Barry’s Goodsheds, which bills itself as “the first new sustainable urban high street in the UK”, is home in Wales to a number of independent retailers, businesses and charities, as well as a gym and some serviced apartments. But it’s the array of eating options it offers that is really worth shouting about.
The food courts of my youth seemed like such a sound idea on paper – everyone able to choose what they wanted from a wide variety of world cuisines and then sit down to eat together. Sadly, the reality was rather different: stodgy jacket spuds and slices of heat lamp-frazzled pizza with the consistency of cardboard, served up with a side order of disappointment to the sound of dreary muzak in some soulless shopping mall. Rest assured that Goodsheds is light years away from those dark days.
First, though, there’s the need to navigate the online ordering process. The centralised system means you have to order from each outlet separately – fiddly if you want a smorgasbord of different dishes. Nevertheless, there’s something to be said for setting up camp and then enjoying table service, which is both swift and efficient.
Now, a word of warning: Goodsheds is not the place to go if you suffer from chronic food envy. No matter what you get and how much you eat, you’re guaranteed to find yourself eyeing up your companions’ meals like a malnourished dog. My shredded beef tacos from Bab Haus Mex – delicately smoked and pulled meat, pickled pink onions and a fresh, zingy dip – hit the spot, and yet are trumped by a pair of mutton rolls from Tukka Tuk that are sensuously meaty inside, bronzed to perfection out and accompanied by a pot of lip-tingling chilli sauce.
In the battle for best dish of the day, Tukka Tuk also contributes a marvellously rich beef rib curry, served with rice and crispy prawns, while a portion of Mr Croquewich’s dirty fries laced with parmesan, garlic and truffle mayo gets the whole table mmming in unison. Meanwhile, the cheese fiend’s club sandwich, starring a parmesan-encrusted chicken burger, seems to be designed to be worn as much as consumed, demanding a post-meal deep clean. In any other circumstances, the hummus and grilled halloumi pitta from Meat And Greek and prawn noodles from Tasty Peninsula would merit more of a mention, but they find themselves in the shade through no fault of their own.
The youngest of our party somehow finds room for a cookies and cream cruffin from Friends In Knead, while the rest of us waddle over to Junction for coffees to stave off the prospect of an afternoon coma. Hang Fire may have closed its doors, but with Alium (the new venture from Antonio Simone of Dinas Powys’ Humble Onion) having taken its place, James Sommerin’s The Shed in the Michelin Guide and Goodsheds delivering both quality and variety, Barry is fast gaining a reputation for more than just fish and chips.
1 Hood Road, Barry. Info: goodshedsbarry.co.uk
words BEN WOOLHEAD photos SIMON WOOLHEAD
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