“ Gaol Street, Pwllheli, Gwynedd LL53 5RG.Tel: 01758 613800 „
The first ever time we visited Pwllheli we really struggled to find a decent place to eat, there were restaurants that you could immediately tell from the exterior were not adapt to serving toddlers or that the customer's inside did not want a squabbling 2 year old ruining their evening. Then you had other places such as chip shops and deli bars but nothing suitable for a toddler + an evening meal. We had walked all the streets of the town centre before stopping at the barn, it was a place we had walked past previously but one that we had assumed wasn't open by the serious lack of customer's.
Upon entering the barn you are greeted with a number of outside tables all sheltered by several large gazebos, near the entrance to the building itself is a small outside bar/serving hatch. When we arrived a waitress came over and gave us some menus and then we shown ourselves to some seats.
We sat outside as it was a reasonably nice day, we were the only people outside but I assumed people were sat inside instead however upon going to the toilet inside I realised we were the only people in the entire place! Inside the building itself is what I can only describe as strange, it looks and feels like a pub except it doesn't have a bar or a place to order food, the only place to do this is outside. There are numerous tables inside, I would say it could fit 50+ people yet it was empty. Access to the toilets was also strange, down a long corridor; the atmosphere of the place was rather spooky. To put it simply, it felt very comfortable to be outside within easy reach of the exit!
After a very non promising start we sat back down and proceeded to order. The menus themselves are ample. There is a wide choice, most food choices being your average pub grub. The children's menus are similar, they are what you would expect to find at a pub with a choice of fish fingers, burgers, chicken nuggets etc., all served with a side portion of chips. Everything about the place echo's pub, apart from the fact that it's not. The choice of beverages backs this up, there is not much of an alcoholic range, mainly your simple pints of beer. They do serve fruit shoots for the children which is a plus point but back to a negative being that the soft drinks such as Pepsi are sold in cans, you are provided with a glass but it's more of the point of having to pour your own drink that leaves me rather dissatisfied.
After ordering, our food arrived within 10 minutes which was helpful with having a toddler on board, my chicken burger and chips was surprisingly very nice, there was a full chicken breast on my burger and the chips were lovely and soft. My partners Curry looked lovely and he did give it high recommendations and my daughter's chicken nuggets and chips came with a side portion of peas and the portions were very generous. The food was definitely starting to make up for the disappointing start and the very eerie atmosphere. For desert my daughter has a special ice cream which came inside a toy cow, I think she preferred the cow but either way she enjoyed it. Me and my partner shared a chocolate muffin covered in chocolate sauce with a mix of chocolate and vanilla ice cream and I have to say it was the best desert I have ever tried. The prices of the food are also very generous, I don't know individual prices but for a full meal + deserts and drinks for the three of us we spent no more that £25.00. This I thought was pretty good.
The menu also has a selection of other foods including, sandwiches, Panini's and other light meals such as those, there is also a carvery every Sunday which I have never been to so I don't know if that ups the atmosphere and the number of customers at all.
Since our first visit we have been back several times, mainly because it is the only place that I feel comfortable taking a toddler and also because despite everything I really do think the food is lovely. The atmosphere hasn't changed since that first visit unfortunately. The last time we went was 2 weeks ago on our last visit to pwllheli, despite there being several people sat outside it was a very cold day so we chose to sit inside for the first time. This action was soon regretted as we were the only people sat inside the entire building, that was awkward if not a little embarrassing! On the plus side however, the food comes so quickly that we can be in and out within 45 minutes avoiding spending much time in the eerie place as possible.
I am going to recommend that people pay it a visit because if more people started going there it could be a very nice place, the staff are all very welcoming and the food is lovely it is just the dreary atmosphere that is a big put off. But if you can look past that it has very nice food at very reasonable prices, it is also a great place for toddlers because you don't have to worry about them spoiling other customers meals with their tantrums ..... because there are none!
Looking for somewhere to eat with a toddler in tow is never an easy thing. Take away the usual suspects (McD's etc) and you're left with restaurants that might frown upon a bit of noise or maybe not offer a child-friendly menu or pubs which may or may not be suitable for children. Conduct that search in a small, unfamiliar, North Wales town and you have a problem.
We almost missed The Barn, hidden up a side street in Pwllheli between the Rail station/bus terminus and what appears to be the main shopping street. Disguised behind a rather unattractive 6 foot wooden fence is an outside seating area with a bar/cafe servery. Going through the doors to the inside you get the distinct feeling that you're going into a pub only there is no bar. It's odd.
Had we not had a hungry toddler with us we would, at this stage, have turned round - there were around 10 tables inside of which only one was occupied - NONE of the outdoor tables were taken. Not a good sign on a bank-holiday weekend.
We were told to take our own menus and pick a table...
Service was perfunctory but food arrived swiftly and was fresh and, for what it was, tasty. Portion sizes were good. Gammon was moist and well-cooked. Lasagne appeared to live up to the claim that it was home-made and the huge plate of pasta served from the children's menu was enough to tempt our little one from his doldrums. The sauce that accompanied it was certainly home made.
Carbonated drinks were served from cans which was less than attractive but possibly better value than soda machines! There was precious little choice of drink though and I'd not recommend this place if you're after a good wine or select beer.
The menu was varied and offered many "pub" style favourites. It certainly wasn't gourmet dining but was certainly acceptable for lunch or a supper.
Toilet facilities were clean and spacious and there were baby changing facilities if required.
Inside is not wheelchair accessible as there are a couple of steps but you could dine outside (and there is gazebo cover).
Piped music provided the atmosphere although it was a radio station that was being played which was slightly odd. If the atmosphere could be improved then this has potential to be highly recommended as a family dining place.
If you want an average bite in a place that will cater for children then you could, I'm sure, do far worse. With a bit of thought this could be a gem in Pwllheli's crown as it has all the foundations for a good establishment - alas, at the moment it's just rather average.