PLACES TO EAT
For many people it's difficult to say what makes for the perfect holiday. For some it could involve paddling in rock pools, swimming in the sea and, then soaking up the sun's rays with the soothing sound of waves crashing at your feet.

And for others it might include leisurely treks along turbo-charged rivers or following trails high into the clouds to drink in mesmerising views atop mountain leviathans such as the Cader Idris or Aran Fawddwy.

While for still more it would consist of roller-coaster rides around the 100km worth of trails, such as the Beast, in the nearby mountain-biking mecca of the Coed-y-Brenin.

But however visitors to Ty Nant like to spend their time, two factors that always feature prominently: and that would be where to go to eating and drinking.      more preamble

Public Houses and Restaurants

Torrent Walk Hotel The best real ale line-up in town.

Bwyty Mawddach Maesygarnedd, Llanelltyd, Dolgellau Tel: 01341 424020 Email: enquiries@mawddach.com www.mawddach.com

Bwyty Mawddach Restaurant Closed Mondays and Tuesdays and you must book ahead or you may be disappointed. 5 minutes walk from Ty Nant

Celebrity Welsh chef Ifan Dunn returned home to his home village of Llanelltyd in recent years in order to set up on his very own restaurant on his family farm. That culminated in the outstanding Bwyty Mawddach on the shores of the Mawddach Estuary, which was converted from a farm outbuilding into a two-storey contemporary restaurant.

Diners are able to have extensive views of the Mawddach Estuary from either of the restaurant's two floors, and lamb is sourced fresh from Ifan's brother's farm, while pork, beef and game are supplied by a network of neighbouring farmers.

Not only has Ifan had nearly 15 years' experience as a chef, but he was the onetime Welsh Young Chef of the Year, and he also used to have a regular cooking slot on Welsh television (S4C).

Typical dishes on offer include free-range chicken, leek and home cured bacon pie with mash and buttered cabbage a(£12.50) and Anglesey goats cheese salad with salt baked beetroot, capers, pine nuts and red wine vinegar (£5.50).

The restaurant is open from Wednesday - Sunday, and opening hours are typically 12.30pm - 2.30pm and 6.30pm - 9.30pm (10.00pm on Saturdays). On Sunday, the restaurant is open at lunch time only from 12.00pm - 3.00pm.

Comment: - This is where I take my Japanese visitors because they love the views and the very high standard of service. "Restaurant down the road is superb...The Cheesy Riders"

If you are planning a function use the Bwtwy Mawddach as its just 400 metres from Ty Nant. Accommodate your guests at Ty Nant, Maes y Garnedd cottages (next to restaurant) or Trem Idris B & B (next door to Ty Nant) but do book early.

Tyn-y-Groes, Ganllwyd, Gwynedd Tel: 01341 440275 www.tynygroes.com The Tyn-y-Groes is currently closed but is expected to reopen eventually


The Tinny viewed from Pen Rhos

Well over 500 years old, the Tyn-y-Groes in Ganllwyd at one time served most people who travelled through this part of Gwynedd. It began as a coaching inn and would have been as famous for its ale, spirits and food in the 1500s as it is today in the 21st century. It has changed hands many times, but became something of a gentleman's retreat in the 19th century, when William Gladstone, one of Britain's greatest Liberal prime ministers, was a frequent guest at these premises. He was known to travel here for the walking, the sea air and some fine malt whisky. Today, locals and tourists alike gather together in this pub for its friendly and convivial atmosphere and its wide-ranging menu of delicious pub grub. The pub plays host to the short but challenging Tyn-y-Groes Hill Race in December and June every year.

typical menu

Comment: - Good food and hearty portions. At busy times telephone 01341440275 to secure a table. Waitress service in fetching black and white attire.

George III Penmaenpool, Gwynedd Tel: 01341 422525 www.georgethethird.co.uk


Pencil and Pastell by Local Artist Susan Nicholls

The George III pub also has its roots firmly planted in the past. It started life as a much smaller 17th century inn, around the time of Charles I, and was later merged with a neighbouring ships' chandlers at the end of the 19th century.

With fantastic views of the Mawddach Estuary, the George is the perfect destination for morning coffee, afternoon tea, a light lunch or more substantial evening meal. Popular dishes include baked chicken breast with Pancetta ham, lined with goat's cheese (£9.75), cold poached salmon salad (£8.75) or a traditional ploughman’s lunch (£7.25). (The George is also a great stopping off point after a leisurely walk along the nearby Mawddach Trail). Vegetarian options are also available.

