“ Village Road / Northop Hall / Mold / CH7 6HS / Tel: 01244 831717 / Fax: 01244 821667. „
As a member of a dining club I received my annual magazine advising me of new partner restaurants and the discount available, one of which was the Plas Ifan which was just a stone's throw from where I live. I remembered my partner taking me there on a previous date a few years ago and enjoying a really nice meal and at a reasonable price and we decided that we would go out for a celebratory meal for our anniversary. *~*Location*~* The Plas Ifan is popular with its local residents in the quiet sleepy village known as Northop Hall which is in the County of Flintshire in North Wales. It is in a very convenient location for stopping off the A55 expressway, directions to the Hotel and restaurant can be found on their website. Overall it is in a peaceful location and located just off a country lane. *~*Exterior*~* First impressions lead me to believe that this was still a very tired and run down property, the car park hadn't changed and was a simple sheet of hardcour tipped infront of the property to create a car park. The building was large and looked more like a very large country house and the only clear sign to tell you that it was indeed a restaurant and hotel was the sign hanging over the entrance to the car park, blink and you miss it. There are no clear signs to show you where the entrance is, we knew from a previous visit but even as we entered we were still unsure as to where we were to go from there, the reception for the hotel is a tiny little hideaway with no-one manning the desk for information. *~*Interior*~* The hotel and restaurant appeared to be undergoing some renovation work and there was still some signs of redecoration going on. There were no staff in sight however and we were left aimlessly wandering the corridors looking for the bar, when eventually a waitress appeared looking all flustered and harassed, I managed to catch her eye and smile and advise that we had a table booked, she continued to walk past shouting over her shoulder to head for the bar which was at the end of the corridor and the bar was on the right, so one we went. We arrived at the bar and had a quick glance around, there were some signs of redecoration however not all that many! The tables and chairs remained the same from our previous visit and the bar also. I do have to say that I felt disappointed as the menu looked so modern and different that I believed that the hotel would have really had a make over and it just looked so flat. The bar was small but well stocked with a selection of wines, spirits and soft drinks there was a young lady serving behind the bar we informed her that we had a reservation for 8pm and she went off to find our reservation. I looked around the bar and could see a couple sat at the bar and a couple sat to the left of us. The restaurant which is adjoined to the bar contained a table with 4 adults and 2 tables of 2 people all of which had already placed their order. The young lady returned to say that there was no reservation, we looked at the scrappy piece of a4 with the nights bookings on and confirmed our name half way down the list, she quickly scribbled our names off and proceeded to serve us with some drinks. It was at this point that I thought we were in for a very relaxing evening as the service so far had been so slow, the bar tender seemed to be lacking in customer service and hospitality when she said You can sit at your table if you want, its over there pointing to the table in the middle of the restaurant Number 8. Excellent I thought real hospitality she couldnt even move from behind the ever so busy bar!! It was at this point that we should have drank up and ran as this place appeared to be somewhere that Gordon Ramsay would love to get his hands on as the staff were so appalling when it came to looking after the customers. 15 minutes after we had sat at our table we were still waiting to have our order taken, it had become apparent that there was one order taker looking after 3 different restaurants and our order was no priority and the other 2 members of staff that kept wandering around aimlessly didnt even acknowledge that we were sat there waiting to place our order and what was worse we were absolutely famished!! *~*The Meal*~* We were seated in the conservatory which was adjoined to the bar as previously mentioned. This had been updated but only slightly when we looked back at previous pictures. The conservatory looked out onto the beautiful gardens that were ever so peaceful, there was only one thing spoiling it and that was the fresh air that was masked with cigarette smoke. As all pubs in Wales are non-smoking this is the only location that customers were permitted to smoke, however it wafted straight in to the eating area and was so strong that one of the customers actually got up and shut the door leading out to the garden. Finally the waiter appeared to take our order which was over in a matter of minutes and we requested two large glasses of wine at least something would be going into our stomach that night!! The menu seemed to be very strange kind of a bit pick and mix nothing really matched and there were some changes compared to the menu we had looked at online beforehand. I opted for the Thai Fishcakes and when they arrived they were piping hot and served with a very generous chilli sauce dip and side salad and it was delicious. My other half opted for the Chicken Livers Pate which he also said was delicious and he certainly didnt leave anything on the plate. The starters came fairly quickly however I do have to say at this point that I have eaten at busier restaurants and certainly been served a lot quicker and I had started to forget about the unorganized service before hand as the two waitresses looked more at home with something to do, bearing in mind we were the only other couple that had joined the previous customers so they were still not overly busy. The main courses arrived and I was really pleased with mine, I had opted for the Pineapple and Prawn Curry which is not normally something that I would choose but I did want to have something different and this certainly was it was delicious. The sauce was not very thick so I mixed it into the rice to give it a better consistency and really enjoyed it and even better it was served with a poppadum to dip into the excess sauce on the plate. Mark had a rump steak served with chips and he did complain to me that the chips were very greasy and tasted as if the oil needed to be changed as they had a bit of an aftertaste but he did say the steak was cooked well and he enjoyed it. Both of us received a side salad with our meals which were served in completely different table ware, our meals were served on traditional pub plates which were slightly out of date compared with the modern square dishes provided with the salads in, such small things could easily be rectified. The meals were both served hot and we did enjoy them and we were even persuaded to take a look at the desert menu but we were disappointed by the lack of choice and decided to call it a night and go home and finish off with my Asda Egg custard that was in the top of the fridge! *~*Overall Opinion*~* I do have to say that I was extremely disappointed with the service here, some people appeared to be running around like a headless chicken and others needs a bit of a boot to get going, maybe moving the staff around into different roles would improve things a great deal such as having the older staff work behind the bar and take the orders and the younger people running around clearing up and completing drink orders for the tables as the way it is it still seems awfully disorganized and would certainly put me off returning again. Our total bill came to £29.00 after our discount with our dining card and this included a £12.30 bar bill so this shows real exceptional value here, but was it worth the wait? I am sorry no there is so much competition and so many better restaurants out there that offer more variety and better service in a much more modern and relaxing atmosphere. I would say this is better suited to the villagers who just want something simple to eat and a refreshing drink, the Thai food seemed out of place and there was not enough simple dishes to choose from when it came to fussy eaters like myself. Unfortunately the combination of poor service and outdated decor led me to the very low rating!