Restaurant review - Hayloft Restaurant, Bodnant Welsh Food

The interior of Bodnant's Hayloft restaurant

The interior of Bodnant's Hayloft restaurant - Credit: not Archant

As the more formal of the two restaurants at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, The Hayloft is a showcase for the very best of Welsh fare. Louise Allen-Taylor gives it the taste test.

Bodnant's countryside location

Bodnant's countryside location - Credit: not Archant

A new year brought a new chef for The Hayloft, the posher eating place at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre.

That new chef is Hefin Roberts, a former head chef at The Bull in Beaumaris, whose culinary credo runs thus: ‘My passion is simple, accessible food which is not over the top.’

Which is just as well, for this is a gig where getting too ‘cheffy’ just won’t do; those Menai mussels, cuts of lamb and local cheeses have got to do their own work on the plate. This is, after all, the restaurant of the Welsh Food Centre. Many menus boast of their local produce, but here it is the be all and end all.

The Hayloft is a striking room: gnarled beams criss-crossing a high ceiling, arty bunches of twigs dividing the tables. It’s rather Nordic. Get the right table and you’ll be gazing at a lovely view of the Conwy estuary.

We are sampling the seasonal lunch menu: two courses for £19.95, three for £24.95 (the dinner equivalent is £23.95 and £28.95). My partner starts with scorched trout - charred on the outside, glisteningly pink and moist on the inside, with an avocado mousse, plump raisins and little cubes of beetroot, a subtle palette of flavours and all so prettily arranged.

My starter is caramelised onion pastry with macadamia, watercress and Aberwen cheese - fine dining’s equivalent of a deconstructed cheese and onion pasty. Again, it tastes every bit as good as it looks.

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On to mains. Across the table, seared breast of duck is an object lesson in allowing those local ingredients to shine without fuss: juicy hunks of meat with charred skin, creamy, cheesy leeks, little discs of turnip, ripe blackberries and a fruity jus.

My fillet of turbot is as prettily presented as it is delightfully tasty: topped with a fishy foam and accompanied by langoustines, little cubes of fried sourdough and the creamiest of potato.

A pud of sticky toffee and ale pudding is deftly done - not too sweet nor too beery - and a chocolate, hazelnut and cheery cake arrives as a delicious fruity, nutty mess.

The menu is seasonal, so expect something different on your visit, though probably just as good. The Hayloft is definitely worth the drive from Cheshire.

The Hayloft restaurant is at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, Furnace Farm, Tal-y-cafn, Conwy,

LL28 5RP. Tel 01492-651100,