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Tyddyn Llan

Gilfach, Corwen, Wales, LL21 0ST, United Kingdom

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Chef interview

Bryan Webb is chef/patron of the Michelin starred Tyddyn Llan in north Wales, after establishing his reputation at Hilaire in London in the 1990s.

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Bryan Webb used to be the head chef of Hilaire in South Kensington, a regular haunt for me in the 1990s, before Bryan and his wife Susan decided to move back to their native Wales. Tyddyn Llan (the name means "smallholding of the church" and the building dates back to 1742) opened in 2002 and is situated in some pretty countryside in North Wales. There are several rooms attached to the restaurant, and very attractive gardens.

The menu is either a la carte at 50 for three courses or an eight course tasting menu at 80. The dishes are quite traditional (in a good way), with no likelihood of you having to pick your way through weird ingredient combinations. In these days of an emphasis on local produce, the beef comes from the farm on one side of the property, the lamb from the farm on the other side, so if you walk around a little then you can meet your dinner.

The dining room is in two sections, one with green carpet and ceilings, the other section pale blue, and plenty of natural light. The capacity of the dining room is 60 covers.  We went for the tasting menu, but be warned that the portion sizes are essentially full sized for each course (apparently the locals expect this); I took to eating half of each dish presented, and still struggled to finish.

The wine list stretches over 34 pages with tasting notes on each wine, and is fairly priced, especially by London standards. Example wines were d'Arenberg Last Ditch Viognier 2008 at £26.50 for a wine that retails at £9, Stags Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 at £62 compared to a shop price of £34, and Vieux Chateau Certan 2000 at a bargain £135 for a wine that will set you back more than this retail, perhaps £186.  We drank Kistler Les Noisetiers 2007 at £90 for a wine whose retail price was 60 in the UK. The list started at £20 and there were lots of wines under £30, with very few over £100.

As we browsed the menu an array of canapés appeared.  Minced Thai pork was served on a spoon, and was pleasant though could have been spicier (15/20), Scotch egg had good quality meat (16/20), cheese beignets were rich and comforting (17/20, haddock fishcakes were very light with a hint of dill (17/20), leek and laverbread (seaweed) tarts were tasty with light pastry (17/20), Parmesan biscuits were delicate (17/20), and smoked salmon and dill mousse had plenty of salmon flavour and smooth texture (17/20). An excellent set of nibbles.

Bread was made from scratch and was a choice of good brown bread slices (16/20), white bread flavoured with rosemary that was a little dry (15/20) and particularly good cheese breadsticks (17/20). Gazpacho had plenty of tomato taste with finely chopped garnish, nicely seasoned (16/20). This was followed by crab and melon salad with fennel, the crab of good quality, the fennel nice, though I would have liked a little more mayonnaise; it was a pity that a piece of crab shell eluded the kitchen (15/20).

Parfait of foie gras with chicken livers was next, served with an onion chutney. This was very enjoyable, with plenty of liver flavour and smooth texture, though the brioche toast with it was hard (16/20). A scallop was sliced into three thin pieces and seared on the griddle, served with particularly flavourful rocket, though I wasn't sure that the vegetable relish added much to the dish (16/20).

Asparagus (from nearby Claremont farm) had good flavour and was lightly cooked, served with good morels and a very good poached duck egg that had excellent taste (16/20). Wild sea bass was served with laverbread sauce and a beurre blanc with a hint of citrus, the fish cooked nicely, though the sauces were fine; perhaps a vegetable would have been a useful addition to this dish (15/20).

Fillet of beef from the next-door farm was nicely cooked and was of good quality, served with a shallot and thyme puree that I felt had been over-reduced; this was served with good fondant potatoes, and the dish was again well seasoned, with a peppery bite (15/20).

A cheese selection came from Neal's Yard, comprising Caerphilly, Waterloo, St James, Double Gloucester, Cheddar Wigmore sheep milk cheese and Innes goat cheese. These were in excellent condition (17/20). For dessert, peaches with champagne sauce were delicately poached and served with superb vanilla ice cream (16/20, more for the ice cream).

Service was fine, if perhaps lacking the finesse of a really high end restaurant at times, but was friendly. Overall this was very enjoyable, traditional cooking, a restaurant which thoroughly deserves its Michelin star.

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  • Adrian Turner

    We dined here last night. Frankly amazed by its Michelin star as the food lacked any kind of sophistication - chicken breast was a great slab of meat, the morels on the menu were girolles and everything sat in a thin sauce on a vast wodge of soggy potato. Turbot was overcooked and sat on a massive mushy risotto - two tastes and textures only created a boring dinner. The room was a time warp with a blocked lavatory. Fab breakfast of perfect poached haddock and eggs; otherwise a terrible place.

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