Saturday, 14 May 2022

Y Polyn, Carmarthenshire restaurant review

Some restaurants more than others know what it takes to deliver great hospitality. 

They’re the kind of places which achieve substance over style, where the flavours are big and the portions fill you up nicely, where there’s no pandering to the latest gimmicks and fads, and where the atmosphere is relaxed but the service is slick.

Y Polyn, which is located in between Carmarthen and Llandeilo, is very much one of these kinds of places. Owned by husband and wife team Sue and Mark Manson, it’s been a Welsh institution for almost twenty years.

Since our last visit in 2012, the place has had a bit of rejig with the addition of an upstairs dining room. But, the venue has lost none of its charm with its mishmash of wooden furniture and walls adorned with vintage prints of curious cutlery.

With a set menu offering three courses for £55, it’s fair to say that I’d have gladly ordered each and every dish on offer from a starter of tartiflette and main of crispy belly pork to a side dish of beef dripping chips and dessert of baked lemon cheesecake.

Included in the set menu price is sparkling or still water as well as two types of exemplary homemade bread; a super soft rosemary and sea salt loaf and another with a dark caramelised crust and hefty chew.

A bowl of beautifully made tagliatelle thrummed with crab, chilli and sweet peas whilst a good dusting of toasted breadcrumbs added addictive crunch.

Rust coloured fish soup, served in a steaming cauldron, delivered bags of intensity and compelling notes of aniseed and throat-tickling heat. The classic accompaniments of croutons, gruyere and pokey rouille completed the magic potion.

Mains took the heartiness up another belt notch.

Gloriously tender and pink Creedy Carver duck breast was bathed in a deeply meaty sauce and served alongside a cast iron pan filled with a duck shepherds pie made with slow cooked parts of the bird. Bringing balance to the richness was crisp lightly pickled cabbage and a sweet and tangy spiced plum sauce.

A meaty and flaky fillet of crisp-skinned skrei cod was bobbed in a dish of creamy and fragrant fennel and orange velouté that was punctuated by the zing and crunch of pickled fennel. A little bit of filth came in the form of a golden crumbed smoked haddock risotto cake which had more than a shade of kedgeree about it.

When you see something described on a menu as legendary, it's a) a must order and b) comes with a serious weight of expectation. Fortunately, Y Polyn's “legendary” dauphinoise potatoes delivered on its promise by the pan-full with the indulgently rich layers of buttery and creamy spuds surrounded by ruggedly golden edges.

Desserts were just as ribsticking as the preceding courses.

The sight of a knickerbocker glory on offer brought out my inner child. Thankfully, this was a very grown-up interpretation with scoops of soft vanilla ice cream layered with chocolate orange sauce, a chocolate crumb with a good coco bitterness, and cleansing orange segments.

A sizeable wedge of pear tart combined thin crisp pastry, a light frangipane (which probably could have taken a bigger hit of almond) and pieces of fruit with a bit of bite. The star of the show was an accompanying scoop of ice cream with a great wallop of stem ginger.

We had a corker of a meal at Y Polyn and it’s a fine example of what great hospitality is all about. I'm not really sure what I waited ten years to go back because it's the kind of place I could visit every week.

The Details:

Address - Y Polyn, Capel Dewi, Carmarthen SA32 7LH
Telephone - 01267 290000


  1. Thanks Ed! Much appreciated just sad I missed you. Mark

    1. Sorry we missed you too. Thanks for a lovely meal!