I am a big fan of the humble burger. A classic of the fast food world, it ticks (when done properly) all the boxes. Tasty, easy to eat without the limitations of cutlery (a burger – in a bun – should never, ever, ever be eaten with cutlery) and sometimes offers good value for money (different from just cheap).
I had some rather good beef burgers last year in the form of the superior patties on offer at Hawksmoor in London and the Beefy Boys in Hereford, but the only memorable ones I had in 2018 in Cardiff are questionable as being burgers at all.
The interestingly faux meat vegan one at Greazy Vegan stretches the definition of a burger (whilst it was nice it was very different to a good old beef burger)
As for the Hoof and Dirty Hoof at Sticky Fingers, these are mighty fine beasts, but (if truth be told) are they really burgers? I think they are, but many would disagree.
I broke my Cardiff “proper meaty” burger famine at the newly opened Bwydiful (it has taken a while to open, so expectations were high), which is located on the now exclusively food based row of shops (joining the Dough Thrower, Pettigrew, Fintans and the soon to open Mastri Pastai – in early Feb. – a new Italian) opposite Victoria Park.
Very well regarded on the street food/festival scene, Bwydiful is the latest of a rash of street food vendors to move into a permanent location – from vans and bands to bricks and mortar – following the likes of Ffwrnes Pizza, and Greazy Vegan.
Its relative closeness to my home (a leisurely walk) and my love of a good burger meant it was the obvious choice when neither Mrs. SF nor I could be arsed to cook one night post the Christmas binge. We, therefore, ambled down there with some friends to see whether the “Patty in the Park” cut the mustard.
The place use to be a wool/knitting shop (if my memory serves me well) and it is fair to say it needed a lot of work to get it up to spec. for a restaurant. As a result the opening was steady pushed back from an intended late September/early October date into November and then December. It finally opened in the week before Christmas.
Inside, it is comfy enough (if a little spartan perhaps) with a front area (may get a bit chilly when the winter kicks in and the door is opening and closing), with a bar, and a larger back area.
Nice enough space for a feed, with helpful pronunciation guides on the walls. As an Englishman in Wales, I managed to spectacularly mispronounce the “Caws Caws” name of their signature burger (before one of our party – a West Walian – gently chided me and pointed up to the wall). I often struggle to pronounce certain English words (one of the many curses of dyspaxia and dyslexia) so there is little hope for me in terms of Welsh words.
The place is certainly a cut above your average fast food burger joint and we were happy to linger over our drinks after we had finished our meals.
The menu is short and sweet with a few starters (look more like sides to me bar, perhaps, from the rarebit toast) and a roster of eight burgers. These run from the just a beef patty in a bun “Pure and Simple” (£6.45) to the somewhat alarming (at least to me) Hawaiian (£8.95), with cinnamon coated pineapple (not my cup of tea at all – not being a fan of pineapple on savoury items, work of the Devil on a pizza in my view and I imagine ditto on a burger).
At the top end of the price scale are the Caws Caws (a single patty topped with Welsh rarebit and Bwytiful’s own BBQ sauce) and the Medelicious (a halloumi and green pesto topped single patty), with both coming in at £9.45 (sans fries). There is also a (now mandatory) veggie burger (here halloumi, so not vegan).
With four of us, we split equally between the Caws Caws and the Classic (bacon and cheese burger – £8.95). I went for the former, which was a decent size beast, coming in a ciabatta roll from (their neighbours) Pettigrew Bakery (nice to see them keeping it ultra local).
The decent sized patty was clearly hand formed with some nice, gnarly, caramelised bits. It had a good beefy flavour to it and was suitably juicy. It also had that pleasing yielding texture of a proper hand formed burger.
Cooking wise it was medium to well and we weren’t asked nor did we ask as to cooking preference. As there were no heath warnings on the menu (which now appear to be mandatory, if go the medium rare route – zombification, will be struck by lightening, plague of boils be upon you on the first bite of a rare burger, that sort of thing), we left it to the kitchen to decide. Medium is not my preference (I prefer a burger medium rare), but if the likes of Hawksmoor (I know first hand) and Bleecker (according to reliable sources) have succumbed to the Health & Safety police then I can hardly blame these guys for following suit.
It isn’t impossible though as I have had a resolutely middle rare burger at the Beefy Boys in Hereford (at a similar price point) and have seen nicely pink looking burgers in pictures in both Gourmet Gorro’s and the Plate Licked Clean’s reviews of Hills in Brecon.
In terms of the rarebit topping, on the Caws Caws, this wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I was anticipating a lighter, more gooey cheese, egg, ale and mustard mixture akin to what I put on toast.
For me the ratio of cheese to everything else (I put in one) here made for a more dense incarnation of a rarebit than what I would regard as a classic version (or perhaps it is me who is out of kilter).
