Even before making a reservation, we knew the quality of the food would be top notch. The main business of the restaurant’s owners is farming and they travel from Anglesey to my local farmers market (at Ashton under Lyne) to sell their lamb and their Welsh Black beef. It’s excellent meat and we put aside our usual insistence that our meat has to be certified higher welfare. And, to cook it, there’s Aled Williams. He’s done the rounds of working at several of the country’s top gaffs and appeared on Great British Menu in 2010 and 2011.
The restaurant is on the first floor (the ground floor being occupied by their cafe on one side and their butchers shop on the other). It’s a nice space, only open on Friday and Saturday nights. In fact, everything about the evening was nice. Except for the one thing outside of their control – the constant shrieking from the gob on a stick at the adjacent table.
The almost ubiquitous ham hock terrine was given a Welsh spin by the incorporation of leek into the well seasoned. Cennin is Welsh for leek, so it would perhaps be expected that the veg would put in an appearance. A black pudding fritter was excellent. Cutting through the rich porkiness was a sweetcorn puree and a handful of watercress.
“Fish in chips” (sic) was a clever idea and one that worked. A fillet of plaice was rolled then wrapped in cheffy potato strands before being deep fried. Result – soft perfectly cooked plaice, crispy spud. Continuing the theme, there were crushed peas and, in a nod towards tartare sauce, a scattering of capers in the lemon butter sauce.
For mains, we just had to order their own meat. Beef on one plate. Lamb on the other (or should that be Llamb as this is Wales).
The beef comes in the form of your choice of steak – in this case a ribeye. Alongside, think of a potato dauphinoise, but one where the potato layers are separated by layers of long cooked shin. Really clever. Really delicious. Also delicious but a bit difficult to describe was a cauliflower and mushroom crumble. Something in texture akin to the mix of Paxo stuffing before you make it up. And, yes, I know I’m not selling that too well but it was really good. Also on the plate, roasted shallot and an onion and horseradish puree. The whole plate came together almost as a really posh Sunday roast.
There was a similar Sunday atmosphere to the Llamb. Served three ways – just pink loin, confit breast (nice and crispy) and a dollop of long cooked shoulder. A potato croquette enclosed a tangy local goats cheese. And there was also roasted carrot and green beans. And gravy, of course.
The final course was outstanding. Perfectly made buttermilk pannacotta was topped with raspberry ice cream, raspberry jelly and freeze dried raspberries. The best dessert, by far, that we’ve eaten in a goodly while. It’s not often you see a savoury amongst the desserts these days so Welsh rarebit just had to be ordered. It was a generous serving. In fact, much too generous and I couldn’t get close to finishing it. Good bread, topped with a really flavoursome cheese mix, along with a small handful of salad leaves, shreds of pear and thin slices of pickled pear. Really nice and, in truth, a big enough portion to be a lunchtime main course.
Coffee and petit fours were good.