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N Wales recommendations

Am going to north wales for a long weekend and would appreciate any recommendations for places to eat/ places to buy food as will be exploring the area by car.

Also, I saw that the Kinmel Arms got a recommendation in the Observer food supplement yesterday - has anyone been there?

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  1. Queen's Head at Glanwyddan (just outside Llandudno). Gastro-pub. Usually some good local produce.

    On the subject of Llandudno, don't let anyone talk you into dinner at the St Tudno Hotel. Used to be great - now over-priced and resting on its laurels (I put this politely). Some good chippys in town though if you need a snack.

    Castle Hotel at Conwy. It is a hotel not a pub. Good bar food for lunch. Shakespeare's Restaurant for the evening.

    Olde Bulls Head at Beaumaris on Anglesey. Bistro downstairs - no need to book for lunch. Much more upmarket restaurant upstairs which is my favourite place in North Wales - you'll need a reservation. Do try it.

    In terms of buying food, I am always disappointed by North Wales. If it's convenient on your way home, stop at Chester and stock up at The Cheese Shop. I know of no finer place for quality British cheese or anywhere else that comes close for such a wide selection.

    John

    6 Replies
    1. re: Brit on a Trip

      Ditto that Chester rec, and we had disappointing food experiences in North Wales too. Fabulous food during our stay at Pen-y-Dyffren between Chester and Shrewsbury, though, including amazing local artisinal cheeses. http://www.peny.co.uk/

      1. re: Brit on a Trip

        I second the recommendation for the Bull's Head - We stayed there for two nights and ate upstairs. It's great food, and one of the main things I remember liking was that they were really imaginative in the way they prepare their vegetables - and each night they served very different veg too..

        1. re: Theresa

          thanks v much for your replies. I'm off this weekend - and looking forward to some very good food

          1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

            Have a good weekend.

            If you are stopping in Chester, I recall there's a pretty reasonable place for lunch directly opposite the Cheese Shop. Can't recall its name but it's a very small Italian - did a good two course meal for about £6 (about 2 years back).

            Don't forget to report back.

            1. re: Brit on a Trip

              Just to update - small nice Italian is now closed & replaced by seedy looking Chinese.

        2. re: Brit on a Trip

          Hello John - just thought you'd be interested to know I had a lovely meal at Bodysgallen Hall near Llandudno yesterday. They do a two course luncheon for £19 ; three courses for £22.50. Not cheap for N Wales but the setting is spectacular - a 14th century manor house with wonderful views over Snowdonia. The food is pretty good, too.
          We started with wonderfully creamy white onion soup with spiced onion fritter (bit like a mini-bhaji). I had the poached smoked haddock with spiced potato chowder and the most deliciously flavoursome scallops. My mouth is watering now at the thought of them -such an intense taste! The welsh rump of lamb with celeriac rosti and aubergine caviar (which my companions had ) looked equally good and the cheese trolley nearly tempted me off my very strict diet...by the end of the second course, luckily, I was quite full. It's an 'occasions' place - formal dining room, starched linens, silver cutlery and no trainers - very much like eating at someone's country pile. I loved it.
          The only downside is that the menu is quite misleading - when the mains turned up we did have to ask for extra veg as we assumed they'd come with the dish (as the menu hints) So we had to wait while they quickly rustled up some extra veg before we coould really get stuck into our mains. So i'd recommend anyone dining off this menu to check while ordering.

        3. It's been a long time since I was there, but I had several very nice meals at the Farmers Arms. Take the Rhyl Exit (B5429) off of A55 then south 1 mile, on left. If Barry is still in charge, then go for it. (01745) 582190

          1. If in Llandudno, the Cafe in the Osborne Hotel is wonderful. The Executive Chef attended the CIA in NY and makes wonderful dishes. Lovely place to stay, too.

            21 Replies
            1. re: Honey Bee

              Hello - just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for all your recommendations. Just spent the last four days eating my way round N. Wales!

              John and Theresa - just have to say I loved the Old Bulls Head. Went there on sat for lunch - it was so good we drove all the way back there yesterday for lunch again. The only (minor) disappoinment yesterday was that they didn't have the divine bread & butter pud on their 'specials' - for us, that was the highlight of saturday's meal and it is truly memorable! Couldn't make the evening meal this time, but plan to go back when I'm not driving and can have a drink.

