Whether you’re going Michelin-starred, medieval banquet, bistro casual, breakfast, lunch or dinner, when eating out Denbighshire and Flintshire can provide them all on a delicious plate. There’s a zeal for all things foodie in these twin counties, known for great taste in producing food, as well as eating it. If you’re in the mood for Italian, Indian, Chinese, Mexican or Spanish there’s a restaurant to suit. That’s not forgetting traditional Welsh recipes which are this region’s bread and butter.
Rarebit and Welsh cakes
With that in mind there’s no better place to start than with the Celtic classic Welsh rarebit. It’s a tasty staple which sits nicely in the light bites category at chic cafes and on the house specials board of top-notch tea rooms. Try Jemoleys in Penyffordd, which serves up a mean all-day breakfast menu. It includes a Welsh rarebit made to Jemoleys’ special recipe melted on to brown or white toast and served with salad garnish. To add an extra twist there’s a Buck Rarebit option – the Welsh rarebit topped with two poached eggs. This cafe houses a ceramics studio where you can paint a plate or other piece of pottery with a self-designed pattern and have it fired ready to take home.
A hop, skip and jump over the Denbighshire border Caffi Florence sits in Loggerheads Country Park where the chef rustles up a rarebit on top of grilled black pudding, served with red onion marmalade. Go on, be daring! Bara brith tea loaf and Welsh Cakes are other stars of any quintessential Celtic menu and there are plenty to sample at charming tea and coffee shops like the deliciously named Truly Scrumptious, in Mold; Cranberry Cafe, Prestatyn; or Edenshine at Afonwen Craft Centre. Edenshine combines sweet-toothed confections with a delectable spot of retail therapy. The two-storey Afonwen centre includes crafts units, a gift shop and an antiques emporium, making Edenshine the perfect place for a refreshments break while deciding whether to buy a gift for yourself or treat a loved one.
Minutes away is The Cherry Pie Inn at Melin-y-Wern where baked halibut served on a bed of ratatouille is a sample of the menu, or how about duck breast with plum and ginger? Follow it up with a choice of desserts including, of course, the venue’s namesake, cherry pie with cream. For something out of the ordinary take a trip to the cemetery – yes, really! We’re talking about the pet’s cemetery in Brynford, in a stunning hillside location above Holywell. It’s open to visitors and has an award-winning ornamental gardens. The tea room was originally a place for bereaved owners of lost pets to chat. But its reputation spread for delicious home-baked scones, cakes and tasty, satisfying meals. Now it attracts walkers, cyclists and tourists, many delighted by its boast of being the only place in North Wales where you can take your dog for lunch.
There’s no better place to start than with the Celtic classic Welsh rarebit. It’s a tasty staple which sits nicely in the light bites category at chic cafes and on the house specials board of top-notch tea rooms
Cafe culture and Coleg Cambria
If tranquillity is what you’re looking for then you won’t go wrong at St Pio’s cafe at the St Pio Peace Centre in the beautiful grounds of Pantasaph Franciscan Friary. Its breakfasts, light snacks and lunches are created using local suppliers such as Henllan bakery and Patchwork pates. Work up an appetite or walk off lunch with a tour of the gardens and forest walkways, plus a visit to St Pio’s shop. For wholesome sustenance in Mold go to the outskirts of town to find Woodworks cafe at Woodworks garden centre. It does breakfast, lunch – we can’t recommend the freshly-made soups enough – or for something extra indulgent opt for Tasteful Afternoon Tea. A tip here is to book in advance as tables are quickly taken up by ladies – and all others – who love a good lunch.
Afternoon tea is also on the agenda at Susan’s coffee shop, part of Lester’s Farm Shop in Drury. Alternatively, her three-egg omelette is locally renowned or you might consider her baked mushrooms with rarebit glaze, simply yum. For breakfast try Honey’s Bakery at Caergwrle, a scrumptious neighbourhood bakery with a cafe attached. The friendly owners bake sourdough breads, oriental filled buns and sweet-as-you-like patisseries. What makes a visit here extra special is its setting next to the picture-perfect River Alyn. Tables and chairs invite customers to sit down on the waterside terrace for a freshly-brewed tea or coffee before taking their breads home.
The Artisans cafe in Holywell is a not-for-profit group launched to give unemployed people vocational training in customer services, including barista coffee making. It also sells locally-made artworks and handicrafts.
Excellent value for money and tip top service is the ethos of Y Celstryn restaurant in Connah’s Quay. Set up by Coleg Cambria, it’s run entirely by catering students and was established to give them on the job training bar none. Diners here can get a silver service two course meal for £7.50 or three courses for £9.50.
If tranquillity is what you’re looking for then you won’t go wrong at St Pio’s cafe at the St Pio Peace Centre in the beautiful grounds of Pantasaph Franciscan Friary
Undoubtedly the aim of those students is to one day work in a Michelin-starred venue like Tyddyn Llan restaurant with rooms at Llandrillo offering fine dining par excellence. Chef Bryan Webb has been at the top of his game for 30 years and held a Michelin Star since 2010. Committed to using the best seasonal produce, his signature dishes include his signature dishes include griddled scallops with cauliflower purée, pancetta, caper and raisin dressing or wild bass with laverbread butter sauce. It’s all served in the dining room of the 18th-century country house in Llandrillo, where his wife, Susan, supervises the front of house service and Tyddyn Llan guest rooms.
Another commended country hotel restaurant, Palé Hall, in Llandderfel, near Bala, is less than four miles from Tyddyn Llan. Its restaurant has three coveted AA rosettes and the hotel is an AA Five Red Star, Relais & Chateaux destination. Under the expertise of head chef Gareth Stevenson it’s known for six and ten-course tasting menus, sumptuous afternoon teas and classic à la carte choices including half-grilled lobster, Welsh black fillet beef, and raspberry, mead and pistachio mille-feuille. In Rhuallt, near St Asaph, the White House restaurant with rooms coaxes the eye and the stomach with signature dishes including pan-seared pigeon breast; seafood, vegetable and saffron chowder; or roast pheasant for mains, followed by ginger cake in rum butterscotch sauce.
Flintshire must also be credited with first-class hotel restaurants, not least of which is Soughton Hall luxury wedding venue. This restored Georgian manor house boasts an opulently furnished first floor dining room where guests are treated like a king or queen. Set in gorgeous formal gardens, it’s secluded and exclusive. Down the road Northop Hall Country House Hotel is known for its Chequers restaurant, while a couple of miles uphill from Mold the Plas Hafod Hotel has The Greenhouse with specialities including Hafod Harvest apple-brined pork loin steak.
In Rhuallt, near St Asaph, the White House restaurant with rooms coaxes the eye and the stomach with signature dishes