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Eating out in Denbighshire and Flintshire

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.

Rarebit with soup

Try traditional Welsh rarebit, a sort of cheese on toast if you are unfamiliar with the term

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.

Pancakes with berries

There are a number of great little cafes in the area where you can fill up on a delicious brunch and grab a coffee

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

Michelin-star meals

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.

Fine dining meal

Denbighshire and Flintshire is very much a ‘foodie’ region, you’ll be spoilt when it comes to fine dining

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

Rustic eats and spicy treats

For a meaty feast with extra authenticity, nothing beats a Medieval banquet at Ruthin Castle Hotel, Denbighshire. The historic setting is superb for a dinner where daggers and fingers replace dainty cutlery. Spit roasts, plaited pork pies, vegetable tartlets, and herby dumplings, are preceded by a potent toast of mead and accompanied by heady goblets of wine.

There’s a sense of the rustic at Rhug Estate Farm Shop where Bison Grill uses seasonal vegetables and organic meats raised on site. The estate is first and foremost a working farm, but has a browse-around shop, quality restaurant and On The Hoof take-away service. The homely, satisfying grill menu comes with a generous helping of style. Try Rhug organic 14-hour slow-braised shin of beef cottage pie topped with Collier cheese to blow away even January blues.

Hot gossip on opening – around 2015 – was the Indian Lounge, near Nannerch, and local patrons have been dishing out unswerving praise for it ever since. Mold’s Parivaar in Grosvenor Road has also triumphed with its fusion of Indian-Bengali cuisine. There is also Parivaar, a newcomer on the block.

From the sub continent to the Mediterranean. It almost feels like you are in Italy at the Belvedere restaurant, Mold. This cosy bistro is owned and run by an Italian family who have been providing freshly-cooked delights for more than 30 years. The cheerful décor includes lots of Italian knick-knacks and the relaxed atmosphere is perfect for enjoying good old fashioned conversation over the dinner table. Denbigh’s Con Amici is another family-run Italian with a good selection of hand-made pizzas, pastas and risottos, plus an alluring specials board.

For a meaty feast with extra authenticity, nothing beats a Medieval banquet at Ruthin Castle Hotel, Denbighshire

International or traditional

For a Spanish feel try the mouthwatering, sizzling tapas at Y Delyn wine bar, Mold, where the tortilla is to die for. Mexican is the theme for Tres Amigos in Llangollen where fans of nachos, enchiladas, and fajitas will be jumping for joy.

The Corn Mill pub and restaurant overlooking the River Dee at Llangollen is another popular eaterie, part of the Brunning and Price stable, which also runs the Dinorben Arms, Bodfari and Glas Fryn, Mold. On the hill opposite Theatr Clwyd, Glas Fryn has a reputation for being consistently reliable in both the food and drinks departments. What’s more it’s just the ticket for a pre-theatre dinner or a post gig nightcap. Don’t tell anyone but we’ve been known to call in ‘The Glas’ for a mid-morning coffee, stay for lunch, and still be there rounding off the day with a platter of cheese and wine late into the evening.

Tapas

Treat yourself to some tapas whilst on your trip

On The Hill restaurant in Ruthin has enjoyed ten years seducing diners with sublime flavours served in an intimate 16th-century building. Those who have been there cannot wait to go back but wait they often have to do because demand for a table is such that it’s advisable to book well ahead. Ruthin also boasts The Seven Oaks Garden Centre Café which is a perfect stop for all the family offering delicious home-made meals.

Another eatery which is well worth is a visit is The White Horse Restaurant in Hendrerwydd. This delightful 16th-century inn not only has spectacular views of the Clwydian Range, it also serves locally-sourced produce and look out for their braised Welsh beef rib, parmesan and truffle chips, wild mushrooms, onion purée and peppercorn jus.

For a Spanish feel try the mouthwatering, sizzling tapas at Y Delyn wine bar, Mold, where the tortilla is to die for

Dinner by the castle or by the sea

If home-made fish and chips is your style then the seaside is best for enjoying lip-smacking salty flavours. The Beach Hut cafe and bar at Prestatyn does Monday-Friday afternoon deals on fish, chips, mushy peas and that all important tartare sauce. For an upmarket setting try The Bryn Restaurant at the Beaches Hotel, Prestatyn, where the Promenade Bar overlooks the Irish Sea. Chef’s favourites include moules mariniere with warm ciabatta.

The window-side at The Old Crown at the Castle in Rhuddlan looks right out at – you guessed it – Rhuddlan Castle. Eat your meal and admire a bite of history! Further down the coast Rhyl Pavilion Theatre offers 1891, a first-floor restaurant and bar with a view, a great choice for a pre-show meal or a non-stagey, leisurely dinner. Food for Thought is the name of the bistro at Gladstone’s Library at St Deniol’s, Hawarden, Flintshire, and it certainly has customers thinking it’s a very fine place. It’s open daily from 10am-5pm for light snacks, for lunch from 12noon-2pm and its daily changing dinner menu between 6.30 and 7.30pm is well timed for popping to the nearby Broughton cinema to catch an evening blockbuster.

Mussels

Order some mussels and enjoy views over the Irish Sea

The Old Grocery restaurant, Hawarden, also has an early dinner option as well as intriguing cocktails like Fizzy Bakewell, a well-balanced mix of Bakewell gin, prosecco and cherry.

A hidden gem with a gin menu, wine menu and cocktail menu is Java Square, Rhuddlan, which won North Wales Bistro of the Year 2018, impressing with its breakfasts, brunches, lunches, prosecco afternoon teas and Friday evening tapas.

Our tour of Denbighshire-Flintshire eateries wouldn’t be complete without mentioning quality pub fayre. There’s such a wide choice you’ll be hard pressed to decide on a favourite. But here’s ten for starters: The Millstone, Penyffordd; Owain Glyndwr, Gwernymynydd; Black Lion, Babell; Piccadilly Inn, Caerwys; White Horse, Cilcain; Red Lion, Meliden; Three Pigeons, Graigfechan; Druid Inn, Llanferres; Eagle and Child, Gwaenysgor; The Hand at Llanarmon, Llangollen. We could go on but we’ll leave it to you to discover the rest of the best this region has to offer.


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The best nightlife Denbighshire and Flintshire

Your guide to arts and culture in Denbighshire and Flintshire

Image credits: ©Dana DeVolk/John Canelis/Matheus Frade/Toa Heftiba/Unsplash; Neiromobile/Rachael Santillan/Adobe Stock; Shutterstock.com

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