Dom Stroud shares his top restaurant picks for the region…
The Walnut Tree
Browsing this Michelin-starred restaurant’s website will make you smile. Not just because of the exquisite-sounding dishes they describe on their sample menus, but because of the statement that they ‘will not offend visitors with smarmy overstatements of what’s on offer.’ What that says to me, is that everything they mention really is just as good as it sounds – no gushing hyperbole necessary.
Celtic Manor Resort
This pick is a bit of a cheat, as Celtic Manor Resort truly spoils its guests with a choice of multiple restaurants. You can luxuriate in the fine dining atmosphere of Terry M, take in the French bistro stylings of Le Patio, enjoy the modern British delights of Newbridge on Usk or the grill specialities at Rafters Restaurant. Basically, whatever you want, Celtic Manor has you covered.
Spanning multiple floors, Chapel 1877 is also big enough to boast multiple restaurants inside its grand casing. The 19th-Century gothic chapel’s ground floor is occupied by a gastro bar, which in turn is overlooked by a modern European restaurant upstairs. And you can never go wrong with a spot of people-watching.
There’s just something about escaping to the countryside that will always give a restaurant extra points for me. So, after making your way up the gravelled driveway, complete with satisfying crunching sounds underfoot, you can be assured of a fine meal indeed, especially when you hear of sample dishes like the ham hock bon bons with Bramley apple compote.
Fish at 85
You’ll see the word ‘quality’ bandied around like it’s going out of fashion in the majority of restaurant reviews, but with Fish at 85, it’s the absolute truth. As a retail outlet of Channel Fisheries, who hold a Royal Warrant as fresh fish merchant to the Queen, their seafood, sourced daily from Wales or Brixham, contributes to an exceptional eating out experience.
With sites in Cowbridge and Penarth, Bar 44 has become a destination for tasty tapas. Their wine list is strictly Spanish, so you’ll be getting as close to the cuisine as you can get without actually boarding a plane.
Although Snails Deli isn’t bang in the centre of Cardiff, it can still pull in plenty of customers who are happy to shell out (geddit?) for their wares. The staff are friendly and host regular events like ‘world of wine’ dinners, and there’s a huge choice of all sorts of foods.
The only Catalan restaurant and deli in Wales takes its cuisine very seriously. The team source the best of Welsh meat, fish and vegetables and combine it with Cava, olive oils, hams, sausages and cheeses from artisan producers who supply Michelin-starred restaurants in Barcelona. The result is pretty darn good.
Gwaelod y Garth
As CAMRA’s Cardiff Pub of the Year 2013, Gwaelod Inn is clearly going to have a top-notch selection of real ales. It also boasts a cracking menu with plenty of traditional dishes to choose from.
Chef Anand George is at the helm of Purple Poppadom, a restaurant that aims to redefine Indian cuisine for our perhaps otherwise jaded palates. Here, you’ll find plenty of innovative, exciting and, most importantly, very tasty dishes for your delectation.