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North Wales Life Luncheon - St George's Hotel, Llandudno

PUBLISHED: 12:51 30 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:15 20 February 2013

Ballontine of mackerel, scallop, pea and apple salad, with a fennel froth

Ballontine of mackerel, scallop, pea and apple salad, with a fennel froth

St George's Hotel on Llandudno's Promenade has style, elegance and a fine culinary offering, as guests at our luncheon discovered

St George's Hotel, with its stately facade and handsome Italianate tower, still stands out as an impressive landmark on Llandudno's splendid Victorian promenade. Imagine then, how striking it must have appeared to visitors and townsfolk alike when it opened its doors 155 years ago as the first major hotel on the majestic sweeping seafront of what was then a new resort between the Great and Little Ormes.

Today, fresh from a recent 4m refurbishment and boasting four stars and an AA Rosette for fine food, St George's remains one of the premier hotels in the 'Queen of North Wales' Resorts' - with premier being the operative word - for when Gordon Brown visited the Welsh Labour Party Conference there last year he was the eighth British Prime Minister to cross the threshold since Benjamin Disraeli in the middle of the 19th Century. And I trust that none of them - even Mrs Thatcher - was indiscreet enough to mention St George's and Welsh dragons in the same sentence.

Much of the hotel's mid-Victorian elegance has been preserved, most notably in the famously ornate Wedgwood Room and the delightful Terrace Restaurant, which offers a spectacular vista across the promenade and beach out to Llandudno Bay.

But, as guests at North Wales' Life's lunch discovered, the period architectural splendour accommodates all the most up-to-date facilities that 21st Century guests, be they discerning holidaymakers, weekenders, wedding parties or business conferencers, demand. We gathered beneath the chandeliers of a fine, sea-facing lounge, greeted by hotel general manager Tony Burns to enjoy flutes of appetising Louis Dornier NV Champagne, supplied, as were all the luncheon wines, by Matthew Clark. Canaps of blinis topped with smoked salmon, Welsh lamb and mustard, and olive and sun blush tomato whetted appetites for head chef Grant Dicker's main event amid the Victorian grandeur of the Conwy Suite, once the hotel's ballroom.

After we took our places, elegantly dressed by the Celebration Chair Cover Company, at tables delightfully decorated courtesy of Edgley's Floral Design, the starter revealed considerable skill and innovation in the kitchen. New Zealander Grant, former senior member of the brigade at Bodysgallen Hall, presented a cleverly conceived ballontine of fresh, flavourful mackerel enveloping slivers of smoked salmon and partnered by a fleshy seared scallop, zesty pea and apple salad and drizzle of fennel froth. It looked exquisite and offered lovely harmonious tastes, matched in kind by the lively fruit of a Chilean sauvignon blanc.

Kiwis know a thing or two about lamb and Grant proved the point with his main course. His meltingly tender patty of slow-cooked lamb from the Conwy valley came wrapped in wafer-thin prosciutto - an inventive touch of Italy reinforced by the accompanying cannelloni of Welsh rabbit and the cubes of polenta served with girolles and a smear of roasted squash pure. The generous soft berry fruit flavours of the red wine, a delightfully balanced merlot - again from Chile - provided the ideal match for the lamb.

A trio of delightful semifreddo vanilla parfait, light and airy chocolate sorbet and refreshing raspberry jelly, made a perfect lunchtime dessert and a very agreeable finale to an excellent afternoon.

North Wales Life Luncheon Menu

To begin Ballontine of mackerel, scallop, pea and apple salad, fennel foam.

Monte Verde Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Chile

To continue Slow cooked Conwy lamb, Welsh rabbit cannelloni, girolles, roasted squash pure

Monte Verde Merlot 2008, Chile

To finish Vanilla parfait, chocolate sorbet, raspberry jelly

Coffee and petit fours


Fact file

St George's Hotel, The Promenade, Llandudno, North Wales LL30 2LG Tel: 01492 877544; www.stgeorgeswales.co.uk

The Terrace Restaurant: Open daily for dinner 6pm-8.45pm; Two courses 24; three courses 28. Lunches and afternoon tea served in the Terrace lounge and bar.

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