The Alyn Riverside Country Pub
By EssentialsMAG food critic SALLY ANGLESEA
The Alyn Riverside Country Pub
Station Road, Rossett, Wrexham LL12 0HE
Cost for three course meal, for two people, without drinks: £45 - £55
This month, I returned to a riverside restaurant where I used to steal chips from the kitchen and very loudly shout ‘CHECK ON’ every time an order came through because I thought it made me look ultra professional. I have since tried this at other restaurants and it hasn’t worked out so well for me… perhaps because I haven’t actually been employed there. Or maybe because they have a very limited supply of chips. I guess we’ll never know.
Aside from the colour on the walls and the third painting on the left as you walk in, The Alyn in Rossett hasn’t changed a great deal since I worked there in 2011. It remains unpretentious, inviting and relaxed in both its culinary offerings and interior design. During the colder months, its roaring fireplace is the warming heart of this homely hub and in the Summer, their outdoor area is an absolute go-to for some riverside drinks. Draped in trendy fairy lights and perched on the bank of the River Alyn, this spacious terrace is undoubtedly one of North Wales’s lushest sunshine spots.
Waiters, Lauren, Maisy and Griffin looked after us during our evening, and despite the fact that they had a combined age of approximately 13, all three of them were a total delight – friendly, attentive, professional and totally charming. It’s at this point that I really would like to celebrate these three young waiters because they are a genuine credit to The Alyn. They are passionate about their work and eager to ensure their customers are looked after to the very best of their ability. Cheers to you guys! A non-alcoholic one, of course.
The menu at The Alyn is simple and satisfying. From comforting classics, such as fish pie, lamb shank and bangers and mash, to some slightly more adventurous options, such as seafood cassoulet, Keralan curry and Cajun halloumi sizzler; there really is something to suit every palate.
Having gallivanted around North Wales to do my restaurant reviews with a number of my glorious friends up until now, I thought it was about time I gave my fiancé a chance. So, much to his delight, Russ joined me for this particular dinner date…and he kick-started his three-courser with a classic Chicken Liver Pâté. Now, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – pâté has never and will never excite me. Unless there’s diamonds involved. Or a plethora of black truffle. That being said, despite the fact that The Alyn’s rendition featured neither, I still found myself very impressed and as always, trying my best to obtain more than my fair share. The homemade slab of smooth, iron-rich pâté was robust and rich in flavour, whilst the sweet, slow cooked red onion marmalade proved itself to be a classic and complementary condiment. The crustless triangles of toast were the traditional choice, although we could have done with more of them!
My Smoked Haddock and Spring Onion Fish Cake was served amongst a bed of crunchy, lightly dressed salad, alongside a cheffy smear of lemon mayonnaise. The fishcake itself was crisp and generously portioned, and the flavour was enjoyable – very well seasoned, with bites of delicately smoked fish and a welcome allium-edge of spring onion humming in the background. I would, however, have been happy with a slightly smaller portion if it meant the cake itself had featured a little more fish within its soft potato centre. Some mouthfuls could have easily been mistaken for potato croquettes – and what’s better than a potato croquette? A potato croquette filled with fish, that’s what.
For the main event, Russ decided to make the most of his dining invitation and ordered the crème de le crème of beef cuts: Fillet Steak. As it should be, this hunk of meat was lean and tender, although having been ordered medium/rare, it was cooked more medium/well. This was a shame but what the steak lacked in rosy blushes, it made up for in both flavour and succulence.
‘Succulence’. What a word.
I kept the beef boat afloat and opted for the Teriyaki Beef Sizzler. I remember having to carry these sizzling skillets out of the kitchen when I worked there and fearing for my literal life as they ferociously spat and splattered everywhere like plates of psychopathic snakes. I’d like to say that as a result of this traumatic recollection, I refrained from subjecting our lovely waiters to the same sizzle-spitting fate but alas, I abandoned all empathetic instincts and succumbed to the alluring smell, sound and sight of these multi-sensory wonders. They were always a best-seller and having now tasted one for myself, it’s no surprise that they still are…beautifully soft strips of lean beef and crunchy bites of pepper and onion, coated in sweet, sticky teriyaki sauce all came together to form an Oriental inspired triumph. As an additional highlight, it was served with crispy, golden, fluffy-centred chips - none of which I had to steal. This dish was by far my favourite, although having later found out that all sizzlers are only £10 on Thursdays, I now find myself unable to make any plans on Thursday evenings for the rest of my life.
For dessert, we couldn’t resist opting for the one homemade option on the menu - Sticky Toffee Pudding. Alongside the satisfyingly sweet, buttery sauce and dense, treacly sponge, The Alyn’s recipe also introduced a warm, spiced edge of cinnamon that really worked amongst the other cosy, comforting flavours. Squidgy scatterings of sticky dates were also a welcome addition, and the decision to serve it with honeycomb ice cream took the unadulterated indulgence of this dessert to a whole new level of explicit.
Why am I physically incapable of writing about Sticky Toffee Pudding without making it sound sexual?
Sauciness aside… The Alyn is a homely country pub serving up humble and hearty dishes. With an extensive and award-winning wine list, and an impressive array of real ales too, it’s also the perfect spot for a few weekend/weekday/any day drinks in the beautiful town of Rossett. Whether you’re looking for the perfect post-walk pint of ale pit stop or a hefty portion of some good pub grub served with a smile, this riverside restaurant is sure to please. Granted, The Alyn aren’t going to be attaining a Michelin star any time soon but they’re not trying to – quite simply, their focus is serving comforting food in a lush location at very reasonable prices – and as far as I’m concerned, they’re succeeding.
So take the advice of this chip-stealing ex-waitress and settle yourself into The Alyn with a sizzling skillet and a saucy sticky toffee pud. You won’t regret it…
Oh, and if you’re unemployed with a passion for free chips, you may want to take your CV.
A Rarity: Get yourself down to The Alyn every Monday for 50% off Ribeye and Sirloin steaks, with all the trimmings.
Fish in a flash: Pick up a fresh portion of battered haddock, chunky chips and mushy peas for just £7.95!
Vegan Night: Every Wednesday evening, nab yourself a vegan starter, main and dessert for only £12.
For more foodie fanaticism and photos, follow Sally on Instagram: @gingernutsaboutfood