Ah, Wales – it’s so good to be back. Over the years, Wales has been very good to me and I’m so thankful for that. No longer do you need to leave the UK for a holiday because it’s already on our doorstep – well a short drive from it anyway. Incredible views, beautiful scenery, fantastic local ingredients and people with passion. With London so big and bustling that personal touch is often lost these days – but it still exists in Wales.
Finding ourselves in North Wales this time around, we finally got to experience Bodysgallen Hall first hand. A gorgeous historic hotel steeped with history and charm. While I’ve got a lot to say about the hotel, this article is all about the food. We started our evening by the roaring fire with a glass of Champagne and selection of canapés. The crispy fish balls were the highlight. Incredibly fresh and with a lovely texture to them. They paired perfectly with Champagne’s acidity too.
I’ll put my hands up and admit the obvious now, my photos aren’t the best. But in my defence it was very dark inside the restaurant. The cosy and romantic kind. Delicately illuminated by candlelight, it’s the perfect place for a romantic meal and is looked after by head chef, John Williams. Our mackerel with pickled cauliflower to start was absolutely stunning and I loved my dining companions plate of scallops with compressed cucumber, lime and pickled marsh vegetables. Simple, but the precision of flavours and cooking was faultless.
Main courses were just as spectacular, maybe even more than the starters. Gressingham duck, pak choi, roasted piccolo parsnips, new season sprouts, girolle mushrooms and butter sauce. A dish that was every bit as rich and as decadent as it sounded. Coating the mouth in flavour and lots of that creamy butter. Being in Wales, we of course had to order the Welsh lamb and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Slow cooked with fennel pollen and served alongside some smoked red pepper puree, vegetables, potato fondant and a silky smooth jus full of depth and richness. Two very hearty and wholesome dishes which I absolutely loved.
Desserts were the real highlight for me. And one in particular. The warm pear and ginger cake, served with a scoop of apricot sorbet on the side and warm roasted pear. The whole dish is then given a drizzle of toffee sauce. I loved the kitchens playful take on the classic tiramisu too. A light mascarpone cream with coffee crunch, espresso ice cream and drizzle of Pedro Ximenez syrup. While my photo didn’t quite capture this dishes presentation under the cosy lighting, flavour wise it was spectacular.
We had such a lovely evening at Bodysgallen Hall and it was made even better by being able to retire to our cosy room after, with views looking out across the estates acres of lush green gardens. While the food here isn’t breaking boundaries in terms of creativity on the plate and shards of who knows what, they’re instead focusing on quality and precision of cooking – ending the experience with some playful desserts. It’s no wonder The Times rated this restaurant as one of the top 20 UK restaurants with rooms. I couldn’t agree more.