Attending University is good for many things; earning qualifications, gaining quality life skills and learning about ‘the real world’, but even more importantly, it provides us students with the excuse to celebrate the jolliest time of the year twice. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without stuffing yourself silly, and studying away from home usually means you get to indulge in some serious festive food with your friends, as well as your family. With a brilliant abundance of restaurants and pubs, Cardiff definitely has every type of Christmas meal going, from your traditional pub lunch, to alternative festive cuisines. So, if you’re not sure where to go yet, don’t sweat, Quench Food has the low down on some of the best festive feasts for you and the housemates this Christmas.
If you’re looking for cheap and cheerful, without sacrificing flavour (or even edibility), look no further than The Mackintosh. With three courses for only £10.45, the Mackintosh Place pub is every scrimping student’s dream. There’s a good selection of seasonal favourites to choose from, and the portion sizes don’t reflect the price (which is often the case with festive deals). Last year’s meal was everything you could ask for from a relaxed and informal Christmas dinner. Service was quick, even though there were a few large bookings, and the food was plentiful and tasty. The breaded mushrooms starter went down a treat, and the roast turkey which followed was moist and topped off perfectly with pigs in blankets, stuffing balls and lots of fresh vegetables. Dessert was the Pièce de résistance, a steaming slab of Christmas cake smothered in custard, okay it wasn’t a la carte, but it was pretty damn tasty, and at this time of year that’s all that matters. If you’re heading down in a large group, they’ve got some tempting drinks offers too, with bottles of wine a steal at just £7.95.
Opening its doors with a warm, rustic and homely hearth, Bills is a rare gem among Mill Lane’s generally average branded restaurants. Encapsulating the friendly welcoming feel of most independents, it’s pairing of heart-warming food and cosy atmosphere will get any scrooge in to the festive spirit. The menu caters to all tastes, from those who want to fully fling themselves into a traditional tasting, to those who prefer a lighter option. Beginning with starters, the delectable take on the classic prawn cocktail, an avocado and prawn salad, sits amongst richer offerings of scrumptious soups or chicken liver pate. With the choice of a traditional roast turkey or refined options such as roasted cod and butternut squash, as well as a flavourful vegetarian offering, no guest is left uncatered for. Accompanied by bowls of trimmings, and steaming vegetables the Christmas dinner spirit is fully created by the sharing amongst guests. And then we come to desserts; truly decadent in all degrees, they end the meal in the lap of Christmas luxury. Finishing with complementary mini mince pies, it’s certain that no guest will leave Bills not feeling full of Christmas cheer and the faultless festive food.
Located in the heart of Cathays, Gassy Jacks is a popular choice for the cosy Christmas dinner that students treat themselves to once a year. The popular student venue offers two separate menus. The two or three course party menu features all the Christmas classics including the traditional roast turkey with all of trimmings and Christmas pudding with custard. There’s also a selection of pub favourites on offer too, for those who fancy something a little different, including the famous Gassy Jacks chocolate fudge cake. The alternate option is the buffet menu, incorporating all the tasty seasonal pickings such as pigs in blankets and turkey sandwiches, just served in a slightly more relaxed style. With the three-course party menu only causing an £11 dent in the student budget and the £7 silver buffet available for those less willing to splash out, the popular student venue gets even livelier over the festive period. Cheesy Christmas music, paired with the compulsory crackers and party hats, add to the jolly atmosphere, making Gassy Jacks’s the ideal place to get into the fun festive spirit with your housemates.
If you’re not a fan of turkey, or you’re just a bit bored of the abundance of seasonal traditions, why not take the plunge and try something a little less British this Christmas. Giovanni’s restaurant, in the city centre, offers an exciting Italian festive menu, filled with pastas, casseroles, tiramisu, and not a Christmas pudding in sight. A cosy little restaurant, bursting with classic Italian charm, with a hint of Welsh pride, provides a warm and friendly atmosphere, perfect for a small party of intimate friends. The restaurant, established in 1983, knows a thing or two about proper Italian food, so be prepared to indulge in delicious handmade ravioli and traditional family sauces. Although the menu may bear a little more weight on the pocket, wining and dining in the centre of Cardiff, rather than a scruffy pub in Cathays, gives you the chance to throw on the party dress and add a little student sophistication to the end of the year.
Despite having a minor makeover this summer, The Taf manages to retain its slightly shabby yet undeniably endearing appeal and is still treasured by the students of Cardif. So why venture out into the city streets to look for a Christmas meal location? Convenient, cheap and tasty, The Taf Christmas meal is not to be overlooked. Mirroring its weekly Sunday carvery set-up, the Christmas meal adopts a buffet style dining experience, including all the trimmings. as well as a couple of nice surprises such as carrot and swede mash. With a choice of meats (turkey or gammon) as well as a vegetarian option (nut roast), you can’t really go wrong. For only £9.95 for three courses it is unbeatable on price as well as delivering on quality. Even if you’re a bit of a picky eater, the three options for starter and dessert should mean that you find something to take your fancy. Booking is recommended, as it gets pretty busy and they’re slightly restricted on space. Partnered with the usual student atmosphere, The Taf is a great choice if you’re looking for convenience, a decent meal, and the possibility of getting a bit greedy at a buffet. Five trips to the buffet spread? It’s fine, it’s Christmas after all…