Behind the glass frontage of Garlands Coffee is a hidden piece of Cardiff’s history and a nod to its theatrical traditions. Look past the photographs of local heroes, including portraits of Bassey and Burton, are a series of hand-painted murals, designed and painted by the former Stage Manager at the nearby New Theatre. Many of the prominent features, including a rather impressive chandelier, are former props from the theatre. “The décor is a great talking point for our customers. Visitors to the city especially love asking about the photographs and the history of Cardiff as there are a lot of artists, actors and singers from the area,” says Café Manager, Rhian Jenkins.
The café originally opened 30 years ago and is now open seven days a week, serving breakfast through to afternoon tea, with late nights every Saturday serving a tempting range of cocktails. The food menu combines traditional Welsh fare such as the “Good Morning Mumbles” breakfast featuring cockles and laverbread (a local delicacy made from seaweed) , with smashed avocados and nacho bowls. There are also vegan and free-from options available in both sweet and savoury, and a tempting array of freshly made cakes line the counter. A Sunday lunch menu launches over the summer.
“We pride ourselves on using locally sourced ingredients and a really personal service, as some of our customers have been dining here since the café first opened,” says Rhian, “We’ve started doing pancakes and prosecco, which along with the cocktails is really popular with Cardiff’s students, who are looking for something different.”
“What I love about the arcades, aside from them being so pretty, is the community that has built up,” explains Rhian, “I love shopping at Wally’s Delicatessen, the staff are really friendly, and you can find ingredients that you just wouldn’t find in a supermarket. It’s also great for gifts, especially at Christmas time.”