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May 8, 2013 09:20 AM

[Conwy] Hayloft

The Bodnant Welsh Food Centre is a bit of catch-all for, erm, all things foody. There’s a farm shop, cookery school, working farm, B & B, tea rooms and the Hayloft restaurant. And, to my mind, the restaurant is a more serious affair than you might expect from a “destination” of this sort. It’s definitely the sort of place you’d have on your regular dinner venue list if you lived locally. Unsurprisingly, the menu reflects local produce so a seafood dish including mussels uses Conwy mussels – and the river is, literally, at the bottom of the hill from the Centre.

A Welsh cheddar cheese brulee was a bit of an oddity. There was a cheese mousse, which could have done with using a pokier cheese, and, yes, it had a brulee topping adding a slightly strange, but not unpleasant, sweetness to it. For dunking, there were asparagus spears and cheese twists. Perhaps better was a fish and chips salad – a couple of pieces of battered fish and a few fried potato wedges, accompanied by pickled fennel and a decent enough tartare sauce (that was probably be from a jar). Good concept and well executed.

“Quiche of the day” was mixed vegetable and, served with new potatoes and a green salad, was a pleasant enough lunch dish. The 8oz burger was a giant of thing. Welsh beef, of course, with a nice charring on the outside and still slightly pink inside. It comes topped with their own bacon and Aberwen cheese. I doubt you could get nearer to eating food at source than having the Aberwen. Made on the premises from the farm’s own milk, it’s reminiscent of a good farmhouse Cheshire. There’s also the more traditional accompaniments of chips, crisp onion rings and coleslaw. And a solid bun which managed not to fall apart. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

All in all, a very enjoyable lunch. I’d be happy to go back for dinner and try some of the more interesting dishes.

And the farm shop is worth a mention. Good array of cheeses, including several Welsh ones. And lots of locally made preserves. But it’s the butchery that the star. There’s local lamb, of course – seeing is this is Wales should that be llocal llamb? And Welsh Black beef, dry aged for 5 weeks, so looks so appetisingly deep mahogany – you know that just by looking it’s going to taste fantastic. And all the pork is organic and rare breed – on offer was meat from the Welsh White (we bought belly pork and sausages).

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  1. Thanks for this, John. We're heading to Llandudno in mid-June. Maybe I'll take some llocal lamb home with us!

    I was going to ask if you know of the best spots in Llandudno, so I might as well do it here... and of course your recommendations could be for anyplace nearby.

    1 Reply
    1. re: zuriga1

      Certainly well worth a shop there, June.

      By way of decent food:

      Bodysgallen Hall is very much a favourite of mine. Good food at both lunch and dinner. And one of the very few places I know that announces that their prices are "fully inclusive of service". There's the main restaurant and a bistro (which I've eaten but wouldnt rush back to).

      Also, on the outskirts of town, there's the Queens Head at Glanwydden. Good pub food.

      In town, opposite the pier, is the St Tudno Hotel. The restaurant there used to be accepted as "one of the best" in the area. It's some while since I've been there but I think it is still good but, perhaps, something of a faded star. That said, I've just looked at their menu and see it's much simplified than some while back - when I really felt they were a bit too much up their own arses, if you know what I mean.

      I quite like Paysanne at Deganwy (which is almost a suburb of the town). The name's a bit of a giveaway - cuisine is French (although it's Brit owned)

      I have a soft spot for Llandudno. It's where we went for family holidays in my first few years.

      Depending on where you might travel, other options might open up. For example, I think my favourite North Wales place will be the Loft Restaurant at the Bulls Head in beaumaris, on Anglesey. I'm also keen to try Cennin in Beaumaris. It's owned by a farmer who schleps from the island to my local farmers market in Ashton under Lyne - superb Welsh Black beef and good lamb as well. I'd like to hope his own restaurant does justice to his animals.