Lunchtime review: Fresh the Baguette Bar – Royal Arcade, Cardiff

Fed up of settling for the same old sandwich fillings, I’ve been hunting for somewhere more exciting to visit on my lunch break – somewhere that uses its imagination when it comes to making a sarnie.

A few weeks ago I came across Fresh the Baguette Bar in Royal Arcade, Cardiff , and I’ve been counting down the hours until lunchtime every day since.

Tucked into a corner just a few doors down from Wally’s Delicatessen, Fresh is so small that only around three customers can fit in at a time (although I can assure you that the queue trailing out of the door in the picture below, has more to do with the popularity of the food)!

 
Thinking said queue must be a good sign, I decide to give Fresh a go. As the name would suggest, Fresh sells baguettes – and lots of them. To my delight, there are well over twenty different fillings available and my only problem is choosing just one to order. Fresh serve baguettes filled with just about everything you can think of, as well as everything you’d never think of – from roast beef salad and BLT, to Malaysian chicken and salami, pastrami, caramelised onion, mustard and mayonnaise (yes, the last five ingredients make up just one filling)!

Prices for baguettes range from £2.80 to £3.75, so depending what you order, Fresh will either be on par with most other sandwich shops or slightly more expensive. Either way though, trust me, it’s worth every single penny!

I’m drawn to the daily special of rosemary and garlic marinated chicken with wild rocket, apple and pistachios and fresh mayonnaise, on a soft white baguette (£3.75).

As you can see the baguette is crammed with chunks of chicken, interspersed with vibrant, green rocket. The apple and pistachios lie underneath, making for a delicious discovery when I bite into them.

Impressed with my first visit to Fresh, I can’t resist heading there again. This time I try out another daily special – chicken and bacon with wild rocket, red onion and mayonnaise topped with the rather unusual, yet mouthwatering, creation of ‘salami crackling’ (£3.75).

The salami crackling is crisp and crunchy; a bit like bacon, but better. The red onion complements it nicely. Once again my baguette is full to the brim and the classic chicken and bacon with mayo combination goes down well.

If you are looking for something to warm you up for lunch (it is getting colder now, after all), Fresh serves a range of hot paninis with fillings equally as exciting as those available on the baguettes, with prices from £3.40 to £3.85. I want to see what the paninis are like, so when I next visit Fresh I order the smoked ham with salami, Swiss cheese, roast onion chutney with  fresh salad, on soft white (£3.85).

My panini is pleasantly warm, doubling up as a hand warmer on my way back to the office. Filled with quality ham, sliced cheese, iceberg lettuce and tomatoes, it makes for a comforting treat on a cold day. Another thing I liked about it was that the cheese wasn’t melted to the point where it oozes out of the baguette and clings to the paper bag, as it does with the place I usually get my paninis from.

Those of you who are reading this and worrying about calorie content will be pleased to know that Fresh also offers a tantalising selection of salads, with similar fillings. I’m not really one for salad but I’m drawn to the chicken and bacon caesar salad with pine nuts (£3.95).

Served in a plastic container, the salad includes shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes, cucumber, chopped red onion, sweetcorn, french beans and pasta, topped with chicken and bacon in a creamy sauce, sliced cheddar cheese and toasted pine nuts. Well, it’s certainly more exciting than the pre-packed salads you find in big department store and it tastes pretty good, as far as salads go. It’s not as impressive as the baguettes I’ve tried and it costs more, but it does make for a healthy alternative (which I could probably do with)!

If it’s something sweet you’re craving, you’re sure to be tempted by one of Fresh’s homemade cakes and bakes. I particularly like their range of chocolate brownies, like the one below, which is topped with Cadbury’s Crunchie (£1.85). Rich and moist, with a gooey chocolate centre, this brownie is too sinful to eat all the time, but it makes for the perfect little treat every once in a while.

I certainly got what I was looking for when I first visited Fresh the Baguette Bar, looking for somewhere new and exciting to visit on my lunch break. Now, it’s become one of my favourite lunch hour retreats and one of the best sandwich shops I know of in Cardiff. Okay, so Fresh is a bit on the pricey side, but you’ll struggle to find such a wide variety of fresh fillings elsewhere. The customer service is also second to none. The friendly husband-and-wife team really get to know their customers and even seem to know what all of their regulars want to order before they even say anything. So if, like me, you’re happy to pay that little bit extra for a freshly made sandwich somewhat out of the ordinary, make the most of your lunch break and pay a visit to Fresh the Baguette Bar.

Fresh the Baguette Bar
32 Royal Arcade
Cardiff
CF10 1AE
029 2022 3158

Telephone orders accepted before 10.30am

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