To make an impression without breaking the bank balance is easily done in Cardiff. There are so many fantastic independent cafes, bars and restaurants producing quality, affordable food.

So you have done it, you have found someone who you would like to spend some time getting to know.  Worrying where to take them on your first date will increase the nerves unnecessarily.

The trend-setting teens and twenties are not satisfied by a quick trip to the generic chicken chain restaurant anymore.  Equally, older couples want to see that some thought has been put into the date.  Those who have been dating for some time or married couples who do not get the opportunity to get out much want that guarantee of good food and good times.

To make an impression without breaking the bank balance is easily done in Cardiff.  There are so many fantastic independent cafes, bars and restaurants producing quality, affordable food.  Plus it always feels good to support small and local businesses.

Here are a couple of my suggestions which may not always be the first to be mentioned when asking friends or colleagues, but all are definitely worth visiting – especially when hungry

Canton, CF11 9DF

The artisan brewery does Bar Open every Saturday, and Fridays during the summer between 12 noon and 10pm.  Real ales and craft beers can tasted, with a variety of batches brewed on site.  However do not panic if you or your date are not fan, they also serve a cider, a selection of wines and soft drinks.  The funky yard is a perfect setting for an alternative first date.  Food is served by Standard Burgers, a favourite being ‘Trading Standards’ which is 100% beef 1/4 patty filled with chorizo, Gorgonzola cheese, jalapeno’s, tomato, onion and a fire sauce.  Vegetarians and vegans can also be catered for.  Good vibes are guaranteed, especially when the live music starts.

Tip: track down the owner Simon and ask him about the time he battled Pepsi in court

The Smoke House
Pontcanna, CF11 9HS

It is very rustic with wooden chairs, trendy grey walls and black and white photographs. If you want melt in the mouth tender pork, slow cooked barbecue chicken or a beef brisket on a gigantic platter, then this is the venue for you.  A hickory smoker adds a real depth to the meat.  Veggies will not be disappointed either with burgers or a rich chilli.

Tip: This is a venue that you will have to book in advance as they only have 10 tables.

The Post House
St Fagans, CF5 6EL

What can be better than a roast on a Sunday?  The venue is opposite the castle entrance to St Fagans and is primarily used for weddings, so you can expect opulent surroundings.  On the first and third Sunday of the month traditional Sunday roasts are served in the conservatory.   The food is all home cooked with succulent joints of meat and rich gravy using local ingredients.  You and your guest will not be disappointed.

Tip: book early, as sittings fill very quickly.  They cannot guarantee it, but ask for a window seat so you can look out onto the gardens.

Cathays, CF24 4NH

Want to fill up on homemade pizza and pasta, this Italian is a definite hit.  Hidden in the student quarter of the city, you would not expect such a stylish restaurant finished to such a high standard.  The family run restaurant certainly makes you feel at home and always provides attentive, friendly staff and large plates filled high, at amazing prices.  It is a romantic venue, and at the end of your date here your partner will leave feeling impressed.  Ideal for vegetarians, vegans and those who are gluten free too!

Tip: Ask for a booth table, so you can cwtch up together if the date leads that way

Cathays, CF24 4NH


Next door to Svago is an award winning fine dining Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant.  This is not like your local takeaway, they serve high quality food which is authentic, low fat and naturally cooked.  The restaurant is smart and modern, and the owner Zaman is always found front of house greeting guests, or fixing them a drink.  Classic dishes such as tikka, madras or even a vindaloo can be found on the menu but the best dishes are found on the specials.  I highly recommend the Ducksheri Special, grilled duck caramelised in onion and garlic, and a tandoori sauce.  This can be served medium or hot.

Tip: you will probably end up with lots of left overs, as portions are very generous.  Just ask to take it away so you can enjoy at home.

Irie Shack
Cardiff Bay, CF10 5EZ

Irie means good, nice or pleasing – perfect for a date location.  The team serve traditional Caribbean food including jerk chicken, goat curry, gourmet burgers and salads.  The tastes do not end there, with a fantastic selection of cocktails and imported rums.  Nothing is ever too much trouble for the staff, so you know you will be looked after for the evening.  The decor is bright and funky, with lots of pictures to represent the culture.

Tip: walk off your food with a romantic stroll through Roald Dahl Plas and around the dock.

Katrina Rohman is the Sales & Marketing Assistant Manager at Bryn Meadows Golf Hotel & Spa as well as a board member for several local charities. Starting her career in radio before moving into events, she specialises in advertising, communications, marketing and PR. When not in work you’ll find her cheering on the Cardiff Blues with her partner Michael, or at Cardiff City with her father. Also known to indulge in a cider or two, and a bit of a fanatic foodie. Enjoys traveling especially city breaks, and has a countdown to Christmas from the 1st January. You can find her blog at or on Twitter and Instagram @RealGirlsWobble.