“ 17-18 Corn Hill,Porthmadog,LL49 9AT. „
During a recent trip to Porthmadog my sister and I took her two grandsons for a meal in the Tafarn Pencei Café as we were rather too early to book into our room upon arrival. The Tafarn Pencei is located on the quayside in Porthmadog and the seating at the front of the pub provides stunning views of the water as well as a beautiful grassy area where the children were perfectly safe and able to run around while awaiting their food.
Inside there is plenty of seating; tall bar stools, small tables for two and larger family dining tables all jostle for space in this large pub. The seating I found to be incredibly comfortable, we chose a table which had two normal pub chairs and was pushed against the long bench seating which runs around the whole of the interior of the pub. As my sister's grandchildren are quite small we decided it would be easier for them to sit on the chairs while us oldies were able to lounge on the well padded bench after enjoying our meal.
The food menu is wide, although I was a little surprised that they seem only to deal in normal 'pub grub'. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, the prime location and attractive interior of Tafarn Pencei had originally led me to believe that the food menu would be a little more experimental and interesting than it actually is. All four of us had gammon and chips which was served with a fried egg and limp salad garnish, normally we wouldn't have bought the boys' a meal each as they are so young but after the long drive through England and Wales they were starving despite the copious amounts of sweets they had eaten on the journey.
I was a little annoyed when twenty minutes after ordering our food still hadn't arrived, and even more irritated when I went to the bar to ask where it was only to be informed that our order had been mislaid and we would have to wait even longer while our food was cooked. While the lady behind the bar was polite, there was no apology for this error and my concerns about the children needing their dinner was waved off with a smile and one of those 'can't do anything about it' expressions which was less than helpful.
When our food eventually arrived, almost an hour after ordering, I must say I wasn't as impressed as I should have been. The gammon steak itself was large and beautifully cooked, moist and tender with a wonderful melt in the mouth consistency that is unfortunately lacking in most establishments where this meat is served. What disappointed me was the quality of the rest of the meal, it's almost like the staff have tried their absolute hardest to get the gammon right and then gotten bored and threw some lukewarm greasy chips on the plate and slopping a blackened rubbery fried egg on top. The chips were absolutely awful, pub chips are usually so moreish and tasty but these tasted like they had been deep fried in week old oil and literally oozed grease while chewing.
Other menu options included steaks of various types and sizes, scampi, fish, pies and anything else really that you would expect to find in a pub. It's not one of those chips with everything establishments as you have the option to swap and change your chips for a jacket potato or normal boiled spuds. I wish I'd seen this before ordering our awful chips! There is a lovely selection of desserts available in Tafarn Pencei, I chose a slice of strawberry cheesecake which was absolutely divine and left me feeling completely satisfied after my meal. The boys' ate ice cream (where they put it all I don't know!) and the elder one commented that it was "the very best ice cream in the whole world" - which is a resounding thumbs up from the sound of it!
Drinks wise I was impressed with the choices available. The bar stocks a wide variety of lagers, ales and ciders as well as offering a rather more extensive wine list than I had been expecting. My sister and I had a full bodied Merlot which was very reasonably priced per glass and rounded our dinner off nicely. The boys' drank a J20 each which the lady behind the bar automatically put into plastic glasses as she was rightly concerned about having such young children wandering around with glass bottles.
The price of our meal sadly didn't reflect the poor quality of the majority of the food on our plates and I paid almost £40 for these four meals, four desserts and four drinks. At the time of ordering this seemed reasonable enough but after the disappointing food I felt that to charge this sort of money was rather over the top and for this reason I would not return for a meal at any point.
The atmosphere is nice in Tafarn Pencei, during our long weekend we visiting for this meal at around 2pm and found the pub to contain mostly tourists but also a good amount of friendly locals who were happy to give us advice on things to do in the local area. The following evening we found ourselves near Tafarn Pencei and the atmosphere inside was completely different, this was a Saturday evening and the pub was packed with groups of younger people who were obviously popping in for a drink before going off elsewhere. At no point was there any rowdiness or problems despite the fact that several groups looked to be in their cups, in fact I saw the rather burly barman refuse entry to one group of young men who looked as though they had already drunk their body weight in lager which is definitely a good thing in my opinion as children are welcomed into Tafarn Pencei and they do not want to see this kind of behaviour.