With the proliferation (some welcome, others not so much) of swanky new places to eat at lunch time in Cardiff, it is easy to forget the independent stalwarts of the lunch time scene.
One such place is Bramina, which doles out eat in or take out pasta dishes (amongst other things) to an eager and loyal following from Cardiff’s lunch time crowd.
Located at the end of Barrack Lane (the other end to the ever popular Grazing Shed) it is an unassuming little place, but always seemed to be busy every time I have walked past it (it is on my route from the office to M&S).
Inside it is predominately geared up for take out, but there is some capacity to eat in both inside and (if the weather is nice – a big if with our unpredictable Summers) outside.
Not a place to perhaps linger if eating in, but perfectly fine if you don’t want to take your lunch out. I have tried both eat in and take out.
Whilst they do breakfast and paninis, what I was interested in was their pasta. In theory a simple thing that everybody cooks, but in reality hard to get right. Not cooked enough and it is unpleasantly hard, but cook it over and it goes sloppy and slimy and if anything becomes even more unpleasant. It needs to be cooked just right with a bit of bite (but not too much) to the pasta.
The sauce is equally important and to my mind simplicity is the key. The Italians are masters of extracting maximum flavour out of minimum ingredients. Less is generally more in Italian cooking.
At Bramina the sauces are homemade with staples in the form of pomadora and arrabiata, supplemented by ever-changing specials.
Pasta used is takeaway friendly penne, which is easier to eat then say spaghetti or tagliatelle (didn’t stop me getting sauce all over my shirt in work mind, but I am a clumsy oaf).
On my first visit I had a very pleasant bowl (eat in) of penne pasta with an Alfredo style sauce.
Well cooked penne pasta (with just the right amount of bite) and a good creamy sauce, with plenty of mozzarella and parmesan, went down a treat and was a good-sized portion for the base price tag of £4.20 (eat in).
I added roast chicken for an extra £1.10p. Whilst nice enough I am not sure it added much to the equation. I probably would pass on it next time as there was enough of the pasta and sauce and sufficient flavour to the base dish to make the addition of the chicken unnecessary.
It was nice to see that the sauce was applied in a quantity whereby it coated rather than swamped the pasta.
On my next visit, I went for a take away and choose, that Roman classic, an arrabiata sauce to go with my pasta. Many arrabiata sauces I have had have been disappointingly bland and, in particular, lacking in any noticeable chilli bite. This was nicely tomatoey, with a decent but not overpowering amount of chilli heat. Enough to leave a tingle on the lips, but nothing more.
Again the pasta was coated by the sauce rather than swimming in it
The container it came in was robust and my lunch was still hot when I got back to my desk (a good 10 minute walk away). A big bonus that for me. Very good value, I thought, for the £3.40 price tag.
A selection of panettone, homemade cakes and also ice cream is on offer for those with a sweet tooth. I didn’t try any but they all looked nice and were fairly priced
On the drinks front, they have a goodish range of hot drinks
and cold drinks.
Nice to see the mark ups on the cold drinks are not too bad (£1 for San Pellegrino).
I had a latte on the visit where I ate in. Little bit underpowered perhaps, but not badly priced (£2.20).
I rather like Bramina. They deliver well cooked pasta with flavoursome sauces. For the reasonable prices they charge, you can’t ask for much more in my opinion.
They do a pretty good meal deal of a bowl of pasta (pomadora or arrabiata) + a bottled soft drink for at £4.20 (medium) or £4.90 (large).
Service is prompt and friendly.
Would I go back? Definitely, great little lunch time spot for an eat in or take away lunch.
9 Barrack Lane
Tel: 029 2132 0353
To access their website (Facebook page) click here
Mon – Fri : 9am – 5pm
Sat: 10am – 6pm.