I thought I'd better just update my opinion on the Beaz Neez, Cardiff, to say that, sadly, at New Year 2002 it closed, leaving us South Wales Veggies with one less place to eat in confidence. So, contrary to my advice below, don't keep looking for it - it ain't there. The first thing to say about the Beaz Neez is, If at first you don't succeed in finding it, try, try again. It’s not easy to find, tucked away above the now closed Kaleidoscope shop at the Mill Lane end of Wyndham Arcade in the centre of Cardiff but it is worth the effort when you do. There has been a café/restaurant on this site for many years, although with closed periods between its different incarnations. Even so, a lot of long established Cardiffians still don’t seem to know it exists, which is a shame. At least there is now an entrance from Wyndham Arcade itself, so that you no longer need to go in through the shop below – this also means that they can open in the evenings, when the shops are shut. The Beaz Neez is open every lunchtime until about four o’clock and on Friday and Saturday evenings – although this seems to be a bit variable, so it might be wise to phone before turning up for an evening meal. The other drawback to its location is the fact that there doesn’t appear to be any wheelchair access, although apparently, they do have pavement space in the summer, on the stretch of Mill Lane that has been spruced up and marketed as ‘Cardiff’s Café Quarter’. The menu is pretty large for such a small establishment, with daily specials as well as the regular menu. A bit overwhelming for the long-time vegetarian, used to a total absence of choice. The food is wholesome, tasty vegetarian and vegan fare. Light snacks include baked potatoes, falafels and samosas, a choice of home-made soups and vegan versions of familiar snacks, such as scrambled tofu. Larger dishes include such veggie staples as nut roa
st and veggie lasagne as well as exotic concoctions like ‘Black Bean and Chocolate Chilli’ and ‘Red Dragon pie’. Most dishes come with a generous portion of vegan friendly salad – an interesting mix of greens, pasta, coleslaw and rice or bulgar wheat salads – dished out from separate bowls, so that those with wheat allergies can be spared the pasta etc. For the self-indulgent, there are some wicked sticky cakes and desserts, including vegan chocolate cake good enough to fool any non-vegetarian and a selection of dairy and soya ice creams. The juice counter provides fresh fruit and vegetable juices to the customer’s order. Basically, if they’ve got it and you really want it, they’ll pulp it for you. They also do a variety of fruit smoothies, which can be made with soya yoghurt, for the vegan customer. Other beverages include a range of herbal teas, organic fruit drinks and soft drinks and organic beers and wines. The staff are friendly and don’t seem to mind if you want to linger over your coffee, which is good because there are papers and magazines provided so it’s easy to kill time once you settle down and it’s a nice, light, open space so it’s pleasant to slump and read for a while in the middle of a busy day. The prices are pretty reasonable for the generous portions, with the main dishes starting at £6.50 and the snack meals from about £2.50 for falafels. A vegan or vegetarian brunch will set you back a fiver.