Why go to Newport?

If Newport is the answer I would have to be very curious as to what was the question! Well, it’s the christmas season, so how do we get to avoid all of those obsessive bargain hunters flooding a shopping centre near you, purchasing all those things they don’t need just because the marketers have substantially dropped the price? It turns out that a couple of cats in the City Arms in Cardiff decided that Newport was the best way of avoiding the strange seasonal habits of the human race.

So three Cardiff-based cats… Yours Truly, Fat Freddies and The Banker (aka India Pale, Chocolate Stout and Organic Cider) set out to investigate…

Ye Olde Murenger House [4]Could it be that Newport has the highest respect for preserving its history? Here’s a novel way of showcasing those spare circa 1530 inns you happen to have lying around down the road from your railway station. Ye Olde Murenger House is so old that everything around it is either closed down or falling down!

Ye Olde Murenger House [1]

Perhaps it’s the modesty of the locals that shines through? Though when a place is often thought of as a beer desert you would be well advised to listen to local wisdom…

Ye Olde Murenger House [2]

Is it the haute cuisine that attracts inquisitive travellers from quite simply miles (well yards) around? The antidote to turkey is probably best found elsewhere…

Ye Olde Murenger House [3]

How about the courteous service? Though my ‘intrepid lotion-guzzler’ suggested that The Lamb has had an interesting recent makeover, providing pleasant surroundings, tasty beer, and perhaps a new innovation in the form of self-service (due to customer invisibility at a distance of a couple of yards). It was probably the desperate efforts to achieve a re-fill that got in the way of any photographic evidence of the makeover.

Or, is it the hotbed of sporting achievement that encourages mere mortals to simply look on in awe? Nuff said…

Newport v Plymouth [2]Truth be known, The Banker has been long exiled in Cardiff from somewhere mysteriously unnamed in south Devon, and has waited more than 66 years to watch the boyhood local team (Plymouth Argyle). Out of pure unadulterated respect the home team, Newport County, lost the match 2-1 not to spoil the occasion. The Banker has the truly unrivalled record of 100% success (take that Leicester City FC fans, with your altitude-induced nose-bleeds at the top of the Premier League!).

Call this food!Until we speak again I intend to be Bella, content with the thought that I can employ a personal envoy to represent me when trips to places such as Newport are on the agenda! Though my ‘ignominious traveller’ claims to have had an enjoyable day in the grunge capital of Europe. Please form an orderly queue when making your unnecessary purchases for temporary pleasures at over-filled emporia near you.

What to call it?

Juno was always ready when food was on the agenda, delicately poised to catch any stray morsels of fish or meat…

Juno ready

But she was never easily fooled by her resident dreamer’s claim that Cardiff had a distinctly mediterranean vibe…

Corner House [2]

For all of the outdoor eating when the sun was shining, Juno was quite clear that Cardiff had a reputation for being the rainfall capital of the UK. She could think of no better reason for being an indoor cat. Meanwhile, us mere mortals went in search of sustenance on a sunny Sunday lunchtime…

Corner House [1]

Choice would not appear to be a problem, in the heart of a capital city centre. But discerning tastes were drifting away from dropping in on the ubiquitous chain restaurants that have come to dominate, making everywhere a carbon copy of everywhere else. Juno was a distinctly individual cat, and it was the legacy of her spirit that drove the food enthusiasts on in their search for a unique port of call. The question is, what might it be called amongst the sea of familiarity?

Corner House [3]

Wine stocksThe Brewery Quarter has a certain liquidity about it, but Juno’s discerning tastes were more towards the vineyard than the brewery…

Still the question remained, would we know the place of supreme individuality when we saw it?

Caroline Street

Caroline Street has achieved a certain world renown as ‘Chip Alley‘ for its succession of good old fashioned ‘chippies’, but we were not in the mood for a bag of chips and curry sauce while strolling by the somewhat more sophisticated diners (i.e. people sitting on chairs).

Perhaps if we looked to the corner of Caroline Street we might just find a source of inspiration…

Corner House [4]

Anyway, while we pondered what you might actually call a unique eatery with a prominent location, we decided that searching should give way to eating. It might have been a sunny Sunday, but that is no excuse for missing out on a Sunday roast of beef. And maybe a nod to Mediterranean culture with a bottle of fine Spanish Rioja

Corner House [5]

Once refreshment was complete we were able to go back to the challenge of thinking what you might call a house on the corner of Caroline Street if you were projecting your distinctiveness in the sea of chains!

BatmanAs for Juno, she would no doubt have been keeping watchful eyes on the idiots she was attempting to mentor! Until we speak again, if you find a Corner House it probably does what it says on the tin.

Hooves and Trotters

[Some of the following images have been copied from ‘images of…’ on the internet, and are included with thanks to those who originally placed them].

To all my vegetarian eaters I say “get a proper diet, leave the poor weak vegetarians alone, other than giving others a fright with their pale and drawn complexions they didn’t do anything to you.” Personally, I and my species just don’t get it; I wasn’t born with these teeth just to go bringing down broccoli or cornering cabbages for the kill.

When I am contemplating what I fancy eating there is nothing I like more than to see the menu written all over my prey. What better way is there of supporting the great 21st century ethos of consumer choice and providing information through clear product labelling!

But I was even more delighted to see that my culinary psychopathic teachings were put into action just the other day, when my resident ‘flesh chomper‘ was joined by an ‘ex-pat carnivore‘ from the Philippines, as they scoured the local prairies for something to fill the time and space between beers. I strongly advised them to only eat things that recently carried a name… like Gertrude and Daisy, or Pinky and Perky. After all, you don’t know what kind of situation you’ve landed yourself in if the host is talking about ‘Florence the fennel’ or ‘Angelica the artichoke’.

First stop was The Wharf, where Cardiff’s version of Little Venice meets the toxic algae of the Bute East Dock:

Swans at lunch

Lily pads

 

 

 

 

 

A fine pint of the Brains SA was accompanied by freshly served portions of pig… succulent pork chops or the delicate arrangement of bangers and mash with onion gravy.

The Wharf

A pint in the City ArmsFurther pints of Brains SA and Oakham Citra in the City Arms made for a pleasurable interruption to the eating:

It seems that whenever these characters get together the film Groundhog Day gets a re-enactment… just as day follows night, so beer and eating follow, well, beer and eating! It’s another day, but enough of the samples from the sty, it was time for a few hooves to make the ultimate sacrifice; and where better for a beer interruption than a place called The Grazing Shed, where a multi-storey car park meets a multi-storey building site:

The Grazing Shed [5]

 

Cardiff’s tribute to a US classic meets locally sourced ingredients to produce Super Tidy BurgersThis is the part of Cardiff where John Wayne meets Spicy Pedro

 

The Grazing Shed [4]

Grazing Shed [1]

A great new idea in fast food arrives in Cardiff. This is no ordinary run-of-the-mill burger, these are the Ronseal of the burger world… ‘super tidy burgers‘ that do what they say on the cows backside. Even veggie varieties are available for those with enough energy to walk from the car (though you might want to ask the nice staff if they do a roadside delivery to conserve the stress on vital organs).

Grazing Shed [2]

 

This place is building its reputation on an all ingredients are locally sourced theme. One claim is that butchers supply their meat from Carmarthen… it certainly tasted fresh, and though we weren’t left spitting out hooves, you do get the impression that Daisy might just be out back succumbing to a vigorous crash diet!

So, for all of you poorer gastronomes, and those of you needing a respite between fillet steaks, I will continue to tutor my ‘resident food taster‘ in the delights of a varied budget. Until we eat again I intend to be Juno.