Restaurant review - Dylan’s Restaurant, Criccieth
PUBLISHED: 00:00 01 July 2016 | UPDATED: 13:17 24 January 2018
Seven hundred years - give or take - after Llewellyn the Great built his mighty castle overlooking Cardigan Bay at Criccieth, another celebrated Welshman (albeit English born) built his own iconic landmark on the beach next door.
It was 1954 when Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis, creator of Portmeirion, unveiled the striking Morannedd Café with its elegant curved shape and floor-to-ceiling windows in dramatic contrast to the 13th Century fortress at the other end of the Esplanade. One of its early owners was Sir Billy Butlin who bussed in holidaymakers from his holiday camp near Pwllheli to attend tea dances there.
There’s still entertainment staged at the café - but since May last year, after six months of major refurbishment, it’s been the home of the second branch of Dylan’s which had won high praise for their original location on the other side of the Llyn at Menai Bridge on Anglesey. Their landing in Criccieth will be a shot in the arm for the charming Victorian resort.
Dylan’s manages a clever trick, combining a contemporary menu making the best of excellent ingredients with a sense of glorious nostalgia inspired by its setting.
We arrived en famille - a fivesome including a two-year-old - with the sun glinting on a placid sea. The ambience is that of a traditional seaside cafe, but the food is seriously good. My starter was pure coastal joy: prawns, tender squid and scallop with shredded iceberg lettuce and pico de gallo - tangy onion and tomato salsa - and garlicky mojo de picon cream encased in a crispy taco (£8.95), all delightfully fresh as can be. Mrs K chose Llyn Peninsula crab fishcakes (£7.95), moist, flavoursome and with well-judged spice, served with salsa verde.
Despite the temptations of local beef and lamb and Dylan’s list of imaginative pizze and salads we felt compelled to stay with fish in such surroundings. Mrs K chose half a local lobster (£22.50) roasted in garlic butter and served with skinny fries in a wire basket and a generous salad; it looked an absolute picture. I had a large fillet of superb pure white, creamy textured hake dusted with herbs and parmesan and served with waxy new potatoes and lovely creamy mustard leeks (£14.95).
Our puddings, vanilla pannacotta with rhubarb compote and ginger crumble and warm double chocolate brownie with crushed pistachio and chocolate ice-cream (both £5.95) were excellent too. So was the wine - citrus-fresh Sicilian Grillo (£21.50) and the accommodating family-friendly service.
Dylan’s Restaurant, Maes y Mor, Criccieth, Gwynedd, LL52 0HU; Tel: 01766 522773. www.dylansrestaurant.co.uk