As a vegetarian, the last place I thought I would find myself headed for lunch this half term was Chicken House. But the eatery at The Red Dragon Centre in Cardiff Bay asked us along yesterday after our screening of Trolls at the Odeon (read the review here – we absolutely loved it!), so I checked the menu, saw they had a veggie burger or a veggie wrap to choose from and gladly accepted their invite, as I knew the kids would be hungry after the film, and the rest of my family are meat eaters.
Our film finished at around 12.30pm, and Chicken House opens at 1pm, so we had a look at the impressive Halloween-themed balloon displays in the foyer of The Red Dragon Centre, created by locally-renowned balloon whizz Doctor Bob. The centre are also running two free spooky-themed competitions between 12pm and 4pm every day over half term.
We then headed over to the restaurant for when it opened at 1pm – it’s just outside the main centre building, on the left as you come in through the barriers – and were joined by Cardiff Daddy. He works in the city centre and so headed down on his lunch hour. The free parking just outside (subject to minimum spend and ticket validation) made it really convenient for him, and a good chance for him to see the kids, as he’s not got any time off work this half term.
Chicken House is an independent fast food restaurant, rather than part of a chain, and serves – unsurprisingly – all kinds of chicken-related dishes, including chicken breast fillets, chicken burgers, spicy wings, nuggets and popcorn chicken.
All the chicken is cooked from fresh on the day; none of it is frozen, as is the case in a lot of similar-style restaurants, and meals take between 8 and 10 minutes to come. They have a five star food hygiene rating and a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence plus plenty of rave reviews. I admit this surprised me, because I had mistakenly thought it was a greasy takeaway – but I am happy to be proved wrong!
In fact, half the chicken on the menu is fried but the other half is grilled, and there’s even a protein-carb combo meal of chicken breasts with steamed vegetables and veggie rice, rather than fries, so plenty of healthier options.
I tried the aforementioned veggie rice as a side order to accompany my veggie wrap and it was lovely; really fresh tasting, full of peas, carrot chunks and sweetcorn and although the chilli flakes made it spicy, it was just about okay for delicate taste buds. The wrap was filled with chunks of vegetable cutlet, salad and mayo, and came with fries and a soft drink (£5.99). I opted to include cheese in the wrap too, although a bit more salad would have been nice.
Cardiff Daddy ordered chicken strips coated with a homemade peri peri marinade, which again came with fries and a soft drink (£5.99). He cleaned his plate, so I’m taking that as a good sign! Other flavours include BBQ and Tandoori, although next month will see the introduction of several new flavours as the restaurant updates its menu.
Little Man O, aged 5, had a chicken wrap, while Little Miss E, age 6¾ and Toddler Boy I, 2½, had their first taste of popcorn chicken, served in red metal buckets lined with red and white paper. The popcorn wasn’t at all greasy, so I’m told by my taste testers! Again, everything came with fries. I thought the children’s meals were great value at £3.50 each. The portions were generous enough that we probably could have got away with two between the three of them – they’re aimed at ages 12 and under.
Although everything is available to take away or for delivery, you can also dine in, which is what we did, on the large canteen style wooden tables and benches (which can fit up to 70 diners). The decor was lovely in fairness, with dark wooden panelling and sleek metal.
There was a mix of families enjoying the half term and local office workers on their lunch hour. The informal atmosphere was great for families, and it’s good to have a quicker, more casual option at the Red Dragon Centre if you don’t fancy a full-on restaurant meal but want something more substantial than a sandwich from the centre’s Costa Coffee or Cadwaladers.
Our overall verdict? A great place for a more affordable family lunch – it cost us around £22 for five of us – and with food that is a lot fresher and healthier than you would imagine. It’s perfect if you’ve been to the cinema (we recommend the £2.50 early morning Kids’ Club screenings of family favourites) or bowling at the Red Dragon Centre and want a relaxed and quick dining option.
The Chicken House Cardiff, The Red Dragon Centre, Hemingway Road, Cardiff, CF10 4JY.
We were invited along to review as part of our role as blogger ambassadors for The Red Dragon Centre.