Porter’s Bar, Cardiff

‘Have you seen my handbag?’
‘No.’
‘Have you seen my handbag?’
‘No.’
‘Have you seen my handbag?’
‘No.’

The drunk blonde did another lap around our table, bleary eyes casting about the chairs and table legs. She tried to focus on us, her eyes as big and watery as fish bowls, her mouth opening again. Before she could repeat her question, we cut her off, ‘No, love, sorry, but we haven’t seen your handbag.’

Meanwhile, a very friendly if slightly inebriated member of staff continued her life story, told stream of consciousness style. Over by the sofas, the recently separated boyfriend of one of my close work colleagues awkwardly avoided acknowledging me as he put the moves on a girl who wasn’t my work colleague.

This is Porter’s Bar, Cardiff, and it’s almost midnight. We had arrived ten minutes ago, just in time for last orders, and frankly I wouldn’t have blinked if a pink polar bear had crashed through the window. In all, it was a surreal gathering.

Afterwards, though, I took a step back from this scene and pondered all the little details I hadn’t quite had time to study: the well stocked bottle fridge, the piano in the corner, oh, and of course, the cinema in the side room. It warranted a fresh look.

Second, third, and fourth visits still haven’t reduced that surreal impression; drink in hand, I’ll turn to find a secluded corner decked out like a cosy Ikea showroom piece, or find a game of mini-game in full swing out in the yard.

It was last Saturday which brought me again to Porter’s Bar, the ultimate destination on a group pub crawl of Cardiff city centre. It was a shrewd move. A live jazz band played on the small stage, drawing away people from the court yard so our slightly inebriated group (this being pub number 10) could indulge in some garden sized Jenga before retiring to the cinema seats laid out.

A trip to the toilet revealed posters advertising ping-pong nights and open mic nights and barbecue nights and cinema nights. Impressively, all of this is free. We were listening to a live band and playing pub games on a Saturday without any extra charge or inflated drinks prices.

Part of what seems surreal about Porter’s Bar is the uncommon effort they go to; they seem to nimbly jog up, burning bright with creativity and ambition, and make other pubs seem dull and slow. You’re left thinking that if every pub tried this hard maybe, just maybe, there would be fewer closures.

One of the best examples of their eye for the little details is their approach to tea. Porter’s Bar have brought in the local knowledge of Waterloo Teas, and provide a range of fresh-brewed loose leaf tea which almost rivals the choice of beers they have on tap. When my fiancée prefers a good cup of tea more than anything else, while I want a good ale, it makes the difference between going there or somewhere that plonks a teabag into a mug and charges the same price for the privilege.

The Cardiff beer scene is on the brink of a renaissance, with several new exciting bars set to open very soon, with ‘big name’ craft breweries backing them, but it’ll always be reassuring to have plucky Porter’s Bar in the heart of Cardiff.

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One thought on “Porter’s Bar, Cardiff”

  1. I hereby swear to give this place another try. The first time I found it, it was early afternoon and the place was empty save for five or six staring locals at the bar. It was dark in there and I thought I was interrupting a Fight Club. Maybe that’s on Thursdays?

    Anyway, it sounds like a belter of a place if you catch it in its own Special Time.

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