TRADITIONAL WELSH FOOD -
BWYD CYMREIG TRADDODIADOL
MODERN WELSH COOKING -
COGINIO CYMREIG CYFOES
FABULOUS FOOD IN WALES
THORNE, NINNAU FOOD EDITOR
Joseph Campbell, the American Philosopher, once advised, “in life follow your bliss.” This was never truer than during an eighteen-day visit to Wales in April 2002. Seeking bliss would be creating a trail through the beautiful Welsh countryside to find and dine at some of the best restaurants. At the end of the trail, I knew I had defined bliss and maybe surpassed it. I had eaten some of the best food Europe has to offer at some of the very finest restaurants. They were all in Wales! Meeting with dedicated proprietors and many of Wales’s leading chefs, sometimes one and some person, was truly an experience of dreams. These people are very good and would have no trouble matching head to head with the best. I could not believe this was the same place I left some thirty years ago!
The trip included visits to three of the five new Michelin Stars awarded in 2002. They were the Carlton House Restaurant, Plas Bodegroes and Ynyshir Hall. These three places standout even though all restaurants included in this article are amongst the best in Wales.
The occasion to meet face to face with Executive Head Chef Billy Taylor of Portmeirion Hotel was eagerly looked forward to while in North Wales. Chef Taylor was the inspiration of several Ninnau articles and my guru in my introduction to Modern Welsh Cooking.
Planning for this trip started months ahead of time. Sandra Williams was of very great help to me. Sandra is the Programme Executive of the Taste of Wales Department at the Welsh Development Agency.
Sandra provided lists of restaurants, bed and breakfasts, guesthouses and hotels generally following some preset guidelines. The list was narrowed down by reviewing Websites, Taste of Wales Directory of Members, AA Restaurant Guide, Which Food Guide, Welsh Rarebits Hotels of Distinction, Wales – Great Little Places, Going Home- A Ninnau Publication and Eat Well in Wales by Gilli Davies. Most importantly perhaps, I also benefited from the latest information provided by Welsh food professionals. In the end, I had more good places than I had time. Occasionally, I will mention a place worthy of visiting but couldn’t be scheduled.
The trip can be divided into roughly three segments. The south coast portion comprised restaurants, Armless Dragon, Le Gallois, Chelsea Café and Morgan’s Brasserie. These are the local, special occasion dining scenes. There are no accommodations offered at these places.
The second group represents the small hotels with an excellent restaurant and were generally in the mid section of Wales. These are places of great character and an intimate environment, Cnapan, Charlton House, Wynnstay and Felin Fach Griffin.
The third, generally in North Wales, are the larger hotels with wonderful restaurants. Having a stronger and wealthier tourist economy this area supports beautiful mansions set in large estates. These are Ynyshir Hall, Plas Bodegroes, Maes Y Neuadd and Portmeirion.
The restaurant stories that follow only describe the food tasted. Most menus were broad, featuring fresh Welsh food. Majority of menus changed daily. Many websites contain menus.
Copyright © 2002 Ken Thorne.