Barker Tea House

The counter at Barker Tea House on the High Street Arcarde, Cardiff.My (perhaps annual) visit to Cardiff continues. After Monday’s Coffee Spot, the fabulous Washington Tea (younger sibling of Waterloo Tea), I am continuing in the same vein with today’s Saturday-on-a-Wednesday Supplement with the Barker Tea House, newly-opened younger sibling of the lovely Coffee Barker. Yes, I know, I’m going soft in my old age: that’s two tea places in a row! Well, if you think that’s bad, just you wait until you see what I have planned for you in a couple of months…!

What made Coffee Barker stand out from the crowd was its lovely interior. Since I last visited, it’s been extended (and is ripe for a Coffee Spot Update) but, not content with that, the folks behind Coffee Barker decided to move one arcade over and open the Barker Tea House. If you thought Coffee Barker had a lovely interior, then wait until you see the Tea House! It has the same wonderful features that made me fall in love with Coffee Barker (person-swallowing sofas, uber-comfortable comfy chairs, quirky, retro décor) but takes it to a whole new level with a stunning first floor seating area. This place is simply gorgeous!

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The High Street Arcade in Cardiff, home of the Barker Tea House...
  • From the outside, it looks very like its older sibling, Coffee Barker, one arcade over.
  • Almost identical, in fact. Apart from that troubling word 'tea'...
  • I liked the 'outside' seating though. The blankets are a nice touch.
  • Stepping inside, you are greeted by the counter to your right.
  • While to your left, the store stretches out before you, looking similar to Coffee Barker.
  • There are the dangerous, people-swallowing sofas...
  • ... and the uber-comfortable comfy chairs...
  • ... plus the same quirky features that made me fall in love with Coffee Barker.
  • Check out the shelf above the lamp...
  • ... and the recycled luggage rack, complete with luggage.
  • I particularly liked these fine fellows...
  • ... while the coat hooks are a nice touch.
  • It's pretty bright inisde, but the clever use of mirrors helps...
  • ... as do the numerous lamps, such as this one on the table.
  • Or this one hanging from the ceiling.
  • Or these above the counter.
  • I particularly liked the decoration on the tiles behind the counter.
  • However, the best is yet to come since the Tea House has a second floor.
  • How exciting!
  • The view down the shop from the top of the stairs. It's even lovelier up here!
  • The seats next to the stairs.
  • I just loved the clever use of space, which meant there were lots of intimate areas.
  • Check out the mirror on the end wall.
  • A 180 degree panorama taken from the middle of the upstairs.
  • The left-hand (stairs) end.
  • The right-hand (far) end. I loved the wood panelling and the bare brick.
  • Along with the generous windows, these light wells down to the ground floor are neat.
  • There are three in all. This is the middle one.
  • And this is third, opposite the stairs.
  • Look out below!
  • The ceiling and lights are wonderful up here too!
  • An example of one of the lights hanging from the panelled ceiling...
  • ... while this one makes good use of the sprinkler! Nice tiles by the way...
  • So, to business. The breakfast menu looks good. Sadly it was just gone noon!
  • Fortunately the lunch menu is equally good!
  • There's an awful lot of tea though...
  • Even more here! I call this the 'Sharon Reed' shot by the way...
  • There are other drinks: hot chocolate, chai latte, smoothies, shakes... At last! Coffee!
  • There it is, with a whole shelf to itself.
  • The cakes look good too. Shame we indulged at Washington Tea...
  • I went, of course, for a cafetiere of coffee.
  • ... while my friend Kate and I had lunch.
  • My excellent hummus sandwich in detail.
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One of the many things Cardiff does well is arcades. Usually Victorian in origin, these undercover parades of shops were the shopping malls of their day, but infinitely more elegant than today’s offerings. Cardiff has four that I know of: the Royal Arcade and Morgan Arcade (home of The Plan) down by the station, and the Castle and High Street Arcades up by the castle.

The L-shaped Castle Arcade links Castle Street with the High Street and already houses the lovely Coffee Barker. So, when it came to opening the Barker Tea House, where else would you go, except across the road to the High Street Arcade? This, by the way, with its soaring, glass roof, is every bit as lovely as the Castle Arcade. They differ slightly: where the Castle Arcade has a second row of shops above the first, there is no external access to the first floor in the High Street Arcade, leaving it to the individual businesses to colonise the upper storeys.

Barker Tea House occupies three adjacent units in the arcade. Such is the beauty and skill with which the interior’s been fitted out that you’d think they’d been built as a single unit, but apparently not. According to the staff I spoke with, they were separate shops and offices. Hard to believe, looking at it now!

From the outside, the Tea House looks very similar to Coffee Barker, with its row of French brassiere style tables and chairs. Stepping inside, the counter’s to your right, a smaller, less complicated affair than Coffee Barker’s, lacking the huge espresso machine (more of which later), with the store itself stretching out to the left.

Downstairs feels very similar to Coffee Barker, with the same mix of sofas, comfy chairs and interesting décor. However, a treat awaits at the far end, where a flight of stairs folds back on itself to deliver you to the first floor seating area. I would have been, if I’m honest, quite happy to sit downstairs, until, that is, I saw upstairs, one of the most elegant spaces I’ve experienced in a long while. Arranged around three light wells running along the right-hand wall, the upstairs is open and spacious, and yet, due to the clever placement of the furniture, simultaneously full of intimate spaces. My words will never do it justice, so I’ll simply leave you in the hands of the gallery (if you haven’t looked already, do it right now!).

As the name suggests, Barker Tea House is to tea what Coffee Barker is to coffee. There’s an awful lot of tea here: I suspect not as much as at Washington Tea or Waterloo Tea, but an awful lot nonetheless. However, unlike Washington/Waterloo Tea, Barker Tea House isn’t such a haven for the coffee-drinker. The coffee, which is served by the cafetiere, is relegated to the bottom of the drinks menu: there isn’t even a choice of bean.

That said, if you’re after coffee, you’re well served by Coffee Barker itself, just across the High Street, The Plan, down the way in the Morgan Arcade, or Torre Coffee, just around the corner on Castle Street. The cafetiere of coffee I had was perfectly acceptable and the surroundings I had it in were so sublime that I readily forgave the lack of choice.

Monday 08:30 – 17:30 Roaster Bespoke Blend (cafetiere only)
Tuesday 08:30 – 17:30 Seating Sofas, Comfy Chairs, Tables, Tables outside
Wednesday 08:30 – 17:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Cake
Thursday 08:30 – 17:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:30 – 17:30 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 08:30 – 17:30 Wifi Yes (not working when I was there)
Sunday 10:30 – 16:30 Power Yes
Chain Local Visits 16th May 2014

You can see what Cardiff blogger, A Cardiff Girl, made of the afternoon tea experience at Barker’s Tea House.

If you liked this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of Cardiff’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Cardiff.

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8 thoughts on “Barker Tea House

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