The Plan has seemingly been around for nearly as long as I have been in Cardiff (a very long time indeed). Situated in one of Cardiff’s beautiful Victorian arcades it has a truly lovely facade (particularly striking if you approach it from the St. Mary Street entrance to Morgan Arcade). I vaguely recall (possibly incorrectly) that it was once called Sarsaparilla (or at least what was on the site before the Plan), but that was eons ago.
Over the years I have been to the Plan many times, with it operating to me and many friends as a sort of default option – go to the Plan if you lack a plan for lunch.
The fact that it has been nominated in the café category of the Cardiff Lifestyle awards (along with Uncommon Ground, Little Man Coffee, Madame Fromage, Barker, Milk and Sugar, Blue Pelican and the Deck – all bar a couple having been looked at previously on the blog and are worthy contenders, making for a very competitive category) gave myself and a couple of the chaps from work (as well as them being too lazy to trek across town to my suggested venue) a suitable rationale to visit the place.
Very much a case of them “That place is too far and it’s raining, can we go somewhere else?” and me ” You lazy xxxxxxs, ok mmmm let me think – how about the Plan?”
As with the outside, inside it is a lovely space. Loads of character to my mind,
with a relaxed vibe. Nice place to chill anytime of the day, with food or just to pop in for a coffee.
The menu is quite large, covering breakfast through to afternoon cakes (with lunch sandwiched in the middle)
They also generally have a number of specials on offer.
On a previous visit I had a very good Parma ham and caramelised onion quiche (£8.25). Bags of flavour and nice sautéed potatoes, an artichoke (unusual to see one of these in a salad, but very welcome) and a decent side salad.
This trip, two of us went for the beef chilli at £8.95 (me mainly due to J raving about it in the past), which sounded on paper and looked at first sight very good.
A decent sized portion of beef chilli and rice (nicely cooked) with tortilla chips, plentiful cheese, creamy avocado and a dressed side salad looked rather nice and would have been lovely if it had had a bit more umph on the chilli front. Whilst neither I nor my fellow diner are chilli fiends, we both thought it lacked chilli heat. I do like a bit of fruity chilli heat in my chilli con carne as otherwise it is just mince with beans.
It was OK, but with a more liberal hand on the chilli front this would have been better. In its absence it was a touch lacking on the spice front. On the basis of past visits (some very flavoursome quiches) an aberration I assume.
The other diner in our group went for a brie and cranberry sarnie
which he said was very nice. Decent filling, nice bread, with a well dressed side salad and crisps (£5.80)
You can also relive your student days (well mine at least), with very retro filled toasties, like ham and baked bean (£5.90)
On the drinks side of things they have a wide selection on both hot and cold stuff, as well as a few options on the booze front.
but where the Plan excels is coffee. They have a self professed coffee nut as a barista (@theBeanVagrant) and on top of your standard flat whites etc. made from artisan coffee,
they have the added attraction of single origin French press coffees.
I went for the Finca El Bendición brew from Guatemala (£3.15 for a small).
This came with a funky timer (to ensure I didn’t pour too early ) and was a heady brew with a sweet fruit aroma (think almost fruit cakey). Intriguing stuff on the nose, which on the palate provided a touch of citrus and demerara sugar (with no sugar added by me) on top of sweet currants. Whilst milk was available this is a coffee to be savoured “au naturel”. Milk, I think, would ruin it and be akin to adding lemonade to a good white wine!
Some may feel that £3.15 is a bit steep for a “small” coffee (I got nigh on two cups out of it mind), but to me its complexity of aroma and flavour was reminiscent of a good wine. Coffee of this quality never comes cheap. Super stuff and worth the dosh in my opinion.
Despite the slightly disappointing chilli con carne, I have always liked the Plan. Food I have had there before has always been plentiful and well flavoured and where it really excels is on the coffee side. Really great coffees can be had here, with some intriguing flavours.
Would I go back ? Yes – not my first nor will it be my last visit. If as a coffee lover you haven’t been, my advice is get with the Plan.
Address: 28-29 Morgan Arcade, St. Mary Street, Cardiff, CF10 1AF
Tel: 029 2039 8764
Website: click here
Opening hours : Mon – Fri : 08.45 – 17.00; Sat: 08.30 – 17.00 ; Sun : 10.00 – 16.00