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Restaurants & Bars 2

[Conwy] Hayloft

Harters | May 8, 2013 09:20 AM

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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