As against the richness of the rarebit, their homemade BBQ sauce operated as a pleasing counterpoint. Nice and tangy and not too sweet.
Notwithstanding my slight surprise as to the rarebit’s texture, I really enjoyed the burger as a whole and very happily munched through mine (Mrs. SF said with obscene speed).
Enjoyable as it was, I am not 100% convinced as to the extra merit of the Caws Caws topping over that of just plain old cheese (which has the benefit of being £2 cheaper here).
In terms of the bun, I am not a huge fan of ciabatta as a burger bun as I find it a little on the chewy side. The advantage is it holds its structure throughout (as opposed to many brioche buns that have a tendency to collapse), but it always feels to me like it is a touch hard work getting through a ciabatta roll (maybe I am just lazy). Nice bun here though, as is always the case with anything from Pettigrew.
Mrs SF and one of our friends had the Classic and this came with a decent cheese coating and a impressive slab of back bacon (nice and thick and not incinerated).
At £8.95 (50p cheaper than the Caws Caws), this was a star of the show to my mind. Again a nice, juicy and flavoursome burger, with the lesser amount of cheese and the addition of the bacon making for a more meat focussed burger. On a return visit I think I would order this or the Regular Cheese (£7.45).
On the sides front, Mrs. SF and I ordered the Ultimate Cheesy Fries (£5.45) to share. These were very nice, with loads of cheese and BBQ sauce, but were perhaps a bit overkill for me with the Caws Caws burger (I suffered a bit of rarebit overload – entirely my fault for doubling up order wise). My advice is the regular fries may be a better option, if you go for the Caws Caws burger.
Our friends had the regular fries, which were nicely seasoned and had a crisp exterior and a fluffy interior. Good fries and a decent sized portion (£2.95) to boot. We also ordered the mini hash browns (£2.95), which were my favourite of the potato based sides we had.
They, to me, were like tater tots. Lovely and crisp on the outside, these had a really nice texture to them and went very nicely with the sweet and sour dip (mango and pineapple I think) that came with them. Good choice if you fancy something other than fries.
We also ordered a side of coleslaw. No pic as the one I took was bit too blurry even for it to pass my very low bar regarding photo quality, but it was very nice with a good crunch and not too much sweetness or mayo. I would definately have their slaw again as it helped cut through the richness of the cheesy fries and the Caws Caws burger. Good size portion for the £1.95 price tag.
On to the puds, there was only a choice of two, both being brownies (£5.95) make by Parc Pantry in Newport (a collaboration forged from both being part of the street food/festival theme). We went for one of each of the salted caramel
and peanut butter, each with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Both top quality brownies with the peanut butter and the salted caramel both being clearly evident, but not operating so as to overshadow the chocolate essence of the brownies. They also had that just done level of gooeyness that is essential to a good brownie.
The drinks menu has a nice focus on local beers,
with Crafty Devil Beers on tap and in bottle form as well as other Welsh beers and ciders being on there. This Welsh theme runs through to the spirits with Pendyrn Whisky, Barti Dhu rum, Au Vodka and Limeback Western Gin.
I went for a bottle of Gower Gold (£5.95).
Very nice refreshing beer this, with citrus fruit and malt to the fore. Good burger/session beer I thought.
My friend went for the Mikey Rayer All Dayer.
As the name suggests, this is an easy drinking session beer. Again nice malt and citrus notes.
The ladies don’t want beer so that brought the wine list into play. A short list with 1 fizz, 2 red, 2 whites and a rosé, it seems to offer decent value
with none of the still wines being over £19 (and some a lot less). If I had been drinking wine I would probably have gone for the Somontamo number from Enate (a well respected winery) – at £17.95 – albeit a slightly unusual one (with Spain’s number one grape, tempranillo, not being the predominant grape grown in Somontamo by any stretch).
Mrs. SF and our friend enjoyed this wine, which is a blend of quite a few grapes. It had a light fruitiness and a touch of spice to it, which worked well with the BBQ sauce element of the Caws Caws burger and cheesy fries. It had enough oomph to it to cope with the burger and fries.
We all enjoyed our burgers at Bwydiful, with this place offering a very decent package of fast food and booze. Great for an informal meal when you can’t face the kitchen or (I suspect) as a take away meal.
Price wise we paid a touch over £105 for four if us (of which over £42 was booze)
Not particularly cheap for fast food, but I thought fair value for what we had.
Would I go back? Yes – a place selling a good burger within walking distance of my house deserves multiple return visits. Victoria Park is certainly on the up food wise – now what it really needs is a decent boozer. Any takers?
Address: 589 Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff, CF5 1BE
Tel: 02920 568 332
Website: Click here
Opening hours: Weds: 17.00 – 22.00; Thurs – Sun: 12.00 – 22.00; Mon- Turs: closed.
Eat in and takeaway available.