Treating friends or family to a festive meal out this December? It doesn’t have to be a turkey-and-gravy affair, you know. Check out these bold and innovative menus from some of our favourite world-food restaurants across the city.

For a decade Mint and Mustard has had a solid reputation for high-end Keralan cuisine, so choosing to come here for a special occasion is a no-brainer. Their Christmas menu may be short and sweet, but it has all the South Indian flavours we know and crave packed in there: a starter of soft paneer cheese fresh from the tandoori grill, and for main course, a choice between aromatic lamb, chicken or lentils. It’s going to be a hot, hot Christmas.

In the Christmas spirit of doing good onto others, what better way to celebrate than to support young people achieve their dream of working in a professional kitchen? The Classroom, on the top floor of Cardiff and Vale College, offers not only panoramic views of the capital but also slap-up meals cooked for you by hard-working catering students. Seasonal specials include a fig and camembert tart, and crispy belly pork for main. Food critic Jay Rayner has sung its praises, and did we mention the prices are budget-friendly, too?

If the thought of cooking Christmas dinner gives you palpitations then we have joyful tidings, for Cardiff’s best Italian is open for business all through December and even on Christmas Day. So leave the saucepans in the cupboard and head down City Road for a spread of mama’s best comfort food. Start off with deep-fried mozzarella with fresh tomato caponata, then move on to rich and gamey venison parpadelle. And if there’s any room left, a large helping of silky homemade tiramisu will let you hear the angels sing.

You can’t go wrong with The Clink, the prison restaurant voted among the top 10 in the UK. For Christmas, inmates-turned-chefs have dreamed up a crowd-pleasing, yet refined menu. Think wild mushroom and chestnut wellington (veggie-friendly), and confit duck leg with black pudding and crackling crumb. Going to prison never sounded this appealing.

For a night out with Mediterranean flair, head to town’s most opulent tapas restaurant with a quality of food to match the decor. For Christmas diners there is a choice of a small or large tapas feast, neither lacking in oomph. There are triple cooked potatoes to be coated greedily in sherry aioli, tender overnight braised lamb neck and, last but not least, homemade chocolate truffles to be scoffed. After dinner you can relocate to the bar and keep the merry vibes going until late (pss! The sherry is on tap!)

Yuletide is not exactly easy on the waistline, but Cardiff Bay’s favourite Japanese has the antidote to festive binge eating, and it’s delicious too. Lightly battered vegetable tempura followed by fragrant wakame seaweed rice may be worlds away from your regular Christmas fare, but even the most hardcore foodie may need a respite from excessive Christmas feasting.

If you fancy a continental style Noël then this charming bistro on Whitchurch Road is where you should book. Things get cheesy from the get-go with a raclette to start. There’s a choice of French classics for main, including seabass-topped bouillabaisse, but we’ve got our eyes peeled for the puds – that mascarpone and Amarena cherry baked Alaska is worth going for alone. And if you still need persuading, mince pies and Christmas crackers on the house will surely seal the deal.

Going Thai for Christmas doesn’t necessarily mean ditching the turkey. At this spunky, neon-coloured Canton caff the bird is in fact the star of an aromatic green curry. And it’s hot, too, so opt for a dessert of rambutan fruits with refreshing sorbet to soothe a fiery mouth.

Celebrate Christmas Portuguese style with Laura Da Silva at her tavern and deli paying homage to her mother’s home cooking (‘mae’ means mother in Portuguese). Savoury sardines to start? Or hearty cabbage soup with chorizo? We’re gunning for a fish-laden main course of salmon in a clam sauce.

Bring a bit of Basque culture to your Xmas festivities with Curado, one of the latest additions to the growing Spanish culinary presence around Westgate Street. Choose between a veggie or meat feast showcasing the best of the region’s tapas. We’re talking crispy fried squid, and smoky deep-fried aubergines with cumin and honey. Finish with an almond Santiago tart washed down with PX sherry. 

Published -5th December 2017