I am an unabashed carnivore and love a well flavoured juicy piece of meat. I, of course, like vegetables, pulse etc. but generally with (as opposed to instead of) meat. To me we are after all designed as omnivores (hence the molars and canines). I usually eschew the veggie option on any restaurant menu in favour of meat mainly, I have to say, as the veggie option tends (not always) to be a bit boring compared to the fish or meat options.
When I was about 14 , I did toy (for entirely superficial reasons – it was the trendy thing to do at the time I recall) with vegetarianism for a short period (not long enough – due to my limited liking at the time of really any veg – for me to quite expire from malnutrition but it was a close run thing). As a result, I can no longer eat baked beans (these being my staple diet during that period). Since my ill fated dalliance with vegetarianism (when cheese salad or a nut roast were your options if eating out and veggie restaurants were hippy only zones), the position for veggies has improved immeasurably and options now abounds.
This brings me to Atma Street Food, a cafe in Cardiff City Centre. Not perhaps a place I would normally gravitate towards of a lunch time, but which (from what I could ascertain on numerous walks past the place and checking out of the menu) seemed to serve up some decent looking and somewhat unexpected grub. I don’t, for example, expect pie and chips with gravy in a veggie restaurant.
It is located on one of those sites that always seems to have a high turnover of restaurants. Not a bad location if you ask me, central with plenty of passing trade, so it must be quality that is the issue in terms of previous incumbents.
Atma Street Food is quite spartan on the inside – all about functionality. Fine for lunch in my view but not the cosiest of places to linger to my mind.
I do, however, love their logo. It may be just me, but it looks a bit like a pug and come on who doesn’t love a pug!
The ethos here is excellent with everything home cooked, there being both veggie and vegan options and an ability to cater for those with food allergies. They really think about their food and the needs of their clientele here (hence the blog title).
The menu is not just your bog standard bean burgers and veggie chilli, with there being a bit of imagination in the offering to attract meat eaters like me as well as veggies and vegans.
I was sorely tempted by the creamy mushroom pie, chips and gravy (£5.95 all in – with the pie and chips dishes I saw coming out of the kitchen looking rather fine),
but decided that the ” Atma Special” (£5.95) was the one for me.
This consisted of a delicately spiced (could have done with just a little bit more oomph to it for my tastes) subji (vegetable and paneer curry), a very nice dhal and puri to dip in it, a couple of cauliflower pakoras, a very moreish chutney and a pleasant pile of nutty rice.
The star of the show was the well flavoured dhal (I love lentils and dhal is one of my favourite renditions, when done properly).
A very decent sized, tasty, lunch time treat and good value for the price tag.
Cakes on offer looked pretty good too.
There is a short selection of hot and cold drinks, with the focus being on teas. I didn’t see any of your standard sodas (not really this places style – good for them I say if that is the case).
I went for a matcha green tea ( £1.50 – came as a tea bag in a tall glass of hot water). It was quite refreshing, if a bit grassy for my tastes, and went well with my food.
I was pleasantly surprised by Atma Street Food. Tasty food that overall operated to dismiss my somewhat narrow minded preconception of veggie food being boring.
Also pretty good value for the £7.45, I paid, all in for my meal and a drink.
Would I go back? Yes definitely – creamy mushroom pie, chips and gravy next time I think.
I will also, after this visit, look to expand my horizons veggie wise. It has not converted me into giving up meat (God forbid), but it has certainly given me an urge to look into other vegetarian places.
I am already a big fan of that Cardiff veggie stalwart, the Vegetarian Food Studio, but will certainly be checking out other Cardiff places such as Milgi, Anna Loka and the newer Herbivore in the future.
9 Church St,
Tel: 029 2039 0391
All week: 11am – 6pm
Eat in and takeaway available.