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Ffynnon Wen (Cardiff)

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      29.08.2012 18:31
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      14 Comments

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      A rather average pub with uninspiring food

      As it was my parents' wedding anniversary a few weeks ago, my husband, sister and I decided to treat them to a meal. Choosing a place to eat proved to be a little difficult as far as my mother and sister were concerned, as my sister is a vegetarian and my mother rarely eats meat. Whilst we have a couple of favourite restaurants, my mother wanted to go somewhere different for their anniversary celebrations. As a result, I recommended the Fnynnon Wen, which is located in Llanishen, Cardiff, as when my husband and I lived in the area some 5 years ago, we ate at the establishment on a few occasions with no complaints and so our choice was made.

      The Ffynnon Wen is a beautiful traditional 17th century farmhouse pub and the building always catches my eye when my husband and I drive into Cardiff. The day of our visit was a dreary Saturday lunchtime when we were enduring torrential rain and as I drove into the spacious car park where a few disabled spaces were located adjacent to the building, my parents' first impressions of the pub and its grounds were good. However, on walking up towards the building, I noticed a considerable amount of paint peeling off the windows and front door, which made the pub appear shabby and its kerb appeal went down in my estimation. I felt a little embarrassed that I had suggested the pub for my parents' special day as I feared the food and service would mirror the appearance of the building. On arrival, we had to wait a matter of seconds for a member of staff to approach us and take us to our table, which is something I don't like, as I prefer to choose my own table as opposed to the staff choosing one for me. However, we were seated in a good position, which was well away from the bar and our drinks orders were taken. Whilst the table was free of any sticky residue from cleaning products, I didn't like the fact that the cutlery was laid out, as I presumed it had been placed there the night before, so we all gave it a quick wipe with the paper serviettes.

      The pub was exactly as I had remembered it from my previous visits many years ago with its gorgeous low level wooden beams, which were entwined with thousands of twinkling fair lights and despite it only being the first week of August, they offered a cosy ambient environment. The large pub had an overall rustic appearance with its good choice of pictures, dark wooden tables and chairs with their comfy padded seats. Our table was positioned in front of a window so we were able to witness the awful weather outside. I noticed the large amount of cobwebs on the window cills, which clearly hadn't been cleaned for some considerable time, particularly as they displayed the odd dead fly! On picking up the menu to peruse the choices it dawned on me that the pub belonged to the Marstons chain and my heart sunk, particularly as our experience of one of their other pubs was not particularly good. However, I needed to speak as I find and not allow a bad experience of another of their pubs mar my impressions. The menu offered a large range of starters, sandwiches and main meals with further choices being available on the chalk board, which was located near to the bar area. The pub is clearly child friendly as there are a number of menus specifically designed to cater for smaller tummies.

      Our drinks soon arrived with a different member of staff who asked if we were ready to order. As all main meals are two for one with the lowest priced meal being free, my intention was to request two bills, so that we would place the more expensive meals on the one. We each advised the waitress of our choices and once she had jotted them onto her pad I advised her that we wished to split the bill although I did not inform her of my reason for doing this. She seemed a little abrupt in her tone following my request, which annoyed me and I asked if she had a problem. I think she was a little taken back by my question as her attitude changed to one of a more friendly tone. There were a few other diners in the restaurant and what I liked is that there was sufficient space between the tables as I cannot bear being on top of anyone and being able to hear their conversations. Up to date music gently played in the background, which was pleasant and the overall environment was good.

      I decided to visit the toilets whilst waiting for our food although they were quite a distance as they were located at the other side of the pub where I had to climb a few steps into what I presume to be the bar area, which housed the usual gaming machines. Their location would prove difficult for those people using wheelchairs or suffering with mobility problems and whilst there was a disabled toilet, I'm unsure how it would be reached due to the small set of steps. Whilst the toilets were clean, fresh and well stocked, I felt they were a little stark due to their pale plain walls and I feel they should have used more neutral tones to carry through the cosy ambient environment. Whilst I will test most things for the purpose of reviewing, I draw the line at checking out the male toilets although my husband reassured me that they were also fresh, clean and well stocked. I noticed that baby changing facilities were available, but I did not check these out.

