Wales. I suppose we should have guessed

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Rolling hills, valleys and sheep

A last minute getaway to Wales started with a gentle drive across the Midlands, out to where the road signs are in English and Welsh and ended with a trip along winding roads, across beautiful hills and past more sheep and lambs than I've ever seen. We'd settled on staying near the coast so we could get to the sea and the Snowdonia National Park for some walking in nature. 

One shouldn't forget to look up dining spots even before a drop-of-the-hat trip and so I booked a table at Bistro Bermo as soon as we'd booked accommodation. 

After an afternoon walking in some of the most beautifully wild country south of Hadrian's Wall you fancy something filling to recharge the batteries and if its good quality, well prepared and tastes divine you'd feel pretty please I'm sure.

We were pretty pleased.

Bistro Bermo is an unassuming establishment and very small. Don't be fooled. I don't know what the other restaurants in Barmouth are like but if they're like this there are some very spoilt Welshmen there. Service was excellent and friendly and it was a warm and intimate evening that started with a respectable pre-starter of fruited bread, olives and vinegar in olive oil, which I've always liked.


Z: Peppered goats cheese with mango sorbet
A: Duck pate with damson chutney

Its fair to say the options sounded good anyway, but you know that feeling when what looks like a good thing turns out to be better than good? That's what we got. The warm goats cheese was a fairly light cheesy goo (as it should be) with a delicious picante crispy crust. Having a cold mango sorbet as a counterpoint was marvelous and Z enjoyed it that much I now the task of attempting a replication at home. There's no higher praise than that. The pate was rich and smooth and perfectly juxtaposed with a delightfully tart damson chutney. I just wished the bread had been a little more adventurous; something seeded perhaps.

I'm quibbling. The starter made us eager for the mains and we were not disappointed.


A: Supreme of cod with king prawns, mussels and a lobster sauce, and smashed garlic potatoes.
B: Fillet of Bream with cockles in a cream sauce and new potatoes.

Oh where to start?! The cod was so tender it was fluffy. The cod, mussels and sauce combination was just so; tender and sweet, which may seem an odd description for seafood but trust me when I say it was all a delicate wonder. The real star here the prawns though, and it was a great sadness to have so few. I stated in my mini-review of Rivera in Venice that the scampi was "was so, so good every scampi dish I have from now on is bound to be a disappointment."

I take my hat off to the chef at Bistro Bermo - this was no disappointment. Z tried one, on my insistence, and I asked what it reminded her of. "Venice" she said, with a large smile.

There was, in truth, too much cod and potatoes for me, as nice as it all was. I still finished it all though :)

Z's bream was, naturally, very different being a much more "fishy" meat with a more powerful flavour. Beautifully prepared and delicious and perfectly complemented by the cockle sauce (which is so much nicer to the taste buds than the eyes) I was almost jealous that I hadn't chosen it. With two excellent courses we just had to try the desserts.


A: Sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream
Z: Mille feuille with fresh fruit and cream

Z is the dessert eater, not I, and be both agreed that the toffee pudding and butterscotch sauce was marvelous. The pudding was a slice from what seemed like a genuine homemade toffee pudding loaf and I could have had double. The trick to it was despite its description it wasn't too sweet. A lesser establishment would have made it sickly. I'd love another one tonight but alas we're back home.

The only disappointment of the evening was the mille feuille. The pastry was nice enough, the cream and fresh fruit all fine, fresh and tasty. But it had no crème pâtissière. One shouldn't call a thing a mille feuille if it has no crème pâtissière. Well perhaps it's not that bad as they are made without it sometimes, but Z loves traditional mille feuille and was a little crestfallen at this lack.

This small blip was just that though, a blip. It's a shame that Bistro Bermo is so far away as I can't say when we'll visit again. Its that kind of place that would draw me to it if I were to stay nearby again, simply for the fact that I cannot fathom how anywhere else close could hope to be anything but a disappointment. My biggest regret was that we didn't have enough cash on us to leave a decent tip - so we left all the cash we had. If the staff happen to read this - we're sorry, it was no reflection on you; far from it! Anywhere that does seafood that well (and those prawns!) with such simply inventive and scrumptious starters deserves a second, and third, visit. If I'm passing, lay me a place.

Adam Morley

Eater, taster, trier, explorer.


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