Coastal Dining in North East Wales

This post was commissioned by North East Wales Tourism, who also covered my expenses on this trip.

Earlier this year, you may remember reading about my experience of judging in the north east Wales Year of the Sea Food Challenge,  set up by North East Wales Tourism to promote the range of fresh fish and seafood produce available in the region.

Following from this, I’ve been invited back to north east Wales to explore the coastal dining scene in collaboration with North East Wales Tourism as part of its Routes to the Sea project to further reinforce Visit Wales’ ‘Year of the Sea’ theme for Wales in 2018, aiming to promote our stunning seascapes and encourage visitors to explore the Welsh coastlines.

Talacre, Flintshire

The first stop on our journey takes us to the seaside village of Talacre near Holywell, Flintshire, home to an award-winning sandy beach, golden dunes and the iconic Point of Ayr lighthouse.

Surrounded by holiday parks and caravan sites, amusement arcades, a bowling alley, cash and carry, fish and chip shop and a handful of pubs, I’m suddenly 10-years-old again, wandering around Trecco Bay holiday park in the coastal town of Porthcawl, South Wales with my family.

Lola and Suggs

After parking near the beach for a mere 20p for two hours, we walk along the public footpath until we reach Lola and Suggs, a little beach cafe on Station Road. Everything about this place makes you feel like you’re sitting in a little beach shack beside the seashore; from the whirling waves painted onto the ceiling above us, to the rustic wooden flooring and the beach-inspired wall art. Named after the owner’s dogs, the cafe is also dog-friendly, making it the perfect place to stop off for a coffee or snack while walking the dog on Talacre Beach.

The seaside-inspired decor inside Lola and Suggs Beach Cafe

Offering breakfast, sandwiches, daily specials, ice cream sundaes and baked treats, the menu is in line with what you’d expect from a typical beach cafe, with fairly reasonable prices. A slice of hot toasted bara brith (£2.50), a rich, velvety cappuccino (£2.20) and friendly service make for a warm Welsh welcome.

Toasted Welsh bara brith and cappucino at Lola and Suggs Beach Cafe in Talacre, north east Wales

During the summer months, Lola and Suggs is open from 9am until 4.30pm, but when the season dies down it tends to shut by around 2pm.

Talacre Beach and Lighthouse

Did you know Wales was the first country ever to construct a designated footpath along its entire coastline? Talacre Beach forms part of the 870-mile-long Wales Coastal Path built from Chepstow in the south, to Queensferry in the north, making it a popular spot for hikers and ramblers. Having refuelled our energy supplies at Lola and Suggs, we go for a walk along the miles of golden sand and dunes.

As we approach, we can see the 18-metre tall Point of Ayr lighthouse keeping watch over the beach.

Point of Ayr Lighthouse, Talacre Beach in north east Wales

Built in 1776, this Grade-II listed building is the oldest lighthouse in Wales, said to be haunted by the ghost of an old lighthouse keeper. Although it was decommissioned in 1884, the historic lighthouse draws hundreds of visitors to Talacre every year, and you may recognise it from a 2011 national TV ad campaign for Dulux.

Point of Ayr Lighthouse on Talacre Beach, north east Wales

Talacre Beach is also a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and home to an RSPB nature reserve featuring the rare species of natterjack toads. Furthermore, with its proximity to the Dee Estuary, the area is popular among bird watchers with migrating Terns, Gannets, Skuas, Leach’s Petrel, Kittiwakes among the birds reported to have been spotted.

The Point

After our stroll along the beach, we head back to Station Road for lunch at The Point, a pub and restaurant next door to Lola and Suggs, run by the same owners.

Quite possibly the quirkiest pub I’ve ever stepped foot in, The Point is filled with furniture and items carefully chosen from vintage reclamation yards in Manchester by owners, Lyndon and Lisa Mulhearn. The bar itself is fashioned from brightly painted wooden doors, which apparently took Lyndon months to find because he wanted to ensure they were completely in line with his vision for the venue.

