The latest addition to Victoria Park’s indie ecosystem is a burger joint with a Welsh accent – is it any good?
It’s hard being a burger in 2019. Everyone and their mum has realised that we probably need to chill out a bit with all the meat eating. Even Greggs, the high street’s premier purveyor of mechanically recovered pork shavings, have gone vegan.
But while I’m all for anything that both saves the world and makes Piers Morgan spew into a bin, I’ll always remain partial to a patty.
The problem is, over the past few years the humble burger has had so many nips, tucks and facelifts that it’s become virtually unrecognisable. It’s been doused in sloppy pulled pork, served on floor tiles and plonked between unappetising looking charcoal buns, often sacrificing flavour for hipstery Instagrammability (yes, they are both words).
So you can imagine how refreshing it is to rock up at streetfood veterans Bwydiful’s new permanent home opposite Vicky Park to find that the only beard and plaid shirt in the building are attached to me – and you can’t blame me for the latter, I came out of the womb wearing one.
Rather than spending a fortune decking the place out with distressed wood, shiny brass industrial light fittings and edgy tattoo themed wall murals, the Bwydiful boys have gone for refreshingly light, bright colours and a faintly Scandi feel. Imagine an old-school British cafe as designed by IKEA.
But I am not Carol Smilie and this is not Changing Rooms – what’s the grub like?
We’ll get to the burgers in a minute. First I want to talk sides. Potatoes, I think we can all agree, are one of nature’s finest creations – especially fried. There’s nothing like a perfect, crisp french fry or a big fat fluffy chip to warm the heart on a cold January afternoon. Except there is. I present to you – the hash brown bite.
Those of a transatlantic extraction (or anyone who ate at BrewDog Cardiff circa 2016) would probably see them as Tater Tots. But don’t be fooled by that frankly quite gross, infantilised nonsense of a name – they are flipping ace. Crispy on the outside and soft and satisfying on the inside. Dunk them in the chilli mango dip provided and you’ll find they quickly surpass crystal meth on the ‘bit moreish’ scale.
The slaw is damn fine too, and deserving of a mention – it’s fresh and nicely balanced, with a hefty oniony kick. But enough teasing. Let’s get to the really filthy bit.
It took me all of ten seconds to decide upon the Caws Caws (they siarad Cymraeg here as you might guess), which the wall proclaims is ‘The ultimate cheeseburger’. Stuff written on walls is always true after all – especially that thing about your mum in the loos.
Something about Bwydiful’s menu worried me when I first saw it though – the words ‘Ciabatta Bun’.
I’ve had a burger in a ciabatta bun before. Well I say ‘in’ – it was more ‘briefly in the general vicinity of’. They’re usually far too chewy for burgers, meaning the contents have a tendency to launch themselves out of their bready scabbard only to splatter all over your plate with an unappetising plop. You soon find yourself with a plateful of the sort of deconstructed nonsense that goes out in the second round of Masterchef.
But I’d reckoned without Bwydiful getting the neighbours involved. Pettigrew Bakeries, who I like to think of as running the bread racket in this town like an old school East End gangster, are responsible for these. The fact that they’re made about thirty feet away makes them stupidly fresh, and pillowy soft – they eat a bit like potato buns, with enough bite to stay intact through to the last bite.
I’m not going to waste two minutes of your life telling you what a burger tastes like, you’re not a bloody martian – all you need to know is that they’re massively savoury and satisfying. You might be a bit disappointed if you like your burgers rare enough to get up, have a stretch and walk it off, but they’re plenty juicy enough. It probably helps that the beef has only come from down the road in the Vale of Glamorgan rather than being shipped in from some anonymous industrial megafarm.
And then there’s the rarebit. Surprisingly few places have had the presence of mind to whack Wales’ finest culinary invention on a burger, and even less to do it this well. It’s just like you’d make it home, with a stonking big hit of mustard. Paired with the sweetness of the house barbecue sauce it’s a right bloody treat – especially washed down with one of the three Crafty Devil bevvies on tap.
Speaking of treats, I feel like it’d be rude not to give the service a mention – While Chris is beavering away in the kitchen, Jon is doing a sterling job of chatting to the punters and making everyone feel welcome. Making people feel special = return visits. It’s hardly rocket science but it’s amazing how few places get it.
In short, Bwydiful offer cracking, no-nonsense burgers at a sensible price. They’re only metres away from one of the most beautiful parks in the city, and they’re lovely lads to boot. Come the summertime this place is going to be absolutely HEAVING. So what are you doing sitting here reading this – they do takeaway…
Will Vicky Park’s newest addition be the start of a Bwydiful friendship? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter at @fuudblog.