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Aug 12, 2008 07:10 PM

Good Restaurants in Cardiff?

My partner and I will be traveling in England and Wales in late September, and will be spending 2 days near Cardiff. I am lookiing for good food for one lunch and 2 dinners, on a Monday (many places are closed) and Tuesday. We prefer contemporary cooking with local ingredients, and no ethnic food as we have plenty of that in New York. Price is not a major concern but good value for money is. I have done some research and come up with the following so far:

Le Gallois
Woods Brasserie
Le Monde
Laguna Kitchen and Bar

Can anyone comment on these or offer better alternatives?

We will have a car and will be staying a few miles north of the city in Caerphilly,so. anything within a short drive is fine too.

Thanks for any help.

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  1. OK, Cardiff is not great for eating out. But, firstly Le Gallois is a gem, its starters have a bit of innovation but don't push it too far, basically brasserie with a twist, main courses down the line brasserie. Prices are very reasonable, as is the wine list. I really like the place, its to my lasting regret that when I lived back in S Wales I was a) at school, and b) not blunted by London prices, so I viewed it as expensive, and didn't go until I was about to leave! Since then have been back a few times, and think its a bargain. Atmosphere is bustly and tables are close together, but its the best food in Cardiff.

    My next suggestion no one is going to second, but I speak as I find. There's a dim sum place in the bay. If you don't know, the bay is a souless place, like St Katherine's Dock crossed with Lakeside Thurrock, or Dubai on a budget. The name of the dim sum place is Ba Orient, and it looks like it wanted to be a chain roll out but never got funding. So far, so unpromising. However, I have now eaten at pretty much all the recommended dim sum joints in London, and based on two visits, Ba Orient is up there with any of them. Really very good, and good cocktails to boot. (Sorry, just saw your no ethnic pint, but I'll leave the rec in for others).

    Brazz has closed, been replaced by Gilberts a locally well regarded restaurant. Its overrated in its culverhouse cross home, I haven't tried, but doubt its miraculously better in the bay.

    Le Monde/Champers/Le Brasserie, are three broadly identical restaurants in a row. They basically have fridges with meat and fish, which you choose, and then they grill. its not a bad concept, I'd probably like one in London, I've just grown to resent them as I can't see that Cardiff needs three and no alternatives. They also all wrongly imagine they have great wine lists. Still a good option for a steak and bottle of red, which is sometimes whats needed.

    Its not that there are no good restaurants in S Wales, its just they are all inconveniently situated in pubs in the middle of nowhere, Abergavenny, Crickhowell, Brecon, Felinfach and other places all have superb restaurants, but these are not short drives.

    There is a pub in my home town, Pontypridd, called the Bunch of Grapes, which I used to love, and was pleased to see it get into the Good Food Guide this year (I'd recommended it last year, but not this year, so plenty of others must have recommended it). Its only on a 1 but I think its a very good option in the area, localy sourced and well cooked food. But its not going to blow you away.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Iestyn Morgan

      Thanks so much for the response. Le Gallois will be the choice for Tuesday dinner. Le Monde, etc. are open Mondays so if nothing else comes up that will probably be fine.

      1. re: Iestyn Morgan

        Iestyn - is there a good Japanese restaurant here as well. My partners work colleagues have recommended one "on the water, which you get a bus to from the centre of town". This was the extent of their knowledge and I suspect they may have mixed up their Asian foods.

        Apparently I am heading to Cardiff for shopping on Saturday and my reward is a good meal...! (Le Gallois looks the best bet but need to discount the recommendation)

      2. Hi,

        It's not true that there are no good places to eat in Cardiff or the surrounding area!
        Le Gallois is a must. I'm not really fussed on the other places on your list but here's my list of faves:
        Le Gallois, pontcanna,cardiff
        The Armless Dragon, cathays,cardiff
        Junction 28, bassleg,newport
        The Farmer's Daughter, bassleg,newport
        The Ruperra Arms, bassleg, newport
        Gilby's, culverhouse cross, cardiff
        Thomas Restaurant and Bar (at the Future inn), cardiff bay area

        All of these restaurants are excellent in the evening but J.28 has a fab lunchtime menu. Most of the places have websites (google them) with menu's and are within approx.30 mins drive of caerphilly. For a three course meal for two expect to pay between £60-120 in the evening. In fact, it's worth staying here a little longer in order to go to all of these places!

        Slightly further afield(45 mins approx) but well worth the drive are:
        Farthings - Cowbridge
        The Bear - Crickhowell

        Both villages are very pretty and have great little shops and markets etc. to look around. Both of the places do a good lunch.

        Enjoy your stay!

        9 Replies
        1. re: Laurenellie1985

          Thanks so much. I will do some research on these. My latest find, which may be a choice for Monday's dinner, is the Nags Head, a pub in Usk. The Bear looked good, too, but I think Crickhowell is just a bit too far for dinner, though it could work for lunch when we take a driving tour of the countryside. Never having been to Wales, we are just spending 2 days each in North and South (though we will also be in Shropshire and will likely pop back into Wales from there. If we really like it, we will plan a longer stay in the future.

          1. re: rrems

            rrems - if you are near Oswestry there is a little country hotel called "Pen-y-Dyffryn". It is a wonderful place to stay and has a really good restaurant - fantastic value for very well cooked local food. You don't need to stay there to eat in the restaurant but it is very popular so you need to book.

            1. re: PhilD

              Armless Dragon better than average, but not particularly special, Gilby's average. No experience of the other recommendations.

              PhilD, there was a good japanese in the bay a few years back, but its now closed. I'm not aware of a new one, let me know if you get more details on the recommendation.

              1. re: PhilD

                Thanks, Phil. I had actually looked up Pen-y-Dyffryn a while ago, and it does look really nice, but we decided to keep the hotels cheap to spend more on food, so we will be staying at the Travelodge in Ludlow. Oswestry is a bit far to drive for dinner, and I am hoping to have enough dinner choices in and around Ludlow. So far I have booked for dinner at Overton Grange, and am hoping to get in at Mr. Underhill's but unfortunately they can't commit yet as they give priority to their hotel guests, so I have to call them next week to check availability. We will probably also go to the Stagg Inn, which is not too far away in Herefordshire and has a Michelin star. If you have any other ideas in the Ludlow area, please let me know.

                1. re: rrems

                  That is exactly what we did in Oswestry. Cheap hotel, and then dinner at Pen-Y-Dyffryn. Makes so much sense to spend money on the bits you are awake for.

                  1. re: rrems

                    Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, its near(ish) to Ludlow. Shaun Hill is now the head chef. And its very good, great value, strong flavours.

                    1. re: Iestyn Morgan

                      This was also recommended to me by a friend who lives near Ludlow. Shaun Hill was formerly the chef at the Merchant House in Ludlow, which has closed. He had achieved a Michelin star there. We will try to get to the Walnut Tree for lunch either from Caerphilly or Ludlow, but it's a bit far for dinner from either.

                    2. re: rrems

                      Mr Underhills in Ludlow is excellent. It's a set no choice menu, so very good value.

                      1. re: Theresa

                        I've been trying to get a res there, but they have to hold tables for their hotel guests, so I will probably not know until the last minute. Keeping my fingers crossed.

              2. I'm going to piggyback your question with my own - I'll be there (Cardiff) with my 2 year old daughter and husband. We love good food, she's well behaved. But we realize some places are not toddler appropriate. Are any of these especially good or bad choices for us? Any other ideas? Thanks so much in advance!

                1. The original comment has been removed