Review: Cegin Y Ddraig

Cegin Y Ddraig, or “The Dragons Kitchen”, opened in 2009 to small fanfare. The day that we visited, a warmish spring day, we sat down to eat in the small café’s outside area after having a look around the inside, which was full of relaxed patrons.

The menu consists mostly of sandwiches and soups, good fare for this outlet as it is easy and quick to prepare in their relatively small kitchen/counter area.

I chose the ”Dragon’s breath” chicken in a brown baguette baton and my lunching partner, the ever patient @MisiaKuczys, had Caws Cenarth Caerphilly cheese on thickly cut bloomer bread.
We were informed that there would be a 25 minute wait for brown baguettes while they were baked as they had run out, fortunately there were other options and I switched to focaccia, which I’m glad I did.

Cegin Y Ddraig is situated on the entrance to Castle Arcade, directly opposite Cardiff castle; perfect for passing foot traffic, and away from the works to pedestrianise High Street which has been kicking up dust for the past few months.

The restaurant itself has a maze of seating areas, each with their own unique ambience. The downstairs section is quaintly decorated and quite romantic; an ideal place to visit if you’re looking for somewhere a bit more special than the average café for a lunchtime date. There are sofas with low tables if you want to slouch and just drink coffee, and a half-upstairs area which puts you on a stage to overview the entire establishment while you tuck-in. We sat outside, in the entrance to Castle arcade, which isn’t too busy and isn’t a wind-trap (or at least when we visited it wasn’t) so you don’t lose your crockery.

Our lunch arrived within 10 minutes and I was amused to find that the plate was garnished with Tyrell’s vegetable crisps; a new one on me, but my favourite.

First impressions of the food were positive, the bread was firm and not in the least soggy, the sandwich was generously filled and the chicken-to-salad-and-sauce ratio was very good. The plate had a small side salad to complement the aforementioned Tyrell’s vegetable crisps.
It was clear that the sandwich had been freshly made; something you would expect but, disappointingly, don’t always get, especially at some of the big chains where the sandwiches are made early in the morning and left in the fridge.
The chicken was tender, the sauce not too overpowering and the mango (which I was pleasantly surprised to find) was of good consistency and not cut into huge, mouth-filling chunks like you get at some places.

Surprisingly, I didn’t get it all over me like I usually do, but there were enough napkins around if I did- a major gripe of mine is finding that in some cafés, no napkins are to be seen. You can usually get them if you ask, which leads me to believe that either there is some kind of napkin thief on the loose in the Welsh capital, or that other establishments forego purchasing napkins in the hope that they can send out their troops to steal them from elsewhere. Can anyone verify this conspiracy for me?

The service was excellent. There was only one staff member at the time we went in, so he was a bit rushed taking orders, clearing tables, making food and delivering to its designated tables, but we weren’t in any rush as I had decided to finish work early for the day and take it easy (not that there was any considerable delay anyway).

One thing that I would change is the opening hours. Currently Cegin Y Ddraig closes at 17:30 and with the dining area set up as it it, it could easily cater evening service and turn itself into a fully-fledged restaurant. I wonder will they be considering this in the future?

As cafés go, this place is pretty damn good and I have visited on a number of occasions since, mostly for a takeaway lamb cawl which I wholly recommend everybody try for its great balance of tender meat and zingy flavour.

Rating: 10/10

Try the lamb cawl or your sandwich on focaccia, and also try a piece of the cake. I can wholly recommend both.

Cegin Y Ddraig, Castle Arcade, Cardiff, CF10