Canton’s award-winning Victoria Park has been through a lot over the past 120 years - from its humble beginnings as a fresh food and livestock market, all the way through to 2019 and its crowd-pleasing splashpad, but its future has ‘foodie’ written all over it.

And it’s easy to see why. 

Take a walk around the park and its surrounding streets, and you’ll notice an entirely new vibe to the area. It feels like a place you’d want to live, rather than an accidental detour on the way out of town, or ‘that spot with the park on Cowbridge Road’. Simply put, it’s starting to gain an identity outside of its leafy acres.

The biggest indicator of this sea change is the amount of food options on offer. The park itself isn’t much of a foodie draw - unless you like ice cream - but step outside of its gated boundaries and you’re really spoilt for choice. From Wriggle favourites such as Bwydiful, Victoria Park Pie Company, Park Deli and Dough Thrower to newbies in Paysan and Nook - the pot of treasure at the end of Cowbridge Road is full of exceptional food. And you’d be a fool not to get in now before the hordes arrive!

A brief catchup: they sell pies. Pies aren’t exactly photogenic, or indeed a sexy thing to talk about when compared to an artisan burger, but everybody loves a good pie, don’t they? Drown it in gravy, pair it with some fluffy mash, and introduce some mushy peas, and you have yourself a wholesome meal. Sadly, most pies feature lifeless crusts, and preservative-infused fillings, but not at the Victoria Park Pie Company. Oh no. These pieces are made fresh every day, and feature no added preservatives, colourings, or flavourings. They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here, they just make good pies. From the classic steak and kidney, to lamb and mint - the Victoria Park Pie Company are experts in their field.

Read more about Victoria Park Pie Company

A brief catchup: Bwydiful recently won an award at the Food Awards Wales for ‘Best Street Food of Cardiff’. So now that you’re aware of their pedigree, what about the food itself? Well, it’s burgers. And sure, Cardiff has about a million burger joints, but how many of them source their beef from the legendary Rosedew Farm in Llantwit Major? Or get their ciabatta rolls made fresh from an independent bakery? We’re guessing not many. Here’s the game plan: you start with their homemade rarebit toast, you follow it up with a Disco Inferno burger (featuring sweet and spicy salsa), and then you end with a Crafty Devil beer. Life is often complicated, but that menu pathway is simple and perfect.

Read more about Bwydiful

A brief catchup: This sweet little deli on Cowbridge Road seats up to 25 guests. Much like its square-footage, Parc Deli’s menu is anything but extensive. However, with an ethos based on ‘foods that are a little bit eighty, very tasty, and not on your everyday menu’, there’s more than enough to get your teeth sunk into. Want some smashed avocado on toast? Great. A chicken burrito rice bowl? Awesome. Not just content with conquering breakfast, brunch and lunch - they also have a killer dessert menu, featuring salted caramel milkshakes and guest flavoured ice creams. Bellissimo.

Read more about Parc Deli

A brief catchup: Bloc used to be a public toilet. Joking aside, turning something as ugly as a public toilet into one of Cardiff’s best coffee shops, has to be one of the greatest glow-ups in recent history. Now, Bloc might already be on your coffee-joint rotation, but did you know, every Friday and Saturday night it transforms into a pop-up French restaurant by the name of Paysan? And did we mention its run by Grady Atkins, who happens to be one of the best chefs in the UK? That’s a lot take in, isn’t it? A brief look at their Instagram page, is enough to put you in a food coma. The vegetables pop like they’ve never popped before, and the beef looks like it’s about to melt into nothingness. Put simply, Paysan won’t stay a weekend event for much longer. It deserves a larger runway than that.

Read more about Paysan @ BLOC Coffee

A brief catchup: these guys were at the forefront of the new wave of bakeries popping up in Cardiff. This majestic bread-based destination is owned and operated by David, who's leading the bakery operation here, creating the traditional daily products –and mostly found on the night shift so a tad bleary eyed first thing in the morning! Expect a fabulous array of baked goods, whether a sourdough loaf for home or a pasty and expertly made coffee on-the-go. Identifiable by it's beautiful green barber-shop tiling, this isn't a place to miss. One of Team Wriggle's absolute favourites in Cardiff, and a standout addition to Cowbridge Road's foodie offering.

Read more about Pettigrew Bakeries

A brief catchup: the Dough Thrower is the creation of a guy called Ben, who grew up in Switzerland. The second part of that sentence isn’t too important, other than the fact his family owned a bakery there. But how many pizza-makers do you know that hail from the land of tiny knives, chocolate, and fancy watches? Answers on a postcard. Flash forward to the present day, and following a successful pop-up in Ogmore-by-sea, the Dough Thrower is now a fully-fledged business opposite Victoria Park. Featuring high-grade flour from Naples, salt from the Himalayas, award-winning olive oil from Spain and tomato sauce using tomatoes from Vegas Bajas and Puglia - each pizza they serve is based on the strongest of foundations. While we suggest making your way through every item on their menu, the classic NYC option - starring mozzarella for di latte, and pepperoni - is a must.

Read more about The Dough Thrower

A brief catchup: It’s not open until Tuesday, 6th August. This is a wildcard option in the sense that, as mentioned above, Nook isn’t actually open yet (unless you read this after the 6th, in which case, how was it?), so let’s work with what we do know. Firstly, the branding (created by Dan Spain) is superb, which isn’t the priority, but it helps. Secondly, from a brief Twitter post, it seems as though their focus will be on natural wines, as well as food created with the best quality produce possible. And that’s it really. That’s all we know. We’re counting down the days.

Read more about Nook

Published -23rd July 2019