The bar at The Point pub in Talacre, north east Wales
Meanwhile, seating includes church pews and plane seats.

Church pews at The Point, Talacre

Plane seating at The Point, Talacre
Other highlights include a vintage cinema-style popcorn machine, retro arcade games, a booth made from corrugated iron and car doors affectionately titled ‘Alfie’s Shack’, 70s band memorabilia and a set of doors sourced from an old vestry.

Arcade game at The Point, Talacre

Alfie's Shack at The Point

The Smiths wall mural at The Point, Talacre

Vestry doors in The Point, Talacre. north east Wales
It’s often said that you can judge a place by the toilets and when one of the bar men beckoned me into the men’s, I was intrigued to say the least. Never in my life have I been so willing to step inside a men’s pub toilet! Once inside, it emerges that the urinals have been made using old beer kegs. Apparently, Lisa had more of an input when it came to the ladies toilets so they’re slightly more glamorous.

When it comes to drinking, The Point claims to have the biggest gin collection in north Wales and the bar serves a range of beers, ales and ciders on draught and by the bottle, besides the usual spirits and wines.

The food menu features all of the usual pub grub suspects like pie, steak and bangers n’ mash, with a handful of gourmet dishes like sticky pork noodles with aniseed carrots and crispy potato ribbons, and sea and river shellfish chowder with a Spanish twist. I’m pleasantly surprised at the number of veggie dishes available and with options like Malaysian sweet potato, spinach and butternut squash curry, and Cheshire cheese, potato and onion pie, I’m tempted by a few of the meat-free options myself.

However, all that sea air has got me craving some traditional fish and chips and being as we’re at the seaside, I figure it’d be silly not to indulge. A fillet of tender, boneless cod is encased in a crunchy, beer-infused batter, teamed with thick-cut, triple-cooked chips, slightly dried-out mushy peas and tangy homemade tartare sauce (£10.95).

Fish and chips at The Point pub in Talacre,North East Wales

Opposite me at the table, my guest chows down on the Butcher burger; a meaty, 6oz beef patty served with crispy bacon, beer-braised sticky onion rings, melted cheddar cheese and dill pickle in a brioche bun, accompanied by a fresh salad, homemade slaw and perfectly crispy-coated, soft-centred French fries (£9.95).

The Butcher's beefburger at The Point, Talacre

While a range of scrumptious starters and desserts are available at The Point, we’re fit to burst after polishing off our mains and with dinner to fit in later on as well, we skip the additional courses.

I don’t often get to spend time with my mum and it was lovely to visit The Point together. I could tell by the look of sheer wonder on her face that she had been taken over by a wave of nostalgia and as she gazed around the pub with a big smile on her face, it was as though she was reliving aspects of her youth. As we left, she told me, “That’s the best pub I’ve ever been to in my life”, and she’s already planning a trip to Talacre with her friends.

On weekdays, The Point serves lunch from 12pm until 2.30pm, and dinner from 5pm until 8pm, while the kitchen is open continuously from 12pm until 8.30pm on weekends. On-site car parking is available at a cost of £2.

Getting to Talacre

To reach Talacre by car, follow the main A548 coast road and take the Talacre exit on the roundabout, follow Station Road over the bridge and continue to Talacre Village. Alternatively, if you’re travelling by public transport, you can either catch a train to the nearest railway station, Prestatyn and catch a taxi for the short car journey from there, or check bus routes on the Traveline Cymru website.

Rhyl, Denbighshire

No journey along the north east Wales coastline would be complete without a trip to the seaside town of Rhyl, Denbighshire, just a 20-minute drive from Talacre. In its heyday, Rhyl was a popular beach destination attracting thousands of tourists and day-trippers from all over the UK Although it has decreased in popularity over the past 10-20 years, the Promenade is well-kept and still brimming with things to see and do including the landmark light beacon, the Sky Tower, Rhyl Harbour and Pont y Ddraig Harbour Bridge, Pavilion Theatre, Rhyl SeaQuarium and Rhyl Drift Park, complete with water fountains, a playground and a mini golf course.

