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19 April 2014

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Focus on: restaurants in Cardiff

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Wales Millennium Centre - 0906_Royal_Armories_(2).jpgA few years ago, the dining-out scene in Cardiff centred around a handful of trusty stalwarts such as Woods Brasserie, The Thai House and Patagonia, but as Cardiff has blossomed into a vibrant capital city, an exciting new wave of restaurants has appeared. Take The Potted Pig, for example, with its passion for nose-to-tail eating, or The Canteen, where vegetarian options make up about 80% of the menu. The recent closure of Le Gallois – previously Cardiff’s finest – has been softened by two exciting new openings, both run by Le Gallois alumni: Garçon, a snappy French brasserie in the revitalised Bay area, and Pier 64, a stylish steakhouse in Penarth Marina. The general trend in Cardiff is towards an informal style of eating underpinned by excellent Welsh ingredients, from fish and seafood to Welsh Black beef. Here are some of our favourites.

The Canteen

In a nice reversal of the usual form, this friendly neighbourhood restaurant majors in internationally inspired vegetarian food but also offers a handful of excellent meat alternatives.

Ffresh

Located in the Wales Millennium Centre, Ffresh is a perfect choice for anyone taking in a show or visiting the bustling Bay area. Expect simple, classically inspired food made with prime Welsh ingredients.

Garçon

Outdoor seating with views of Cardiff Bay makes this authentic French brasserie a good choice in fine weather, but all year round it’s a safe bet for fresh fish and seafood and classic Gallic fare such as tartiflette, moules marinière and tournedos Rossini.

Mint & Mustard

A smart Indian restaurant offering modern and fusion dishes with a sense of occasion, this is a good place to opt for the tasting menu. There’s an extensive selection of vegetarian dishes as well as traditional and innovative meat options.

Wales - wales1_web.jpgThe Olive Tree

Every neighbourhood should have a restaurant like this: reliable, not too challenging and excellent value for money. Dishes range from lunchtime shepherd’s pie to loin of venison is served with celeriac puree and juniper sauce.

Patagonia

This cosy family-run restaurant has become a favourite for many locals thanks to its winning balance of adventurous and familiar dishes. Owners Joaquin and Leticia hail from South America, and Argentinian beef is a permanent fixture on their menus.

Pier 64

A stylish new brasserie and steakhouse in Penarth Marina, this is a great place to sample local seafood or Welsh Black beef. Set on stilts by the water’s edge, it has lovely marina views and plenty of alfresco seating.

The Potted Pig

The trend for proudly British cooking has reached Cardiff in the guise of this relaxed, briskly styled restaurant. Expect gutsy, grounded cooking with one foot in the farmyard – maybe potted pig with toast and pickles followed by rabbit, chips and peas.

The Thai House

More than 25 years old and still going strong, The Thai House is relaxed, welcoming and authentic. Expect classic Thai dishes made with specially imported ingredients. Close to the city centre and several hotels, it’s a good choice for visitors.

Vegetarian Food Studio

This humble-looking restaurant is a Cardiff institution. There’s no better place in town for vegetarian Indian food such as paneer pakora followed by tindora nu sak (ivy gourd in a spicy sauce). There’s also an interesting selection of Oriental dishes.

Woods Brasserie

A funky brasserie that predates the swish redevelopment of Cardiff Bay, this remains one of the city’s best restaurants – in fact, the cooking has gone up a notch recently. Expect modern European dishes, from Gower coast mussels with shallot and Welsh cider to roasted garlic gnocchi with sautéed Mediterranean vegetables.

Find a selection of bars in Cardiff.

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