              The Queen's Head was pretty good as well - we had the steak pie; cod& chips - but have to say their chunky chips were not a patch on the Bull's. I think for value for money and quality of food it's defo making the extra journey to Angelsey if you have the time.

              Afraid I didn't make it to anywhere else on the board, but we did call in to the Halfway House near Holywell for sunday lunch. It's a very old pub (used to be a coaching house, i think) and has been nicely done out. I didn't eat but the roasts looked pretty good for £6.75 a go and my companions loved the braised steak and mash... it was packed so might be worth checking out if you're in the area - it's not too far from the A55.

              Next time I'm up there I plan to check out the other venues - and will report back. In the meantime, if anyone comes across any other gems please post as I go up to n wales a lot and up until now have struggled to find decent places.

              1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                I hear very good recent reports about the restaurant at the Quay Hotel, The Quay, Deganwy (near Conwy). Good a la carte for dinner and, apparently, a cracking £10 two course lunch. Would appreciate any feedback.

                1. re: Brit on a Trip

                  Hi - didn't make it to the Quay this time (they are closed for lunch saturdays and mondays - which is when I wanted to go!)
                  However, made it to the Kinmel Arms, in St George, just outside Rhyl and had an extremely good sunday lunch, though not quite up to Bull's head or Osbourne standards (see above). The lamb, however, was delicious and we were told to go back in april when fresh local lamb (ie their own from the next field) will be on the menu. Approx £19 for a sunday lunch. Not quite as much as a bargain as the Osbourne, which we went to on the saturday for the first time, sampling the express menu for £17-ish. What a bargain! Will definitely be going back. Sampled the bread and butter pud in both places - have to report that the Bull's still wins hands down (ate there on tuesday!)
                  Kinmel Arms is definitely a find in the Rhyl area, though.

                  1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                    I've made a note to try the Kinmel for the Llamb (sic)

                    Did you manage to get to the Food Fair @ Chester?

                    J

                    1. re: Harters

                      unfortunately I didn't. The weather was so lousy we decided to head west - ie llandudno/beaumaris, etc instead of east. I didn't get to try the 'best curry house in Wales,' either - ie Bengal dynasty in Shotton! BTW you go on the BBC north west wales food site, there are some reccs for places in holyhead!

                      1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                        Ta for the heads-up on Holyhead. Dismal isn't it? I'm beginning to suspect that a visit to a chippy is going to be best bet.

                        Is the Bengal Dynasty that enormous place you pass on the right of the dual carriageway going to Wales (just after crossing the border)?

                        1. re: Harters

                          I'm not sure as I haven't been there yet....apparently it is next to the deeside leisure centre/ice rink...so not sure if it is on the A55, although shotton is just over the border....

                          1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                            Well, spent another weekend in North Wales and checked out some new eating places

                            Bengal Dynasty, Shotton. Has won Welsh Curry House of the year (or something similar) so went with high expectations. Staff were extremely friendly and we ordered bog-standard fayre - chicken tikka biryanis - my staple as I have to admit i don't know a lot about Indian food and I tend to stick to what I know! Biryani rice was tasty but the accompanying veg curry was disappointing - to me it looked suspiciously like frozen veg in it.

                            However, I think I may have ordered badly. The pickles they brought with the pappardoms were amazing - very fresh and all sorts of flavours, some extremly hot! And they do 'thalis' which I notice other CHounds into Indian foods are into - menu is on their website, anyway. I'd like to go back and try something a bit more adventurous.

                            I actually got to the Quay hotel this time, John - but the wait for a menu was so long, we gave up and left to go elsewhere. There was a wedding on at the time so it was very busy. The restaurant looks lovely, though and has stunning views of the Conwy estuary - worth going for that alone. Don't be put off by the outside of the hotel - it looks like its from the Tesco school of architecture but is much nicer inside The 2 courses for £10 is still on between mon-fri but from the menu I saw, it looks a pretty limited choice - ie choice between 2 starters and 2 mains. Otherwise the food is pricey for n wales - min of £15 for a main.

                            Thanks to a driving gaffe, didn't end up at my first choice of venue for sunday lunch but a place called HQ, a restaurant attached to the Halcyon Hotel in Prestatyn, where we had a pretty impressive 3 course sunday lunch for £8.95. e chose home made leek and potato soup for starter; welsh lamb for mains and a from a list of delicious home-made desserts. We asked for extra gravy - no problem - and the chef came out.and asked everyone if they were pleased with their meal and was happy to chat about his food.

