With all the talk last week of Michelin stars (well done to Home and SY23 for getting their first, to Ynyshir on getting to two and to the places in Wales that have retained their stars – shamefully not been to any of them to date – but rather gutted for the Heathcock that they didn’t get the bib gourmand I think they deserved), I thought I would rather buck the likely trend and take a look at the other (no less deserving) end of the market.
As normality slowly returns and with it the daily routine of going into work somewhere other than the spare room (if you are lucky enough to have one), for some like me willingly and for others kicking and screaming, I am once again out and about in Cardiff city centre of a lunch time.
Out to stretch my legs a bit at lunch time, I noticed that a place (new to me, but it has probably been there ages as haven’t been up that end of town for eons) had opened at the Newport Road end of Queen Street in the form of McSims Pastizzeria. Opening at that end of town seems to be somewhat against the trend as to me the predominate theme there seems be empty shops. Rather depressing if I am honest, but hopefully the “Canal Quarter” initiative and the inbound new indie food court in the Capital Centre will revitalise that end of town, which is currently more like the “Anal Canal Quarter” ( i.e. the arse end of town)
I had heard promising reports of McSims Pastizzeria from “now WM roving reporter” Gourmet Gorro/Ed Gilbert, in terms of their Cathay’s branch, and its Maltese theme rather piqued my interest having spent many a summer in Malta and Gozo when my Uncle and Aunt used to live in Xlendi (a sleepy village then, but by all accounts far from that now) on Gozo many, many moons ago.
If I am honest I don’t really have any abiding memories of Maltese food other than my parents (this was back in the Mintoff days) smuggling in packs of mini mars bars etc. (imported chocolate was banned in those days and Maltese made chocolate was absolutely vile, even worse than “vomit flavoured” Hershey Kisses 🤢) for the Gleneagles Bar (I always called it Tony’s Bar – we did from memory seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in there) by the harbour in Mgarr (still there by all accounts), the lampuki run and having a pickly pear (picked direct from the plant and thus fully spined) impaled onto my bare chest (not pleasant I can tell you).
Other than the prickly pear I have pretty happy memories of Malta and Gozo, Possibly rose tinted ones as it is fair to say I was going through a difficult (little shxt) phase at that age (Mrs. SF says I still am).
At the time my parents bought/had made my sister and I t-shirts with our most oft-repeated phrases on them. My sister’s was “It’s not fair” and mine was “It’s not my fault“, which it invariably was in both cases. Border line referral to social services, but at the time I suspect my parents would (given the brat I was then) have happily packed my bags and wished them the best of luck as they cracked open the champagne!
Anyhow back to McSims, which being a pastezzeria unsurprisingly specialises in pastizzi,
which is the quintessential Maltese fast food.
There is plenty of other stuff on offer, both savoury
but as the saying goes, however, “When in Rome …… and what the bloody hell is a burger pie!” – so I defaulted to the pastizz offering.
Patizzi are savoury (usually) pastries that are traditionally filled with ricotta or curried (split) peas – in effect a Maltese pasty. In practice, pretty much anything goes filling wise.
Interestingly the price of £1.69 per pastizz is applied on a uniform basis, covering both veggie and meat options.
I decided on a ricotta and spinach and a chicken one
Lovely, crisp, light, pastry on both of these, which gave a very satifying crunch as I bit into them. I thought they looked a bit like a hasselback pasty with the top layering.
Plenty of filling in both the ricotta and spinach and chicken ones,
with both very good, packing plenty of flavour and being nicely seasoned. I think my favourite out of the two was the traditional ricotta and spinach one
Excellent savoury pastries these and I am surprised given the UK’s historic links with Malta that they are not more prevalent in the UK – certainly should be as they are a perfect snack/ light lunch item.
In terms of drinks, they have the usual suspects on the hot coffee front as well as cold coffees, smoothies and some interesting (kinder bueno and nutella milkshakes are not for me) sounding milkshakes.
Perhaps these choccie related shakes are a hangover from the chocolate starved Mintoff days.
I had a flat white, which was very pleasant and came (like this) with a biscoff biccy (first visit, not second)
I really enjoyed both my pastizzi and at £1.69 a pop “eat in” they are a bit of a bargain.
Would I go back? Absolutely – have been back already and tried a pea pastizz (nice, but the ricotta and spinach number remains my personal favourite) and (had to really didn’t I) the burger pie (£3.69).
The latter was exactly what it said on the tin, a burger patty, cheese slice, ketchup and all encased in flakey pastry.
Pleasant enough, although I can’t say the encasing in pastry really added anything to the burger equation. Having sated my curiosity, I don’t have any real compulsion to try one again if am honest. Will stick to the very good pastizzi going forward, I think.
A pastizzi outpost closer to the office would be nice (Cardiff’s indoor market perhaps).
Address: 113 Queen Street, Cardiff CF10 2BH and Cardiff University Students Union, Sennghennydd Road, Cardiff, CF24 4AZ