Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
After Christmas money tends to be tight, with the blow out over and pay day still some way off. Many of us feel, in January, the need to pinch the pennies and tighten our belts a bit (Christmas paunch permitting).
Lunch can be a potentially expensive exercise if you want to sit down and eat in rather than pick up a sarnie and head back to your desk or continue to mine the Christmas leftovers.
Personally I find eating at my desk (an all to common, for my liking, occurrence) very dispiriting. Us office workers are often guilty of making our lunch hours at best a lunch half an hour as we juggle work between mouthfuls of a sarnie/salad/ the day before dinner’s left overs
When I can (not as much as I would like) I try and get out of the office of a lunch hour and make it at least an hour. It is always nice to have a bit of a walk (to clear the mind) and sometimes I like to follow my walk with a proper sit down meal (even if it is a fleeting one). Fixed price menu lunchtime bargains abound in Cardiff, but you can’t do the likes of Asador 44, the Classroom or the Potted Pig anything like everyday for reasons of both waistline expansion and wallet contraction.
In terms of cost, the eat at the desk salad or sarnie can set you back quite alot these day (if you buy them rather than make them yourself) and I thought for a sit in lunch (with post Christmas belt tightening) a figure of a fiver (for the food – not including a drink) would be what most people would regard as reasonable value.
So here are some places in Cardiff City centre where I like to eat a sit down meal (some more comfortably than others) and, as the post title suggests, feed my face for a fiver.
A delightful little Italian cafe bar in the City Centre, Nine Yards offers a very good deal on food of a lunch time within the magic fiver figure.
There is a board of what is in the £5 offer, which changes regularly, with on my last visit with J it being a meatball hoagie or a jumbo arancini.
Both were very tasty and a good size, filling us up (not keen on the boards used, being a fan of the good old plate, but heyho). Good coffee was thrown in for the price (we queried this, on the basis of the board it seeming to be extra, but were told it was a fiver all in).
If you want to push the boat out a little further than a fiver, to the ratified air up at near the £6 mark, they now (as a new offer) do a lunch time lasagna for £5.95.
Lovely little place with a great lunch time offer. Nice to see an independent doing well, with them having recently opened a second place on the corner of St. John Street and High Street Arcade.
Address: 94 St. Mary Street, Cardiff, CF10 1DX.
Bull Terrier cafe
After the rich, often convoluted, food of Christmas simple on the food front is at the forefront of many people’s minds and you don’t get much simpler food wise than ham egg and chips.
Cheap and cheerful, with nothing remotely fancy schmancy, the Bull Terrier offers plentiful food at bargain prices. The majority of stuff is under a fiver, but I nearly always go for the bargain (£4.40) ham, egg and chips. Hard to beat a good plate of ham, egg and chips and this one, whilst not setting the culinary world alight, hits the spot nicely.
Address: Central Market (mezzanine level), Cardiff, CF10 1AU
When it comes to a cheap sit down meal, the all day breakfast is always a pretty good option. Fills you up with minimal fuss and in most cases minimal cost.
Sully’s, a greasy spoon, in the City centre, offers filling food at wallet friendly prices including a wide variety of variations on the breakfast theme. Most are below a fiver (bar from the Grand Slam at £6.50) and my go to item at this place is the Sully’s breakfast. This comprises of sausage, bacon, egg, beans, toast and tea or coffee for the princely sum (all in) of a fiver.
If an all day breakfast is not your thing then the menu offers plenty of other options well below the fiver cap.
Address: 4-5 Quay Street, Cardiff, CF10 1DZ
Fancy something a bit different for lunch? How about the Malay delights on offer at Wo-Ker Shaker. Whilst the place is nothing to look at, the food is filling and flavoursome.
Rice and noodle dishes are both nicely spiced and priced (in most cases at or under a fiver) and offer a decent sized plateful of very tasty food.
Well worth the short hop over the river to this place.
Address : 8 Tudor St. Cardiff, CF11 6AF
Lovely little gaff in one of Cardiff quaint arcades, this place offers plenty for well under a fiver.
Veggies in particular are well catered for in the under a fiver price range here and, whilst an avowed carnivore, I am not adverse to veggie food once in a while.
To me one of the best value things on offer is their masala potatoes dosa (£4.99).
You get a huge (light and crisp) dhosa filled with, nicely cooked and spiced, masala potatoes and a killer sambar and chutney on the side for the price. Really tasty and something that fills you up nicely for the rest of the day.
Also top draw is the mixed bhaji plate (£4.99), with a beautiful light and crisp batter coating spinach leaves, potatoes and onions.
Beware, however, the garlic heavy chutney. Whilst it is lovely for dipping the bhajis in, it not so good if you have the need to interact with other people post lunch (client meetings not advisable).
Soft and hot drinks are interesting and good value
Their chai is one of the best on offer in Cardiff in my humble opinion
Fab place, where neither flavour nor portion size is sacrificed on the altar of value. Large portions of cheap, great tasting food is always a good combo to my mind.
Address : 16 High Street Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1BB.
Deli downstairs and kaffehaus upstairs, this place has a few cheap eats (of Germanic origin) on offer, which meet (or should I say meat) the £5 qualifying cap.
Both the frikadellen (a German rift – was it the original hamburger – on the burger, made with a mix of pork and beef) with emmental cheese cheese (served with dill pickle, curry ketchup, German saurkraut) in a lovely pretzel roll
and the frankfurter (the same, with the frank in the roll in place of the frikadellen).
tick the cheap and tasty boxes.
Interesting soups are on offer at the seemingly good value price of £4.25,
although I haven’t tried them as yet.
Monthly specials also offer stuff within the price cap.
If you are a student they offer a 10% discount reducing the price below a fiver even more.
Address: 38-46 Royal Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1AE
When is comes to cheap eats, the faggot is right up there with the best. When done right, it is delightful meaty combination of the cheaper off cuts and offal (liver and heart usually) from the bountiful beast that is the pig.
B.R. Donnelly in Cardiff’s indoor market does a mean plate of faggots (very tasty), peas (proper marrowfat peas), gravy (bit bisto like, but does the job) and chips (undoubtedly frozen, but coming crisp and piping hot straight out of the fryer) for the bargain basement price of £3.80.
You can even have a cake to finish and still not breach a fiver.
If you are not a fan of the faggot, there are lots of other stuff under a fiver.
In fact only one thing is over a fiver (the beef or chicken dinner at £5.20).
It ain’t pretty and it most certainly ain’t sophisticated, but the food here is cheap and cheerful, warms you up, fills you up and you get (as an added bonus) a great view of the market.
Address: Central Market (mezzanine level), Cardiff, CF10 1AU
Plenty of options in Cardiff city centre to eat a sit down meal for a fiver or less and, with the post Christmas financial blues, these places offer great value. Some are more salubrious than other, but if it is value you are after then all of these places will do you proud.
All are local, independent, businesses that deserve to be supported.