Quay Arts Cafe, Newport
One of Matt and Cat?s favourite places in Newport is the Quay Arts Centre.
Years ago, Cat was a potter with a studio in Jubilee Stores, an artists? community supported by Quay Arts. Her wares were sold in the Quay?s shop and she even had her work exhibited at the Rope Store. That was all long ago. Since she palled up with Matt, her interaction with ceramics is a lot more as a food substrate than raw mud. She still has frequent trips to the Quay, but nowadays it's almost always to enjoy one of the best lunching-spots in town.
The Quay is nothing if not diverse. There?s still plenty of variety for Cat to get her teeth into, despite the waning of her career as a ceramicist. Not only does the centre feed peoples? artistic needs with its galleries, craft shop and creative classes, but it also literally nourishes with its delicious and wholesome café fare. And, in the summer, it really comes into its own with the suntrap terrace adjacent to the tidal Medina. Consequently Matt and Cat are regular visitors ? and not just because of the Quay?s proximity to their workplaces.
The Quay café has always provided healthy local food in a stimulating environment. These days this something most lunching-places seem to aspire to, but even so, few can match Newport's original contender. Matt and Cat assume that everyone knows about this but, having held their most audacious Dining Club event there to date, they were surprised that some of their guests had never set foot in the building. The Dining Club evening event was a one-off, so on a day-to-day basis a diner in the café is unlikely to encounter a saffron-coated chicken?s head: but by contrast they can be sure to have a decent salad and hearty baked potato.
The Quay Café menu changes daily and, on the day that Matt and Cat visited, the options were typically varied. Sun-dried tomato, basil and goats cheese frittata; vegetable squash and Quinoa chilli; and a nice local twist on the classic BLT: dry-cure Island bacon, IW tomato and baby-leaf baguette.
The Quay Arts Centre café can be busy at lunchtimes so, as Matt sought out a table, Cat took her place in the queue, promising to choose something suitable for them both. This counter-service may not be to everyone?s liking but it is a pretty efficient way of processing the customers who, while waiting their turn and deliberating over the menu, can peek through an open hatch and see the activity in the compact kitchen.
Taking her cutlery and then her seat at Matt?s table, Cat cast her eye around the artworks on the café walls. While some venues specialise in a slow degradation of their interiors, the Quay?s café walls are kept vibrant and stimulating by a constant turn-over of art. From decorated guitars to fabulous enamel-ware, there is usually something to provoke debate - and hopefully open a few purses!
Having read the menu, Matt was hoping that Cat had chosen fresh veal liver, tomato and gooseberry casserole served with organic bread. Fortunately for him, their hundreds of meals out together has resulted in both of them knowing instinctively what the other would choose and Cat was on the money. Head chef Martyn Cutler is a specialist in vegetarian and gluten-free meals, but that doesn't stop him using the full range of ingredients when it suits him. Matt was absolutely delighted with the veal liver casserole that Cat chose. The liver was as soft as cheese, and the creamy texture of the meat contrasted splendidly with the tart gooseberries and tomatoes.
For her lunch, Cat had plumped for Bembridge crab, leek and Parmesan frittata with Quay house salad. The generous slab of frittata was delicious; flavoured with the sweet rich taste of the local crab and leeks, with a slight acidity provided by the Parmesan. The Quay?s salads are far removed from the alas too-frequent iceberg-lettuce-and-slice-of-tomato apology that often crouches on Matt and Cat?s plates. If the Quay?s salads were a band they?d be Black-Eyed Peas: flamboyant, diverse and colourful. Cat?s accompanying salad was a tasty mix of apple, walnut and Stilton, peppers, home-made coleslaw plus dressed tomato halves and mixed leaves. The dish was fabulous: wholesome without being tediously worthy, with more than a hint of local provenance and pretty good value for money.
As you can probably tell Matt and Cat love the Quay Arts. With its inspiring free galleries, unusual gifts and, of course, the yummy food, it's definitely a great place to eat, drink at the bar or just stop for coffee. It's open during the daytime all year around. The food too, is not just café fare. There's something different about the Quay café and the menus on offer, that makes your reviewers want to go back there. It consistently offers healthy and wholesome food that will suit a wide range of palates - including vegetarian and gluten-free food that even Matt will eat without protest. Matt and Cat are frequent visitors and they are confident you will be too.
Categories: Cafes, We love!, Family friendly, Newport, Tea shops, Local produce
7 comments (newest first)
Had a beautiful lunch in here yesterday. The new chef seems smart and on top of things. There were lovely choices on the blackboard and I opted for the fishcakes…they were lovely! Looking forward to our next visit.
Post shake-up the café here has undergone a dramatic improvement. No longer the unispired dawbing of suspect things dredged up from the fridge, or combinations that look far more spectacular on the menu page than in reality.
Everything done with care and a flare, I can truly say my “home-made beetroot hummus” ciabatta was a revelation. Fresh, crisp and succulent, served with juicy roast peppers and the greenest of green salads. I was glad I had been persistent in fending off the barage of offers to shower my plate with potato crisps - what arrived was satisfying and sufficient.
All I can say to the visitor disappointed with an offering on a Wednesday - try a Tuesday! It seems to be the day they “up their game"…. perhaps as at least one noted local luminary was to be spotted mingling away at the venue!
Just had lunch with a friend at Quay Arts and was sadly disappointed, which is a shame as we’ve had some great meals there in previous years - the house salads having been particularly good (these no longer seem to be available).
The food that we ordered came out almost straightaway, but was obviously mostly pre-prepared for speed of plating and service.
My dolcelatte, pear, walnut and rocket salad with balsamic dressing consisted of dolcelatte, some small brown slivers of pear, and some rocket leaves all well coated in oil (no hint of balsamic and certainly not a single walnut in sight). I took it straight back and complained about the lack of salad and walnuts I was asked what I expected, which I explained was a variety of fresh raw salad veg and the walnuts that were listed on the menu. The plate disappeared and quickly returned with the walnuts, but instead of simple raw salad veg there were a few more leaves and some cold slimy pieces of oiled veg which seemed like they’d come out of a jar of oil.
My friend had expected her ciabatta to be served warm with an accompanying salad garnish. In reality it was small, cold, with not much filling and no garnish.
For £5.95 and £4.95 respectively we weren’t impressed and won’t be rushing back. What a shame for a previously good venue.
Big shape-up going on throughout QA it seems. Hopefully this will filter through to the cafe quickly. Living up to the claimed preference for local produce would be good :-)
I’ve been a very loyal customer for at least a year, visiting most weekends. Sadly the quality has been getting worse for a little while now and two weeks ago I noticed a significant change in the menu which is no where near as good now. And the cake has been almost impossible to eat for the last 3 of my visits as it’s simply too dry. Such a shame because the staff, atmosphere and service is great. I won’t be going back because at the prices they charge for a sandwich (£5.50!!) the quality just isn’t there.
Yes, I agree that Quay Arts Cafe is a great space that does some decent food, but I just wish someone could go in there and teach them how to make proper coffee with that great big shiny machine they’ve got. I’ve been in twice now and been served coffee so weak it’s undrinkable. If they want to know what proper coffee should taste like, they should try Lockslane in Bembridge - hmmmmm, now you’re talkin’.
Glad you agree this is a great place, have never been disappointed in the food. Only let-down was seeing St Ivel longlife cream being used, as there are superb local options available!