December is the season for indulgence, before you know it you have consumed your body weight in Baileys, mince pies and endless festive dining. Between Christmas drinks, endless parties and ‘lunch with the girls’, I had eaten out most nights by mid-December and I wasn’t entirely sure I could face another festive meal, my blood type was surely mostly port by now?
As a professional eater, I decided to soldier on and treat lovely husband to a festive meal out, preferably one that wasn’t going to break the bank. Luckily, Bookatable has got you covered with an extensive list of party season deals that will get you sorted for Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. You can even narrow your search down to specific cities, so you can see what offers are in your hometown. Why waste time cooking this holiday season when you can simply be presented with a variety of Yuletide dishes?
We opted for Festive dining at Strada on Bookatable, an Italian restaurant in Cardiff Bay. Strada was offering a very reasonable festive menu, with 2 courses & prosecco for £19.95 and 3 courses & prosecco £22.95 per person. I am always a sucker for a cheeky glass of fizz, so we booked for the next evening. Nothing like a spot of efficiency in date night planning right? The fun begins at 7 pm promptly darling.
Strada offers the discerning diner a choice of freshly cooked Italian dishes including made-from-scratch risottos, stone-baked pizzas, steaks, classic pasta dishes and artisan ice cream. This particular branch of Strada is located on the pretty waterfront of Cardiff Bay, so you can dine with a gorgeous sea view backdrop. When we arrived the night was frosty but clear, with twinkling Christmas lights and a cold snap in the air, a perfect evening to get out and about in the city.
Upon arriving we were warmly greeted by friendly staff. I appreciate that restaurant staff can be run off their feet during the festive period, so I am always wildly impressed that they continue to smile and deliver good service in December, I think I may have lost my mind after the 15th day in a row of raucous Christmas parties.
The inside of the restaurant has managed a balance between modern and intimate, with an almost warm, Mediterranean feel to it. We opted to start with the cured meats, we normally choose lighter starters when dining out but we couldn’t resist the sound of prosciutto, salami, toasted ciabatta and olives. Admittedly it wasn’t an entirely adventurous, or show-stopping starter but it was gratifying, well presented and most importantly, left enough room for our mains.
It was time for our mains and we struggled a tad with what to order, as it was a rather contemporary festive selection with options ranging from sage and rosemary risotto, slow-cooked duck leg and sirloin steak. We decided to go for the pancetta wrapped Roast Turkey and the whole roast sea bream.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting the turkey to be up to much, having had several bland, identikit turkey dinners of late, my expectations weren’t exactly high. When my dish arrived I was pleasantly surprised by a rather stylish looking Christmas meal. To be fair to Strada, they had at least tried to add a little modern twist to a well worn Christmas dish, the salty pancetta gave a welcome flavour kick to the turkey, the most vanilla of all meats. The turkey was also accompanied by chestnut stuffing, crispy rosemary potatoes and kale, not a soggy sprout in site.
Luke’s oven baked, whole sea bream came in a white wine sauce and was served with salsa verde and rosemary potatoes. I often find that is can be a bit of a gamble ordering fish in a restaurant, especially sea bream, which can be prone to dryness when overcooked. Stada had luckily prevailed in the sea bream efforts, with succulent, white flaky flesh that was superbly complemented by the zingy and herby green sauce of salsa verde. Both mains were of excellent quality and were served promptly.
Finally, it was time for dessert, there’s never really any point in looking too closely at dessert options, as I am always going to go with ‘whatever the chocolate one is’. In this case, it was a Chocolate Torte, which was a rich chocoholic decadence, with a crunchy biscuit base and topped with vanilla ice cream. Yes, it’s the ‘failsafe’ dessert of dining out, but it nearly always delivers, with it’s heavy and delightfully stodgy chocolate loveliness.
In summary, Strada offers a more contemporary twist on festive dining options, rather than the mundane fayre we have mostly come to accept. It’s modern, refreshing and the dishes we were served were well cooked and presented and frankly excellent value for a set menu. It’s definitely worth a visit this holiday season.
Our food and drinks were complimentary at Strada, but all opinions, as always, are my own.