Saturday, 9 February 2013

Cellar Funk - The Lansdowne Pub, Cardiff

The British pub is in decline, figures from The Campaign for Real Ale show that they are closing at a rate of 12 a week. Conversely other figures show that Real Ale is growing in popularity for the first time in 20 years, particularly in community pubs that focus on 'wet sales'. Here in Cardiff we have a prime example in 'new old pub', The Landsdowne.

Purchased 3 years ago by The Chameleon Group (The Meating Place, North Star, Vulcan Lounge et al), the upper floors have been converted into flats. The Chameleon Group has a track record of breathing new life into interesting and neglected buildings, and in a town that has a reputation for demolishing beautiful architecture and replacing it with steel and glass homogeneity (cf. St Davids 2, 97% of Cardiff Bay), this is to be valued.

Following public opposition to the original plans, the ground floor has been reopened as a rather marvellous pub by Spoon Cardiff Ltd, the directors of which include local councillor Cerys Furlong, and the team behind The Potted Pig Tom Furlong, Alexis Myring and Gwyn Myring.

The bar at The Lansdowne Cardiff
The bar at The Landsdowne complete with
cheery jugs of daffodils
I finally have a good pub within walking distance of my front door and I've made several visits to The Lansdowne since it reopened. It is testament to what can be done when free of the often choking hold of a brewery. Just as with Chapter on the other, posher side of Cowbridge Road East, the bar offers an interesting and changing line up of ales, lagers and ciders. 

On my last visit there was an ale from Okells brewery, one from Tomos Watkin, Cwrw Celt and Cwtch from Tiny Rebel micro brewery. Last weekend, having left it late to book somewhere for Sunday lunch, we decided to try the local. There are no reservations, no menus, no starters here. On Sundays the brief menu is augmented by a Sunday roast. By the time we arrived at 12.30 several extended family groups had already claimed the larger tables, so we found a small table in the back bar and ordered a Homemade Burger with Chips (£6) and the Rare Topside of Beef with Roasties, Yorkshire Puds, Proper Gravy, Cauliflower Cheese (£8.95) and beers.
The simple blackboard menu at The Lansdowne Cardiff
The simple blackboard menu
The food, for the most part, is simple home cooking. The Sunday Roast along with crispy roast potatoes, simply boiled carrots and cabbage and a decent gravy. Unfortunately the slice of beef was well done, rather than the advertised 'rare' and the cauliflower cheese strangely un-cheesy.
Sunday Roast with crispy potatoes at The Lansdowne Cardiff
Sunday Roast with crispy potatoes
The burger and chips was fine but unremarkable. The patty needed seasoning and the chips not homemade which was a shame. It was exactly what you expect when paying the austerity friendly sum of £6.
Burger and chips at The Lansdowne Cardiff
Burger and chips
If all of this sounds negative, let me clarify. The food is good value and consistent with the pricing but it is not the main reason people come here. It is a sideshow to the main event which is in the cellar not the kitchen. The impression I get is that The Lansdowne wants to be a pub not a restaurant and this makes me very happy. If you want a great meal go to The Potted Pig. If you want a great pint and maybe a quick, simple Welsh faggots and peas on the side, then this is the place for you. You won't be disappointed.

The Lansdowne
Lansdowne Road, Canton, Cardiff, CF5 1PU
02920 221312

Twitter: @thelansdownepub

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