The dreaded C-word. You’re going to hear it a lot in the next few weeks whether you like it or not. It’s best to embrace it rather than shudder at the thought of its mentioning. Then, just as we’re putting out the coals on Christmas, we’re turning our attention to New Year and Valentines. For some, it can be a logistical nightmare with office dos, family outings, beers with mates or an intimate evening with the other half. Fear not, our dining guide should see you well-prepared and sufficiently sated through the festive season and beyond.
St Mary Street, Cardiff
Great for...big parties
The lowdown: Located right in the centre of Cardiff, the swish Maldron Hotel is one of the most conveniently positioned venues on our list. Being next-door to Cardiff Central Station is another bonus which means you can leave the motor at home and let the train take the strain (just be sure to check the last service home... or book a room).
We particularly like: Three course dining packages available for up to 75 guests or buffet dining for 100 guests. Party packages include resident DJ and private bar. Ideal for big parties.
Contact: 029 2066 8866
Churchill Way, Cardiff
Great for...authentic Latin cuisine
The lowdown: Tony Venditto’s restaurant Amici is perfect for those looking for a taste of authentic Latin cuisine. The delicious pasta, pizza and risotto dishes are all present and correct but the more adventurous diners will want to tuck into the chill infused lobster or duck breast cooked in fresh mango and balsamic.
We particularly like: The wonderful wines on offer, courtesy of Tony’s vineyard back in Liberi near Naples. A quality touch.
Contact: 029 3034 3424
Duck Egg Bleu
Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff
Great for...impressing the other half
The lowdown: Having worked his culinary magic in the kitchens of London’s fancy Pétrus and Le Gavroche, Penarth chef Gareth Dobbs is striking out on his own with Duck Egg Bleu. His imaginative dishes and exceptional flavours have resulted in growing calls for Michelin Star status. If you want to impress your other half over the festive period, this is the place to book.
We particularly like: The endless choice of menus - Autumn Internationals, Spanish Wine Tasting, Beaujolais Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Our social calendar’s full up!
Contact: 029 2022 0993
Crwys Road, Cardiff
Great for...Parisian-Welsh flavours
The lowdown: Thé Pot is bringing a slice of French flair to the Welsh capital. This cosy eatery has all the hallmarks of a great Parisian cafe - elegance and class mixed with a homely charm. The all-day menus showcase the best rustic cuisine from France and Wales alongside an impressive range of gluten and vegan free products.
We particularly like: The five bean cassoulet with Toulouse sausage is the perfect antidote to those biting winter evenings.
Contact: 029 2025 1246
Bute Street, Cardiff
Great for...curry with a twist
The lowdown: The brainchild of award-winning chef Stephen Gomes, Moksh is as far removed from a traditional curry house as it gets. Comparisons have been drawn with Heston Blumenthal, both sharing a penchant for experimentation in the kitchen. As a result, Stephen’s racked up some impressive silverware over the years, picking up the title of Best UK Indian Chef on three occasions in the Cobra Good Curry Guide – a clear indication he’s a champion of both innovation and taste.
We particularly like: The wonderful prawn Bollywood curry has been served up to some of Indian cinema’s biggest stars.
Contact: 029 2049 8120
The Meating Place
St Mary Street, Cardiff
Great for...a mixed meat treat
The lowdown: The Meating Place is a contemporary grill house that’s located in the heart of St Mary Street, Cardiff. The unique selling point is their mixed meat skewers, hooked in front of diners for them to prize away the goodness. Served with couscous, roasted vegetables and yogurt dips, this dining experience allows you to create your own delicious, bespoke kebabs.
We particularly like: Putting the diner in control - Meating Place cooks up the treats, you decide how to pull them all together.
Contact: 029 2022 4757
Hills Street, St Davids Dewi Sant, Cardiff
Great for...a quirky party atmosphere
The lowdown: Smack in the centre of Cardiff off The Hays, there’s nothing quite like Cosy Club. Idiosyncratic, fun and funky, with its leather sofas, rustic furniture and stags’ heads adorning the walls, it’s a great venue to relax and escape the crowds or have a party with your chums, old boy. And the food’s very reasonably priced and of consistently high quality too so a real win-win.
We particularly like: Being able to imbibe cocktails and beer in the delightful bar prior to stumbling directly into the restaurant.
