Good things are said to come to those who wait, which was certainly true when we did a taste test at the historic Black Boy Inn, an atmospheric Grade II listed building located within Caernarfon’s medieval town walls.
One of North Wales’ oldest surviving inns and one of the few remaining independently-owned free houses in the UK, this attractive whitewashed hostelry is thought to date back to 1522 and has been a travellers retreat for centuries.
With its richly panelled rooms, low beamed ceilings, thick stone walls and roaring open log fires, the Black Boy Inn radiates olde worlde charm and character.
Today it is more popular than ever, attracting a mix of locals and visitors from all over the world.
The downside however, is that after 6.30pm on any night of the week you can’t book for dinner, so you just turn up and add your name to the waiting list. This is fine if you have plenty of time… and patience.
‘The restaurant was buzzing’
We went there on a Wednesday, usually a quiet night, only to find that by 7pm the place was already extremely busy.
A member of staff assured us that we were third in line for a table in the dining room and we would only be waiting about 30 minutes.
Rather reluctantly my husband Hugh and I decided to stay, settling ourselves with a glass of wine and a pint of lager shandy respectively at the only vacant table in a corner of the lively lounge bar.
We were given a cunning little digital device with a light that literally goes into a spin when your table becomes vacant.
Half an hour later it went berserk and we crossed the narrow hallway to the dining room where a table beside the window was waiting.
Traditional in style, with lots of solid dark wood furniture, brasses and ornaments, the 45-seater restaurant was buzzing, with diners of all ages obviously enjoying the food and ambience.
Scenes of Caernarfon were painted on the back wall of the deep open fireplace – all in all this was a delightful room and absolutely in keeping with the age and style of the inn.
‘An enviable reputation for providing quality food’
Drinks at the Black Boy are first class – a constantly changing selection of cask and keg beers from some of the best local and international independent breweries as well as affordable wines, spirits, cocktails, plus over 100 different malt and blended whiskeys.
The Black Boy has an enviable reputation for providing quality food and last year won an award for the best pub food in Wales.
Diners can choose to eat light or hearty meals from the à la carte menu and the chalkboard of seasonal specials.
The portions are generous, beautifully presented and realistically priced.
Written in both Welsh and English, the extensive menu is best described as modern British and it certainly has something for everyone – from classic pub grub, grills, fish, vegetarian options to international favourites such as pasta, curry and stirfrys.
Wherever possible local fresh ingredients are used and everything is freshly cooked to order.
After much deliberation, Hugh decided to start his gastronomic experience with field mushrooms and honey roasted vegetables topped with creamy goat’s cheese.