Monday, 20 June 2011

A diversion as a ‘discerning diner’ on Anglesey and the Lleyn Peninsula, Wales

As some of you know I have to be wheat, dairy and gluten free for medical reasons. Just a small amount of any of these and it can take me up to a fortnight to recover! Hence eating out is challenging but not something I intend to give up. So, in the interests of helping others I will document places that were excellent and places that I will avoid in future. I hope it will help others. I have learnt in the 4 years that I have been like this that it is worth searching for a place that has a chef present – usually they see it as a bit of a change and do a brilliant job for me. Using the Alistair Sawday series of books has proved really helpful – and no I am not getting any money for saying this. The following are taken from Alistair Sawday’s Special Places : Pubs and Inns of England and Wales.

So lunch on Anglesey, we had decided on The Ship Inn, Red Wharf Bay. Lunch looked expensive (more like dinner price) but I am prepared to pay more to have something that does not make me ill. I found a dish, produced my card for the chef and the order was typed in and then phoned through (concern number one, the chef did not see the card). Concern number two- only ‘no gluten’ mentioned on the food receipt, I asked if this could be corrected (as it was). My husband was able to have a smaller portion of fish and chips so all looked sorted. The food came very quickly (concern three- in my experience not a good indicator); I had a jug of sauce on my plate – smelling like lemon butter (concern four). The fish also trickled yellow liquid and the potatoes looked like they had butter on them. The waitress explained the kitchen was unsure whether or not the sauce was OK, hence why it was in a jug on my plate!! My meal was changed and the fish arrived with no butter, and the vegetables lacked the potatoes. I was not ill but this was not a great start to 3 days of eating out. I did mention my concern to one of the staff but I am unsure if she realised how serious this could have been.

We stayed at Y Beuno, just south of Caernarfon. 2 dinners and 2 breakfasts here were fantastic- bacon at breakfast was more like a gammon steak. The waiting staff were very understanding, the chef made the necessary modifications to dinner and my toast (Genius bread that I carried with me) was well toasted. I enjoyed the food. It was a great place to stay and we hope to return before too long.
Lunches are usually more tricky. I am better with a hot lunch but do get a bit fed up with baked potato! We had hoped for lunch in Aberdaron but having looked at the café and the 2 hotels decided that we might be better in Abersoch. This was an excellent decision as we found the Abersoch Café ( next to the Deli) where I had steak & salad (without the roll, but with my bread toasted) and the staff offered me crisps as an extra – having already checked they were OK for me. This was a great lunch and to be recommended as a lunch place if you are in the area.

We were in Portmeirion for the second day, the sun shone, the bay was glorious and we had targeted the Gwesty Hotel for lunch. We sat in the window overlooking the sea in a glorious room as the sun poured in. It was delightful. I chose a ‘small plate’ of chicken, lentils and salad minus the ciabata. Help was sought when I produced my card and the kitchen was consulted. Not only was my bread toasted as a replacement for the croutons, it was even turned into croutons. My only slight concern was that dressing had been added (once in a different place butter had been added to my own bread!), but of course this proved to be suitable. The venue was delightful, the staff were delightful and the food was delightful. We are already planning when we can go and stay at Portmeirion.

So, in all I had 6 meals out and of these only one was very disappointing, showing a lack of understanding and I was made to feel as if I was being awkward. As the other 3 places show when the kitchen gets it right then eating out is a pleasure and not a frightening ordeal.

I hope that others with dietary intolerances find this helpful. I will add other places as I try them out.

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