Taste Academy in Rhyl is a cafe and restaurant which is run by a youth charity in conjunction with the local council. They provide training, work experience and qualifications for young people entering the catering trade. I visited with my husband and daughter early on a Friday evening toward the end of August this year.
It's a new looking square building on the seafront. There are two entrances, one to the cafe side and the other to the restaurant area. We went into the cafe first and found it was Tapas night, apparently they do different themes on different evenings, as we weren't in the mood for Tapas we relocated to the restaurant area to have a look at their menu instead.
The decor is outstanding. The cafe side is very bright with lots of primary clashing colours, the restaurant colour scheme is quieter but still bold with lots of textures and striking shapes around. The toilets are in a corridor between the two eating areas, and they looked amazing; huge, nature inspired features snake across the walls. It made me wonder if they train young artists and interior decorators too. Take a corridor full of crazy decor, add in a hefty dose of end of holiday tiredness and one large glass of wine and the result is a feeling of disorientation on the way back to the table, I was relieved to find I had gone through the correct door.
The service on the whole was good. We were served by two young staff members, both of whom seemed a little inexperienced but more than made up for it in helpful attitude, manners and charm. The soundtrack to our evening meal was a medley of eighties ballads, an unusual and not entirely appreciated, (by us), choice, but at least it gave us something to laugh about.
There were a lot of glasses around, I think there were eight glasses on our table, and after we'd ordered a pot of tea, one glass of juice and one of wine which added two more glasses to the table, it would have been helpful to have had the rest cleared away rather than left to clutter up the table. Still, a fairly minor niggle.
My daughter was given an activity bag, which the waitress promised her straight away but then kept forgetting. When it came it was minimal and dated, (do any children know who the Boobahs are these days?), just joking, it was fine - many places don't give anything to children and the waitress, whilst a tad forgetful was very pleasant to my overtired, babbling incoherent child. Presumably they get a few overtired children in there as they are only a short walk away from the 'Children's Village' fun fair. I noticed some highchairs and there was a toddler at one of the other tables.
According to the menu, the food is locally sourced and seasonal. There wasn't a great deal of vegetarian choice amongst the mains although there were a couple of fish dishes. I wasn't that hungry, so chose a starter for my main; the chef's special vegetarian starter that day was Deep Fried Camembert; lovely gooey cheese in breadcrumbs with cranberry sauce attractively presented on a bed of salad leaves and vegetables. It was mighty tasty, fried cheese and me, can't go wrong. My partner went for haddock and chips, served with a selection of vegetables. The fish was freshly cooked and battered and it was a substantial serving which was thoroughly enjoyed. Our daughter had fish fingers and chips which she appeared to find quite palatable. The only dessert we purchased was Welsh ice cream for my daughter, this came with a wafer biscuit and tasted good, although it wasn't anything special. Drinkswise they made a nice pot of tea and the house red was pleasant enough.
Our bill was reasonable at under £25. We were surprised at the lack of customers, no more than two or three tables filled while we were there, but despite this lack of appreciation from the locals/tourists it all looked great, the food was flavourful, the service friendly and there were no complaints from us. Taste Academy gets my recommendation.
Location: the seafront in Rhyl. A short walk from the train station and bus routes. We parked in one of the pay and display car parks along the seafront.
Address: East Parade, Rhyl, LL18 3AF
Phone: 01745 344 442
Opening Times: Tuesday - Saturday: 10am - 10pm, Sunday and Monday: 10am - 5pm.