Somehow, despite five years living and studying in Cardiff, I had not yet been to Canton (my only experience of the area coming from brief glimpses snatched while driving through) but after my recent visit, I can safely say I’ll be going back soon. Located a short walk across the river from Cardiff Castle, a night in Canton offers a different atmosphere to the more ‘studenty’ locales on the University side of the Taff.
Our destination this particular night was a pub named The Lansdowne, which on Thursday and Friday evenings hosts the ‘pop-up’ restaurant Hang Fire Smokehouse. The brainchild of Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn, Hang Fire is the culmination of their year-long road-trip across the United States learning everything there was to know about southern style barbecue food.
On arrival, we were greeted cheerfully by Samantha and Shauna who got us sat down with some menus and explained how the night would work. The place was pretty full, the walls bedecked with Americana, juxtaposing nicely with the Lansdowne’s more traditional British pub décor. Country music serenaded us through the speakers.
We headed to the ordering hatch when we were ready, where Shauna took our orders. This, in my case, was the eponymous Hang Fire, a platter of pulled pork, beef brisket and smoked chicken wings. Shauna helped me select my side orders, maque choux (creole corn) and BBQ beans (which contained even more pulled pork!) and confidently assured me I was going to love them. She was not wrong. The food was incredible and, paired with the wide range of great beers on offer at The Lansdowne (voted Cardiff’s 2014 pub of the year by the Campaign for Real Ale), it made for a wonderful evening.
We then made our merry way along Cowbridge Road, stopping in at a selection of pubs until we reached more familiar surroundings across the Taff. While all of the places we went to were traditional working men’s pubs, they all had a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, making for a pleasant change from our normal haunts. I would certainly recommend Canton to students searching for somewhere a little bit different to go for a few drinks with friends.