I can’t believe that I hadn’t been to The Tramshed until tonight. This former tram depot is a beaut of a building (grade II listed) and re-opened as an arts and music venue last year. It’s within walking distance of the city centre (it’s located on the cusp between Grangetown and Riverside) and is the perfect tonic for anyone wanting to escape St Mary Street on a weekend night.
Now that its long awaited café and bar has opened, The Tramshed is sure to attract even more visitors. The Waiting Room serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and its vibe is cool, calm and collected, something I’m very glad about after a particularly trying Tuesday.
I’ve long thought that Tuesday is the worst of all the working days. Sure Mondays suck but Tuesday is when reality hits: that work you didn’t do last week still needs to be done and the weekend (past and future) seems like a distant dream. I meet my friend Cara after work and we’re both tired and tetchy but the staff at The Waiting Room are warm and welcoming and soon put a smile on our faces. They’re quick to take our order too; maybe they sense that I’m a bit hangry.
We’re meant to be off the booze (we’ve not long returned from a hen weekend) but manage a couple of cheeky halves. There’s a great choice of craft beers and lagers at the bar as well as cider, wine and the usual spirits. The food is simple and American influenced and offers a selection of sliders (those are mini burgers to you and me) and sides which include fries, potato salad and mac and cheese. It’s really good value (choose three sliders and a side for a tenner) and most importantly, there are lots of veggie and vegan options, meaning that I’m pretty excited as I wait for the food to arrive.
First up is the Patti Smith, a patty (see what they did there?) made of beetroot, black beans and brown rice with crispy shoestring potatoes, caramelised onion and roast tomato chipotle salsa. It might sound a bit virtuous but Cara says it reminds her of the burgers you get at the fairground thanks to those sweet and ever so slightly unctuous onions. It’s a good, honest burger with subtle, earthy flavours, although I’d argue that it needs more salsa (it’s a tiny bit on the dry side) but then I’m a saucy girl.
The Johnny Marr is a dream come true: marinated and grilled mushroom, roast pepper, roast tomato chipotle salsa and cauliflower houmous. I have two of these bad boys because they’re that good. This is smoky and spicy, a real wallop of warmth.
A lot of thought has gone into this menu. These are good quality ingredients cooked well and with a real flair for flavour. And it’s such a nice change to see imaginative vegan options that even the most committed of carnivores will want to try. Having said that, I’m told that the beef burgers are tasty and succulent so it’s good news for everyone.
Oh, and let me tell you, the sweet potato fries here are the best I’ve ever had. Fact.
We probably didn’t need pudding but we’re greedy girls, and besides, it would be rude not to try the desserts which are all homemade. I go for the dark chocolate pot with toasted cashew crust and berry vanilla sauce which is divine, while Cara has the carrot cake which sadly isn’t vegan, but I’m assured that it’s nice and moist with ‘plenty of carrot’ – always a good sign.
You get a lot of burger for your buck here and remember, these sliders are small but they’re substantial. My eyes are often bigger than my belly although I manage to clear my plate and as I sit here writing this, I’m patting a little burger baby.
As its name suggests, The Waiting Room is a retreat of sorts. It’s an ideal stopping point for a quick post-work pint (if you live in that neck of the woods), and somewhere to take stock before, during or after a gig. Come here for breakfast, a burger or a beer – or all three – and you might not want to leave. I’ll certainly be returning.