HOW TO FIND US
We are close to Bala Lake and Llangollen, 35 miles from Chester, just under one hour. 1½ hours from central Manchester and Liverpool and their airports. Nearest train station is Wrexham or Chester.
There is a local bus service which is the T3 route from Wrexham to Barmouth, but it takes a while. Taxis can be arranged with good notice. London can be done within 3½ hours if you take the M6 toll road and the traffic is kind to you.
THE GOOD FOOD GUIDE
Cooking score: 6
To a converted shooter’s lodge in the rolling tranquillity of the Dee Valley is where Bryan and Susan Webb lit out when they left London a generation ago, and the roots they have put down here are deep and extensive. In an atmosphere of comforting refinement, with swagged curtains, oak furniture and windows all around a dining room in cornflower blue, the heart of the operation is thoroughbred Welsh produce.
Tasting menu options of six or eight courses supplement a broadly based carte which might open with Welsh black bresaola with rocket and Parmesan, or a grill half lobster doused in a spicy butter of ginger, lime and coriander. Mains might look to local lamb, the rib and breast, with a light stew of artichokes, broad beans, peas and mint.
Everything is defined by precision and clarity, with no overly forceful statements, nowhere more typically than in sea bass with laverbread beurre blanc and Jersey Royals. Desserts run the classical rule over prune and almond tart, or poach a pear in red wine and match it with Stilton ice cream and candied walnuts (a sweet spin on a classic salad) and the cheeses themselves are top Neal’s Yard merchandise.
A classy wine list opens with a selection by the glass or half-litre carafe.
GOOD HOTEL GUIDE
Previously an Editor’s Choice
‘Not quite the back of beyond’, but this restaurant-with-rooms ‘in a very pleasant. quiet, rurual location’ is well worth the trek, according to trusted Guide readers. ‘Food is the main event’ at Susan and Bryan Webb’s Michelin-starred retreat, ‘and the menu makes you want to stay longer to try more of his cooking’. Backed by ‘spot-on’ service from ‘professional, friendly’ staff, the chef marries crab and langoustine with avocado salsa, calves’ sweetbreads with bubble and squeak, panna cotta with blood orange and grappa, taking advantage or seasonal Welsh produce.
Away from the epicurean delights, the ‘sympathetically extended’ Georgian property has ‘tastefully decorated’ guest rooms. ‘There is plenty of storage, two armchairs, a very comfortable bed. Our bathroom had great towels, a walk-in shower and free standing bath, but no shaving mirror or soap dish in the shower. Minor irritations.’
Overseeing everything is Susan Webb, who is ‘very much in evidence’, ensuring that events run like clockwork. Breakfast brings ‘good coffee’, several ‘freshly cooked’ options. Perhaps, mused one guest, the excellent bread served at dinner could be used for morning toast.
BUY BRYAN’S LATEST BOOK
Bryan Webb has spent 40 years at the stove. ‘Not Bad For A Taff’ tells his remarkable story. From peeling potatoes, picking spinach and washing up at The Crown, at Whitebrook, to creating his Michelin-starred Tyddyn Llan, with his beloved wife, Susan, he has enjoyed a remarkable career.
‘Not Bad For A Taff’ celebrates Bryan’s ruby anniversary in 2016. As his friend, the multi-award-winning Shaun Hill, from The Walnut Tree, at Abergavenny, says…
“Bryan Webb has been at the top of his game as a chef and restaurateur for decades. It’s amazing that he has managed to avoid becoming a celebrity cook and TV star.”
‘Not Bad For A Taff’ is part autobiography, part rich collection of recipes. Bryan shares stories from his 40 years at the stove before sharing recipes from the 1970s to the present day. There are numerous classics, signature dishes and contemporary reinventions that showcase the best of seasonal ingredients.
Sumptuously photographed and featuring dishes that will excite both the home cook and the professional chef, ‘Not Bad For A Taff’ is a fitting tribute to one of the titans of Welsh gastronomy.
The book was published at £25. But you can order copies from us, with FREE delivery for just £20.00. If you would like the book as a gift, we’re happy to send direct to the recipient, with a message from you. Bryan is happy to sign and dedicate books for you.
From the book…
One of favourite plums is the damson, a small delicious sharp wild plum which makes a great soup to serve as dessert. Damsons are not that easy to buy but the Victoria Plum, are plentiful in the shops during their season. There are many types of plums ranging from the English greengage through to the tiny yellow Mirabelles that are popular in France, where they are used in tarts, preserves and for making eau-de-vie. Prunes are made from plums that will not ferment if dried while still containing their pits. The best prunes come from Agen, or the district around known as the Agenais in France. As this is Armagnac country too, they are often put together in a most felicitous way.
When buying plums avoid bruised plums or damaged skins, tough skins can be peeled away easily from ripe fruit: for firm fruit, pour on boiling water as if they were tomatoes. Plums also make great jams and chutneys, one that I like to prepare is this recipe from a classic book Four Seasons by Margaret Costa (still available).
- Halve two kilo of plums and cook them slowly in a covered pan until soft, remove the stones.
- Peel four onions and core about 700g of cooking apples, chop and put in a large saucepan with the plums.
- Add 1.5 litres of good red wine vinegar and a kilo of Demerara sugar, 500g of raisins a tablespoon of salt, a small knob of finely grated ginger and a few cloves.
- Simmer until thick. (If you like a kick to your chutney add a pinch of crushed dried chilli.)
Plum soup with Cinnamon Ice Cream
- One kilo of plums
- 20cl of cheap red wine
- 150g sugar
- One cinnamon stick
- 250g blackberries
For the ice cream
- One pint of milk
- One pint of double cream
- 420g of sugar
- 12 egg yolks
- 4 crushed cinnamon sticks
Phone us, 01490 440264, or contact us via email@example.com if you’d like a copy of the book.