It’s definitely in the woods, although the jury’s still out on whether it’s out of the woods yet, as a venture. There are lots of trees. And it’s a cafe, although it’s also a purveyor of wood burning stoves, several of which are in the cafe. And there are enough logs stacked against the walls to please David Lynch’s Log Lady, and keep her in wood and kindling for all eternity. So it’s cosy, and highly combustible.
This cafe is tucked away up a lane, past several private houses, just off the Heol-Y-Fforest road out of Tongwynlais. It is a mere Welsh cake’s hurl from the spectacular Castell Coch. Castell Coch’s own cafe, replete with handy arrow slits, had been closed for a while, hence our casting around for alternatives, but happily it has recently re-opened.
The woods above Castell Coch, and overlooking the cafe, are good for walking and mountain-biking. They feature a bit of a sculpture trail, some great views across to the Garth Mountain, and a section by the car-park comprising some fake figures left over from the filming of an episode of Merlin.
Back to the cafe. The counter and kitchen area are very small, and it was amazing to think that the several busy staff could find room to swing a cat, let alone rustle up coffee and cake, panini and various brunch items. It makes me feel slightly claustrophobic. Yet rustle they do. And to good effect.
The coffee is good, likewise the cakes, which have been sampled previously. However, on this occasion we opted for bacon and egg sandwiches, as it was only mid morning, and not even close to cake-o’clock. Said items were fine and dandy, but there was a problem with the plate; warm salad, or garnish, as I believe it is known.
Now. Deep breath. This is just not right. In fact, it’s plain wrong. Warm salad garnish? Bacon and egg between two pieces of bread? Excellent. Runny yolk? Check. Warm salad? No. I feel quite strongly about this issue and will no doubt return to it in the future. It’s a bit like those little bags of warm salad which you get with your Indian takeaway: it’s not needed, and it’s irritating to keep finding it in close proximity to one’s food.
I’m not sure whether this can be easily broached with the proprietor. Maybe the trick is simply to say, ‘Hold the garnish’ upon ordering.
As we exited, I tried to take in the car-park, fenced in as it is by ranch-style poles, the white ducks on the pond, and the giant mass of some sort of monster rhubarb-based plant. But at the back of my mind, a concerning thought about salad still lurked, rather like the ‘ManU will probably be good again this season’ one.