Comment: -Excellent food, good portions, child friendly, real ales but avoid the busy periods as you could be in for a long wait.

Gwernan Lake Hotel Tel:01341 422488 www.gwernan.co.uk

Sadly now closed to non residents

Comment: A superb location and reasonably priced meals with a most pleasant service. Not always open in the winter months so check before travelling.

Cross Foxes, Brithdir, Gwynedd Tel: 01341 421001 www.crossfoxes.co.uk


Real Ales

The Cross Foxes has rejoined the local restaurant scene after two years of extensive refurbishment, and aims to offer guests the ultimate experience in dining out.

Open seven days a week, the Grade II listed establishment now comprises a bar, cafe and grill and is open from 8.00am in the morning till as late as 2.00am at night.

Guests can sup on delightful infusions of elderberry or cranberry tea or opt for a more calorie-laden, clotted cream tea, all washed down with a cooling glass of champagne. There is also a wide range of coffees to savour.

The centre piece of the newly revamped Cross Foxes, which also has an outside terrace, is the restaurant grill where chefs prepare mouth-watering locally-sourced dishes, such as Coed-y-Brenin venison burger, trio of Welsh sausages with leek mash or sirloin steak right in front of guests' very eyes.

The restaurant is open for lunch from 12.00pm until 2.30pm, and evening meals are served from 5.30pm until 9.30pm. Between these times food is still offered from the afternoon menu. The bar stays open until 12.00am most days and until 2.00am from Thursday to Saturday.

Comment: - Open all day every day for food and drink. Snowdonia ale £2.75

The Gatehouse, The Marian, Dolgellau Tel 01341 422008 or 07538 740777


The Gatehouse Steak House and Bistro

Located by the main Marian Mawr car park, offers award winning steaks and hearty homemade meals to suit all the family
Opening 11.00am to 3.00pm for lunch and
6.00pm - till late for evenings

The warm friendly atmosphere in the Gatehouse Bistro is a perfect place to enjoy a drink, relax and spend time with friends and family. Recently opened beer garden

The Last Inn Church Street, Barmouth, Gwynedd Telephone: 01341 280530 www.lastinn-barmouth.co.uk

The Last Inn is definitely an all-singing, all-dancing venue with regular music nights and a Saturday night disco. The building itself dates back to the 15th century when it started out as a shoemakers. But it was in the intervening years turned into a public house and inn and has proved to be one of the most popular in the seaside resort of Barmouth.

Replete with its own indoor spring/pond, the Last Inn promises guests and diners a warm and friendly welcome. Mediterranean food is typically served including a good range of fish dishes, with much of the said fish being caught locally. As the Last Inn website says every Friday is flares and cheesy music night and each Saturday is Harbour Lites Disco with Laser and Light Show - till late!

Comment: Another of my favourites. Avoid busy periods

Grapes Inn, Maentwrog, Gwynedd Tel: 01766 590365 www.grapeshotelsnowdonia.co.uk

The Grapes Inn is another pub fairly close to Ty Nant with quite a distinguished history. Its origins lie in the 17th century, when it was established as a public house and coaching inn to cater for the growing number of visitors to the region.

Since that time the Grapes has gained a loyal following, and the current owners have invested a considerable amount of time and energy in to redeveloping the inn itself and into reworking the restaurant menu.

Typical meals on offer are Welsh black beef burger topped with bacon and cheese with chips and salad (£9.95), Welsh goat’s cheese and Stilton tart with mixed leaves and a honey dressing (£4.95) or Mediterranean vegetable lasagne with garlic bread and salad (£9.95). And visitors should make sure they leave some room for dessert and try the guaranteed diet-breaker, the honeycomb chocolate landslide.

The owners are also keen to introduce guests to their wide range of beers, some of which are source from their very own brewing company in the South Wales town of Llandeilo. (The Evan-Evans Brewery has won several awards for its real ales which include the rich and malty CWRW beer or the more full bodied Warrior brew).

Comment: - Child friendly, real ales great food but book ahead in busy periods

Fronolau, Tabor, Dolgellau, Gwynedd Tel: 01341422361 www.fronoleu.co.uk

Fronolau is Welsh for 'Light from Within', and was built during the time of Charles I when the Quaker movement was very active in this part of Dolgellau. Under the leadership of George Fox, many from the Society of Friends settled in and around this region, before ultimately setting sail for North America to avoid religious persecution.

