The street food world continues to expand in Wales’ capital, with a major makeover of the former Doctor Who Experience site becoming the latest destination for belly-filling in the sun this July and August. Jonathan Swain popped down on opening night in June to find out what you can expect.
Transforming 22 shipping containers, Tiger Yard has morphed into Cardiff’s latest outdoor food court, equipped to accommodate up to a thousand hungry diners.
Much of the initial momentum behind Cardiff’s street food boom came from The Depot. The cavernous warehouse on Dumballs Road hosted early versions of Street Food Warehouse (now Street Food Circus), helping to bring a new way of eating to the capital, and launching the careers of many small independent traders in the process.
Now, with Tiger Yard, they bring independent and local cuisine to an area typically dominated by big brand chains. The brightly-coloured compartments house trader kitchens, bars and seating areas: it’s a radical reinvention of the site of what was the Doctor Who Experience, transforming the Bay plot into an alfresco culinary hub with six permanent container kitchens and a couple of bars.
As far as atmosphere goes, on a sunny evening, it’s busy. Loud, too: the DJ’s enthusiasm means it’s easier to talk on the outer tables, where ordering is done from your table through an app.
Newcomers Terry’s Tacos take an irreverent approach to the Mexican standard, reinventing it as a cheeseburger hybrid (Welsh beef, American cheese and bacon mayo).
Dirty Bird: a controversial
brand with a loyal following
There’s also accomplished fried chicken from Cardiff street food veterans Dirty Bird – also at The Depot and Par 59, though this menu focuses on chicken tenders rather than their usual burgers. Their controversial logo has won them national notoriety, but let’s focus on the food, which has won them a loyal following: this is crisp, well-seasoned chicken which will undoubtedly be one of the most popular stalls here.
Guest traders round out the roster, Grazing Shed this time, whose Barrack Lane restaurant was one of the first in Cardiff to elevate the humble burger into something more credible.
Looking ahead this month, on Sat 29 and Sun 30 July, Tiger Yard will host the Welsh Street Food Awards. The judging panel will be headed by James Sommerin, Michelin-starred chef-owner at Penarth’s Home, with the winners going forward to the London final in August before representing Wales at the European Street Food Awards in Germany in September.
Tiger Yard is, understandably, a work in progress. This initial 12-week summer run needs some fine-tuning if it is going to be the inclusive destination the area deserves. Gluten-free options, for example, are currently underrepresented, and the selection of non-alcoholic drinks is limited. But this is undoubtedly a positive move for the Bay and it will be fascinating to see how the idea develops.
Trader profile: Fire & Flank
“A street food vibe with a
touch of restaurant quality”
Dave Evans’ street food business has had a rapid rise. In 2021, Fire & Flank won the Best Main Dish award at the British Street Food Awards, just a couple of months after they first started trading at Forest Feastival. That winning dish – steak with cheesy garlic mash – is still their signature.
He’s clear about what he brings to Tiger Yard: “a street food vibe with a touch of restaurant quality… top-quality food for the casual outdoor scene”, and uses restaurant techniques to deliver.
The steak is cooked sous vide, at 57°C, to a blushing medium-rare, then seared on the griddle for service, though space restrictions here mean Dave has had to temporarily retire his trusty flamethrower. The beef is dressed with a classic chimichurri of garlic, chilli, oregano, parsley and more in red wine vinegar, while fries are dusted with a smoky mix of paprika, garlic and onion. It’s a simple idea, done very well.
Tiger Yard, Cardiff Bay. Open 5-10pm Wed & Thurs; 11am-11pm Fri & Sat; 11am-8pm Sun during July and August.
words JONATHAN SWAIN