What: Offering only outdoor seating, Kindle is located on a former warden’s bungalow on the edge of Sophia Gardens in the heart of Cardiff. A small plates restaurant with a sustainable approach, it specialises in ‘fire food’ served in a vibrant, informal and unique city centre setting.
Who: Kindle is the latest venture from Welsh-based restaurateurs Phill and Deb Lewis, who are also behind Dusty’s, a mini chain of Neapolitan pizzerias in South Wales; and neighbourhood bistro Nook, in Cardiff. The pair first announced plans for the restaurant back in 2019 following a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised £43,000. With more than £350,000 of further investment from the founders, the couple have now completed the first phase transformation of the previously run-down site. The pair have brought in chef Tom Powell, formerly of The Walnut Tree, to oversee the Kindle kitchen.
The food: Powell's seasonal, small-plates menu utilises the bounty of Kindle's on-site kitchen garden and greenhouse, with the chef and his team also working closely with local farmers, gamekeepers and gardeners to use 'ethical produce' with an emphasis on provenance. All dishes are cooked over fire, with the menu well balanced between offering vegetarian and vegan options alongside meatier plates. Dishes to feature on the sample menu include sangak flatbread with burnt aubergine; celeriac bravas; monkfish with tarragon emulsion; quail with champ and gravy; and collard greens with coal roasted onion. The menu is short - 12 dishes in total, including two dessert options - and prices are accessible, with plates starting at £4 and topping out at £11.
The vibe: Rustic would be a fair description. Despite the endless uncertainty of the British weather, Kindle's seating is based entirely outside under pergolas (the website appropriately advises guests to layer up, and adds that hot water bottles and blankets are available for anyone who still feels chilly), with the bar area, kitchen and toilets all based within the original building. The restaurant reflects the Lewis' long-held dream to open 'a truly sustainable restaurant' in their home city, operating on circular economy principles. To bring this to life, the couple have worked closely with Object Space Place (OSP), a pioneering interior architecture and design company with a focus on hospitality, who came recommended by the Sustainable Restaurant Association. As a result, Kindle’s design has made the most of reusing and repurposing almost every element of the original building, and a high proportion of the materials are reclaimed, including all internal doors, and the flagstones, railways sleepers and scaffold boards used to create the garden and planting beds. With future extensions and developments in mind (see below), parts of the project have also been ‘designed for disassembly’, meaning they can be easily taken apart and reused.
And another thing: Now that Kindle is open, thoughts will turn to the second phase of the Lewis' plan, which will take place up to two years down the line and involve a glass-fronted extension, reusing every element of the current build to create the restaurant's final iteration.
Sophia Gardens, Pontcanna, Cardiff CF11 9SZ