellow colour scheme, you can’t miss it. Sitting in front of the fountains, it makes for a peaceful breakfast, lunch or brunch spot.
Designed by Chef and Head of Food and Beverages, Laurentiu Florea (the driving force behind Sïo), the artisan food and drink menu focuses on seasonal, organic produce, using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. It is worth noting that Chapter’s Caffi Bar received national recognition from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as one of the top five vegan cultural venues in the UK and by looking at the dishes on Caffi Sïo’s menu, it looks set to follow in its footsteps.
There are a range of brunch and lunch choices available throughout the day up until 4pm, including a quick lunch menu and a tantalising selection of freshly baked cakes. Meanwhile, the drinks menu features a variety of teas and coffees, milkshakes and soft drinks. If that’s not enough, Caffi Sïo also offers a pre-theatre menu and launched a weekend afternoon tea offering last month, with the option to include bottomless Prosecco. You’ll have to act fast if you want to book this though, as three out of six September dates are already full booked!
Visiting Caffi Sïo for weekday brunch with my former housemate, James, I sipped on a latte and James slurped a cappucino (£2.70 each) as we drooled over the menu. We were particularly impressed by the design on top of the cappuccino. and the heart drawn onto the top of my latte. My latte was perfect; aromatic and strong, with an indulgent, creamy texture.
Everything on the menu looked so good, I would happily have eaten any of the dishes. I was particularly drawn to the Welsh Croque Madame (£5.95), a three cheese and leek toastie topped with Welsh rarebit and a fried egg, served with ham for an extra £1. Served on sourdough bread, the toastie was oozing with cheese. In a Welsh twist on the French classic, it contained Y Fenni cheese; a creamy cheddar blended with mustard seeds and ale that tastes just like traditional Welsh Rarebit. The toastie was topped with a perfectly runny egg, scattered with red amaranth leaves.
Regular readers of my blog will know that, if there’s anything I despise when it comes to eating out, it’s a limp, unnecessary side salad. A combination of mixed salad greens, sun-dried tomatoes, black and green olives, and crispy, spicy chickpeas (which I have since tried to recreate myself at home and failed miserably), I’m pleased to say this side salad was anything but boring.
Opposite me at the table, James tucked in to the chorizo hash (£6.96). Two large, runny poached eggs sat atop a hearty serving of slightly sweet, slightly spicy chorizo hash, finished with more red amaranth and freshly ground black pepper. This looked absolutely delicious and I am looking forward to ordering it on my next visit to Caffi Sïo.
We were feeling comfortably full after brunch, but the lovely Laurentiu insisted we tried the last remaining slab of beetroot brownie before we left. At first, I was apprehensive. I’m not the biggest beetroot lover; in fact, I’m not overly keen on the idea of using vegetables in cakes full stop. But this was mind-blowing. Hand on heart, I’ve never tasted such a light, fluffy brownie in all my life. It literally melted in our mouths. The beetroot was so soft and tasty, you could be forgiven for mistaking it for cherries. I can see why this had sold out! Do not visit Caffi Sïo without trying this – trust me!
Caffi Sïo is a refreshing addition to Cardiff Bay’s food and drink scene, and it looks set to become tremendously successful. It’s perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch or even just a cuppa (although you may find it impossible to resist ordering from the food menu.) I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that I’m already planning my next visit!
Lloyd George Avenue
(029) 2132 1090
Where’s your favourite place to go for brunch, and what do you usually order?