Obviously the cocktails had gone to our head as we recalled the heady days BC (Before Children) when we lived in a flat in south London and on the rare occasions that we had any money to speak of, we would skip (figuratively of course, for we were young and hip... er actually no, we weren't but we didn't actually skip. It's figurative, OK?) off into the centre of Soho for late night cake, coffee and a walk along the river…
Eager to repeat the experience, we were sadly brought up short by a distinct lack of comparable establishments in central Cardiff providing what we actually had in mind. The pie shop was closed up too, and most of the other places we found were heaving boozers, music thumping, pavements outside slick with beer (well, Wales had just beaten South Africa) so Carluccios had to do. Oh how times have changed.
*insert nostalgic sigh for the days when a heaving boozer with beer-slickened pavements and thumping music would have been my idea of a top night out*
The waitress in Carluccios looked at us slightly askance when we declared our desire only for pudding and coffee, but she installed us at a table and produced a couple of the finest espressos I've had recently. There was nearly a major crisis when it transpired that they had (gasp) RUN OUT of lemon tart, but we managed to make do with 2 of their rather delicious chocolate offerings - a warm chocolate pudding for me, baked with ground almonds and served with ice cream, and a rich chocolate torte with raspberry coulis for the Husband. I also managed a heady Amaretto - I love the stuff but hardly ever drink liqueurs so it was a real treat. I could actually just sit and sniff it and then drink it by dipping my tongue in the glass. But that's not for polite company, so I managed to restrain myself.
Of course, a cracking night out requires a decent breakfast the following morning, and while neither of us felt too shabby, despite tequilas and digestifs, a certain gravitas was required when it came to the contents of breakfast. We were staying on a room only basis in our hotel, so headed out to Bill's to enjoy their breakfasts and their industrial shabby chic restaurant.
I'd never heard of Bill's before and I was a bit disappointed to find out it was part of a chain, because on first glance it didn't feel very chain-like -nestled as it is in a lovely arcade, with a very independent feel too it, even down to the fleece blankets thoughtfully provided for those wishing to enjoy one of the outside tables. Then I spotted the blackboard hanging from the ceiling indicating that it had first started in a greengrocer's in Lewes, which is pretty far from Cardiff, and I was also a bit embarrassed because they seem to be EVERYWHERE. How have I not found out about this before?
Anyway, I can't vouch for the lunches or evening meals, but they do a cracking breakfast at Bill's. I had the eggs royale - smoked salmon and poached eggs on sourdough toast with hollandaise, scattered with pumpkin seeds which was a bit of a surprise addition, but I liked it. The Husband pondered out loud the fact that if he had a big breakfast, he'd feel full and have to moan about it, which lead me to believe he'd go for something else, but in fact he plumped for the full monty - the 'Bill's Breakfast' and enjoyed it hugely. And yes, he did moan about feeling full afterwards, but only in a half-hearted way. Lovely coffee too, although a couple of our drinks orders were missed or arrived very slowly - and in fact the Husband's second Americano just didn't arrive which meant we had to top up on caffeine in Cardiff Bay. But with the sun shining, that was no bad thing...