Our favourite place for an open mic shindig has had a face lift! Having lived in Cardiff for the past seven years, I’ve known O’neill’s as one of the few venues that has been long-standing on St Mary’s Street. But with new bars popping up along the strip it has finally caught up and been brought into 2017, now with white metro tiles and industrial furnishings.
Of course, the bar is still stocking old favourites, but the new-look pumps now accentuate a great selection of craft ales. And across the menus there is prominent nod to Ireland’s American heritage, starting with a range of whiskeys. In fact, ‘boiler makers’ (or whiskey chasers) even make it onto the list – my great grandfather, who was a whaler from Shetland, would have been right at home!
While Oneill’s has always been a fairly decent drinking hole, one thing I’ve never really known it for is food, so when I was asked along for a review visit I wasn’t sure what to expect. I guessed that the best way to get a good view was to test out the basics with a rump steak. And, fair play, it was rare and on-point. I also went for a side of beer-battered mushrooms (which were delish) with a blue cheese dipping sauce – the stuff of beige buffet dreams! We were pleasantly surprised. James was a little more adventurous with his main, opting for brisket and wings with BBQ gravy (yum) and triple cooked chips – the chips were cracking.
Overall, Oneill’s new look and menu is a super safe bet and, best of all, reasonably priced.Oh and lest I forget. One thing I never knew (and I doubt many people do) is Oneill’s has got a fabulous secret space upstairs, kitted with bar, elevated stage/seating area with capacity for around 250 people. I always hear people moaning that there aren’t enough spaces to hire right in the centre of the city, but Oneill’s seems to have this problem solved for us.
What I had
8oz rump steak with sweet potato fries – £10.50
Glazed wings, brisket, BBQ gravy, triple cooked chips, beer battered onion rings and house slaw – £11.95
Beer-battered portobello mushroom slices† with sour cream and crumbled Cashel Blue® cheese dip – £3.95
Cheese toastie – £5.75
Most expensive main
No bull brisket, beer battered onion rings, BBQ gravy, triple cooked chips and house slaw – £12.95