Plate With A View: Bodysgallen Hall, North Wales

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The Independent Travel

THE PLATE

This country house hotel's three-course set menu offers an impressive selection. For the first course alone there's a list ranging from truffled cauliflower soup to a carpaccio of Welsh black beef with pear and mustard relish, or a ballotine of foie gras with honey-glazed duck and parsnips - the flavours are rich, well-balanced and satisfying yet the portions, thankfully, are not over-large. Welsh black beef features again among the main courses, this time as medallions served with wild mushroom and bacon ravioli. The fillet of sea bass, accompanied by scallops, pasta and lobster sauce is extremely good.

Traditionalists can enjoy braised shoulder of local lamb, pan-fried guinea fowl or Balmoral venison. Vegetarians had better like goats' cheese: along with the black beef, it seems to be a favoured ingredient here. Puddings tend toward the indulgent and fruity - pear and caramel delice, hot chocolate and cherry pudding, peppered pineapple tart - but you'd be missing a trick if you didn't try the excellent selection of cheeses, served in generous portions with bread or oatcakes.

THE VIEW

Standing in 200 acres of parkland and woods, Bodysgallen is pretty gorgeous whichever direction you're looking in. But for enhanced pleasure, try to book the window table in the restaurant: in daylight, you can admire the dramatic panorama of the Snowdonia mountain range and the medieval architecture of Conwy castle. After dark, the castle is beautifully illuminated. You can take afternoon tea on the lovely garden terrace on a fine day, or in the cosy and peaceful wood-panelled lounge beside a log fire. This being a large estate, you can get in a good afternoon's walk through the surrounding woods, or simply explore the exquisitely landscaped gardens close to the house.

THE BILL

Three courses cost £38 per person inclusive of service (which is very friendly and quietly efficient). An encyclopaedic wine list offers excellent bottles from all over the world, with plenty of decent choices nudging the £20 mark. Watch out for the extras: a cafetière of coffee will add £4 to your bill, though it does come with delicious petits fours; and that appetising little bowl of nuts and rice crackers automatically placed on your table in the bar (where most guests seem to have to wait for a lengthy spell before being seated in the dining room) isn't complimentary, as you'll find out afterwards.

Bodysgallen Hall, Llandudno, North Wales (01492 584466; www.bodysgallen.com)

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