Working up an appetite. The “worker lunch” at Steen the Chef, Cardiff City Centre

I am always on the look out for bargain lunch time offers in Cardiff. This have the dual benefit of getting me off my arse and out of the office for an hour or so and allowing me to work back (and some) the calories such an effort removes with a decent, good value, lunch.

I recently came across on Twitter (from talking to the chef it seems it has been going for a year or so, but I haven’t noticed it before – finger on the pulse me 🤔) the rather strangely named “Steen the Chef “, a cafe in Windsor Place in Cardiff City Centre.

Interesting issues surrounding the naming of a place after a chef (what happens when they leave?) were being debated all over Twitter not so long ago with the controversy surrounding James Cochran. I think it is fair to say if it’s just you, rather than you and a bunch of backers (looking for a return on their investment), it is a much simpler proposition. As such, I suspect Steen is likely to be OK.

The bargain this place does is a daily “workers lunch” (somewhat Soviet overtones here, with the expectation of boiled turnip with a side of boiled turnip that comes with that – come the revolution, as a bourgeois commercial lawyer, I suspect I would be one of the first up against the wall) that comes in at a fiver.

I love a bargain and consider £5 for a sit down lunch the benchmark for a lunch time bargain. As a result this offer looked pretty attractive to me, with the chance to amble over to Windsor Place to claw back some missed steps from my sedentary “stuck at my desk” lunch time of the previous day.

The Place

I think the place used to be part of a church hall, but could be wrong.

Nice bit of space outside for sitting when the weather is fine (a distant memory now autumn seems to have set in with a vengeance).

On the inside it is airy, but quite functional in nature. Nice for lunch, but not one for a date night perhaps.

Some interesting and rather nice art work is on display which breaks up the white walls nicely.

You order at the counter, but food is bought to the table. On my visit tbe counter manning, the cooking and delivery of the food was all undertaken by Steen and his assistant chef. Both very amenable and fine multi-taskers.

The Food

The menu is a nice mix, with lots on offer for meat eaters and veggies. Nicely priced too I thought

Salads looked interesting with the selection being far from your standard fare (some fancy looking stuff in mason jars).

Talking things like roasted figs to liven up your leaves.

The “Our Main Suggestions”, particularly the albondigas (Spanish style meatballs), were tempting (and are often subject to good offers on Wriggle). I was, however, there for the “workers lunch”, which on the day in question was a squash bruchetta (vegan friendly if need be).

The squash was part of a wider vegetable medley (akin to a ratatouille, with it including nicely caramelised red onion, courgettes and tomato), to which I added cheese (optional – so you can keep it vegan – and free of extra charge).

This all sat on some toasted bread (lovely and light).

On the side was a very pleasant selection of salads (for once a side salad that lived up to its name).

Nicely yielding beans with carrot, a properly dressed green salad of lamb’s lettuce and the star of the show (to my mind) some killer pickled cucumber and yellow courgette.

Everything was nicely seasoned and the salads (hallelujah) were properly dressed. A sticky balsamic reduction on the plate added a pleasing touch of sweetness.

Other ” workers lunch” offerings, I have seen on the place’s Twitter feed, include toad in the hole with veg and gravy and mozzarella and herb tarts with salad. All sound very nice and excellent value for a fiver.

It is also nice to see their dishes use seasonal veg. from an allotment. No long periods of storage, packaging, food miles etc.

The Drink

On the drinks front, there is no booze (but it was a Wednesday lunch time so that was fine by me), but plenty of reasonably priced hot and cold drinks

I went for a homemade still lemonade (£2), which was pleasingly (rather than mouth puckeringly) tart and über refreshing.

Lovely on what turned out to be quite a hot autumn day

The Verdict

I really enjoyed my lunch at Steen the Chef. With the “worker’s lunch” offer you get something hearty and wholesome for a fiver. Very good value I thought.

The wider offering (particularly if you bring in a Wriggle offer) look very enticing. I fancy a go at their ham egg and chips next visit.

Would I go back? Yes definately. Nice food and nice people making and serving it, all at a very good price. More than enough incentive to get me away from my desk of a lunchtime.

Actually been back already and a lamb tagine with couscous was the £5 ” Worker’s Lunch” on my return visit.

Not a looker, but tagines rarely are, it had plentiful chucks of tender lamb, figs and properly cooked chickpeas (undercooked chickpeas are an abomination). Tasty and filling and great value for fiver. My only quibble was the couscous could have been warmer.

The coffee I had with it (chillier day) was very nice

Sunday lunches are also available and look very good value, with starters at £4 and mains at a mere £10.

Loving the very reasonable £3 BYO with their roasts.

From October they are doing extended hours (4pm – 10pm) on a Friday, with Fish Friday.

Looks well worth a go.

The Details

Address: Windsor Place, Cardiff, CF10 3BZ

Tel: 07960 724 242

Twitter: @steenthechef

Instagram: @steenthechef

Website: Click here

Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 10.00 – 15.00 (but from Oct. extended hours on a Friday, 16.00 til 22.00); Sat: closed; Sun: open from 11.00 for Sunday lunch.


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