Cheshire Life's Luncheon - St Tudno Hotel, Llandudno
PUBLISHED: 16:57 17 May 2010 | UPDATED: 21:39 21 October 2015
Award-winning food at the St Tudno Hotel, Llandudno, delighted Cheshire Life's luncheon guests WORDS BY RAY KING PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS
The spectacular sweep of Llandudno’s elegant Victorian promenade was bathed in spring sunshine; surely if the publicists of the London and North Western Railway had been as imaginative as their counterparts on the Great Western, this elegant resort would have been known for 150 years as the ‘Queen of the North Wales Riviera’.
Anyway, guests at St Tudno Hotel, set in a fine 19th century terrace opposite Llandudno’s splendid pier at the Western end of the strand, have been entertained royally since Martin Bland and his late wife Jeanette first converted a former convalescent home 38 years ago. Since then, standards of hospitality at the St Tudno have become almost as legendary as the old 6th century saint himself, celebrated by a cascade of prestigious awards.
Among the most recent have been Visit Wales’ Gold Award, placing St Tudno among the top two percent in the principality; three AA Red Stars and the achievement of coveted listings in the Good Hotel and Good Food Guide with special recognition for an outstanding cellar. Over time, St Tudno has scooped awards for its location (‘Seaside Stunner’ – Which? Hotel Guide), its family welcome, its afternoon tea service and even its loos - twice.
Guests at North Wales’ Life’s luncheon, welcomed by flutes of refreshing Tanner’s Cava, a superior Catalan sparkler lifted with a dash of chardonnay in the blend of traditional grapes, were left in no doubt why the St Tudno has long been a favourite and deserved winner of Life Magazines’ Welsh Hotel and Restaurant of the Year awards. And the cavalcade of canapés – dainty smoked salmon croissants, cheese beignets, sesame and ginger chicken on pumpernickel – whetted the appetite for what was to come.
St Tudno has enjoyed such enviable consistency through experienced and long-serving staff in an industry notorious for its revolving doors. Head chef Ian Watson, who was at the helm when the hotel began its award-winning run, has now completed two years since his return and his menus make the most of superb local ingredients. Moreover eating in the Terrace Restaurant with its chandelier-hung tented ceiling and sumptuous mural depicting Lake Como never fails to lift the spirits.
Luncheon started with a delightful spring dish: an absolutely fresh and flavourful tartare of smoked salmon partnered with piquant cucumber salsa and lemon breadsticks. The accompanying wine, Tanners Gascony Dry White, supplied and described by Paul Richards of Tanners, the Shrewsbury-based merchants now boasting a branch in Llandudno, provided a perfect match for the starter, with its fresh, citrussy notes counterpointing the richness of the salmon.
After a zingy, palate-cleansing mojito sorbet with lime jelly, Ian Watson’s main course proved another seasonal winner. His twice-cooked breast of corn-fed chicken – poached then pan-fried – came deliciously moist and full of flavour beside a mousseline-stuffed chicken thigh and an artistic arrangement of colourful young vegetables. Tanners Rhone Valley Red offered the fresh fruitiness and lightness of touch to partner the chicken admirably.
Dessert was a delight, featuring silky panna cotta flavoured with pistachio and perfumed tonka bean, served with lovely Toblerone ice cream, a fitting finale to a memorable lunch. Almost four decades on since it was established, St Tudno remains at the top of its game.