Contact: 029 2022 5998
City Road, Cardiff
Great for...critically acclaimed kebabs
The lowdown: In a recent survey by The Times, Troy Restaurant was ranked as one of the top five kebab restaurants in the UK. Before you turn away and scoff at the thought, these are proper kebabs – not the sort reserved for those looking for a sustenance fix after a heavy session on the beers. On the contrary, it’s the ideal fix before heading out on the tiles. The meat is cooked over an open ‘Ocakbashi’ charcoal pit, not vertically rotating on a spike.
We particularly like: The sea bass or T Bone steak. Throw in some tasty meze dishes and aromatic breads and this makes for a real Turkish delight.
Contact: 029 20499 339
The lowdown: Located on the cusp of Pontcanna and Canton, Arbennig (Welsh for distinct or unique) certainly lives up to its billing. It’s a smorgasbord of the finest Welsh produce with Porthgain crab from Pembrokeshire and Pant-ysgawn goats milk cheese from Abergavenny. Keeping with the homely feel, bilingual staff are ready to take your order in either Welsh or English. Perffaith!
We particularly like: The star of the 4-course Christmas menu has to be roast turkey crown, sprout & white onion hash, caramelised honey carrots & parsnips, pigs in blankets, stuffing and turkey sauce.
Contact: 029 2034 1264
Town & Country
(Coed y Mwstwr, Bridgend, The Bear Hotel, Cowbridge & The New House,Cardiff )
Great for...decadent Christmas
The lowdown: Town & Country Hotels only give their name to the best. Their two magnificent country house hotels - Coed-Y-Mwstwr in Bridgend and New House in Cardiff - are both perched amid rolling hills, with jaw-dropping views and extensive grounds, and are ideal settings for a bit of sophisticated, period glamour. There’s also the Bear Hotel in the heart of Cowbridge - dating all the way back to the 12th century - which is loved for its slow-cooked food, excellent ales, cosy feel and history-rich charm.
We particularly like: Getting out of the city and escaping to the country for a truly decadent Christmas.
Mermaid Quay, Cardiff
Great for...a healthy new year
The lowdown: All those bloated calories can take their toll over the festive period. At Yakitori#1, you can go carte blanche on the menu without staring nervously at your waistline. Using only the freshest ingredients from sustainable sources, expect the best sushi, grilled meats, fish, rice and noodles that Cardiff has to offer.
We particularly like: Any Bento meal. Whether you’re a novice or expert in Japanese cuisine, the Bento is a great way of getting loads of great flavours into one serving box.
Contact: 029 2049 5050
Spiros, at Cottrell Park
St Nicholas, Vale of Glamorgan
Great for...all the family
The lowdown: Even though you’ve shelled out a small fortune on a bounty of gifts, there’s every chance you’ll hear the inevitable groan of ‘I’m bored’ from your kids. Spiros at Cottrell Park will happily take over entertainment duties for the day with their Magical Winter Wonderland Marquee. The big man in red will be on hand to discuss presents (good and bad) whilst adults can enjoy a Christmas lunch or Spiros’ swanky New Year’s Eve Ball.
We particularly like: Keeping both kids and adults happy through the festive period.
Contact: 01446 781781
The King's Arms
Church Road, Pentyrch
Great for...picture postcard charm
The lowdown: Situated in the chocolate box village of Pentyrch, The Kings Arms is a picture postcard 16th century pub and restaurant that has been the focal point of the local community for most of its existence. The menu from owner and chef Andy Aston uses only the freshest ingredients and where possible harvested by our local food heroes. Wash down with a cask ale, continental beer or fine wine beside the crackling log fire.
We particularly like: The classy festive menu - Ballotine of Pembrokeshire turkey with stuffing, shredded sprouts, roasties, honey roast roots and sticky red cabbage. An eyewidening feast.
Contact: 029 2089 0202
Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff
Great for...Gallic charm
The lowdown: Well known amongst foodies in Wales, Francis Dupuy (ex Le Gallois, Pier 64 etc) has used all his experience and ‘je ne sais quoi’ to create a genuinely French culinary experience in the heart of hustling, bustling Canton. More rustic than Parisienne, the menu is inspired by the dishes Francis was brought up on in the south of France and they're delivered with aplomb. With a welcoming and warm atmosphere, it’s a little corner of France in Cardiff.
We particularly like: The two course lunch set menu for only £12.95.
Contact: 029 2022 4959