Monday, October 29, 2018

Back to basics

It's hard to imagine a more unlikely foodie honeypot than the cafe at Spit & Sawdust, an indoor skate park within an old warehouse unit a stone's throw from the big-box hell that is Newport Road. And yet, thanks to a combination of excellent fare and good old-fashioned word of mouth, it's been slowly but surely gaining the sort of reputation that induces people to visit from all over the city.

You might want to time your trip carefully, though. Sunday mornings see under-10s given the freedom of the skate park, all the manic whizzing about helping to burn off excess energy and work up appetites. Adults are catered for, too, with any parents feeling somewhat delicate able to subdue their hangovers with a (local, organic) bacon butty and a brew for a positively bargainous £3. Tempting though it is, we don't indulge - we're saving ourselves for lunch, and the cafe's speciality: burgers.

It's worth the wait. The Smoke comes with smoked cheese and BBQ sauce in a superb brioche bun, and, like its menu-mates, sits nestled in a basket with a very generous portion of wonderful deep brown, hand-cooked, skin-on fries and accompanying dishes of pickles and crunchy slaw. The patty itself might be relatively small but it packs serious flavour, and - at under £6 - the whole meal represents ridiculously good value.

Of the veggie options, the jury's out on the pea burger, but the King Delicious lives up to its name, a slab of tofu wreathed in pickled carrot and ginger for an unusual twist. The fact that the food is made to order guarantees its freshness, but does mean a reasonably lengthy wait. By the time his Glamorgan sausage sandwich arrives, our hangry five year old is largely beyond being pacified. Those in the know are savvy enough to place their orders early.

As the name implies, Spit & Sawdust is an unashamedly rough-and-ready set-up. The cafe is an unpretentious space with plywood walls and shelves stacked with back issues of skater mags, while hot drinks are served in a random assortment of mismatched mugs. No stylish decor or slick hipster branding here. Instead, the focus is firmly where it should be: on the grub.

(An edited version of this review appeared on the Buzz website.)

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