By Ellie Philpotts
With the rent for independent businesses selling like hot cakes, and the amount of restaurants already calling the city centre home, it could be difficult for another newcomer to figure out what makes them different. But if you’ve noticed Cardiff’s previous cubano shortage, you’ll have a clue at how The Hashery manages to solve this problem…
The Hashery is the newest kid on the High Street block, but the situational advantage of sitting right under the central figure of the castle isn’t the only reason behind their steady flow of hungry visitors. Having only opened in December, their unique style – think quirky artwork and an emphasis on music – has become a talking point around the city, and that’s before we even get on to the food. (Which is kind of why restaurants set up in the first place.)
After being unable to make their launch party, I was intrigued to try The Hashery for myself, and my visit last night didn’t disappoint.
First impressions matter, and in this instance, first impressions spanned in size – from the attention-grabbing wall mural and kooky blackboard which you can add to in bright white ink, to the smaller details, such as the water jug that broke every stereotype of the unassuming water jug, in being designed like a teapot. Plus, my name and a Righteous Brothers lyric were handwritten on a guitar on my table – certainly raising the reservations bar.
I didn’t have much chance to silently appreciate these though, because the staff are friendly, attentive and know their stuff, so we had plenty to talk about before my friend joined us – not to mention the fact that our waiter and I are both in our final year of English at Cardiff Uni.
The Hashery focus on three main food types – mussels, burgers and cubanos – meaning those of an indecisive temperament are in for a hefty challenge. But when that’s the only problem, you know they’re not doing too badly…
The mussels menu includes the namesake Hashery Mussels, teamed with white wine, garlic and cream; Boozy Pig, ‘a rich and creamy’ pancetta and pernod creation that’ll have veggies looking away but everyone else making a beeline; and The Med, with flavours like tomato, chorizo and basil inspired by their head chef’s experiences of fishing in that area. Anything that reminds us of sunnier shores is sure to be welcomed here in wet, wintery Wales.
Meanwhile, burgers are big business in Cardiff, and no, we’re not just talking about the mandatory post-night-out Burger King for when your weekly exercise has been used up in Live Lounge, and therefore trekking to Chippy Lane is just an ask too much. However, The Hashery’s range is pretty individual – think Big Chix (chicken marinated in basil and butter milk, alongside melted mozzarella, mushrooms, tomato and Hashery mayo); the even meatier Sir Smoke Hog comprised mainly of homemade 6oz patty, pulled pork and BBQ sauce with a twist; and, in a move triggering sighs of relief for the non-meat-eaters among us, the Hashery Veggie – Portobello mushroom with roasted pepper and goat’s cheese. My veggie friend went for this one and was a fan.
However, it seems The Hashery’s focal point is its cubanos. The impressive-sized Cuban sandwiches come in a spectrum of varieties, from authentic mojo-marinated roast pork with Swiss cheese and pickle, to the Chick Flick, the non-rom-com aforementioned burger’s apparent cousin, and the Mexiano, where I can confirm the avocado and tomato situation almost makes you applaud yourself for being kind of healthy. That’s until the bacon and Monterey Jack make themselves known, but still, it’s something.
Sides are not spared at The Hashery either. While the crew have identified their favourite as the Scotch Egg, we went for the Dirty Fries, teamed with pulled pork and melted triple cheese, and fail-safe sweet spud fries, although also vying for our attention were the Courgette Fries and Garlic Mushrooms. The staff must’ve picked up on how embarrassingly long it was taking us to narrow down our options, so they kindly brought us some mac ‘n’ cheese with the twist of pancetta and asparagus too.
But food, friendliness and decor (the ‘F’ theme was good while it lasted… Oh wait, I should’ve said ‘furnishing’) aren’t all this multi-talented bunch can conjure up. Onto their cocktails… Not content with the humble Happy Hour, The Hashery have only gone and offered 2 for 1 all day, every day! From the Manhattan’s commendable effort of whizzing us across the pond to the glamour of the Big Apple, to the Hashery Uber Espresso Martini under the sophisticated-sounding After Dinner section, and old classics like the Margarita and Mojito, spanning to more unique versions such as Electric Tea (oh wait, was that the function of the teapot earlier!?) and Pirate Juice, your cocktail cravings will be well and truly quenched.
By this point, we had no room for dessert, but with choices featuring Oreo ice-cream shakes and some salted caramel sugar overdoses, they looked almost set to rival the mains.
All in all, The Hashery makes for a welcome addition to the capital’s ever-expanding culinary scene. Ambience, a fun feel and good grub are the right ways to kick-start a foodie February, so we wish them all the best with future ventures!