St David’s Day: Our top 10 (well, actually 11) Welsh restaurants

We just couldn’t decide which of these stunning dining destinations to drop from our list, so we’ve sneakily extended our top 10 Welsh restaurants to make it a top 11. And why not? Now you have 11 reasons to visit Wales this St David’s Day (1 March) instead of just 10. You’re welcome…

 

Gareth Ward at Ynyshir, Eglwys Fach

No. 15 in the Harden’s 100 list of the UK’s best dining destinations

“It’s highly recommended that you take the long drive to the west of Wales” to visit this small hotel – a “gorgeous” house once owned by Queen Victoria as a retreat next to the RSPB reserve of the same name. “The level of originality and innovation on show in Gareth Ward’s kitchen is absolutely phenomenal” and – in the year where Ward and his partner Amelia Eiriksson took a stake in the business (and dropped ‘Hall’ from the name) – scores here have headed into the stratosphere, with numerous reporters “blown away” by “an experience like no other”“the best meal ever”“the next star on the World’s 50-best”. The 17-course tasting menu is a slow-food journey, and one reviewer describes the “indecently tasty”results as reminiscent of “the good old days of The Fat Duck”. “Interesting, sometimes unusual, ingredients and flavour combinations are in perfect harmony using elaborate cooking processes explained by sous chefs brimming with enthusiasm. Staff are professional but relaxed, approachable and unpretentious. It’s worth every penny!”

 

Tyddyn Llan, Llandrillo

No. 38 in the Harden’s 100 list of the UK’s best dining destinations

“Bryan Webb continues to excel, producing outstanding cuisine” at his and wife Susan’s “comfortable country hotel” – a former hunting lodge of the Duke of Westminster in a “tranquil location” near Bala. “Staff take the time to chat”, and “it’s laid back style, lack of fuss, relaxing nature and extensive grounds” make it “a great place for a foodie date!” The “interesting but not over priced wine list” is also a major gastronomic highlight.

 

Llangoed Hall, Llyswen

No. 49 in the Harden’s 100 list of the UK’s best dining destinations

It’s “onwards and upwards” for this country house hotel, in a “lovely location, handy for the Hay Festival”, and long of note for its “old-hall decadence”; Nick Brodie’s “exquisite” cuisine won extremely consistent praise this year: “worth every penny!”

 

Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth

No. 74 in the Harden’s 100 list of the UK’s best dining destinations

“The position of the restaurant is superb” – a Beach Cliff Edwardian building along from the pier, whose large windows provide views over the Penarth esplanade to the sea. “Excellent quality ingredients are elevated to another level thanks to the talent of chef James Sommerin” and his “friendly” family-led team.

 

The Whitebrook, Whitebrook

No. 76 in the Harden’s 100 list of the UK’s best dining destinations

“In the middle of the lush Wye valley” (“no mobile reception here”), this long acclaimed “foodie gem”regained its star shortly after the arrival of chef/proprietor Chris Harrod in 2013 (and lost ‘The Crown’ from its name shortly after). Fans proclaim the “locally sourced and foraged” cuisine “unique”(“Noma in Britain!”) with the “added benefit of eight comfy rooms to sleep it off”.

 

Pale Hall Hotel Restaurant, Bala

Limited but ecstatic feedback on this “lovely”Victorian pile, on the edge of Snowdonia (once owned by the Duke of Westminster), where the dining room was initially “under the aegis of Michael Caines”: Gareth Stevenson’s cuisine is “delicious and beautifully presented, and though portions look small they prove fully satisfying: well worth the journey to a remote location”.

 

Sosban and The Old Butchers, Menai Bridge

“You don’t know what you are going to get” at this “small” but stylish venue in an old butcher’s, but the leap of faith is “well worth it” given the “really special” results: “every dish is perfectly prepared and follows on extremely well from the one before”. By all accounts “they have deserved their recently awarded Michelin star”.

 

Pysgoty, Aberystwyth

“Situated on the harbour front and directly facing a beautiful sea vista”, this “small and intimate”gem is “amusingly located in a converted art deco public toilet but the ambience is more that of a Californian beach shack – especially in summer when you eat outside on a sail-covered deck”. To eat: “essentially fish and seafood that’s simply but beautifully cooked”.

 

Moksh, Cardiff

Rave reviews this year for this tangerine-coloured quayside dining room, where chef Stephen Gomes is hailed by fans as “India’s answer to Heston Blumenthal”, delivering “mind blowing” creations (mainly Goan, but nodding to China and Tibet) that are “wonders to behold” and are “all served at the table by the sous chef with pride”.

 

Checkers, Montgomery

“Traditional and classic French cuisine with wonderful twists and flavour marriages” justify the pilgrimage to the Welsh outback for the many loyal fans of Stéphane Borie & Sarah Francis’s 17th-century inn on the town square – a “peaceful and private” escape with five rooms.

 

Fairyhill, Reynoldston

Owned by wedding specialists Oldwalls since November 2016, this small (but expanding) restaurant-with-rooms occupies a grade II manor house, beautifully set in a remote corner of the Gower peninsula. Feedback is limited, but very positive on its cuisine, which makes a feature of Welsh sourcing.

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