“Cardiff as a city is really on the up and is set to change a lot in the coming years. It’s a really nice size city centre to walk around. Everything’s very compact,” says Owen Morgan co-founder of Bar 44 and new restaurant Asador 44.
It’s 15 years since brothers Owen and Tom first introduced modern Spanish tapas, seldom seen outside of London, to their native Cowbridge. In 2015 they opened on Westgate Street in Cardiff city centre, in an area that has grown into a cluster of vibrant independents.
“Our passion for Spain, its food and the conviviality of the tapas scene has always been the biggest inspiration for us,” says Owen, who is self-trained and for the first ten years was the outfit’s head chef, having gone to top Spanish restaurants in London to work for free to perfect specialist skills.
“Everyday you live or die by your product. You have to keep striving to better yourself everyday,” says Owen. “We don’t ever ram it down their throats but we’re always keen to talk to customers about our produce and our passion for our dishes and why they’re special to us.”
Opening on Westgate Street was a brave move that has paid off and “kicked our business on”, says Owen. “We experienced 60–70% growth from year one to year two, which gave us the confidence to do something very different just 30 metres away.”
‘Something very different’ is Asador 44, one of the most exciting restaurant openings in Cardiff of recent years, bringing northern Spanish charcoal-based cooking to the Welsh capital.