Llangoed Hall, Powys

by Catherine Waterfall, 27th November 2017

One of the top 50 restaurants in the world, Llangoed Hall is winning accolades galore

Dated just a few days prior to our arrival, an unmistakable signature leaps out from the visitor’s book lain open on a sleek antique table in the grand hallway. It belongs to none other than Theresa May. But sadly for the Prime Minister, her rather pressing to-do list had prevented her from enjoying much respite here before she was whisked away by helicopter following a lunch meeting with Welsh dignitaries.

No doubt the stressed PM would have benefitted from a few relaxing days in such cosy, comforting surroundings, taking in a hike with husband Philip in the nearby Brecon Beacons, perhaps. Although on second thoughts, her track record on walking holidays in Wales isn't too hot. But at least she got to sample the food at Llangoed Hall.

Dating back to 560AD, it was believed to have been the legendary White Palace, home of the first Welsh parliament. But in more recent years, it was famed for being home to the Laura Ashley dynasty, and their influence remains in the lavish and stylish interior decor to this day.

Yet Llangoed is entering a new era. It’s the food that’s been winning the accolades and hitting the headlines over the past year, thanks in large part to talented head chef Nick Brodie, who’s secured the hotel four AA rosettes and the title of The Sunday Times’ number one restaurant in Wales, 2016. It’s also been voted one of the top 50 restaurants in the world in this year’s Good Food Guide.

Nick’s considerable impact can also be seen in the impressive kitchen gardens, packed full of herbs, vegetables and fruit aplenty from the abundant orchard. Arguably topping that is the purpose-built duck pond and spacious chickens coops playing host to truly happy hens and carefree waterfowl. All told, this fabulous addition to the gardens isn’t just hugely beneficial for the kitchens, it’s a wonderfully calming and idyllic setting for guests to while away a few moments in apt anticipation of superlative dining.

Guests are offered a choice of duck or hen’s eggs at breakfast, while the eggs and many other home-grown ingredients are used in most of the recipes for lunch and dinner. Such an investment in provenance is to be roundly applauded in an age when diners are increasingly eager to know where and how the food on their plate has come to be. It’s a little mystifying, then, as to why the ethical copy book is blotted in no small measure by the appearance of foie gras on the dinner menu.

Despite this strange anomaly, the menu is well thought out and offers plenty of choice. We opt for the duck ragout with cinnamon and potato as well as the egg mimosa, crisp artichoke and cured yolk, delicious both, with the egg mimosa a triumph of innovation. Such beautifully fresh ingredients, bursting with flavour in every mouthful.

The main courses of pork, confit garlic and almond, plus the plaice, miso and coastal herbs are also a fine balance of delicate tastes and textures. Care and thought has clearly given rise to the success story here, and it’s no surprise that Nick is the latest rising star in the culinary world. To cap it all, the dessert of chocolate, banana and macadamia which we both opt for is truly memorable. The sweet mixture in every mouthful of chocolate and banana with crunchy macadamia nuts is worth the drive to the Brecon Beacons alone.

Come the winter months, here at Llangoed you’ll find a cosy homeliness that’s presented without any compromise on the luxury you’d expect of a country hotel of such standing, making it truly a wonderful place to escape to. If she could've done, we're sure Theresa May would've voted to remain.

Welsh Border Life had:

• Crab, buttermilk, garden corn
• Egg mimosa, crisp artichoke, cured yolk
• Duck ragout, cinnamon, potato
• Pork, confit garlic, almond
• Plaice, miso, coastal herbs
• Chocolate, banana, macadamia
• Coffee and petit fours

£75 per person

Llangoed Hall, Llyswen, Brecon, Powys LD3 0YP. Tel: 01874 754525. For more information, visit www.llangoedhall.co.uk 

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