                            One of the best places in the rhyl/prestatyn area I've found for sunday lunch.

                            1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                              Good food in Prestatyn?

                              You sure you werent on strong and illegal drugs?

                              :-0

                              1. re: Harters

                                Ha - well I got lost in the car and nearly gave my elderly father a heart attack as we went down the scariest hill and hairpin bends in n wales. Poor man was hyperventilating as i was driving his new car, so I pulled in the first place that looked ok.
                                It's not kinmel arms standards, but fine by local standards, which admittedly are not up to much

                            2. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                              Well, spent another weekend in North Wales and checked out some new eating places

                              Bengal Dynasty, Shotton. Has won Welsh Curry House of the year (or something similar) so went with high expectations. Staff were extremely friendly and we ordered bog-standard fayre - chicken tikka biryanis - my staple as I have to admit i don't know a lot about Indian food and I tend to stick to what I know! Biryani rice was tasty but the accompanying veg curry was disappointing - to me it looked suspiciously like frozen veg in it.

                              However, I think I may have ordered badly. The pickles they brought with the pappardoms were amazing - very fresh and all sorts of flavours, some extremly hot! And they do 'thalis' which I notice other CHounds into Indian foods are into - menu is on their website, anyway. I'd like to go back and try something a bit more adventurous.

                              I actually got to the Quay hotel this time, John - but the wait for a menu was so long, we gave up and left to go elsewhere. There was a wedding on at the time so it was very busy. The restaurant looks lovely, though and has stunning views of the Conwy estuary - worth going for that alone. Don't be put off by the outside of the hotel - it looks like its from the Tesco school of architecture but is much nicer inside The 2 courses for £10 is still on between mon-fri but from the menu I saw, it looks a pretty limited choice - ie choice between 2 starters and 2 mains. Otherwise the food is pricey for n wales - min of £15 for a main.

                              Thanks to a driving gaffe, didn't end up at my first choice of venue for sunday lunch but a place called HQ, a restaurant attached to the Halcyon Hotel in Prestatyn, where we had a pretty impressive 3 course sunday lunch for £8.95. e chose home made leek and potato soup for starter; welsh lamb for mains and a from a list of delicious home-made desserts. We asked for extra gravy - no problem - and the chef came out.and asked everyone if they were pleased with their meal and was happy to chat about his food.

                              One of the best places in the Rhyl/Prestatyn area I've found for sunday lunch. Kinmel Arms is now, sadly, closed for Sunday lunch. And not open Mondays, either.

                              1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                                I went to the Kinmel Arms a couple of weeks ago, and had a mixed experience food-wise. We had pretty much faultless starters of smoked haddock tart and fish goujons, but the platter of charcuterie we had was not great. The parma ham was really tough, and one of the salamis seemed to be a bit old - certainly not at its best anyway. The worst thing though (and it's a pet hate of mine) was the "olive" oil they served with balsamic vinegar for dipping our bread. It tasted stale, and actually didn't taste like olive oil at all (and it was the same colour as sunflower oil). It sounds petty, but these things are easy to get right. There's nothing worse than serving a cheap and/or nasty oil for dipping . . .

                                Having said all that, I would go again - the smoked haddock tart was delicious, and the service was very friendly. It looks like they are open for Sunday lunches again - or they were for Easter sunday anyway.

                                1. re: Theresa

                                  Hi teresa - i went on easter sun and was told they are still generally closed on sundays apart from the big ones, ie easter and mother's day. Whether they still continue that in this economic climate will be interesting to see as I guess not that many places at that price range in n wales can afford to turn away lucrative sunday lunch business. If you're that way again you should try Bodysgallen Hall - they used to do a set price sunday lunch for £22 which I really enjoyed. and setting is spectacular too.
                                  Queen's head in Glanwyddan is still good, but wasn't that enamoured with the Bull's head in beaumaris last time I went a few weeks ago. They've changed the menu and dumped the mouth-watering bread and butter pud.

                                  1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                                    DST

                                    Just wondered if you've managed to eat at the Quay yet? Mrs H is wanting a trip along the coast soon but I'm now less sure of it. A member on another board I use more than Chowhound these days described it as a "fur coat and no knickers" sort of place.

