Soliciting Flavours

Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine

It’s good to “B” back! 3B’s Cafe, Cardiff City Centre

In more clement times, weather wise

I was rather sad when the original 3 B’s cafe closed late last year, with it being probably my favourite place for cheap but very good Indian food in Cardiff City Centre.

I was assured that they were merely moving down the road (well down the arcade as it happened) to allow them to expand out their operation to cover evenings, with access on the High Street rather than being fully on in High Street Arcade (with the latter gated off in the evening).

It has seemed an age since they closed, with ongoing work and many a snag pushing the reopening date back and back. The opening of the new gaff finally came in September and I was in like (the proverbial) flynn.

The place

With the move has come a much more palatial pad.

Even the philistine in me appreciates a nice bit of coving when he sees it

and my work wife/friend Rachel would certainly approve of the chandelier, as would she the flowers on the tables.

The space is all in all much improved from the old place, which was a bit cramped upstairs and a bit dungeonesque downstairs.

The new gaff, in contrast, is spaceous light and airy.

All rather a step up from the previous place.

The food

The food offering is much the same mix as before, with a focus still on Indian street food.

There are also more substantial dishes that suit the evening opening that comes with the new gaff.

On my first visit to the new place I went for one of their dosas, in the form of the veggie masala dosas (at £5.99). An old favourite, this had lost none of its charm.

The dosa encased a robustly spiced potato, pea and onion curry (rich in curry leaves).

Touch of heat in there, but nothing too challenging even for a mid-week lunch.

The dosa itself was gossamer thin and beautifully crisp.

Perfect for scoping up the rather fine coconut and tomato chutney

and dipping in the accompanying (nicely spiced) sambar.

Some deft touches in the spicing here, with a bit of heat, but not such that it overpowered.

An excellent lunch time dish (just the right size)

and a bit of a bargain at £4.99 at the time of my visit – this particular dish seems to have gone up to £5.99 now (not sure why as price of the rest of the dosas have not increased).

On a subsequent visit, I went for the keema pav (in effect mince on a roll – doesn’t have the same ring to it does it).

Really good flavour to the keema, with a nice peppery hit. The mince itself had a pleasing texture (not mealy at all) and it worked surprisingly well as a sandwich. Akin to that US classic the Sloppy Joe, this is perhaps more a Sloppy Jasvinder🙂.

The side salad the came with it was far from an after thought, with crisp veggies and a rather good (quite sour) dressing. This worked well as a counterpoint to the richness of the keema.

Great lunch time option at £5.95 I thought.

The drink

The drinks menu has a decent selection of soft drinks (both hot and cold),

including that Indian institution that is chai tea.

On top of this they have a short selection of booze. I would probably stick to beer personally as the wine on offer look a bit meh if am honest – been a while since I have seen a Mateus Rose on a restaurant wine list (it would probably actually work OK with the spicy stuff on menu).

The mark ups on the wine are actually quite reasonable, with the Jack Rabbit merlot retailing for £7.35 and on the list here at £17.25.

Personally I would like to see a grüner veltliner or a riesling on the list here, both of which would pair well with the food on offer.

It was mid week lunchtime so I stuck with the chai.

Beautifully creamy, with a lovely bit of spicing, the chai here is deeply satisfying stuff. One of the best (if not the best – with the demise of Gina’s cafe) chais on offer in Cardiff, I would say.

The Verdict

I pondered on the blog recently as to how this place (when up and running) would compare to the all new and very swanky Mowgli Street Food.

The answer is very favourably. The menu is simpler and the marketing spiel is less polished, but the food is certainly at least on a par. The keema here, for instance, was nicer than the (somewhat mealy in texture) keema at Mowgli and 3Bs has the benefit of offering one of my favourite Indian food, in the form of dosas (something Mowgli doesn’t offer).

I thought the all new 3B’s was at least as good as Mowglis, albeit with a slightly different focus.

It is great the place is now able to open in the evening (back end of the week only), as it makes for a great pre, post or during night out in town pit stop venue. I noticed it was pretty full on a Thursday evening, which was good to see.

Would I go back? Definitely – it is great to see the 3B’s Cafe back and firing on all cylinders.

The details

Address: 12 High Street, Cardiff CF10 1A

Tel: 02920 372352

Email: sakshi@3bscafe

Twitter: @3bscafe

Instagram: @3bsbambaistreetfood

Open hours: Mon – Weds: 12.00 – 18.00; Thurs – Sat: 12.00 – 20.00; Sun: closed.

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