Pen-Y-Bont Road, Glanwydden, Llandudno Junction
We’re in North Wales for a couple of days and my wonderful mother-in-law wants to take us out for lunch. Indeed, she’s already booked a table at The Queen’s Head in Glanwydden, a place about which we know precisely nothing, but Brenda assures us that we’re going to like it. She’s been there before. So who are we to argue?
Happily, she’s not wrong. The Queen’s Head is one of those secluded country taverns where they offer a menu that goes well beyond the kind of fare often associated with ‘pub grub’. It’s no surprise then that the place is thriving, but the pleasant staff keep everything running like clockwork – and the food is impressive. Take the starters for instance. Well, you can’t because we made very short work of them, but they are excellent examples of how to begin a meal with a flourish.
I have chosen the Aberfalls orange gin cured smoked salmon, a generous slice of fish, served with fresh dill panna cotta, sea asparagus and radish salad. It is simply inspired, handsomely presented and bursting with flavour. Susan has the miso and coriander buttered potted prawns, replete with sesame and seaweed and chunks of toasted Pagnotta bread. The seaweed in particular is a real surprise, tangy with lemon, offering a delightful contrast to those fleshy, spicy prawns. We note that Brenda skips the starters, claiming that she’s ‘saving herself’ for the main course. And then it arrives – and we see what she means.
It’s a Sunday so we’ve all gone for the roast option. Brenda has the topside of Welsh beef, thick slices of tender meat, with lashings of gravy. I dig into a roasted loin of pork which comes with apricot, mushroom and sage stuffing. Again, it’s perfectly prepared and there’s a crunchy strip of crackling for good measure. Susan opts for the sweet potato, chestnut and apricot nut roast with creamed leeks and veggie gravy. All dishes come with the full Sunday dinner accompaniment: magnificent Yorkshire puddings – cathedrals of batter with crispy peaks and meltingly soft centres. There are also superb roast potatoes, as well as mash, carrots, broccoli and red cabbage. And we order extra veg (of course we do), in the form of a sumptuous cauliflower cheese.
It may seem churlish, but the only complaint we have here is that the portions are enormous and it’s hard to know what to miss out because… well, we have to leave room for puddings, right? It would be rude not to.
Brenda goes for the vanilla panna cotta with raspberry coulis, which is quite the prettiest dish on the table and comes with strawberry ice cream, biscuit crumb and shortbread. I cannot resist the lemon posset, which is creamy and luxurious, served with a zesty orange sorbet and delicate meringue disks. Susan orders the treacle tart – sweet, crumbly, softer than expected and served with a delicious scoop of coconut ice cream.
We emerge from the feast feeling pleasantly sated and determined to spread the word. The Queen’s Head is the perfect venue for an indulgent dining experience and it’s available to everyone within walking or driving distance of Glanwydden.
Brenda, on the other hand, is all ours. Hands off!
4. 8 stars