Signatures, Aberconwy Park, Conwy

We’re in North Wales to visit family and are invited out for lunch. The venue comes highly recommended by our hosts but I’m slightly disconcerted when I hear that the restaurant is in an unusual location – a holiday park in Conwy. All manner of unfavourable memories come crowding in, of the kind of ‘egg and chip’ greasy spoon hellholes visited in my youth. But one glance around the interior of Signatures quickly sets my mind at rest. This is a luxurious contemporary dining establishment and one that clearly already enjoys a devoted following.

We settle ourselves in and decide to order from the set menu which offers two courses for £17.95 and three for £22.95. It’s a lovely sunny day and there are pleasant views of the immaculately tended gardens. The staff are very friendly, meeting us as if we’re old friends and going the extra mile to make sure we’re happy. In a perfect world, it would always be like this, but of course, we don’t live in a perfect world, which is pretty much our lunchtime conversation.

For my starter I choose the Signatures’ eggs Benedict, which instead of the more usual bacon features a slice of smoked haddock. It works beautifully, the flakey fish mingling perfectly with the soft poached egg and a thick, tangy Hollandaise sauce. Susan has the crispy belly pork which is served with a quenelle of sage mash, with apple purée and elegant strips of crunchy crackling. For us, that’s a clear round.

For my main course, I have the roast breast of chicken, which is accompanied by carrot and swede mash, sticky red cabbage, Lyonnaise potatoes and a Madeira cream. The chicken is soft and moist and isn’t overpowered by the Madeira, while that sticky red cabbage is so lovely, I could happily indulge in a whole bowl of it. Susan’s pan fried sea bass is also a delight, sitting upon a bed of creamy shrimp and pea risotto and accompanied by asparagus. Me, I’m starting to envy the people on this luxury site who have an establishment like this only a few steps away.

Puddings? Don’t mind if we do, particularly when the sticky toffee is as mouth-watering (and as abundant) as it is here. It’s accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a very nice butterscotch sauce. Susan samples the classic creme brûlée which comes with homemade shortbread and an intensely flavoured strawberry sorbet.

I guess this is a lesson on how expectations can often be so misleading. Signatures may be in an unprepossessing location, but this is cuisine that would give many grander, more expensive establishments a run for their money. We couldn’t find a single thing wrong with the food or the service here – and it’s not every day you can make a claim like that.

5 stars

Philip Caveney

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