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Tasty treats on Chapter menu; CATHY OWEN discovers that family friendly food is on offer at arts centre cafe's temporary home eating out.

IAM sure the atmosphere in the cafe bar at the Chapter Arts Centre was nice and relaxed - that was until we arrived with an X Factor mini-wannabe singing Old MacDonald Had A Farmat the top of his voice.

But the noise of our three-year-old didn't really seem to annoy anyone in the laid-back food hall - too much.

As the arts centre in Canton, Cardiff, undergoes a major pounds 3.8m refurbishment, the present cafe is in a temporary home. But it would be difficult to work out that the clean, airy and bright room was makeshift without prior knowledge.

It does have a little bit of a school canteen feel to it, after all it was a school in a previous existence, but the artwork exhibited on the walls quickly reminds you that it is an art centre. It is a midweek lunchtime and there is an eclectic mix of business people, artistic types and families.

And it is somewhere families can feel relaxed, even when their child is singing badly and out of tune at the top of their voice.

There is a box of books and art and craft items in the corner for children, but I have to say the selection wasn't great and there was no paper to draw on. But this was just a minor grumble and didn't take away our enjoyment of a lunchtime treat out.

The menu is definitely a little different. The children's menu, which at pounds 3 is very reasonable, was wide and varied and you would have been hard pushed not to find something for even the most picky of eaters. We were ordered to get the pasta and a good choice it was. The tomato sauce it came with was tangy and tasty and proved a big hit.

I had a bit of a dilemma, I normally plump for something quite plain, but on this day decided to be daring and opt for something I wouldn't normally choose. And I am so glad that I did. I chose the curry of the day, again at a very reasonable pounds 5. It was a vegetarian curry served with naan bread. And it was delicious.

It had squash, courgette, peppers and mushrooms cooked just right in a sauce that was a spicy mix of flavours that simply melted in the mouth. It was so nice that I think my husband was a bit jealous he hadn't copied me.

Not that he was unhappy with his own choice. His homemade burger was a little dry but had obviously been made from top-notch beef, the salad that came with it was fresh and pleasantly dressed in balsamic vinegar and the chips were crunchy and crucially for my other half, plentiful.

Besides our choices, both the main menu and the light bites options offered something for just about anyone, with a smoked salmon dish, goat's cheese, brie and a tasty-sounding Ploughman's all up for grabs.

In short, we had a really nice meal out in great surroundings. You wouldn't know there was lots of building work going on around you and the food certainly doesn't suffer from the temporary set-up.

Chapter Arts Centre Lunchtime menu: Seven days a week, noon to 2pm Evening meals: Monday- Saturday5.30pm to8pm,Sunday 5pm to8pm


SALAD DAYS Leon Pulman (far left) with the home made falafel at Chapter Arts Centre cafe Cardiff. Above, field mushrooms and, left, cafe manager Alexia Vaughan Jones PICTURES: Liz Pearce
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 30, 2008
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