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Glan yr Afon/Riverside, Pennal

Glan yr Afon / Riverside; Pennal, Machynlleth, Powys SY20 9DW; Tel: 01654 791285

The village of Pennal, near Machynlleth is most famous for being home to Owain Glyndŵr – the last native Prince of Wales. The ‘Pennal letter’ of 1406, that he wrote as a ‘call to arms’ draws visitors from afar. But for locals and those ‘in the know’ in Mid-Wales, the star attraction is the food at Glan yr Afon. Following autumn’s Cardiff Half Marathon, it was the perfect dining destination, as I drove home for a well-earned Sunday evening feast. Located at the heart of the village, on the banks of the river Dyfi, Glan yr Afon is a cosy, family-friendly retreat. It is run by local food heroes, Glyn Davies and Corina Owen-Davies, formerly of Portmeirion and the Penhelig Arms. Since they arrived in 2010, they’ve brought their high standards and a keen eye for detail to this charming 16th Century inn.

A celebratory ‘clink’ of Prosecco kicked off our Sunday evening supper, and whilst perusing the autumn menu I admired the restaurant’s simple, timeless Welsh style. Some prominent names are represented on the walls, from Kyffin Williams to Pennal artist Ian Phillips, adding colour to the natural wood and slate-centred decor. The array of starters whet the appetite, with the emphasis on classic ‘comfort food’. My husband’s pan-fried garlic mushrooms delivered on all counts, whilst my chicken liver pate – with fruity home-made chutney – hit the spot. The mains, again, were a hearty bunch, offering fine twists on gastro pub fare. But being a Welsh Hill Sheep farmer, there was only one choice for my husband, as he went straight for the Welsh Lamb steak – served medium-rare. Tender and sweet, and just the right shade of pink, it was a masterful affair; nicely balanced with red cabbage and potato dauphinoise, along with a rich, aromatic red wine sauce. Also craving meat, following my half-marathon feat, I plumped for the succulent 10oz steak, with home-made chips, and a classic peppercorn sauce. As one would expect, the meat was local – from Aberdyfi – which adds to Glan yr Afon’s strong sense of place. Believe it or not, there was still some room for dessert, and once more the kitchen did not disappoint. A crisp crème brulee was full of flavour and flair, but most triumphant was my husband’s sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream. Later, whilst savouring a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon at the bar, we got chatting to one of the locals, Hugh Jones. Recently retired as the Queen’s chef for over 30 years, he was full of praise for Glyn and Corina’s ‘winning formula’. Hearty dishes of the highest order and a ‘royal’ seal of approval; a warm welcome awaits all to ‘The Riverside’, including ghosts of princes past.

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