Sunday, 26 February 2012

Coffee Barker, Cardiff Cafe Brunch Review

Where in Cardiff can you have a cup of coffee, a spot of brunch and then buy yourself a new pair of jeans to accommodate your recently expanded waistband? Coffee Barker, located at the rear of Barker Clothes (shifting trendy clobber since 1970) in The Castle Arcade, allows you to do just that.

It feels like I’ve become an interior design blogger such was the number of words devoted to wallpaper and light fittings in my previous review. Bizarrely, for the second time in as many posts I’m going to wax lyrical about exposed brick work, eclectic furniture and tasteful light fittings. Coffee Barker’s interior is cool. Enough.

Barker has recently received a couple of big accolades. A few weeks ago they won coffee shop of the year in the South Wales Echo Food & Drink awards against stiff competition such as Waterloo Tea Gardens and The Pot. Also for the last 6 months it’s been Mrs G’s favourite coffee shop in Cardiff. I’m not sure which is the bigger achievement?

Mrs G suggested that we try brunch as she’s already a regular for lunch when they do lovely sandwiches and jacket potatoes.  Barker’s brunch menu is brief but ticks all the major boxes; bacon, sausages, smoked salmon, eggs and toast. For those who are interested there are also a couple of healthy options like granola and porridge.

I went for the bacon, sausage and scrambled duck eggs on toast (£4.99) whist Mrs G went for the smoked salmon and scrambled duck eggs on toast (£5.99). Both very well priced. I washed this down with a delicious mixed berry smoothie and Mrs G ordered a latte.

My dish was pleasant. Whilst there was no doubting the quality of the perfectly cooked bacon and Cumberland sausage, the scrambled eggs were a little odd. A generous portion of rich, gooey, scrambled duck egg was mixed with a liberal amount of wholegrain mustard. In conjunction with a lack of seasoning it meant the dish tasted almost solely of creamy whole grain mustard. Why not just keep it simple and let the unctuous duck eggs do the talking?

Mrs G loved her dish (except for the burnt toast) and I guess this serves as a reminder of how subjective critiquing food is. In addition to the mustard, Mrs G’s eggs were flecked with a generous amount of finely diced smoked salmon.  In her opinion the mustard didn’t detract from the flavour of the scrambled egg.

Faced with such a huge selection of cake, I couldn’t help but order a slice. My coconut and jam sponge was a lovely retro treat. Moist sponge was capped with a thin smear of smooth jam and a scattering of coconut. I used to have this sponge served hot on an almost weekly basis at school with lumpy custard. One bite and the memories came flooding back.

Even though my eggs were a disappointment I’m sure we’ll be going back to Barker soon; either for coffee and cake or for another pair of jeans. If I carry on eating at this rate then I’ll need a bigger pair in a few months time.

The Details: Coffee Barker, 1-5 Castle Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1BW
Telephone: 029 2037 1491


  1. Superficial - sums up this cafe - tea, coffee and cakes are fine but not cheap - surroundings nice - service terrible - but as for the rest of the food if you like paying a lot for average tasting, small portions of food then this is your place.
    PS if you know the staff all the above doesn't apply.

  2. @anonymous - Sounds like you've had a bad experience! Must admit I haven't been back since my review so I can't pass judgement on whether things have changed or not.

  3. place looks fantastic but the coffee is average at best! pricey but I don't mind paying that for quality. food is very good and I found the staff are very friendly