Reclining in delicious seclusion on Wales’ Llŷn Peninsula, Plas Bodegroes is a restaurant with serious cachet. Here the menu does culinary cartwheels through outstanding regional ingredients, pulling off dishes with precision, panache and an artistic eye. Each and every mouthful is a joy.
Why we love it…
The Llŷn Peninsula is where Wales slings its northern hook into the thrashing Irish Sea. Unless you happen to be blessed with the good fortune of living there, it’s quite a journey to reach the country estate and restaurant-with-rooms of Plas Bodegroes (see our review of the dignified Plas Bodegroes accommodation) but it’s utterly worth it. Don’t just blaze on through: the Welsh coast is arguably at is most glorious here, so spend at least a night to explore around about and get the full-on spirit of the place, or book dinner as a little treat at the end of a holiday.
The owner Chris Chown held a Michelin Star from 1991-2008 (a longer continuous stretch than any other restaurant in Wales). He’s a little shy about his accolades, but this is a guy who seriously knows his food. Anyway, you’ll just have to take our word for it that the restaurant still deserves a big fat star now. But with or without it, the place continues to go from strength to culinary strength, and there is barely a free table to be had on a Saturday night in late spring.
Chefs Hugh and James have seized the reins from Chris, and they have a knack of making each and every ingredient sing in dishes that play up quality Welsh produce: black beef, saltmarsh lamb, pork and chicken from local farms, sustainably sourced fish, and herbs, vegetables and fruit hailing from the bounteous kitchen gardens.
It’s not every day you get to dine in a Georgian manor. And while there is not a strict dress code per se, you’ll want to don smart casuals at the very least. Understated elegance is the look in the restaurant, with candles lighting the way, flowers on each table, eye-catching art hanging on dusky teal-blue walls, and garden views. It’s reasonably posh without tipping the scale into poncey. And it’s the kind of place where you keep checking where things come from as they are so beautiful you quite fancy taking them home – take the exquisite nature-themed crockery by local ceramicist Ruth Gibson, for instance.
The gardens, incidentally, are dashingly romantic in a bodice-ripping Jane Austen novel kind of way – a riot of wisteria, rare magnolias and old roses. Go in late spring or summer and you can swan around the grounds before pre-dinner drinks in the bar.
Passing through the lobby where a grandfather clock ticks and stormy seascapes evoke the wild Welsh coast, we received a heartfelt welcome. Chris’ Faroese wife Gunna personally prepared us spot-on G&Ts, which we happily sipped while perusing the menu in the art-slung lounge bar. Then we were ushered into the restaurant, where we struck lucky with an intimate corner table overlooking the gardens. Service throughout dinner was knowledgeable, warm and efficient.
Harmonious flavours shine in accomplished dishes presented with skill and artistry at Plas Bodegroes. Naming just a few favourites is tough, but the Moroccan monkfish, served with baba ganoush (a smoky aubergine dip) and a zesty hit of preserved lemon, had us in raptures. And the roast rump of Welsh lamb served with artichoke and potato gratin and rosemary jus was everything we hoped it would be. For dessert, passion fruit parfait with roasted pineapple, mango curd and coconut dacquoise packed a particular punch.
House wine comes in at a very modestly priced £19.50 a bottle, and the choices speak of a sommelier that knows their stuff, with the likes of a refreshing, green appley Chilean sauvignon blanc and a well-bodied Sicilian Nero D’Avola red.
At a glance
Welcome: 9 Just the right balance of slickly professional and friendly.
Food & drink: 10 Fully deserving of that Michelin star, but just as wonderful without one.
Location: 10 a Georgian manor reclining in its own beautifully secluded grounds close to some wonderful North Wales coast.
Cost: Highish but not stupidly so. An appetiser and three courses costs £49; house wine from £19.50 a bottle.
Address/telephone number: Nefyn Road, Pwllheli, Gwynedd LL53 5TH; 01758-612363