                                    J

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      Ha funny you ask, John. I did go to the Quay last year, not long after you mentioned it. I would say the description is spot on - looks like a tesco from the outside, very footballers wives inside. Setting is stunning though - on the conwy river, directly across from marina and castle. I can't tell you anything about the food because the service was in chaos. The place was far from full but they were clearly struggling and after half an hour of waiting for someone to take our order - with no luck - we left. At that rate it would have taken us four hours to have our lunch. Haven't been back since, I'm afraid.

                                      1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                                        Ah well. Perhaps we'll give it a whizz anyway.

                                        I had a quick nosy at the Bulls Head website and the new bistro menu looks distinctly crappy "international" in comparision with last time we were there, so it may be off my list. Pity - I think we're probably heading "across the water" to Anglesey.

                                        Iechyd da!

                                        J

                                        (PS: My latest Welsh phrase :-0

                                        Bydd y dynes ma yn talu am popeth )

                                        1. re: Harters

                                          why don't you try Bodysgallen Hall (nr Llandudno - not far from Queen's head in fact) for lunch. It's an old manor house with spectacular views as you dine. I really enjoyed the food as well....top class (well, by my standards, anyway)
                                          they used to do a 3 courses for £22 lunch deal.

                                          1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                                            Good idea! I've been meaning to go there.

                                            It was on my personal boycott list for years - one of the country's last remaining places that insisted blokes wear jacket and tie - but they've relaxed that now to "smart casual". Presumably even more relaxed at lunch.

                                            1. re: Harters

                                              it is a bit of a throwback but worth a visit. I went there in october and loved it. Amazing venue, fab views and food was good, too. Should be beautiful at this time of year. Let me know how you get on...by the way do you know anyone who's been to signatures restaurant in conwy marina??

                                              1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                                                Let me add my vote...........it is magical......and be sure to walk around a bit

                                                1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                                                  In the end the day ran away with us, so we ended up having a quick lunch in the caff at Plas Newydd. It wasn't too shabby at all for a National Trust caff.

                                                  The boss had a ploughmans and I had a lamb & potato bake. Pretty tasty and came with a side plate of carrots and cabbage.

                                                  The boss is joining me in early retirement in the autumn and says that lunch will become a new hobby for us both. I vote for that!

                                                  J

                2. I found this thread very useful, and the Bull's Head was fabulous (I will post a separate review) but must report that our Sunday lunch at the Queen's Head was just acceptable. The portions were large and the prices very reasonable, but the roast beef was cooked to death and the other dishes we had were fine but nothing to write home about.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: rrems

                    I've just come back from North Wales and I have to say I was really pleased with my second visit to the Queen's Head in Glanwyddan last week. We went for lunch
                    and really enjoyed the food we ordered - steak and ale pies and a 'home made' lasagne. The latter I never usually order out as I am used to authentic home cooked italian which has made me very fussy. But the weather was lousy and we wanted comfort food. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised - the lasagne texture and flavours were spot on. Steak and ale pies were very popular too with deliciously tender meat and gravy.

                    I've not been upstairs at the Bull's Head yet - but I think it's a bit unfair to judge the Queens Head against it as they are completely different types of eating experiences.
                    I think, for three mains, two desserts ( fresh berry pavlova; raspberry and amaretto trifle) , 1 large glass of white, half lager, soft drink and coffee, the value was fantastic for £40. We chose pretty bog-standard dishes but there were more interesting choices, more than a few with local produce - ie Angelsey mussels etc.

                    1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                      I did not mean to compare the two, as they are obviously in very different price categories, but we dined at other pubs in Wales and England and had some fabulous meals, so price alone does not determine quality. Our appetizers at the Queen's Head were not bad, and I am sure it is possible to order a more satisfying meal if one is aware of which dishes are the better ones. Not having been there before, we could only pick what seemed appealing and hope it turned out well. We figured if they offer a Sunday carvery the roasts should be pretty good. Unfortunately we were mistaken.

                      1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                        You obviously go there regularly. If you're interested, I have written a 50+ page treatise on things to see around Chester - most of which are not well known to US travellers. I lived south of Chester (and worked in it) for about 5 years back in the 90's. The site stuff is still current, but a lot of my foodie reccos might be out of date (my last trip was in 2005). But near where i lived (not N. Wales, but just over the line), there were a number of neat places. The Cholmondeley (pronounced Chum-ley)Arms is a pub+++ - actually more of a restaurant, set in an old schoolhouse. The Pheasant in Burwardsley has had ups and downs but it is a wonderful place for an afternoon lunch with 40 mile views overlooking the Cheshire plain. They also have a few rooms. And when their dinners are on, they are spot-on!

