A star in the making
Debra Waters reviews Tyddyn Llan, a restaurant with rooms on the edge of Snowdonia National Park that’s gaining a reputation as one of the best places to eat in North Wales; praise bolstered by a Michelin star.
Tyddyn Llan lies in the pretty vale of Edeyrnion, a name that evokes Middle Earth in an area of countryside just as magical. Roughly translated as ‘a smallholding of the church’ it’s thought that the attractive 19th century building was rented out to wealthy tenants. Proprietors Bryan and Susan Webb have retained a luxurious yet homely feel; there’s a tranquil atmosphere in both the house and garden.
Upstairs, we find our room cosy with a comfy bed and black and silver furnishings. Attention to detail is something Tyddyn Llan excels in: there’s a TV, stereo, plus added extras such as CDs, DVDs and magazines. The bottled water is locally sourced – in keeping with an impressive environmental policy – while the excellent guest information is written with a personal touch: a list of the owners’ favourite things to do in the area; suggested walks with packed lunches to order. Guests are well tended to here; children and dogs are welcome and accommodating menus cater for kids, vegetarians and allergies.
Before dinner the restful sitting room is an ideal place to relax and contemplate a menu that sings of summer. A Bloody Mary proves to be a model accompaniment to a complimentary platter of warm Scotch eggs, salty laverbread tarts and tangy Parmesan crisps that are reassuringly home-made.
The refined dining room serves as an elegant backdrop to Bryan’s delectable cuisine. The selection of cheesy grissini and come-hither bread is hard to resist, as is the generously portioned fresh gazpacho. A starter of bite-sized, pillowy gnocchi, liberally sprinkled with girolles and a seasonal sprinkle of broad beans, is a carefully considered vegetarian option, while husband’s dressed crab of fennel salad, melon and almonds is a memorable medley of subtle flavours.
Value for money has become a priority for many upmarket rural restaurants that want to offer award-winning skill while managing diners’ expectations, as my main – a plentiful rack of Spring lamb with vignole of artichokes, peas and broad beans – proves. It could feed a family. The eyes are willing though, alas, the stomach is soon full. But the evening’s VIP is husband’s local organic pork. This lip-smacking combo of belly, black pudding, cheek and fillet with breaded pig’s trotter in a shallot and thyme puree is a pig to be proud of and demonstrates the sort of technical prowess that won Bryan his coveted star.
Ingredients are grown in the kitchen garden or locally sourced where possible and Bryan’s a staunch advocate of seasonal produce as his cherry soup with nougat glacé confirms – a dessert of fruit swollen by kirsch and swimming around a hunk of creamy ice cream packed with nuts.
Breakfast is equally bountiful. Alongside seasonal fruits and Welsh organic yogurt we manage to cram in an omelette with metro-tile-sized slabs of Keen’s Cheddar and Mrs Appleby’s Double Gloucester and a plate of plump pork and leek sausages, black pudding and free-range duck eggs – all jostling for space beside fried bread that’s the food lover’s equivalent of a Class A drug.
Tyddyn Llan’s smart, civilised atmosphere and Michelin-starred food lends itself to intimate celebrations and romantic anniversaries. £70-140 pp for B&B – £115-185 pp for dinner, B&B.
Corwen LL21 0ST
T: 01490 440 264
Tyddyn Llan website
As part of Bryan’s 50th birthday celebrations Tyddyn Llan is offering guests a £50 discount per couple on any two or three night break for 50 days until 25 September 2010.