Situated in beautiful south Denbighshire in the heart of Wales, Tyddyn Llan is a picturesque restaurant with rooms, run by husband and wife team Bryan and Susan Webb. Having held a precious star from our favourite tyre munching inspectors since 2010, I was reasonably expectant of a quality meal as I made the hour and forty-minute trip for lunch with my wife and two young children on a sunny (if slightly drizzly) Saturday in June.
The restaurant was no problem to find (well, with the help of our trusty sat-nav obviously) and is clearly signposted from the main road. There's plenty of parking both in front and to the side of the main house. We were welcomed warmly by owner Susan on arrival and shown through to the pleasant lounge to peruse some menus and enjoy some canapes.
The canapes were very tasty indeed I have to say and included some salmon mousse and scotch eggs. What I really liked was that even though it was clear my one-year old baby son wasn't going to be eating from the menu, they still provided a set of canapes for him, a lovely touch. I could see from their website that there probably wouldn't be any issue with my six-year-old daughter (and she is a bit of a Michelin star restaurant veteran now) but I had checked in advance we were OK to bring a baby as I always like to be sure. I needn't have worried as the service throughout was excellent and there was not even a hint of disdain towards our children which was great to see; this is absolutely not a stuffy overly-formal venue as you might fear.
It's just one menu at lunch, but it's a menu that does have plenty of choice. There are also several not-on-the-menu kids choices including fish and chips, sausages and mash and burgers which was appreciated. I was happy to see a comprehensive wine list with a substantial selection available by the glass and carafe (handy when you're drinking on your own); I enjoyed a decent carafe of Cline Zinfandel with my meal. The mark-up on wine also seems very reasonable for the bottles I checked. After selecting our choices and enjoying my usual Hendricks and tonic to start, we were then escorted through to the dining room for lunch.
The dining room is fairly traditional but perfectly pleasant, and there's a good sense of space with high ceilings and plenty of expanse between tables. We were the only table in for lunch (with the only other booked table not turning up) which Susan apologised for but I really didn't mind at all; when you have young kids it's actually quite nice to have the dining room to yourself! Although there's no background music, I would imagine there's still a reasonable atmosphere here when the dining room is full. A high chair was already set up for our baby son and there was a decent selection of fresh (and tasty) bread on the table, complete with some good quality butter.
Lunch for me began with a bowl of griddled scallops. It was a very tasty dish with the scallops accompanied by a delicious cream sauce. The portion size was generous but as a minor negative, although the cooking of most of the scallops was good, one or two had gone a little rubbery unfortunately. My wife had less luck with her salmon terrine; it was fine but the flavour wasn't great and indeed we both thought the salmon mousse canapes we'd been served earlier were a lot tastier. No complaints from my daughter however with her fish goujons and chips.
Next up for my main was lamb navarin. With hindsight, this wasn't a great choice for someone seeking a main course of technical excellence, there's only so much you can do with a lamb stew. It was again a decent portion but the flavours this time were a bit ordinary and to be honest, I could be served this dish at any generic pub in the country and not bat an eyelid. My wife had the calves kidneys (I say "had", she got nowhere near to finishing, it was another monster plate) which was tastier, including some superb mash, but again not quite what we'd been expecting.
Things did improve with desserts; my creme brulee was as simple as simple can be to look at, but tasted delicious. A bit more effort went into my wife's banana parfait and she very much enjoyed it also, whilst a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream was enough to keep our daughter happy. Coffee was accompanied by some very tasty petit fours including macaroons and fudge; yes they were a little bit rough round the edges (I could just imagine Cherish Finden from Bake Off: The Professionals giving the chef a grilling about their appearance) but they tasted great.
Overall, we very much enjoyed our meal at Tyddyn Llan; it's a lovely venue and the service was without fault. The food in some respects was a little disappointing, but there were some great flavours in there, clearly cooked by someone who is more concerned about serving good tasting, wholesome food than with winning awards. It's a bit of a tragedy really that a restaurant of the calibre would have been completely empty for Saturday lunch were it not for our visit; I for one hope a few more people take the trip to mid-Wales to give it a try.
|Ratings||Michelin Guide||AA Guide||Good Food Guide|
|At time of review||-||6|