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Berwyn Restaurant, Llandrillo.

TASTE TEST THE Berwyn Restaurant has constantly been rated in the top two places to eat in North Wales by the all important Trip Advisor charts, despite having hardly any promotion or publicity. It must be based on pure word of mouth as the venue does not have a website or even a Facebook page, which makes the plaudits even more impressive in retrospect.

It's not even based in a prominent position in a busy high street. You have to seek this little place out in the beautiful sleepy village of Llandrillo about five miles on the quiet B4401 road from Corwen.

What is it with this place that gets constant five-star reviews from everyone who dines there? Well I was about to find out as we had booked a table for four on a showery afternoon.

The Berwyn defines the word "traditional", with many repeat family diners returning again and again. It is the kind of place to take your mother-in-law, so we did. We parked across the road in the public car park and dodged the showers as we dashed inside.

When you enter this tiny restaurant, you are met by the bubbly host Debbie who makes you feel at home and takes your drink preferences as you study the menu which at the time of our visit was a stripped-down Sunday lunch menu on a blackboard over the fireplace next to a statue of a very happy and round-bellied Buddha.

I noted there were craft ales from the Great Orme Brewery or bottles of Wrexham lager in the fridge but sadly only after I had ordered a pint of Guinness. My wife chose an orange and passion fruit cordial drink whilst my daughter had a Coke and my mother-in-law a coffee that was served in a cafetiere.

We skipped starters, which consisted of choices such as mushroom soup, melon, black pudding, breaded goujons or risotto, so concentrated on the mains. There was a choice of beef, salmon, chicken, lamb or a vegetarian lasagne so we placed our order before being taken through to the dining area to our table.

The dining area is a small affair with five set tables with red tablecloths under a beamed roof with hooks and a slate wall on one of the sides. We were sitting next to a window with a view of the old stone bridge in the village.

My mother-in-law chose salmon with a lemon and thyme dressing that was served in a simple but delicious manner with a lemon on the side.

My wife chose chicken that was served with a white wine and tarragon sauce. The chicken breast was moist and tasty and served with a variety of crispy and fluffy roast potatoes.

My daughter chose her usual favourite of lamb that was local, lean with a serving of mint sauce whilst I went for beef that arrived with a giant Yorkshire pudding, big as a saucepan lid and full of air that burst and actually made a noise as I pressed my knife in.

The Jersey potatoes that accompanied it were tasty, as were the vegetables which included miniature sweetcorn, carrots, swede, mange tout and runner beans, but my favourite was the cauliflower cheese that was served in a dish and was golden and creamy with a fantastically morish flavour.

We were allowed time to make room for dessert which was just as well as the choice of puddings at the Berwyn is rather legendary.

There were over 16 homemade choices on offer that day, which surely must be enough for the difficult-to-please sweet-toothed diners.

The rather daunting list arrives on a mini slate blackboard and each one described perfectly and proudly by Debbie as either light, sweet or even heavy and then she disappears so you can make your choice in a sinful and immoral manner in private.

I tell you what though, the task is much harder than you expect, and my wife changed her mind at least four times before choosing the Baileys cheesecake with cream.

My mother-in-law went light with an airy summer lemon and raspberry mousse but I went heavy with a fruit and nut chocolate ganache that was a debauched muddle of nuts and fruit smothered in chocolate and tasted as good as it sounded.

My daughter went for a sumptuous-looking salted caramel and nut cheesecake that was luxuriantly dripping in caramel and topped with ice cream. This place is worth the trip for the puddings alone.

Ivor and Debbie prefer to let the food speak for itself with a simple menu of well-trodden favourites that have the faithful retuning again and again.

We had visited this little restaurant a few years ago and were pleased to see that the menu had hardly changed in all that time.

I mean, why change anything when the plaudits quietly speak for themselves? I walked past the happy fat Buddha, whom I now resembled in an rather uncanny fashion, and came to the conclusion that as fashions come and go, the Berwyn just gets on with it, but don't take my word for it, just look at the Trip Advisor results. You see, the proof is in the pudding.

MARK WILLIAMS
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Jun 4, 2016
Words:868
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