Fronolau was actually home to a Quaker family who had fled here from England in a bid to practise their particular faith more freely. However, in spite of a number of local people converting to their doctrine, they were largely regarded as heretics because they rejected priests, formal churches, baptism and holy communion.

They believed all were equal in the eyes of God, and that their compatriots could all speak at religious meetings as the mood took them. Plain dress and carrying out good works were also central to their ideology and way of thinking.

Fronolau today has retained something of the past in its dining room which was once the small-holding's stable. It still contains hay troughs, brasses, harnesses and other age-old tools that were used in farming.

Guests can expect to feast on expertly prepared dishes that include Welsh lamb, fresh fish and locally reared pork and game. The puddings are also said to be particularly outstanding; and for those who don't eat meat, vegetarian options are also available. Fronolau is also known to be family-friendly and booking in advance is recommended.

Comment: - Currently up for sale with its two sister establishments. Check before travelling. Its no longer the great place it once was.

Penmaenuchaf Hall Penmaenpool, Gwynedd Tel: 01341 422129 www.penhall.co.uk

Penmaenuchaf Hall has won two top hotel awards in the last few years which includes the Conde Nast Johansens Most Excellent Country House Hotel (for the UK and Ireland) in 2011. Conde Nast is the publisher of Vogue.

The 14 bedroom hotel sits in 21 acres close to the Mawddach Estuary and Ty Nant, and has a first class restaurant that is also open to outside guests.

The typical tariff for the table d'hote menu, in the hotel dining room, is £40.00 per person. The menu changes daily, but popular dishes include loin of local venison with braised red cabbage, herb gnocchi and a thyme jus and seared Scottish salmon with tomato and coriander cous cous, asparagus and a star anise sauce.

Their afternoon teas at £12.50 per head, are also said to be well worth trying. The includes fresh strawberries home-made fruit scones, preserves, fresh double cream and champagne.

The head chef produce contemporary British food and source products locally as well as from their own vegetable and herb garden.

A recent addition to the hotel is the garden room restaurant, Llygad yr Haul, which has a Welsh slate floor, oak panelling, gothic windows and wonderful views of the surrounding landscape.

The owners say on their website: "This elegant candlelit dining room has tables draped with heavy cloths and topped with fine linen, crystal and polished silver cutlery. The tables are always adorned with fresh cut flowers."

Half Way House Hotel Tel 01341 430635 www.halfwayhousebontddu.co.uk

Currently (02/04/12) The Half Way House is closed

Cafes and tearooms

Dolfrwynog Tea Gardens Dolfwrynog, Hermon, Dolgellau, Gwynedd Telephone 01341 440239 www.dolfrwynog.com

No trip to the Coed y Brenin, famed for its outstanding walking and mountain biking facilities, would be complete without visiting this Tea Garden

The Tea Garden is now under new ownership. Watch out for the superb apple pie and cream.

The Tea Garden is set in the midst of a beautiful forest with stunning views. Situated on the Volcano and Geology walking trails and half way round the Beast and Dragons Back mountain bike trails.

  

Serving hot and cold drinks, delicious home made cakes and scones baked fresh for the day using free range eggs. Our chunky sandwiches, with a variety of fillings individually prepared for you using freshly baked hand sliced bread, have become famous.

Home made soup and freshly prepared salads are available when weather demands.

Opening times : - Saturday & Sundays throughout the year. Other days by prior arrangement

Bwyd y Brenin Cafe, Coed-y-Brenin Visitors' Centre nr Ganllwyd, Gwynedd Tel: 01341 440747 Bwyd y Brenin

Bwyd y Brenin is an integral part of the all new visitors' centre in the Coed-y-Brenin. Completed in 2006, the 1.6 million the centre was constructed along wholly eco-friendly lines, and was recently earned a much-coveted place on the renowned Green List which was compiled by rising travel operator, greentraveller (www.greentraveller.co.uk). The list was also publicised in the Guardian and featured a 70 strong contingent of hotels and tourism attractions that exhibited a high level of environmentally-friendly characteristics in their design.

The visitors centre was recognised by the judging panel because it was made from local wood, insulated with newspaper, designed to need no air conditioning and used local woodchip as heating source.

Bwyd y Brenin is open 7 days a week in the peak season and Thursdays to Monday outside of that. There is also an outside terrace where people can typically savour a hot cup of tea and flapjack, and just generally watch the world go by.

