North Wales isn’t well endowed with upscale dining opportunities but the Loft is well up there on the list.
You’re invited to take an aperitif in the ground floor lounge, where they’ll serve you olives and nuts and take your order. In due course, you’re led upstairs to the quiet elegance of The Loft. It’s a pleasant space, surprisingly modern, but comfortable.
There’s a couple of canapes that would have been better serving downstairs - a smoked haddock kedgeree bon-bon and, served in a spoon, a cauliflower mouse with raisins. Then the almost obligatory amuse bouche (surely there is a better word in English) – a cup of celeriac soup with diced apple and carrot.
It’s a short fixed price menu with four choices at each course. We both ordered the same starter – a crab salad. A bit parsimonious with the portion but a light and fresh offering of flaked crab, thinly sliced radish and a bit of microleaf. A few blobs of “dill emulsion” decorated the plate, adding some moistness if not a lot of flavour.
Plaice was served on the bone. Unfortunately with flabby skin. No-one wants to eat flabby skin, so why does the kitchen leave it on? There’s mussels, Jerseys, samphire and purple sprouting broccoli, making it a very seasonal plate. A fairly indeterminate sauce attempted to bring it all together – but didn’t. It was the sort of plate you’d want to eat if you were feeling a bit poorly.
Rolled shoulder of lamb was a much more butch affair. Long cooked and very flavoursome. There’s a slick of a potato (?) puree and some of the youngest thinnest carrots I can recall.
Desserts were OK. Both worth the calories. Chocolate mousse was chocolatey and moussey and helped no end by an orange sorbet. An apple mille-feuille also worked well. There’s crisp pastry, the bottom sheet being covered in salted caramel. Not just any salted caramel but Halen Mon salted caramel. There’s apple balls, slightly candied and a lovely apple sorbet which cut through the richness of the caramel.
Then here was 15 minutes of finger tapping until the coffee arrived. Staff must have spotted the fingers and suggested the delay was in preparing the petit fours. “This is what takes the time”, she said. As if we were born yesterday.