Actually, this isn’t going to be about bad food. As it happens, all the places I’m going to mention do pretty good food, some of it very good. Indeed, some of the places I’m going to mention are just all-round good. But two places recently caught my attention as being pretty poor in one respect or another.
But let’s start with the good. In my experience, if you want a good meal in or around Dolgellau, the town I grew up in, Dylanwad Da remains the best place. In fact, I’d say it’s pretty good by any standards. That’s where we usually go, but last week, which my fiancée and I spent staying with my parents, we decided to try somewhere different. In fact, we went out for two meals. The first was Café Indiana in Fairbourne, which (surprisingly enough) does Indian food, and claims to bring a real taste of India to Wales. I have no idea if the food I had was any more genuinely Indian than the Indian food I’ve had in the past, but I know it was pretty excellent. I heartily recommend the place to anyone staying in that part of Wales.
The first small disappointment came on Thursday at the Eisteddfod. Though ‘disappointment’ (or even siomedigaeth) is perhaps the wrong word: our lunch was overpriced and not above adequate (though the potato wedges were good examples of their kind). Considering that the Eisteddfod is Wales’s most important cultural festival, I think they could do a lot better.
But it was Saturday night that brought the real disappointment, and the disappointment is the fault of two restaurants, one we went to, and one we didn’t. First the one we didn’t: I’m sure Bwyty Mawddach does excellent food; I even know the chef, who went to school with me (in fact, the retaurant, and the farm he grew up on, is right next to the Primary School we both went to). And the dishes on the menus look great. So why didn’t we go? Because there’s not a single vegetarian option among the main meals. Not one. And I happen to think that’s pretty shabby (and I’m not even a vegetarian). As far as I can work out, there are two possibilities: either they’re ridiculous enough to object to vegetarianism on principle, or they just can’t be bothered. Whichever it is, I think this merits a big thumbs-down.
So we didn’t go there. My fiancée, who is vegetarian, commented that presumably they would do you something vegetarian if you asked for it; but if they haven’t even put a single option on the menu, I’m not holding out much hope for the quality of whatever efforts they manage to come up with.
So instead we went to George III Hotel at Penmaenpool. The location is stunning, the menu extensive, and the quality of the food good. Except all we got was a starter, an hour after we were seated. This is the first time in my life I’ve walked out of a restaurant before getting my main course; it just wasn’t worth it. We’d booked for 7, and arrived just before. We were seated pretty promptly, and provided with menus. So far so good. It all went downhill from here. They took so long to take our order that we were already despairing; every time someone came in we looked round hopefully, but in vain. Finally we actually asked the waitress if she would take our order. Eventually she came back and did so. Then began the long wait for our food. Eventually, at about 8.10, my father got up to enquire after it. Our starters arrived shortly after. The wine we’d ordered never did. We finished our starters (all good quality and well presented) and waited. No wine and no main course arrived. Nor did any apology or explanation. No one once came to tell us we would have to wait. No one even came to clear our plates. And so we went home, paying for the starters we’d had, and had Chinese.
The George III is a nice hotel in a wonderful location, and it does good food. But on the strength of its appalling service last Saturday, it wins the prize for the most disappointing meal I’ve ever had.