Looking for the best places to eat in Wales for St David’s Day? Read our guide for the best places to eat in Cardiff and Gower Peninsular as well as the Welsh coast. Here are the best gourmet experiences to inspire a trip to Wales whatever the time of year.
Slap-bang on the harbour front at Aberystwyth, with sweeping views of Cardigan Bay, Pysgoty is owned by husband-and-wife team Craig and Rhiannon Edwards, who also run Jonah’s, the town’s only independent fishmonger. That means the kitchen never needs to worry about having a constant supply of local fish and shellfish, and although the menu takes a global influence with dishes such as tandoori monkfish medallions or moules marinières, chef Pawel Banaszynski flies the Welsh flag with roast cod, chorizo and laverbread risotto; and Cardigan Bay lobster with herb butter and chunky chips.
A converted horsebox trailer located on The Mumbles promenade, the Gower Seafood Hut was a runner-up in the Observer Food Monthly’s best cheap eats category thanks to pocket-friendly street-food snacks like cockle popcorn with laverbread mayonnaise. It’s owned by Sarah Kift and Chris Price, who look to their Mediterranean holidays for inspiration – think Italian-style fritto misto of sardines, squid, whitebait, samphire and capers – but always using locally sourced fish from Swansea Bay and around the Gower coast.
Look out for weekend specials such as Never Mind the Scallops: queen scallops rolled in breadcrumbs and served with retro red cocktail sauce and a wedge of lemon. Hot seafood by the sea doesn’t get much better.
Currently one of five Michelin-starred restaurants in Wales, the dining room at Ynyshir Hall, near Aberdovey’s beautifully wild coastline, creates culinary magic with Welsh lamb, local Wagyu beef and organic pork; they’re such sticklers for detail that the hotel’s breakfast sausages are even prepared to their own recipe. Much of the produce comes from the hotel’s own kitchen garden, while mushrooms, samphire and elderflower are foraged. No wonder chef Gareth Ward was named the Good Food Guide 2015 Chef to Watch. Bedrooms are equally striking, idiosyncratically but luxuriously decorated in jelly bean-bright colours.
For an expertly crafted pie to wash down your pint of Monty’s Mischief, you’re in safe hands at the Felin Fach Griffin, near Brecon. The Good Food Guide’s Welsh Country Dining Pub of the Year 2015, it also holds a Bib Gourmand award and is one of three Sawdays Hotel’s of the Year for 2015. This is comfort food done with a light touch; warm pork, apple and black pudding terrine, perhaps, or local duck breast with butternut squash, potato gratin and kale. A run of cosy bedrooms on site means you don’t have to rush home afterwards, either.
Neighbourhood dining reaches new heights in Pontcanna as the chefs behind The Potted Pig trade in its city centre bank vault for a more suburban location. Dealing in clean and contemporary dishes crafted using the best of the South Wales larder, Milkwood is right at home with the area’s restaurants, bars and artisan shops.
Set in the tiny village of Pumsaint, and part of the National Trust’s Dolaucothi Estate, Dolaucothi Arms is a 16th Century coaching inn that overlooks two rivers, Cothi and Twrch. Food is renowned, to the point where we shortlisted their chicken, leek, bacon and cider pie in our 2014 ‘Britain’s best pub pie’ competition. There are two menus, bar and seasonal, with the latter being a touch fancier.
Just outside Hay-on-Wye, you’ll find the Jacobean ‘white palace’ allegedly home to the first Welsh parliament. Now the site is home to a country house hotel with acclaimed restaurant, extensive gardens (walled, rose and fruit among them) and stunning bedrooms. For dinner, choose from a four-course or tasting menu. With the likes of lobster croquette, golden and crisp, surrounded by a moat of rich Parmesan sauce and mackerel with pickled vegetables and tomato.
Owners Neil Kedward and Zoe Agar have looked to Oxwich Bay, on the stunning Gower Peninsular of South West Wales, for the setting of their third venture, Beach House. With an impressive seaside spot and a bounty of local fresh seafood, it’s popular with locals and tourists alike.
The Admiral St David
A relaunch of the restaurant at The St David’s Hotel, in Cardiff Bay, sees Wales’ first Australasian-inspired dining spot. Docked within a striking sail-shaped structure on Cardiff Bay, The Admiral promises to marry Welsh produce with influences from Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and Sri Lanka.
If it’s seafood and seaviews you’re after, two of the country’s most sophisticated recent openings are both set close to the waves. In Penarth, just outside Cardiff, Restaurant James Sommerin bagged itself a place in the Good Food Guide’s Top 50 UK restaurants within three months of opening; Michelin stars are already being talked about. Meanwhile, in Pembrokeshire, ex-La Bécasse chef Will Holland has also made a large culinary splash at Saundersfoot’s new Coast restaurant.
The passion for small plates is taking Wales’ kitchens by storm. Nowhere more so than at Bar 44’s two tapas joints, in Cowbridge and Penarth. Owned and run by brothers Tom and Owen Morgan, both branches are under the direction of head chef Tommy Heaney (with input from Jose Pizarro); most of what’s on the menu is either house-made or imported from artisan Spanish producers and the drinks list has an equally strong Spanish flavour, from sherries and wines to cava cocktails. Look out for seasonal specials, too; if you fancy a change from leeks, the end of March sees the bars hosting a calçotada festival.
For something slightly less grand but equally indulgent, try Llys Meddygin Pembrokeshire. Smart modern bedrooms are paired with a kitchen that takes provenance deeply seriously but clearly has fun in the process. It’s dog-friendly, too.
Some extra bits to take home…
And lastly, If you’re after food gifts to take home, put GinHaus Deli, in postcard-pretty Llandeilo on your itinerary. Stop off for a lunch of Welsh cheeses or a bowl of lamb cawl, then stock up from shelves laden with some of the country’s finest produce. Among our favourites are Coaltown Coffee and Da Mhile seaweed gin. In the same area, don’t miss Wright’s Food Emporium.