Cardiff, Wales

Photo: Park House Restaurant

In the past few weeks, Michelin has been doling out stars to restaurants around the world. For foodies, the guides act like Bibles for where they should eat in the coming year. One star is very good. Two stars are excellent. While three stars are exceptional. Cardiff has yet to receive a single one somehow.

Not that the capital of Wales has been forgotten entirely. Seventeen of its restaurants did receive Bib Gourmand distinctions from Michelin this year. The restaurants on this list offer “exceptionally good food at moderate prices.” But you keep hearing about amazing tasting menus along the south coast of Wales. The modern British feasting menu at the Potted Pig. The French autumn tasting menu at Park House. The Indian taster menu at Purple Poppadom. They all sound delicious. But are they worthy of a star? You have to find out for yourself.

So you take the train from London. It’s an easy two-hour ride west to reach Cardiff, a city surrounded by hills, except for the side on Cardiff Bay. The bay helped Cardiff become one of the largest coal ports in the world in the early 20th century. That was before it was even the capital of the British country. Cardiff has changed greatly since earning that distinction in 1955. The historic arcades, the castles, and the cathedral now stand alongside the modern Senedd building, waterfront hotels, and more pubs than anywhere else in Britain.

As for your first meal, it’s the autumn tasting menu at Park House. Instead of stopping at one of the pubs for a pre-dinner drink, you arrive at the Victorian townhouse early for a glass of wine in the Pinot Wine Bar. The first-floor space has a wooden bar, a fireplace, and plush blue couches. The award-winning wine list—even by the glass—is long and detailed. Much of it, surprisingly, comes from the New World. You look forward to those pairings with dinner, but opt for an Old World Champagne right now. Given the day’s bright sunshine and unseasonably warm weather, you select a shimmering pink rosé one.

Another glass of sparkling wine, this one from England’s Hattingley Valley, eventually starts your meal in the oak-paneled dining room. It’s paired with heritage beetroot, Welsh goat cheese, and a touch of horseradish. Hand-dived king scallops with an Australian Riesling, a terrine of foie gras with a little-known Burgundy, and Little Haven lobster ravioli with Exmoor caviar and a Pinot Noir from Kent, England follow that. Venison, served with plum jus and a California Petite Sirah, is the main dish of the meal. While fennel crème brûlée, a Valrhona chocolate-caramel tart, and a sweet Recioto della Valpolicella complete the luxurious meal. It’s a true autumn feast that, in your opinion, is worth at least one star. Hopefully the Michelin inspectors soon agree.

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