[Conwy] Signatures

(John Hartley) #1

I never thought I’d see myself writing this – but dinner was at a caravan park. OK, an upscale one where the caravans are called lodges – but a caravan park nevertheless. Call me a snob if you wish, but I went with fairly low expectations. But Signatures is a serious restaurant with food falling not far short of, say, the Loft at Beaumaris and surpassing that of the likes of the Kinmel Arms. It’s really rather good.

It’s a nice modern room with serving staff who are very much on the ball, working well in conjunction with the kitchen. We’d had a drink in the bar, before being shown to our table. Now, you quite often find that you’re then twiddling your thumbs for a bit waiting for food, but not here. We’d barely sat down before bread and the drinks arrived, followed almost immediately by the starters.

There was a shortish fixed price menu with around half a dozen choices at each course. We both ordered the same starter – fried sole. The fish sits on a fricassee of peas, lettuce, truffle, brown shrimps, alongside some macaroni (the pasta loosely hand rolled into shape) and a white wine sauce. It’s an absolute belter of a dish. Perfectly cooked fish, the accompaniments correctly seasoned with everything on the plate making perfect sense. If I was the chef, I’d big this up to make a really good main course.

They then served a sorbet which felt quite quaint and out of kilter with the modern surroundings and modern menu. It’s years since I’ve been served a sorbet – even in multi course menus. Even odder, it was a mixed berry one which was quite sweet. Serve it as a pre-dessert by all means, but it serves no purpose here. And the flavour was just so wrong as an intended palate cleanser.

A thick fillet of hake came with a light herb topping. Again perfectly cooked to the “just flaking” stage. There’s confit potatoes, a lovely light crab beignet and a slight crunch from wilted samphire. Carrots, broccoli and baby beetroot contribute to the five a day. A wine sauce sets it all off. For the other main course, lamb came three ways. Something of a French influence here – perfectly pink loin was topped with tapenade, whilst a little bit of breast had been long cooked, pressed and fried till crisp. There’s also long cooked shoulder wrapped in bacon (?). A potato and fennel “risotto” provided an interesting carb, along with some “pommes Anna”. There’s also a “textures of carrot” – glazed and a puree. What it lacked was a sauce - the shoulder and breast being a little dry without one.

As often the case at this level of restaurant, desserts were a bit of a let down in comparison with the savoury courses. A lemon tasting plate starred an excellent lemon meringue pie – lovely crisp pastry, very lemony filling topped with sweet meringue. They should have stopped there! But, also on the plate, a couple of cubes of lemon drizzle cake needed more lemon and a lighter sponge. A lemon was OK, but no better than that. Both the latter detracted from the pie. The other dessert was “rhubarb and custard” – mousse, roasted rhubarb and ice cream. It promised much but it was lacking in any real flavour – no sharp fruitiness from the rhubarb, no sweet richness from custard. All a bit bland and disappointing. It think we’d probably pass on desserts next time we visit. And, one thing’s for sure, there will be a next visit.