After a long wait for our daughter to be old enough to leave with her grandparents I arranged a reservation for mywife and myself for lunch at Portmeirion as a nice surprise. We had previously dined there and were overjoyed with complete package. My wife had wanted to go for something less low key in the nearby town but I, wanting to make this special convinced her to go.
A sandwich in the town and a cuppa would have been the better option. I must mention we were there for lunch not dinner so a slightly more relaxed feeling I would have been fine with but;
Firstly - when we arrived there was no one to greet us. I realise it was 11:45 and lunch begins at 12:00 but a warm welcoming face goes a long way.I had to walk around and find the barman who kindly helped us, the rest of the staff were sitting near the bar preparing other things (cutlery etc).
The barman brought us the menus and read from a clipboard a few pieces of paper down the specials and what they did not have today (Lobster, Mackeral, a terrine). Firstly we were disappointed as my wife was and has been looking forward to the lobster for years now (its never on the menu when we are there). Secondly, for this type of establishment I would expect the staff to know what the specials are are what they do not have without having to read it from a clipboard.
We were then shown to our tables after ordering by a very pleasant young lady who I beleive was working the reception area and dealing with monies. We were sat at a very nice table in the window overlooking the gardens, very nice indeed on such a fine day. Missing from the table were my wifes desert fork, salt and pepper (basic things I think you would agree), and we checked the rest of the tables and we were the only ones with missing pieces. This meant later that my wife rather embarressingly hate to take salt from the next table. As a consequence a very baffled man then had to remove salt from yet another table behind him. As a general rule of thumb if a customer orders steak either the staff bring a steak knife to replace the standard dinner knife or a steak knife comes on the plate alongside the steak. Neither, I had to ask for a steak knife after my wifes first few attempts on cutting into the meat.
Starters - I had the Goats cheese salad with sun dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. THis was truly imaculate, I could not falter it in any way. Delicious.
Main course - I had pork and herb sausages, mash and red onion marmalade, my wife took the Welsh beef steak with handcut chips and pepper sauce. My sausages and mash were lovely, however, there lack of herbs started my suspicion. A few mouthfuls down the line and in all 3 sausages, not a herb in sight. They were definately porky, no doubts there but not an incalling of a herb. They actaully reminded me of a Tesco Finest sausage I once ate. Expecting a nice juicy rump steak I was surprised to see my wifes 1/2 cm thick piece of beef. She ate, or should I say tried to eat the steaka dn enjoy it. It was full of grissle and she ended up having to chew out the juice and spit the rest onto the plate and try to disguish it with left over salad. She even passed some to me as the portion was a good size, I also had the same trouble chewing. Handcu chips were definately not, they were perfectly uniform, as if from a machine, or a bag from the freezer. For me hand cut chips are rustic, thick chunky, fluffy in the middle. These were medium thin, crispy and had that taste only chips from the Chinese take away have.
While we were eating we observed as you do, people watch some like to say. The waiting staff continued to bring the clipboard to each table of guests and read specials and what they dont have, A few disappointed people started to order the loster only to find out there was none as the first waiter did not tell them there was none. Second waiter then shouts across the room to I presume the restaurant manager or supervisor to advise him this table had not been read the information. The staff in general were rather to informal and sometimes communicated across the restaurant to each other. The barman, as nicer chap he was brought wine and water to the tables without a tray (even though the guests were not seated and he was preparing). On more than one ocassion my wife observed a bottle of wine or tray (when there was glasses of beer, wine etc) shoved (literally) under his arm while he poured for the customers.
Desert - I had rice pudding with raspberry sorbet (yes you read correctly) and my wife had strawberry cheesecake. The rice pudding was ok, creamy, soft plump grains, all good but it lacked something. The day before I had finished a few spoons of my daughters rice pudding from a jar and it more than exceeded this on I paid much more money for. My wifes cheesecake looked ok. There was a frog sporny looking mess surrounding it and a few dots. After closer inspection we fathomed some kind of kiwi, raspberry and mango coulis. The kiwi one was really sour, not sure they tasted it before hand, it was not off but needed sweetening. The cheesecake was nothing to write home about. Biscuit base was good although rather scarce and if it has even seen a strawberry I would be surprised. There was a feint (very) hint in the background but nothing substantial. If I eat cheesecake with a flavour I want to be able to taste the flavour, I'm all for subtlty when needed but there is a limit. I didn't mentione to my wife (already very disappointed at this point) but there was a finer mark of red coulis on the side of the plate. Someone had obviously tried to clean the plate but missed a bit, you could see where they had wiped it.
We left disappointed and paid at the front desk where there was no one in sight to start with. The meal came to 52.80 or there abouts. Not having change I advised the young lady (same one who remembered the specials without the clipboard) to make it 55 pounds, a smaller tip than I would usually leave but in light of the circumstances probably more than deserved. The young lady not hearing me took the 60 pound and gave me back the full change. When I advised her I said 55 she said thankyou and kept the full 60 pound. My jaw almost hit the floor, not wanting to make a scene I stormed out ranting, my wife absolutely astonished.
I should point out I have worked in a kitchen, and front of house most of my working life and although only at 3 star level the service and food were certainly of a much higher standard and more professional.
As you can probably tell very very disappointing.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Castell Deudraeth has eleven spacious and stylish rooms over three floors. The ground floor has a gastropub restaurant and bar plus a Victorian walled garden which al fresco dining in fine weather. The interiors merge traditional materials with contemporary design. Welsh oak and slate feature prominently as well as leather, wool and stone. Guests have free access to all of Portmeirion village’s facilities and a shuttle bus service. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Castell Deudraeth Portmeirion, Wales
- Castell Deudraeth Hotel Portmeirion