I have watched with interest the transformation of the ground floor of the Bunkhouse on St. Mary Street in Cardiff into the intriguing mix of an Italian bakery, come deli, come wine bar. A trio that held much promise to my mind.
I am rather partial to Italian food and greatly admire its simplicity. Limited numbers of key ingredients are transformed into maximum flavour with minimum fuss. Foams and deconstructions are not really part of the equation in Italian cooking, where less is very much more.
A lad’s lunch presented the perfect excuse to give the place a go.
Inside and out they have done a nice job, with the outward face being a counter crammed full of pastries all of which look very appealing
There is a lot of stripped wood and some interesting design features. Nice for lunch and very buzzy, I suspect, in the evening.
With its focus on prosecco it already seems to have become a haunt of ladies that lunch.
A fair few bottles of prosecco were being drunk, as well as their signature sorbet prosecco slushies being much in evidence, on our Friday lunch time visit. We were in a clear minority in not drinking booze.
Definitely a place J and her ilk would like. Savvy bit of market positioning by this place, as that section of the market tends to spend a far bit on prosecco and stuff to wash it down with.
The food offering is split between sarnies with Italian bread and fillings, meat and cheese boards and specials.
They also do breakfast.
Orders are taken at the deli counter, but food delivered to the table.
Two of us decided on one of the “specials” in the form of the hot homemade meatballs with a marinara sauce in ciabatta bread (£6).
These (three decent sized balls) were very good with lots of flavour from quality meat and herbs. There had the lovely yielding texture the comes from homemade meatballs that have not been overworked. The marinara sauce with them was good with a rich tomato flavour (could have done with perhaps a touch more seasoning if I was being ultra picky) and the bread nicely toasted with a lovely texture. All in all a very superior meatball sarnie.
It came with a decent side salad, with a very good dressing.
The other dish ordered was a very respectable board of Italian meats (salami, Parma ham and bresola) with toasted bread, salad and olives (£6.50).
Not a huge portion but not too bad price wise. It was (I thought) about right for lunch.
It was nice to see quality Italian charcuterie on display here (sliced in-house rather than pre-packed sliced stuff).
On the drinks front they have a good selection of hot drinks and a limited selection of soft drinks (including Fevertree mixers – £2.75 I think)
I had a latte, others Fevertree ginger beer and Sicilian lemonade.
On the booze front, they have a wide selection of proseccos (for which prices looked reasonable – prices start at £4.95 for a glass, the prosecco slushies are £6.50 )
Interestingly the fizz is served in coupe (rather than flute) glasses. Whilst arguably flutes are better for purest tasting reasons, I rather like the classic coupe glass. Very Audrey Hepburn/Gary Grant and much easier to wash up (and harder to knock over). Also (again a bit of saviness here by Nine Yards) I suspect they lead to stuff being drunk quicker than with a flute.
There are also whites, rosés (one of which was described to us as a man’s rosés) and reds (all from Italy). Not just your bog standard pinot grigio and chianti here, but perhaps a touch limited bearing in mind the huge breadth of wines Italy offers. I would like to see it expanded a bit going forward, as it seemed a touch lacking in terms of Southern Italian wines, but can understand starting off with a more limited selection rather than the full gamut of what Italy has to offer (which would make for a very long list).
No list was available (so prices unclear but from a quick chat with one of the owners they seemed to be pitched nicely between value and quality – prices start at £17 -£18 for a bottle of house). Details will be up on a board (displayed prominently) shortly apparently. All suggests somewhere promising for a decent glass of Italian wine .
For non wine drinker there is a selection of Italian and other beers on offer.
I also liked the gratis cucumber water – very refreshing.
I was rather taken with the Nine Yards. Very decent food that would go perfectly with the Italian wines on offer, as well as killer looking pastries.
I think it has pitched itself very nicely in terms of the seemingly insatiable appetite for all things prosecco (if J and her mates are any gauge – can see them inhaling copious amounts of the sorbet prosecco slushies) and grazing food to mop it up (served all day and until 10.30 at night). Can see them doing rather well. Hope so, as I think it is a very good addition to Cardiff’s food and wine scene.
Would I go back? Definitely, good food and a decent wine offering is exactly my thing. Great for lunch and I suspect even better when able to have a glass or two of vino with the food.
When it comes to bringing a little slice of Italy to the City centre they have certainly tried to go the whole nine yards.
94 St. Mary Street
Tel: 01633 860090
Website: click here. (Facebook page)
Opening hours : 10am – 11.30pm