COFFEE BARKER ****
1-5 Castle Arcade, Cardiff. 029 2037 1491
With such a huge number of cafes, eateries, takeaways and coffee shops offering all and sundry in the way of lunchtime bites and afternoon coffee breaks, attracting the attention of Cardiff’s thirsty shoppers can’t be an easy task. It was perhaps a brave move, then, for clothes shop Barker to decide that they’d open their own coffee shop in the already thronging Castle Arcade, which boasts no less than three other independent eateries.
Yet blending seamlessly with the shop’s already cool warehouse aesthetic – exposed brickwork, high ceilings and steel girders characterising the coffee shop’s contemporary interior – Coffee Barker offers something distinctly different from the faceless coffee chains that litter the city. A warm and friendly feel is achieved with a great mix of cool and comfy leather seats. Their drinks selection is varied with an eye for quality, and although the food is slightly on the pricey side, the amount of choice and also the standard, goes some way toward making up for it. Doorstep sandwiches, appealing paninis and excellent toasties come in a variety of options. Smoked salmon, brie and gammon, mascarpone chicken and cheese are among the many tantalising choices. The cakes prove equally tempting.
Stylish, sleek and comfortable, Barker certainly stands out as one of the better cafes in Cardiff to indulge in a beautiful slice of cake or a hearty lunch time sandwich. Whether you’re stopping in for a morning coffee or an afternoon tea with friends, Coffee Barker is a great place to relax, chat and watch passersby. Its popularity is already evident, with plans to extend the coffee shop further into the adjoining Barker clothes shop. GARETH LUDKIN