Cowin' Lush*

Thirty minutes outside of Cardiff is the festival town of Cowbridge.  On the day of the Six Nations Grand Slam final, and with Cardiff full of revellers as early as 10am, the genteel streets of this market town also provided a little sanctuary for two foodies trying to settle their nerves ahead of the big game.

After indulging in the best hot chocolate ever at Bar 44 (straight from glorious Barcelona!) and a spot of shopping, we finally reached our destination - Arboreal Cafe, Kitchen and Bar in the heart of Eastgate street.

Unlike the overwhelmingly beige venues of the city centre, Arboreal was bright and airy with a laid back vibe.  Exposed stone walls nestled up against whitewashed boards reminded me of the surfer chic we'd seen on holidays to Newquay and the vaulted ceiling with its roof-lantern skylight filled what would otherwise be a narrow and dark cafe with light.

The lunchtime menu is limited but lets face it, who needs 30 mediocre options when 8 - 10 really good ones will do!  My partner opted for one of their signature flatbreads -
Smoked salmon, dill and horseradish crème fraiche, capers, pickled cucumber (£6), whilst I decided on their Caeser Salad (£5.95) with extra chicken (£1.50).

Salmon flatbread and side salad [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
Service was swift and friendly and before we knew it our food was served.  The flatbread, a new twist on a pizza, combined classic flavours of salmon and cucumber with a punchy dill and horseradish dressing whilst the rocket and capers gave that essential salt and pepper taste.  The side salad of mixed leaves and pea-shoots was a generous portion that certainly satisfied.

Caeser Salad - Arboreal-style [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
The salad, whilst not entirely traditional with its additions of Swiss cheese and Serrano ham, was delicious.  Fresh, buttery baby gem lettuce were dressed with lemony creme fraiche, whilst the salty ham and hot chicken added depth.  Sourdough croutons gave some much needed crunch and the whole thing left me fit to bursting.

All this was washed down with some delicious fresh lemonade and mint (£2.75 for a jug) and sparkling ginger and lemongrass (£2), meaning the whole bill was under £20 - not bad considering the portions!

Chatting to the staff they were very proud to point out that the patch of land to the rear was soon going to be an allotment for the cafe, providing fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetables directly to the kitchen.  As an enthusiastic amatuer grower myself this is a great idea and a lovely selling point for the cafe.

I for one can't wait to go back later on in the year to see (and taste!) how the first harvest has gone.

*The title is a reference to a popular saying in my native Port Talbot.  It's not just lush, it's cowin' lush.


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