On a back Street in Llandudno lies an old abandoned brewery that now houses pop up restaurants. These restaurants are typically open for 2-3 months, and then change their food style. Most recently incarnated as Nose to Tail. A premise that sounds shocking to some but really delivers on flavour. The pop up utilises the great produce from the local area, supporting small suppliers and local businesses.
For £30 a head dinner includes:
Bar snacks – Thyme and sea salt crisps, and pork scratchings
A sharing platter – 6 or 7 items varying night to night
Main meal – a choice of 4 dishes, along with roasted celeriac and kale
Dessert – 2 sweet choices or a cheese plate
Tea or coffee with salted caramel truffles.
So I visited this lovely little pop up establishment twice. Once with my friend Kirsty and once with my boyfriend Nick.
The setting is lovely. An old stone brewery, with subdued lighting. I’m not sure how often the menu changes but I went twice, a week apart and there were different things to chose from.
When you arrive you’re almost immediately presented with a bowl of thyme and sea salt crisps, and a bowl of pork scratchings. The crisps were good, although they were just crisps after all. The highlight for me were the pork scratchings. Salty, with just the right amount of crunch. I could have eaten a plate full. The drinks list is simple. 3 whites, 3 reds, soft drinks, some beers, and a handful of spirits. I chose a glass of the Angel tears red, it was delicious. Slightly sweet and not too dry.
The starter is in the form of a sharing platter. Presented on a slate board, it was a very generous portion. My first experience of this hearty platter consisted of: Pork terrine, minted lamb spring rills, spices, Anglesey shore crab soup, crispy whiting, Cauliflower fritter with a goats cheese cream, Gem lettuce with peas & bacon, Grape chutney, and Brioche rolls.
The stand out for me was the little gem lettuce leaf filled with a delicious creamy mix of peas and smoked bacon. All the individual parts were delicious, nothing was disappointing. The only thing I found was that the mint in the lamb spring rolls was a little strong for my liking, it made it taste almost like a mojito. The soup was warm, thick, and comforting. The cauliflower fritter made the perfect carrier for the butter rich goats cheese, and the pork terrine was perfectly seasoned.
The second time I visited the pork terrine had been switched out for a duck one, the grape chutney was now a port chutney, and the minted lamb spring rolls were now spiced. Again all these items were tasty, and I was happy because the ‘mojito’ lamb was now gone.
Time for the main. The choices were: Pork – braised cheek, black pudding gnocchi, mushroom & sorrel puree, trotter sauce. Chicken – roast breast, confit leg fritter, soft boiled egg, spring onion & miso broth. Cod – roast fillet, crispy cheek, puy lentils, spinach, lemon & herb sauce. Pasta – jerusalem artichoke cream, broccoli, parsley & walnut pesto. I chose the chicken.
Each main course is served with roasted celeriac and buttered kale. The broth was delicious, rich and intense with the umami flavour that miso imparts, lightened with the zing of those fresh spring onions. The chicken skin was crispy, but I found that it was a touch salty if eaten only with the broth, but the celeriac balanced out the seasoning beautifully. The egg was soft, and the yolk melted into the broth adding a thickness. The confit leg fritter adding great texture to the dish it was peppery a moreish.
The second time I visited I had a slow cooked pork belly dish. It was incredibly rich,and the kale really helped cut through that. Nick had slow cooked beef cheeks, they just fell apart and melted in your mouth.
Now for pudding. 3 choices this time. Welsh cheese – digestive biscuits, port jam. Trifle – rhubarb jelly, Madeira sponge, custard, honey & oat granola. Chocolate – Chocolate brownie with an orange sauce and orange segments.
This time we shared everything. The cheese was nice, although I think it could have benefited from being left out of the fridge to come to room temperature before serving, some of the flavour was lost due to the temperature. Sadly I’ve forgotten the name of the cheese. It was a washed rind, semi soft cows milk cheese. Tangy, rich, and pungent. Personally I wouldn’t have paired the port jam with this cheese, it was a little tart and I think the cheese would have benefited from something a little sweeter.
The chocolate brownie was outstanding. Gooey and fudgey, and heady with the chocolate aroma. The orange sauce was amazing, and cut through the heaviness of the brownie. I wanted to lick the plate clean. The same puddings were ordered on the second visit as well.
Normally no one talks about the tea or coffee at the end of the meal. Nose to tail deliver from beginning to end. I had the tea, served in individual cast iron tea pots. I later found out that the delicious concoction I was served was a blend of Ceylon and Darjeeling. It added the delicious heady notes that Ceylon is known for, to the already delicious traditional flavour of the Darjeeling. Alongside this, the salted caramel truffles were outstanding. Soft and unxious, and salted to perfection. There perfect end to a delicious meal. The staff were attentive, and the service was charming (if a little disjointed at times, but that’s to be expected in a small pop up establishment). And for £30 a head, you really can’t go wrong. At the end of the meal you’re presented with a green envelope containing a card that will give you money off from several of their suppliers. Leave you comments on the chalk board in bathroom for the staff to read later rather than TripAdvisor.
Sadly Nose to Tail has closed, although the next few pop ups being hosted there sound amazing. Breakfast club, Art on a plate, and Street food. I’d recommend you try this amazing hidden gem next time they open. I’ll leave their website and facebook here so you can keep up to date on their upcoming ventures.