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Early birds can catch a bargain; tastetest Judy Phillips at 1620, Bodysgallen Hall Hotel, near Llandudno.

THE last time I ate at luxurious Bodysgallen Hall hotel, the bill for dinner with wine for four people came to over pounds 200 and although the food was delicious and exquisitely presented it means we haven't rushed back for a repeat experience.

But earlier this year the hotel opened a less formal bistro style restaurant called 1620, which in addition to an a la carte menu offering paninis, salads and steaks, has an early bird two course menu for pounds 14.95 available Monday to Friday between 5.30pm and 6.30pm.

So on a Monday evening after a busy weekend my daughter, Sarah, and I decided to chill out for an hour or two and enjoy a quiet meal a deux.

Bodysgallen Hall at Llanrhos on the outskirts of Llandudno is one of the finest 17th century country houses in Wales, with views from its terrace across the restored gardens to Snowdonia.

The 1620 Restaurant is named for the year the house was built and is housed in what was the tack room of the stone-built stable block. It's reached from the main hotel car park down a staircase, but there is a second entrance reached from the drive to the main hall, making it accessible for those with disabilities.

Unlike the main hotel building, which is furnished with antique furniture in keeping with its historic past, 1620 is decorated in contemporary beiges and creams. The tables are of polished wood, and the cutlery and glassware is of excellent quality.

We were happy to be assured we could order any two items from the a la carte menu for the pounds 14.95 special, which seemed excellent value when main courses were priced up to pounds 14.

Another plus is that we were served with complimentary glasses of iced water, which meant we didn't feel the need to order a drink.

We decided to opt for starters and mains. Sarah chose a terrine composed of braised chicken leg and portobello mushrooms served with a red onion chutney and focaccia bread.

After debating whether or not to have the homemade fish cake, I opted for smoked salmon with asparagus and hollandaise sauce.

Sarah pronounced the terrine delicious with an excellent blend of flavours. It was beautifully presented and artistically garnished. My starter, while simple, was ideal for a warm summer evening - smoked salmon and asparagus always go well together and in this case a well-made hollandaise sauce gave the dish the lift it needed to elevate it from the acceptable to the sublime.

. 162 Bodysgallen Hotel, Llandudno(bodysgallen.01492 Usually, I choose fish for a main course, and I dallied with the idea of ordering cod in crispy Japanese style tempura batter, but decided instead to throw discretion to the winds and ordered an 8oz Welsh rib eye steak cooked medium rare.

It was presented with crushed garlic potatoes, char grilled asparagus spears, and a red wine sauce. The steak was cooked to perfection, pink in the middle and charred on the outside, and the sauce was nicely vinous, indicating a fairly decent bottle of red wine had been used to make it. At pounds 14 it was the most expensive item on the menu, but as part of the early bird deal was superb value.

0 a t Hall com, Sarah's slow cooked lamb served on leek and potato mash in a tomato and rosemary sauce received the seal of approval. The lamb was very tender and the sauce complemented it perfectly.

Our only small gripe was that as this was food very much in the style of nouvelle cuisine, the We enjoyed our experience at 1620, and the food and service couldn't be faulted.

early bird deal didn't include vegetables, which were extra.

DON'T MISS Daily Post Nevertheless we enjoyed our experience at 1620, and the food and service couldn't be faulted. every Saturday Taste Tests...

but . 1620 at Bodysgallen Hall Hotel, Llandudno (bodysgallen.com, 01492 584466) in the bill early bird menu x2 pounds 29.90 total pounds 29.90 the facts open mon-fri 12.30pm-2.30pm, 5.30pm-9pm, sat 12.30pm-9.30pm, children over five only (early bird menu Mon-Fri, 5.30pm-6.30pm) parking private car park service discreet, pleasant and efficient disabled access no problem overall top class experience at budget price

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Bodysgallen Hall and (inset) its 1620 restaurant
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 2, 2010
Words:727
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