      Our meals arrived within approximately 15 - 20 minutes of ordering with the food being served on hot plates. My sister and mother both ordered vegetarian dishes with my sister's being Wexford tart, jacket potato and mixed salad with my mother choosing lentil cottage pie served with carrots, peas and French beans and both were satisfied that their meals were hot and tasty. My husband and father rarely alternate with their dishes and both chose sirloin steaks, chunky chips, onion rings, peas and half a grilled tomato. Both reported that they enjoyed their meals and that the steaks were cooked as per their requests and there was no fat. As I was not feeling particularly hungry and didn't care for any of the meals on the menus I opted for a jacket potato, cheese and baked beans accompanied by mixed salad leaves. However, I was very disappointed at what I witnessed on my plate, as the salad was solely a plate of iceberg and another variety of lettuce as opposed to the tasty mixed leaves that I grow in pots in my garden. The jacket potato displayed a number of black spikes that were sticking out from various positions and on closer examination I discovered these to be eyes, as clearly the potato had been hanging around the kitchen for quite some time. My husband didn't feel there was anything wrong with this, but I cannot admit to ever eating a jacket potato before where I initially needed to remove all of the burned eyes. Taste wise, my meal was bland, particularly as the cheese was of a mild variety and I cannot admit to enjoying my meal.

      We were sat waiting patiently for our empty plates to be collected and I noticed that the waitress was busy having a private conversation with the diners on the next table and whilst she noticed our plates, she did not have the courtesy to acknowledge us and we had to wait for her to finish her conversation. I must admit that I was biting my tongue for the sake of my parents' anniversary, as I felt she severely lacked customer care. Once she decided to draw herself away from the fellow diners she collected our plates and asked if we'd like to see the desert menus and our choices were brought to us approximately 15 minutes after ordering despite there not being that many diners in the pub. As my mother, sister and husband were full they did not want desserts, but my father and I each opted for the Caramel Crunchy Sundae, particularly as we had tried it in another Marstons restaurant and had enjoyed it. Our desserts duly arrived with long handled spoons and we tucked in. Whilst we thoroughly enjoyed eating our way through the first few layers of cream, ice cream and chocolate sauce, the caramel crunch, which was located at the bottom of the long thin glass, was far too sweet and totally differed from the desserts that we had previous eaten. I normally adore sweet dishes, but both my father and I found it extremely sickly and neither of us could eat any more.

      My mother requested a cup of tea, which is charged at £1.65 and this was promptly brought to her. However, rather than a small jug of fresh milk, she was handed a small packed container of UHT whole milk and she requested that it be changed for semi-skimmed, particularly as she steers clear of whole milk. Unfortunately, the waitress advised that they do not provide semi-skimmed and she declared that she had never previously been asked for semi-skimmed, which we found a little odd to say the least. As a result of having to drink whole milk, my mother didn't really enjoy her cup of tea.

      Our bills were brought to us within minutes of asking for them and as requested, the two highest price meals were displayed on the one bill. We all opted for soft drinks, such as lemonade and coke, which were priced up at £1.75 for half a glass. My jacket potato was charged at £4.60, which was way over priced for what I received, my sister's Wexford tart was selected from the specials board and cost in the region of £8 - £9, the steaks were £12.75, the lentil cottage pie £8.75 and the Crunchy Carmel Sundaes £3.85 each.

      Whilst my mother and sister said they would return, unfortunately, my father, husband and I wouldn't due to the reasons discussed above. I dithered over awarding stars to this establishment, as I feel they are worthy only of 2½, but as I cannot give half stars, they receive 3 from me.

      Fynnon Wen
      Thornill Road
      Llanishen
      Cardiff
      CF14 9UA

      Telephone - 02920 522535
      Email ffynnonwen.cardiff@marstons.co.uk

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