Rough and ready for a burger – Spit & Sawdust, Cardiff.

Somewhat shamefully this was my first visit to the cafe at Spit & Sawdust. Not sure why that is the case, but it being the otherside of town, general laziness on my part and a seriously lack of the balance or indeed any form of co- ordination required to skateboard certainly haven’t helped.

With Mrs. SF away and my usual partner in crime (in such an event) J also away, me and the boy (Oscar, our dog, who definitely doesn’t think he is a dog – we really should have called him Pinocchio) undertook the arduous trek (in the car) from Llandaff to the mysterious east of Cardiff and their Newport Road site

The place is what even I would call quite rough and ready on the outside (less so, but still somewhat rustic, on the inside), but as I have said on many occasion I don’t care about asthetics (looking in the mirror very much confirms this) as long as the food is good.

I ate outside, as they were full inside on my Sunday lunchtime visit, which with it being dry (if a tad chilly) was absolutely fine. I was happy enough and it is nice to be able to take the dog (it is dog friendly both inside and out).

The menu is a mix of your standard burger joint numbers and the now obligatory faux meat offering.

I have no idea what sharwama spiced vegan ‘shicken’ pieces are, but I do find it odd that these veggie/vegan things have to co-opt meat based names usually by changing a letter or even worse just adding a “No”, such as M&S’ “No Salt Beef” pretzel roll. I mean in reality it could be absolutely anything stuffed in a pretzel roll and still technically be a no salt beef pretzel roll. Once you put the “no” in, then I am not sure as to the point of adding anything further – may as well say “no catshit” as presumably (not being vegan) that ain’t in there either (might sell a few less I suspect) !

Vegan/Vegetarian butcher (absolute nonsense use of the word butcher, which just makes me think it is a somewhat odd profession for someone who doesn’t eat meat) also irks me if I am honest.  I mean it would be really peculiar to start calling a butcher a “meatgrocer” and a meat based burger a “meatroot” patty (which sounds rather bush tucker trial on rereading) or a “Not bean burger“, so why call a plant based product “Shicken” or “Not chicken“.

A lot of faux meat sort of stuff also seems to be highly processed, whereas I tend to take the unprocessed route (except for burger cheese which I like as processed as it can possibly get – it is my guilty pleasure). 

On the processed food point, I am old enough to remember the days of “butter –  evil incarnate, margarine – angelic super food“, with the latter now viewed health wise as on a par with polonium as far as I can see.

I sometimes think the food conglomerates have performed a rather neat switcheroo trick, with all this ultra processed plant based stuff. They can churn out highly processed products loaded with salt, fat and an ingredient list miles long, which if they were meat based would have the health lobby hopping mad, but by slapping “plant based” on it they seemingly get a free pass and even a pat on the back.

Now Veganuary is over hopefully the constant “plant based” ad bombardment will abate somewhat, but not holding my breath as there is clearly money to be made (with McDonalds, Burger King, KFC – all, of course, absolute paragons of health and sustainability virtue 🤔 – et al all eagerly jumping on the bandwagon).

Each to their own I suppose and they wouldn’t sell it if no one bought it and there wasn’t a tasty margin (what it is really what it is all about for them) to be had, but this vegan faux meat is not really for me.

Anyhow I digress (as always) so back to the menu, with it very nice to see the pricing includes chips. This is all too rare these days, with everything seemingly an optional side (not got to the stage that the bun is extra yet, but give it time). Here the all in price is a very reasonable £6 for the most basic burger, chips and pickles. Compare that to Shake Down, oops me and my typos –  I mean Shake Shack 😉, where you will pay £9.50 for their most basic burger (slightly larger than a fifty pence piece) and fries.

I had no intention of ordering any of the faux meat stuff and thus went for the biggest beef burger in the form of a thomahawk burger (£9.50).

No idea why it is thomahawk rather than tomahawk and would say they rather  missed a trick, given the skateboard connection, not calling it the tonyhawk.

Very generous plate for the £9.50 price tag, with plenty of fries and pickled veg on top of a big arsed burger.

The  two smashed burger patties had the distinct umami rich flavour of proper (not supermarket shxte) beef and some nicely caramelised gnarly bits. Good fat content too, which ramped up the flavour nicely.

The richness of the double smashed patties was nicely offset by a good portion of dill cucumber pickle (a must in a burger if you ask me) and gooey cheese added nicely to the mix. The bun held together pretty much until the end and thus achieved its primary function and had good squishability.

My only criticism of the burger was the addition of rather copious amounts of tomato ketchup, which made the whole thing just a bit sloppy.  I am not a fan of the sweetness of tomato ketchup in a burger (actually in/on anything), but as it was advertised as being included  I can’t really complain. I do, however, think its omission would have been no bad thing.

Be warned this is a very messy burger and you will need more than the one napkin I got. As I was outside with a dog I didn’t really have the option to get more (Oscar would have had snaffled my burger in a jiffy if left to his own devices), but my advice is stock up.

Whilst the burger was very good, the fries were a bit of a let down.

Plenty of them, which is good with the all in price, but I always find skin on fries tend to be less crispy than your peeled ones and these could have done with at least another five minutes in the fryer. They were all a bit pale and limp, as well as lacking in seasoning (none on the table – I manage to find some on another table). Actually these chips made for quite a compelling case for having chips as an optional extra. 

What I did enjoy were the extra pickles on the side.

Can never have too much pickle in my opinion.

I also ordered a side of onion rings, which proved to be a mistake.

The mistake was mainly a case of my eyes clearly being bigger than my stomach, as the portion (£3) was huge and looked (at least to my mind) as though they were clearly intended to be shared.

Whilst the batter was crisp,  it was just a bit too thick for my tastes and again the rings needed a good hit of salt. I prefer a more onion focused approach, with a light, heavily seasoned, dredge rather than a thick batter. I was quite full when I got to them (they arrived some time after the burger) and as a result they would have had to have been quite moreish for me to eat the lot. I left over half, so draw your own conclusions.

On the drink front they have a short, but interesting, list covering most bases.

Prices seem very reasonable and a Grillo and a Nero D’avola (someone likes Sicily) as the house wines at a mere £13.00 a bottle is very nice to see. Someone who knows what they are doing sorted this small, but rather nicely formed, list and has priced it very fairly. For instance, the Gatito Loco Rioja retails at around the £11 mark, so the on the board price of £15 is very reasonable indeed by UK standards .

I was driving, so I decided that the age old combo of a burger and a shake was the order of the day.

I am conservative in terms of my milkshake preferences and invariably default to the vanilla option (the nutella option would, to me, be about as welcome as a bout of dysentry).  Vanilla was my automatic choice as a result.

Enjoyed this, which had a nice hit of vanilla and wasn’t too thick. No jaw ache from the need for excess suction.

The verdict

Really enjoyed the burger and shake here, but the sides were a bit disppointing. Both the fries and the onion rings lacked seasoning and in the case of the fries were well short on fryer time.

Hopefully I got unlucky with the fries as I do like the fact that the prices are all in including fries.

Would I go back? Yes, one of Cardiff’s better burgers and very nicely priced too.

The details

Address:  Unit B, Rhymney River Bridge Rd, Cardiff, CF23 9AF

Websitehttps://www.spitandsawdust.co.uk/cafe#/cafe-1/

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