Situated on a small road leading to the Pier, the Boatyard Inn of Bangor, North Wales offers guests just as warm a welcome today as it probably did for many sea workers, sailors and fishermen years ago. Almost sitting upon the water’s edge, the pub embodies the character and atmosphere of a traditional sea-side tavern.
Once visited by Prince William and Kate who live in neighbouring Anglesey, The Boatyard Inn won several awards whilst under the ownership and management of Hayley Meek. Last year, the pub was named as Marston’s regional pub of the year for its food and it came runner-up in the newcomer of the year category in 2010. The pub is also listed in the CAMRA (Real Ale) guide as pub of the season for Gwynedd and Anglesey.
As I enter The Boatyard Inn I see a cosy little room decked out with seaside memorabilia to my right. Continuing left through the bar to the restaurant the nautical theme continues, the wall adorned with historical boating artefacts like a captain’s wheel, a rubber ring and a set of seaman’s knots.
The minute we enter we are greeted by a smiling, young waiter who has reserved us a spot next to the window, enabling us to enjoy the breath-taking views over Bangor harbour and the Menai Strait. As he goes to the bar to get us some drinks, we take the opportunity to have a good look around the restaurant. Rustic wooden floorboards are teamed with vibrant red walls with tables and chairs to match, adding to the warm, homely feel of the restaurant.
Each table is presented beautifully with a red flower, folded serviette and tea-light candle.
Behind us, a paned glass window separates this section of the restaurant from the pub. Peeking through, we can see sketches and paintings of vessels from years gone by, scattered randomly all over the wall.
Turning our attention to the evening menu it’s no surprise that seafood and fish play a big part, with fresh red mullet, sea bass and mussels on offer alongside several daily specials. However, those of you who are not keen on fish will be pleased to hear that the menu also features popular options like lamb cutlets and rib-eye steak. The daytime menu has even more variety – pub classics, salads, grilled dishes, sharing platters, seafood favourites, vegetarian options and children’s meals. A carvery is also served on Sundays.
For starters I order the black pudding wrapped in bacon, baked and set over a fresh ratatouille (£6.95). The combination of rich, smooth black pudding and crispy bacon is delicious, whilst the saucy ratatouille removes any risk of the dish being too dry. I don’t know why I’ve never thought to try this myself before, but I’m definitely going to give it a go at home.
My guest opts for the crispy whitebait with side salad (£6.95). Whitebait is not to everyone’s liking, but these ones are pleasantly crispy and they taste very fresh. The inclusion of red onion and colourful peppers makes the side salad more exciting than the lone lettuce leaves served up by some of the other pub restaurants I’ve been to.
For my main course I am keen to try out the fish, being as The Boatyard Inn appear to pride themselves upon it. I decide to try sea bass for the very first time, flash-fried with fresh prawns, lime and dill on a bed of creamy mash (£11.95). Elegantly presented and drizzled with red pesto, the fillet is light and tender with a delicate taste, so fresh that it could even have been caught the same day. Judging from this experience, I think I’ll be eating a lot more sea bass from now on.
My vegetarian guest chooses the mushroom and chestnut stroganoff with a timbale of rice and seasonal vegatables (£9.95). Although the daytime menu lists several veggie favourites, it’s a bit disappointing that the evening menu only features one option. Luckily though, this dish is superb in every way and impossible to fault. Flavoursome, creamy and moreish – I try some myself and even as a firm fan of meat, I almost begin to wish I’d ordered this!
Our main courses are both served with a bowl of seasonal vegetables, steamed to preserve their texture and flavour.
We are really impressed with our meal and so we decide to stay for dessert, the waiter tempting us with his recommendation of the Baileys crème brulee served with vanilla ice cream (£4.95). I decide to follow his
advice, and I don’t regret it. The crunchy, caramelised surface is a gorgeous golden brown. Breaking it with my spoon, I discover a smooth sauce which tastes of egg and vanilla, flavoured with a hint of Baileys liqueur. The toffee-coloured drizzle is delicious, but I can’t figure out what it is. A quick chat with pub owner Hayley reveals it to be mango sauce – now you wouldn’t expect that to go with Baileys crème brulee, but it certainly does.
My guest succumbs to one of the more traditional dessert dishes in the form of the homemade fruit crumble, served with fresh dairy custard (£4.95). This contains real pieces of fresh fruit, helping to justify polishing off the moat of sinfully-delicious custard which surrounds it.
The Boatyard Inn should have a firm place on the to-do list of anyone who pays a visit to Bangor. With its seaside location and nautical theme, the traditional pub offers a very warm welcome. The staff develop a great rapport with customers and have an extensive knowledge of the restaurant menu, whilst the food is all of a high quality and presentation is key. As far as pub grub goes The Boatyard Inn is a little more costly than other venues, but every aspect of the dining experience goes above and beyond what you may usually expect, or receive. You get what you pay for at The Boatyard Inn. If you’re planning a longer stay in Bangor, The Boatyard Inn also provides a B&B service with three guestrooms available and a promise of “a hearty breakfast”!
(01248) 308 038