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The Buckley Pines Hotel

The Buckley Pines Hotel
Dinas Mawddwy
Powys
SY20 9LP
Tel: 01650 531261

Dinas Mawddwy stands on the river Dovey (afon Dyfi), in the beautiful Dovey valley, at the southern end of the Snowdonia national park. There can’t be a more beautiful part of the world to relax and ponder over a drink and a good meal.

The Buckley Pines was a sad and forgotten remnant of the past splendour of the railway age. In its heyday it stood at the end of the railway line, opposite the station in Dinas Mawddwy, as a monument to Sir Edmund Buckley who was the principle landowner and driving force of the local slate economy in the 19th century.

 For as long as I can remember the Buckley Pines has been a rather run down and dilapidated hotel and restaurant. It did basic bar meals and had a drab and uninspired restaurant, presumably patronized by the captive hotel guests, who these days come by car, not train, for the walking, fishing and sight seeing.

Interestingly it is claimed to be the second oldest concrete building in the world. Some original architects drawings of the hotel, prepared for Sir Edmund Buckley, are on display on the wall of the bar.

Now it has been rejuvenated into a pleasant bar, bistro and restaurant.

The small public bar still caters for locals as well as tourists and guests. The separate bistro area is reserved for diners only and there is a full a la carte restaurant.

We chose the bistro early on a Friday evening. We were the first customers that evening but were soon joined by another table or two. There is a standard bistro menu to choose from as well as a selection of special starters, main courses and desserts on the blackboard. The food is typical pub bistro fayre, including the now standard British dishes of chicken tikka massala and rogan josh with rice and obligatory nan bread. As might be expected, the style is rather conservative, and it features local beef and lamb which is excellent to see in a rural farming area.

Interestingly a Thai evening was being advertised for the following Fri.

We ordered a round of drinks from the bar and contemplated the menu and the surroundings. The décor is modern and imaginative without arriving flatpacked and laminated. This is not a plastic formula pub at all. I needed to borrow a phrase from my wife, Linda, to describe this and she suggested ‘splendidly kitsch’, which is meant in a most complimentary way.

From the menu Linda chose sirloin steak, cooked rare, (8-10ozs) which was from local Welsh beef, I chose cod fillet in batter with chips, mushy peas and side salad with tartare sauce. For the kids we ordered ‘whale fish’ and a battered chicken portion with chips and beans.

We were very pleased with the meals. Linda, who can be a very difficult and discerning customer, was ecstatic at the quality of the steak. She described it as one of the best steaks she had ever eaten. It was cooked perfectly. The chef obviously understood how to cook a rare steak. My cod fillet was a good size, obviously not in a homemade batter, but most acceptable. The side portions of chips and side salad were also fine.

The children’s meals were cooked well and good portions, which kept them happy for a while.

Linda and kids then decided they would have a dessert. She chose the chocolate fudge cake with fresh cream from the blackboard, the kids had ice cream and a sorbet from the menu. Once again, it was pleasant to see good helpings of fresh cream and not the aerosol can stuff that a lot of formula food places inflict on us.

Verdict: Now a little oasis in the culinary desert of mid-Wales.

Phil

Eatanddrink Ratings

The Buckley Pines Hotel

Total Score: 62%
Quality: Average
Service: Good
Facilities: Average
Ambience: Average
Value: Average

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