The Castle Inn can be found nestled between the High Street and railway station in Criccieth on North Wales’ Llŷn Peninsula. It might look like a pub, but The Castle Inn is a family-run restaurant offering delicious home-cooked meals. A quick glance at their website told me vegan and gluten-free options were available, so it seemed like the perfect place to try on our first evening of a weekend away in Criccieth.
The Castle Inn was already fairly busy when we arrived around 6pm on Friday evening, but we were greeted as we walked in and offered a choice of tables for two. Our drinks order was taken and we were left to decide what to eat.
Drinks-wise, there was a nice selection of wines, ales and soft drinks. It was a refreshing change to see a couple of gluten-free ales on the drinks menu, as well as a couple of alcohol-free ales. Mum decided on the Heartsease Farm Sparkling Elderflower Presse whilst I had a Frobishers Apple & Raspberry Fusion.
As someone who is on a dairy-free and gluten-free diet, I have to say that The Castle Inn menu is amazing and other restaurants should take note! Rather than just one or two items being marked up as dairy-free or gluten-free, or even just a note at the bottom of the menu saying to ask about allergens (I don’t want to ask, I want to look at a menu like everyone else!), The Castle Inn’s menu clearly states which items are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan or vegetarian. There wasn’t just one or two suitable items either, the vast majority of the menu could be made gluten-free and/or dairy-free. I was in my element! I had so much choice!
I was very tempted by the minted welsh lamb steak (I love lamb!), but in the end, I decided on the fresh jumbo fillet of haddock in a crisp, golden batter served with chips and mushy peas, after all, fish & chips is a must when at the seaside. Mum chose the falafel salad bowl (baked falafel with salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, beetroot and red onion with crispy diced garlic and herb potatoes, guacamole and vegan slaw).
Upon seeing the couple being served on the next table, my eyes were like saucers… the fish was huge! It’s a good thing I was hungry! Everyone’s food looked so delicious and I couldn’t wait for ours to arrive so I could tuck in. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long for our own food.
I tucked into my meal straight away and it was delicious. It’s such a joy to be able to enjoy tasty “free-from” food without any worries. The batter was crispy and light, and the haddock was perfect – tasty and not one bone to be found. The chips were lovely and even the mushy peas were faultless. I did, however, struggle to eat it all. Some of the batter and mushy peas were left on the plate, but I just couldn’t fit in anymore! Mum faired better with her salad, but the pair of us were far too stuffed to order dessert (a shame, as they sounded wonderful!).
The staff were friendly and attentive, and the service was quick and efficient. It was also reassuring to see “gluten-free” and “dairy allergy” noted alongside my meal on the receipt. Before we left, we were asked to put a pin in their map to show where we’ve visited from (we were the first from the Mid Wales border), which I thought was a nice touch. We were wished well and told they hoped to see us again soon… and they would for they couldn’t keep us away!
The following day we were back. This time we both chose the southern fried chicken goujons (strips of southern fried chicken breast with a garlic mayonnaise dip served with chips, salad and homemade coleslaw) – gluten-free & dairy-free for me. The chicken was tender and the batter had just the right about of spice in it. Another fantastic meal!
We’re back home in Mid Wales now, but I can’t wait to go back up to Criccieth and try yet another dish from The Castle Inn’s menu.
Edit (2020): Sadly, The Castle Inn closed in 2019, but the owners set-up The Eating Gorilla (a vegan cafe & restaurant) at Penrhyndeudreath, so I’m looking forward to visiting next time I’m up that way.