Beers on tap
Just a stone’s throw away, you’ll find Cardiff’s incarnation of BrewDog, with its 30 plus beers on tap, and in the same vicinity is microbrewery Zero Degrees, where you can also tuck into delicious wood fired pizza in ‘industrial chic’ surroundings.
Also adding to the mix is The Cambrian Tap, where you can sup a Barry Island IPA along with 17 other ales, and chomp on a classic pork pie. In the suburb of Pontcanna, microbrewery Pipes holds a mini beer festival on the first weekend of every month. And for fine food paired with craft beer, head for Barley & Rye.
Traditional pubs like The Goat Major, City Arms, and The Cottage are also well worth a visit if you are tired of the ubiquitous gastro pub and the mono-culture of chains. Independent venues give a place its character and spirit. Definitely worth a whirl is Gwdihw Cafe Bar (pronounced goody hoo, Welsh for owl). This compact and intimate space on Guildford Crescent offers DJs and live music, and has been described as a venue oozing ‘soul’.
10 Feet Tall on Church Street is buzzing on week nights and crammed to capacity until the small hours at weekends. The club meanders over several floors and includes a bar on the ground floor, food on the mezzanine, a live music area on the next level, and a club in the basement. Entertainment is diverse and ranges from DJs and live music to comedy and theatre.
You can sup a Barry Island IPA along with 17 other ales, and chomp on a classic pork pie. In the suburb of Pontcanna, microbrewery Pipes holds a mini beer festival on the first weekend of every month
Live Lounge, as the name suggests, is a live music venue that has bands playing every night of the week. It showcases up-and-coming acts as well as bands that already have a foot firmly wedged on the touring circuit. Every night has a fresh vibe, so go there and take pot luck. All-day food and luscious cocktails add to the mix.
One of Cardiff’s institutions is Clwb Ifor Bach, known locally as the ‘Welsh Club’. The vibrant city centre club hosted Coldplay before superstardom hit them. It’s located on Womanby Street, one of the city’s oldest streets, where you will also find the Castle Emporium, the perfect haunt for vintage goodies and a great coffee.
Womanby Street is known as the city’s beating heart for independent music clubs, and was the subject of a recent campaign to prevent developers buying venues and turning them into faceless blocks of flats. Other indie venues worth looking up are The Gate Arts Centre just off City Road, live music venue, The Globe, on Albany Road, and The Tramshed, a listed building hosting high profile gigs.
For a change of scene, head out to the magnificently-restored former house of worship, Chapel 1877 on Churchill Way. This is a great place for a chilled out drink and a bite to eat in truly unique surroundings. It features in the 2017 Good Food Guide, one of only six places in the capital to do so.
It showcases up-and-coming acts as well as bands that already have a foot firmly wedged on the touring circuit. Every night has a fresh vibe, so go there and take pot luck. All-day food and luscious cocktails add to the mix
For cocktails, look no further than the award-winning Dead Canary, located on Barrack Lane, and identifiable only by a canary cage painted on the wall. And Handsome Jack’s on St Mary Street is earning good reports as one of the newest kids on the block.
The city’s leading cultural venue is the swish Wales Millennium Centre (WMC), a lively performing arts centre that also serves as a home to the world-renowned Welsh National Opera. The opera company’s production of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, with the esteemed Bryn Terfel in the lead role, drew a standing ovation from a packed house. And the production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena extracted tears and applause from a deeply moved audience, as did the wonderful Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi’s Nabucco., Handel’s beautiful Orlando, and Jancek’s powerful From the House of the Dead.
The venue is also noted for showcasing the very best in dance. Past stars include The Netherlands Dance Company, Matthew Bourne’s Lord of the Flies, and English National Ballet’s Strictly Gershwin, as well as a stage production of Dirty Dancing, and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s lovely production of timeless favourite, Swan Lake. American singer/songwriter, John Grant, and Portuguese fado singer, Mariza, have also brought big crowds here.
Don’t be put off by St. David’s Hall’s rather pedestrian exterior, as this is the place in town for classical music concerts, both lunchtime and evening performances, and is the home of the Welsh Proms. Stars from other genres have also graced its stage, including John Mayall, Michael Moore, Petula Clark and Alison Moyet.
For cocktails, look no further than the award-winning Dead Canary, located on Barrack Lane, and identifiable only by a canary cage painted on the wall. And Handsome Jack’s on St Mary Street is earning good reports as one of the newest kids on the block
Magnificent classical productions
The city’s most recently built venue is the immensely stylish auditorium at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. It’s worth going for the aesthetics alone, but the acoustics are also stunning. As well as magnificent classical productions, well received shows have included a joint performance by elfin Welsh harp virtuoso, Catrin Finch, and Senegalese kora and drum maestro, Seckou Keita; and jazz sax supremo Gilad Atzmon. There’s also a free jazz event every Friday evening in the foyer, running from around 5pm-7pm. For other jazz options look up Cafe Jazz on St. Mary Street.
The New Theatre hasn’t been new for some considerable time, 1906, to be exact, but it had a facelift a few years ago. A recent production of Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land, starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart was, understandably enough, a massive hit. Other excellent shows include the perennially-popular Blues Brothers and the witty and moving Alan Bennett play, The Lady in the Van, an exquisitely pained production of Abigail’s Party, plus comic favourite, One Man, Two Guvnors. Kids’ shows include Horrible Histories and Horrible Science, as well as the annual panto.
Slightly more outré performances find their way to the expensively-refurbished Chapter Arts Centre, which also houses a gallery, cinema, restaurant and bar. The hit series Gavin and Stacey succeeded in alerting the world to Welsh comedy, and brought terms like ‘cwtch’ and ‘lush’ into common parlance. Wales is noted for its lively humour, and the nation has produced a crop of notable stand-up stars such as Rhod Gilbert, Chris Corcoran, Elis James and Lloyd Langford.
Mainstream venues for a good belly laugh include the Glee Club, which also hosted the late, great and incorrigible publisher and poet, Felix Dennis, on his final Did I Tell You About the Free Wine tour. It also doubles up as a live music venue, and has attracted notable names such as Laura Marling, Cerys Matthews, George Ezra, Teenage Fanclub and Luca Stricagnoli.