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Standing the test of time; TASTE I Restaurants too often come and go, but these Cardiff institutions have been serving their regulars for years.

ARDIFF city centre has seen a major transformation during the past decade.

CBut one thing that hasn't changed is our love for these classic capital restaurants.

LE MONDE It's been a mainstay of St Mary Street for more than three decades and it's not hard to see why.

General manager Emma Carter said: "We have been celebrating with the people of Cardiff for 32 years and hope to continue for many more.

"You can choose your fresh fish or steak from the market-style display counters, watch your meal be cooked in the open kitchen and then have it filleted or carved at your table.

"It's all about the experience and the quality of food cooked in front of your eyes."

Why we love it: Fabulous fresh fish, shellfish and steaks, and it has a fantastic vibe with banquetstyle tables and an art deco interior.

It also serves a bottomless brunch every Sunday with dishes like smoked salmon bruschetta and garlic mushrooms on toasted French bread. | 60-62 St Mary Street, CF10 1FE. Tel: 029 2038 7376. MADEIRA This family-run business, which was founded in 1998, offers freshly prepared traditional Portuguese dishes.

Why we love it: For delicious swordfish, calderiado (a traditional Portuguese fish broth), bife Algarve (slices of fillet steak cooked in rich white wine and garlic) and its veal dishes.

It's also a popular haunt for rugby fans, with a rugby set menu for PS29.95 per person on international days.

| 1-2 Guildhall Crescent, CF10 2HJ. Tel: 029 2066 7705. THAI HOUSE Next door to Madeira, Thai House was established in 1985 by Noi Ramasut from Bangkok and his Welsh wife Arlene Thomas, who are very much the pioneers of Thai food in Wales.

They told us: "The Thai House offers a wide range of authentic dishes to reflect the diversity of Thai cuisine.

"A typical well-balanced Thai meal consists of at least one meat dish, a fish dish, a curry and vegetables which are always eaten with rice.

"We import fresh herbs, spices and vegetables every week and blend these with locally supplied, fine-quality Welsh ingredients." Why we love it: It was the first Thai restaurant in Cardiff - when it opened there were only five in London.

| 3-5 Guildford Crescent, CF10 2HJ. Tel: 029 2038 4704. GIOVANNI'S ON THE HAYES Giovanni Malacrino has become something of a city celebrity.

The restaurateur set up his first restaurant on The Hayes in 1983, now the longest-established independent Italian restaurant in the city.

Giovanni, who was one of the first investors in Mill Lane, has since opened another restaurant in Park Place.

Why we love it: It's a Cardiff institution. Both restaurants are frequented by celebrities, including Sir Tom Jones, Ian Rush, Michelle Keegan, Ed Sheeran and various sports stars.

There's plenty of pasta dishes with sauces like Mafia Owain Pesto and Matribologna, as well as pizzas, chicken, fish and steaks.

| 38, The Hayes, CF10 1AJ, Tell: 029 2022 0077. CASANOVA As Italian as mozzarella - from its waiters to its wine - this homely little treasure was opened in 2005 by three friends - Antonio Cersosimo, Luca Montuori and Angelo Montuori - and it's a far cry from the city-centre chain restaurants.

Why we love it: It really is one of the most authentic Italian restaurants in Cardiff, importing salami, extra-virgin olive oil, truffles and pasta from Italy.

The porchetta (a Tuscan-style slow-roasted pork dish) is divine, as is the carne e cuppuccio (a traditional stew of slow-cooked goat from Antonio's village).

And the desserts? OMG. Food heaven. | 13 Quay Street, CF10 1EA. Tel: 029 2034 4044. CHARLESTON'S STEAKHOUSE If you're after a steak at midnight, this is the place to be.

The restaurant opened in the Welsh capital in 1989 and is where most people head for late-night dining, any day of the week.

Why we love it: The steaks are huge, from a 12oz sirloin to a 22oz T-Bone.

| 52-54 St Mary Street, Tel: 029 2022 7007 or 029 2073 6803 VALENTINO'S This Italian fine-dining restaurant is a great place for a pre or post-theatre dinner as it's really close to the New Theatre.

Why we love it: Walking into Valentino's in Cardiff is like walking into a large, traditional Italian house with wooden floors, ambient lighting and classic Italian colour schemes.

Start with classic antipasti, then select from well-conceived versions of traditional dishes such as vitello Milanese or pollo al pepe. | 5 Windsor Place, CF10 3BX. Tel: 029 2022 9697. HENRY'S RESTAURANT AND BAR A staple of Cardiff 's bar scene for the past 30 years, Henry's recently had a facelift and new ownership, but it's still very much loved by its Cardiff clientele.

Why do we love it: It's a great place for cocktails or a quick coffee during a shopping trip. It was probably many a Cardiff student's first taste of cocktails back in the 1990s.

On the menu, there are home comforts like Cumberland sausages and mash or roast lamb shank.

| Park Chambers, Park Place, CF10 3DN. Tel: 029 2022 4672 CAFE JAZZ Playing host to musicians from across the globe since 1995, this cafe has become something of a mecca for live jazz performances in Cardiff. Why we love it: As well as live music, there are traditional bar meals like scampi and chips, homemade lasagne and steak and ale pie.

| 21 St Mary Street, CF10 1PL. Tel: 029 2038 7026 RIVERSIDE CANTONESE A must-visit if you love Chinese food, the restaurant is a stone's throw away from Central Station.

The menu is an amazing 10 pages long, including a medley of specials which are great for sharing.

And yes, you do get a spinning Lazy Susan for easy access to your dim sum.

Why we love it: The dim sum is out of this world, with superb char siu baus and prawn dumplings.

It is due to relocate in the city this summer - to find out more, visit their website. | 44 Tudor Street, CF11 6AH. Tel: 029 2037 2163 JUBORAJ If you're after a curry in town, locals head to the Mill Lane branch of Juboraj - which has restaurants across the city.

Why we love it: Because sometimes only a curry will do. And of course, their specialities, like citrus lamb cutlets and Jamdani Hash duck, are worth the trip alone.

| 10 Mill Lane, Cardiff CF10 1FL, Tel: 029 2037 7668 PILLARS We could not mention iconic places to eat in Cardiff without talking about the queen of Queen Street eateries, Pillars.

If you came to Cardiff shopping from the Valleys, you've definitely ventured down the stairwell to sample tasty, traditional British grub like homemade curry, steak pie and ham salad.

Why we love it : That salad bar, the homemade steak pie and the decor, which hasn't altered since about 1986 (probably). | 29 Queen Street, Cardiff, CF10 2AH, Tel: 029 2039 5074 CAFE MINUET Have you ever had a toasted slipper? Chances are if you're an Italian food-lover then you'll have popped into Castle Arcade's family-run Cafe Minuet.

Opened by Pescara-born head chef Marcello Genesi in 1986, he operated out of his little hatch serving slippers to hungry diners. It's still going strong today with delicious pasta, pizza and other traditional Italian dishes.

Why we love it: No-nonsense, simple and delicious Italian food at a brilliant price. | 42 Castle Arcade, Cardiff. Tel: 029 2034 1794
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Article Type:Restaurant review
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 27, 2017
Next Article:15 things you never knew you Welsh museum.

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