Rhyl Harbour-Lit Up

Credit: North East Wales Tourism

Other attractions in Rhyl include the Offa’s Dyke Path, Rhyl Miniature Railway and Rhyl Marsh Tracks.

Rhyl Skytower

Credit: North East Wales Tourism

Rhyl Marsh Tracks

Credit: North East Wales Tourism

Rhyl Beach is around two miles long, stretching from the Clwyd Estuary to Splash Point. The East stretch has won a Seaside Award – a sign of good water quality and health and safety facilities. The Irish Sea was a little choppy during our visit thanks to the back-end of Storm Ali, but I think you’ll agree the beach looks stunning nonetheless.

Rhyl Beach
During the time of our visit, work was underway to build a £15 million water and adventure park on Rhyl Promenade, bringing an extra 250,000 visitors to the town every year.

Where eating out is concerned, Rhyl is home to a highly acclaimed new restaurant in the form of 1891 Restaurant and Bar, based at Rhyl Pavilion Theatre.

1891 at Rhyl Pavilion Theatre

Pavilion Theatre Rhyl lit up at night

Located on the first floor of the Pavilion Theatre on Rhyl Waterfront, 1891 Restaurant and Bar offers breathtaking views over the north Wales coast, across to Snowdonia and beyond. Although the awe-inspiring views can only be seen by day, this historical venue is just as beautiful by night, when the front of the Pavilion Theatre is lit up in different colours and the restaurant is transformed into a glamorous dining space complete with twinkling fairy lights.

Pavilion Theatre Rhyl's 1891 Restaurant lit up with fairy iights in the evening

1891 takes its name from the year the first Pavilion was built in the town. Originally, it was based on the Promenade at the end of Rhyl Pier, but it was destroyed by fire in 1901. The second Pavilion was built in 1908 and replaced in 1991 with the current Rhyl Pavilion Theatre.

Run by Denbighshire Council, the restaurant sources quality ingredients within a 30-mile radius of the restaurant or, wherever possible, from elsewhere in north Wales. Described as a ‘bistro-style’, the menu features creative dishes created using fresh produce, with a focus on pretty plating. An Instagrammer’s dream.

Botanical Gardens - wild mushrooms, pea shoots, edible petals and herbs on truffle and garlic toast

The metaphorical ‘Botanical Gardens’ starter is a delicate arrangement of wild mushrooms cooked in olive oil served with pea shoots, edible petals and herbs on truffle and garlic toast, while the green vegetable and lentil soup has a pleasant pea flavour and comfortingly thick texture, paired with freshly baked bread and salted butter.

Green veg and lentil soup at 1891 Restaurant Rhyl

For our main course, neither of us could resist the sound of the sesame-seeded sea bream, served on a mound of crunchy stir-fried veg in a lemon grass, prawn and coconut milk sauce, with two generously sized deep-fried crispy rice balls on the side. Bream is my favourite fish because I just love the meaty, flaky texture and this tasted moist and lean, without a single bone in sight. The sauce is fragrant and the prawns so juicy, they may as well have been caught fresh from the sea right there and then. The rice balls are a bit of a let down, though – similar to the arancini I know and love, but the coating is thick and chewy, and the filling somewhat bland.

Bream dish at 1891
I rounded off my meal with another dish that looked so pretty, I almost couldn’t bear to bring myself to eat it. A freshly baked pavlova was topped with summer berries and mango chunks, topped with a dollop of vanilla whipped cream – I’m salivating just thinking about how delectable that was – and finished with a sweet berry sauce, a plump raspberry and a sprig of fresh mint.

Pavlova at 1891

Feeling full but not wanting to admit defeat, my mum ordered the trio of ice cream. The ice-cream sundae placed in front of her was certainly a lot bigger than she was expecting, but she happily wolfed it all down nonetheless, her face lighting up when she realised there was fresh cream in the glass.