TH Roberts Parliament House, Glyndwr Street, Dolgellau, Gwynedd Tel: 01341 423 552

Once the home of Dolgellau's ironmongers, TH Roberts has recently metamorphosed in a cafe while at the same time managing to retain many of its erstwhile Victorian fixtures and fittings. And in an homage to the 21st century, a section of the cafe has been set aside to allow customers to go online.

The lemon drizzle cake and lemon meringue pie were highly acclaimed on TripAdviser and visitors commended the wide range of hand-made cakes, the selection of teas and the warm and welcoming service.

A reviewer on TripAdviser further explained: "We both had Americano coffees, my wife fancied bakewell tart and I had a 4 cheese ciabata all for £10.00. The service was friendly, informal and efficient. What a pleasure it was to see young people making a success of running such a pleasant place."

Dylanwad Da Restaurant Smithfield Street, Dolgellau Tel: 01341 422 870 www.dylanwad.co.uk

Dylanwad Da is neither a restaurant, cafe or bar. It's actually all three. During the daytime the highly acclaimed eaterie on Smithfield Street is known for it coffee, cakes, light meals, tapas and drinks. While at night it transforms into a first class restaurant where people can savour dishes such as Peruvian lamb casserole (£16.00), pan-fried Aberdyfi grey mullet fillet (£15.50) and Mediterranean Vegetable Pie (£13.50).

The Rough Guide to Wales has described it as 'the best restaurant in town', while a Western Mail review stated: 'Delicious offerings and no pretence ... good sound cooking and immense flair'.

The coffee shop and tapas bar are open from 10.00am until 3.00pm. And the restaurant is open from 7.00pm until 9.00pm. The owners also import wines from Spain, France, Italy and Austria, and they are available to drink on the premises or buy separately to take out.

Caban Cafe Brynrefail & Caban Cafe Pen y Pass Brynrefail, nr Llanberis and Pen y Pass, nr Snowdon Tel: 01286 685500 www.caban-cyf.org

Hikers in the northern part of Snowdonia could do no better than pop in Cafe Brynrefail or Cafe Pen y Pass before or after they tackle Snowdon, Tryfan of the Glyders.

Both run along social enterprise lines, the cafes are said to take pride in using organic and locally sourced produce, and fruit and vegetables from their respective kitchen gardens.

Operating seven days a week, both cafes are typically open from 9.00am - 5.00pm with Cafe Pen y Pass being open from 8.00am - 6.00pm in the summer.

The project has its roots in 1997 when a group of artists came together to hold an exhibition in Llanberis. From that initial meeting, funding was sought to create Caban Cyf co-operative in a bid to boost their individual profiles and promote business opportunities in the area. Caban Cafe was launched in 2004, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Visitors to either of the outlets can expect to find simple but nourishing meals such as jacket potatoes, filled baguettes or more intriguing dishes such as Black Bomber Ploughman's (£6.85) which includes a plate brimming with Snowdonia extra mature cheddar cheese; home made chutney; potato salad; coleslaw; carrot, apple, peanut & raisin salad; green salad garnish and bread and butter.

Hafod Eyri Summit of Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park

A new visitors centre, combining a cafe and shop, was opened in 2009 at the summit of Snowdon by the Principality's then First Minister, Rhodri Morgan. The building cost £8.3 million to produce and was funded by the Welsh Assembly and a grant from the European Union.

It was specifically built to withstand winds twice the force of a hurricane and to weather temperatures below - 20 deg C and over 5 metres of rainfall.

Hafod Eyri is also the terminus for the Snowdonia Mountain Railway in summer and people can expect to buy sandwiches, paninis, hand-made cakes and other such fayre from the open-plan cafe, which affords visitors far-reaching views of Snowdon and beyond.

Portmeirion Portmeirion Village, Portmeirion, nr Porthmadog, Gwynedd Tel: 01766 770000 www.portmeirion-village.com

Portmeirion is not just famous as location for the 60s Prisoner series starring Patrick McGoohan, but it's also renowned for its hotel and spectacular grounds, which are home to an appetising mix of five cafes and restaurants. They include the Town Hall Terrace Restaurant, Castell Deudraeth, Caffi Glas, Caffi'r Sgwar and the Hotel Terrace and Dining Room.

Guests can feast on a wide range of food from baguettes and paninis to locally sourced oysters, crab and scallops, and then can take a tour of the impressive gardens and Village which were designed to look emulate the French or Italian Riviera by Clough Williams-Ellis, the celebrated Welsh architect.