There have been a lot of new openings in Cardiff City Centre recently, but a few weeks ago I was invited to try a new arrival in a less central location: CF24 Project, the latest opening on Crwys Road – and had one of the best meals I’ve had in ages. Regular readers who know my tastes might expect this post to therefore be about a fine dining experience, but they’d be wrong. Read on…
CF24 is an interesting concept – a Project it has certainly been, with four friends, all with complementary skills, coming together to open a diner and entertainment venue. The whole venue is furnished with items that have either been recycled or upcycled: we sat on bar stools that had been reclaimed from elsewhere, and a fireplace has been constructed from wooden crates, giving the place a very eclectic feel, but one that feels natural, rather than self-consciously put together, or trying too hard to be ‘quirky’ as some places do – which was always a risk with somewhere that describes itself as “Cardiff’s Eco-Friendly Hangout”!
The menu is American diner style, so, again, it was a refreshing surprise that nothing about the décor is trying too hard to emulate an American diner. There wasn’t an inch of chrome in sight, nor were there fake juke boxes or sugar shakers on the tables! I felt confident that the food would be good representation of authentic American fayre, rather than a gimmick – so much so that I invited a friend as my plus one who lived in the States for several years and still laments the lack of decent, authentic American style food available in the UK – at least in Cardiff.
I tried a strawberry and banana smoothie to whet my appetite whilst choosing from the very extensive menu. It was lovely and fresh, and I’d probably go back in for one of these – or one of their milkshakes, which would no doubt be just as good – even if I wasn’t planning to eat. Back to that extensive menu: pizzas, burgers and burritos were all available, and had we been around earlier in the day, we could have indulged in what sounded like a rather delicious breakfast too!
Although we were very tempted by the tempting selection of creatively topped handmade pizzas on offer (the only item in the whole place that isn’t upcycled or recycled is their stone pizza oven!) we both decided to go along the burger line, with my friend opting for a traditional hamburger and me for a pulled pork version. They came served on a delicious bun – not too crusty, but certainly not spongy or flavourless like some burger buns can be – and, to my friend’s utter delight, with pickle, onion, lettuce and tomato on the side, which is apparently how it should be done, according to our friends across the pond. The burger was juicy and tasty, and the pulled pork was absolutely excellent – some of the best I’ve had in Cardiff, and I don’t say that lightly; I’m something of a connoisseur of the stuff!
Both came with sides of crisp, piping hot fries, plus slaw, and some relish with the pulled pork. We ordered extra sides of onion rings (again, crispy and piping hot) and a mug of mac’n’cheese. The mac’n’cheese wasn’t to my taste as it tasted very synthetic, but I’m led to believe this is the authentically American way of doing it! Everything else was absolutely spot on: hearty, good quality food, freshly and lovingly prepared. And at around £6 for a burger and chips, it really is excellent value, especially when compared with some of the other burger restaurants that have sprung up in the centre of Cardiff of late.
CF24 will undoubtedly appeal to the student market in that area of Cardiff, but it would be wrong to think of it as just a student venue. I’d definitely go back to CF24 Project if I fancied a really good burger – and I think I’ll go back again to try some of the other offerings too. We were looked after by Clive, one of the partners in the business, who made us extremely welcome and talked with a genuine, infectious passion about the place.
CF24 Project, 8-10 Crwys Road, Cardiff CF24 4NJ
I was invited to CF24 Project as a guest, and as such our meal and drinks were complimentary.