Trio of ice cream at 1891
Priced at one course for £13.95, two courses for £18.45 and three courses for £22.95 (with a £4 supplement for steak), the evening set menu at 1891 offers exceptional value for money.

Why not combine your visit to 1891 with a trip to the theatre? Today, Rhyl Pavilion Theatre seats over 1,000 and offers a broad range of visiting productions including the likes of Mrs Brown’s Boys, Chicago, Little Mix and John Bishop.

Getting to Rhyl

As Rhyl is a relatively big town, it has reasonably good transport links by both bus and train, benefiting from its own railway station. The town is also easily accessible by car via the A55 and A525.

Other top spots for coastal dining in north east Wales

This post touches on just two of the best spots for coastal dining in north east Wales, but there are a number of restaurants and cafes worth checking out along this section of coastline.

My other top picks include the Eagle and Child Inn in Gwaenysgor, Prestatyn and although an unsuspecting choice, The Cafe at Abakhan Fabrics in Hobby and Home, Mostyn seems to be a real hit with the local community.

Where to stay

Based on Rhyl’s East Parade, just a short drive away from Talacre and less than a five-minute walk to 1891, The Pier Hotel was ideally located for our stay. The nautical-inspired decor was in keeping with the coastal theme of our visit, with the headboard on our double bed handmade using old oars from the boathouse at Rhyl Harbour and flanked by two original wooden plaques from HMS Rhyl.

Bedroom at The Pier Hotel

Original plaques from HMS Rhyl in The Pier Hotel in Rhyl, north east Wales

The bed itself was covered in a seagull-print blue fleece throw, while the fresh white towels were folded in the shape of ship sails.

Towels and toiletries at The Pier Hotel

The pillows on the bed at Pier Hotel Rhyl

Complimentary toiletries included a beautifully fragranced body oil and shower gel produced by local vegan toiletry brand, Bubble Off and our room had one of the most well-stocked mini bars I’ve ever seen.

MINI BAR

Sitting on the comfy leather armchairs next to the window, we could see out to sea for miles and it was quite relaxing to watch the waves roll in.

Leather armchairs overlooking Rhyl Beach and the Irish Sea

At just £80 for the night including a light continental breakfast with tea or coffee, our room was very affordable and we would happily stay there again in future.

2019 – Year of Discovery

It’s been an honour to work with North East Wales Tourism on their Routes to the Sea project to promote the Year of the Sea for Wales in 2018. In the last few days, Visit Wales have announced the theme for 2019 as the Year of Discovery and I’m already looking forward to finding out how North East Wales Tourism will interpret this in their tourism strategy for next year – not to mention exploring new parts of Wales myself in 2019!

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you check out my post on the fine dining scene in Denbighshire, north east Wales!

The best things to do and top restaurants to eat at during a coastal stay in north east Wales, focusing on Talacre and Rhyl. #northeastwales #NEWfood #AltogetherBrilliant #BrilliantFood #Ad

The best things to do and top restaurants to eat at during a coastal stay in north east Wales, focusing on Talacre and Rhyl. #northeastwales #NEWfood #AltogetherBrilliant #BrilliantFood #Ad

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This post was commissioned by North East Wales Tourism, who also covered my expenses on this trip.

36 Comments

  1. October 12, 2018 / 2:20 pm

    Wow what an amazing guide to Dining in North East Wales. I haven’t been to Wales in a long time but it looks well worth the visit.

    • October 12, 2018 / 4:20 pm

      I haven’t been to these areas until now but they were lovely and I was really impressed by the range of food and drink available.

  2. October 12, 2018 / 7:30 pm

    Wales is just such a beautiful country – these sound like some really delicious places to go and sample the food, it seems like there is a real mix for everyone.

    • October 12, 2018 / 10:28 pm

      That’s very true; I do love to travel and see the world, but I don’t have to go far to see natural beauty as Wales is absolutely gorgeous!

