Watson’s Bistro

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17/04/06

Chapel Street, Conwy, North Wales

The charming coastal town of Conwy is a picturesque place what with the castle, the harbour and the beach. On a sunny Sunday afternoon in April, it also turned out to be a great place for lunch. Watson’s Bistro is tucked away off the main drag, right next to a stretch of the old town walls and it’s well worth seeking out. Step inside and you’ll find a delightful family-owned restaurant, a Diner’s Choice winner in 2015. There are four of us to dine and after some perusal of the menu, we decide to eschew starters and go for two courses at a very reasonable £16.95. Some fresh bread is provided with a saucer of dipping oil, which makes for a pleasant palette cleanser, but we’ve barely finished eating that when the main courses arrive.

I have the 24 hour cooked shin of beef, served with creamy mashed potato and an ‘unctuous’ gravy. I can’t help feeling that the word ‘unctuous’ is an odd one, meaning as it does, oily and insincere, whereas this gravy is quite the opposite, rich and satisfying. Being of a cheeky persuasion, I also ask if I can sample the home made Yorkshire pudding that is really supposed to come only with the roast beef, and happily, the answer is ‘yes.’ A word about that shin beef – it is of the ‘pulled’ variety, full of flavour and melt-in-the mouth tender. Add a swirl of that ‘unctuous gravy’ and you have heaven on a plate. Susan’s roast beef is also deliciously tender and backed up with crispy roast potatoes and a flavoursome thyme jus. One of our companions has the slow roast shoulder of Welsh lamb with a minted port wine sauce and that too is spot on. The Yorkshire puds are light and very dry in texture – I like them, Susan is rather less keen. The meals are accompanied by a dish of perfectly cooked vegetables – boiled potatoes, carrots, broccoli and (a nice touch, I think) tempura cauliflower florets. This is all pretty much note perfect and the generous portions mean that we’re glad we skipped the starters.

Puddings can sometimes be so-so in these places but happily, not so here. Three of our company opt for the pear and toffee crumble, which manages to be moist and crunchy and sticky, all at the same time. I have an orange sponge pudding with chocolate ice cream, the pudding moist and sticky with orange sauce, the ice cream bursting flavour. Mmm. It’s not considered polite to lick your plate clean afterwards, but sometimes these things just cannot be resisted.

A glance at the evening specials and the a la carte menu seem to offer endless possibilities for further investigation, but sadly we’re not close enough to Conwy to make this a regular haunt, which is a pity. This is one of the best Sunday lunches I’ve ever had. If you’re in the area, you’ve no excuse, get down there and enjoy!

4.8 stars

Philip Caveney

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