Pies and Principles: Cafe Cwtch (South Wales) and Nana (London)

Our latest selection of cafes and restaurants that put ethics on the menu. This time we visit one cafe that uses its profits to provide work placements for disadvantaged young people and another that gives retired women the chance to volunteer and socialise

Cafe Cwtch, Greenmeadow Community Farm, South Wales
Review by Christine Pearce

Located in an old farmhouse in a big green space, the council-owned Cafe Cwtch in Cwmbran is an Aladdin’s cave of a place. It has three rooms in all: the first is a small cosy entrance with a settee, a few tables and the kitchen, go down a few steps and you’ll find a larger room with a serving area and bar and finally a room which is ideal for a private parties and children’s parties and leads to a garden.

The cafe is used to generate income for the farm and its community work, which includes providing work placements for disadvantaged young people and adults with learning disabilities.

Local suppliers provided the tasty ingredients for what were delicious beef and ham sandwiches on granary bread. Basic presentation, but good quality. All the herbs used in the cooking come from the herb garden and pork and eggs are sourced from the farm where possible. Coffee is hot and aromatic and served in a bowl or cup.

Staff are delightful and welcoming and the menu is reasonably priced, with sandwiches less than £4 and a cup of tea for little more than a pound. Afternoon teas are served with local jam and Welsh butter and cakes are made fresh by Dave ‘the Hairy Baker’.

Open daily, 10am – 4pm.
Green Meadow Community Farm, Greenforge Way, Cwmbran NP44 5AJ
Tel: 01633 647662

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Nana, London
Review by Claudia Cahalane

Any readers who were, like me, a vegetarian teenager in the 90s, are likely to run a mile at the mention of the word quiche. So when I stepped through the door at Nana and a mushroom quiche was recommended, I hesitated. Could Nana crack the fear? Absolutely, yes! A delicious, comforting, flavoursome plate arrived in front of me with a light and perfectly dressed salad, topped with capers and fresh pomegranate seeds.

Set up partly as a community project, the cafe provides a social hang out and volunteering opportunity for retired women and hosts regular craft days. The roof terrace is a treat.

Fifties music played while I chatted to Evie, a retired Londoner from Manor Park and one of the dozen or so older ladies who ‘host’ at the cafe. Not all food is cooked and served by the women, but Evie told me her special was curry and she’d been successfully experimenting with veggie curry in the cafe recently.

Nana, which opened earlier this year, oozes Hackney style, but prices aren’t too gentrified. My filling plate cost less than £6. A bottle of larger is £3.

“We don’t get paid,” Evie told me, “but I don’t care. There’s a great atmosphere here, I enjoy it.” Money is tight, as is the case with most ethical start-ups, but if Nana has a financially healthy month, a pot of money is shared with the women.

Open daily 9.30am – 11pm (midnight on Saturday).
The Convenience, Brooksby’s Walk, Hackney, London E9 6DF