  3. October 12, 2018 / 10:56 pm

    Looks like you had a fab time in wonderful Wales. Talacre Beach lighthouse looks fab xx

    • October 13, 2018 / 1:20 am

      Thanks Melanie, I really enjoyed myself and it was lovely to get to spend some time with my mum.

  4. Arunima Dey
    October 13, 2018 / 6:18 am

    OMG! I love Lola and Suggs. Glad you mentioned it! I am happy to have my favourite choice validated.

    • October 15, 2018 / 2:27 pm

      Aww what a small world! I’m so happy to hear that you approve of Lola and Suggs:)

  5. October 13, 2018 / 9:46 am

    What a beautiful place to visit! So much fabulous food too – looks like my kind of place!

    • October 15, 2018 / 2:29 pm

      You can say that again! The North Wales food and drink scene is truly flourishing.

  6. October 13, 2018 / 8:14 pm

    I used to live in North East Wales, and visited Talacre a couple of times. I would love to try the burger at The Point!!

    • October 15, 2018 / 2:29 pm

      I really enjoyed our time in Talacre and I’d love to go back next summer for a longer stay.

  7. October 14, 2018 / 12:10 am

    We were in North Wales for a wedding last weekend and the kids absolutely adored it and have been asking me to arrange a trip back, so this post will come in handy.

    • October 15, 2018 / 2:30 pm

      Aww that’s great to hear, what part did you visit?

  8. leahxl
    October 14, 2018 / 4:26 pm

    My wife and I are always looking for new places to stay in the UK. We have yet to go to Wales so thank you so much for highlighting some great places to go.

    • October 15, 2018 / 2:33 pm

      Pleased to have inspired you! Do let me know how you get on if you decide to visit Wales! 😀

    • October 15, 2018 / 2:30 pm

      I loved the nautical theme, it worked so well.

  9. Lynne Harper
    October 15, 2018 / 9:22 am

    What a fabulous area to eat out in and such a great guide for anybody wanting to visit the area. Loving the lighthouse as well 🙂

    • October 15, 2018 / 2:31 pm

      It is a really beautiful part of Wales and the food and drink scene is even more impressive.

  10. ChelseaMamma
    October 15, 2018 / 10:42 am

    Wales is somewhere I really would love to explore. You have some beautiful places to eat nearby

    • October 15, 2018 / 2:31 pm

      We really do. I’m so lucky to live in Wales.

    • October 15, 2018 / 2:32 pm

      You totally should Sally – I think you would have the best time ever.

  11. October 15, 2018 / 11:40 am

    Lola and Suggs looks perfect! Just my kind of place 🙂

    • October 15, 2018 / 2:32 pm

      I thought it was a really cute little cafe, would love to return next summer!

  12. October 15, 2018 / 5:16 pm

    What a great guide for coastal dining in Wales. I actually recognise a couple places from when I visited as a teenager. It’s great to see they’re still around 🙂

    Louise x

    • October 16, 2018 / 11:44 am

      Aww that’s lovely. I love that nostalgic feeling that comes over me whenever I visit a place I used to go to as a child.

  13. October 15, 2018 / 5:45 pm

    I love the quirkiness of the The Point! And you have to indulge in some fish and chips when you’re by the sea!

    • October 16, 2018 / 11:43 am

      Me too. Some of the things they had in there were fascinating to look at.

  14. October 15, 2018 / 8:45 pm

    Wow. I bet the whole trip was fun. I am sure you enjoyed your day!

    • October 16, 2018 / 11:43 am

      It was really nice – extra lovely because I was able to spend some quality time with my mum!

  15. October 16, 2018 / 10:28 am

    The Point looks so quirky, I love all of the unique features, especially the seating. So different! x

    • October 16, 2018 / 11:39 am

      That’s what I loved about it too. I could quite happily have spent all day looking round there.

  16. October 16, 2018 / 7:39 pm

    It looks like you had a blast! The place you stayed is stunning and the beach looked like a lot of fun.

    • October 17, 2018 / 1:57 pm

      I really loved our hotel. The nautical decor was very cute.

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