                        Let me know about your next trip

                        1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                          The Pheasant is probably the best of all the pubs we dined in. The food was wonderful. I posted a review on CH last week.

                          1. re: rrems

                            Thanks FCF and RRems. I've only just started exploring the area as actually live in London; however am going up there more and more often these days. I'm based in Rhyl when i go up and basically can only do day trips out from there, which unfortunately rules out Bulls Head in the evenings for now as it's a long (for me, anyway) drive back.
                            I've been driving westward mostly, doing lunches, however do plan jaunts eastward to Cheshire so I will be defo checking out the Pheasant - thanks for all your tips. Much appreciated! I've found some fab places through CH and I can't wait to discover more.....probably going up end of this month next....

                            1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                              If you want the travelogue........write me at RobBigelow at aol.com

                    2. An opportunity to link the two nations that form this board........

                      .......we stopped overnight at Holyhead before getting the ferry to Dublin last summer and ate at this place which we'd found through the Good Food Guide. It was pretty good and a stand-out from the culinary desert that is northern Ynys Mon ......

                      ......White Eagle Inn at Rhoscolyn. You'll need your sat nav to find it.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Harters

                        Just returned from a week in north wales and have a couple of new reccs:

                        Pen-y-bryn pub in Colwyn Heights, Colwyn Bay - excellent pub grub, with amazing views over the coast. Delicious home made steak and ale pies and scrumptious home made chips. My new favourite.

                        Paysanne french bistro, Deganwy, opposite the Quay hotel - very charming, feels like being in someone's front room. Very tasty french cooking inspired by local ingredients. Lots of fish dishes inspired by the local catch of the day. 3 course evening menu for £24 per person which is excellent value, but you generally have to book.

                        If you're in the rhyl area, check out sidoli's cafe in wellington rd for their home made vanilla ice cream. I'm a bit biased as I've had it since childhood but its the best i've tasted - and that includes in Italy

                        1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                          Another pub to add - the Glasfryn at Mold (or Yr Wyddgrug, seeing as I was in the land of my fathers - or, at least, land of Granny Harters who came from nearby Hawarden). Good braised lamb.

                          It's part of the same stable as Pen-y-Bryn. Others from the chain, around the North West and North Wales get good reports on another well known board I use. Clearly above average pub grub.

                          1. re: Harters

                            Checked out the Groes Inn near Rowen over the New year - had high expectations as heard a lot about it and it is certainly a charming 16th century inn in a lovely rural setting. Went there at lunchtime and it was packed - a good sign. However, the meal was disappointing. The four of us had the daily special - belly pork - portions were small and foodie (not fashionable in N wales where we have hearty appetites). Both pork and accompanying veg undercooked - french beans, mange tout and carrots had basically been blanched and still tasted raw. Even my foodie friend from London who loves crispy veg agreed. (Yes I know we do tend to like things 'well-cooked' in n wales!) Perhaps we were just unlucky as the Groes is obviously very popular - they have lovely-looking formal restaurant presumably for functions and dinner.
                            However, The Groes' own ale got a big thumbs up from my real-ale loving friend who pronounced it 'nutty and delicious.'
                            Anyone here been to Y Bistro in Conwy and The Straits in Menai bridge ---two places I've not yet been to and dying to try.

                          2. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                            Thanks for the recent tips. It is great to hear that Sidoli's is still going strong. My grandfather had a butcher's shop in Queen Street, and I loved getting that vanilla ice cream on a wafer. I take it that Dominic is still running the shop - is Mrs. Sidoli still around as well?

                            1. re: Jeremy M

                              Hello there - you are not a Maltby are you?? I remember that shop. My family used to go there and my parents knew your grandfather, i bet. Yes dominic is still running the place and Mrs Sidoli is still around, although she is getting older and not as sprightly as she used to be!

                              1. re: DietStartsTomorrow

                                Indeed - my grandfather (Fred) was the son in Maltby & Son. One of my great regrets is that we never got the recipe for his sausages, which I loved. It's great to hear that the Sidolis are still in fine fettle. Please send regards if you pass through soon!