As it turns out, it doesn’t take long for me to get going on my adventures out of my normal living village. Today we went out, with a finding in mind, though without much knowledge of how we might find it. That is to say, we wanted sushi, or rather, I wanted sushi.
The thing about North Wales is that sushi seems to be something few and far between. Search engines want to tell me about similarly named towns in the US or in Australia, and not actually tell me where sushi restaurants are in my some-what neck of the woods. So I do know that there are several places in North Wales Pennsylvania which serve raw and Japanese-style fish, though none in the northern section of Wales, the country.
So we aimed for Chester. It’s a big enough town just on the other side of the England/Wales boarder that was bound to have sushi. I’ve only been to Chester once before, which was sometime last week, and we just happened to go that way just because. We didn’t get very far other than generally wandering around the shopping centers, which means there’s far more for us to explore.
While I drove, my co-pilot searched on my phone for anything that might be near fitting our needs. He found something in Rhyl, which is a Welsh town a bit closer than Chester. The first listing (on my Maps App) was actually for a place called TT Facilities Management, which claimed that it served sushi. Upon further inspection, there was a link to The Front Room, a restaurant boasting of the best carvery in North Wales.
(For those unfamiliar with a Carvery, it’s your basic Sunday roast—some form of roast meat, roast potatoes, vegetables, gravy, stuffing and a Yorkshire pudding. )
A carvery was a little bit far from sushi, so we carried on. However, all the rest of the listings were for Manchester, Liverpool, and so on, which was a slightly further than we were hoping to caddiwomple, so I made the executive decision to go to Rhyl. The decision making process went something along these lines:
Me: What’s Rhyl like?
Co-Pilot: It’s a shithole.
Me: Let’s go.
We had set off a little bit late in the day, and do be honest, a bit worse for ware after a night out last night. We were suffering a little bit, mine from an over-consumption of red wine. As a result, we were finally to the point where we were in desperate need of feeding.
We found free parking and went for a wander.
The problem with most places in North Wales is that there are two time that establishments serve food: Breakfast-3pm and 5/6pm-9pm. This leaves a very annoying break when it is impossible to find a proper meal—which is what I always want. I rarely, if ever, seek out a sandwich. We arrived in Rhyl at 4, leaving us an hour to wander around, shaky from hangover and hunger, looking for something to occupy our attention or our stomachs.
My co-pilot was right, it is a shithole. Though I can’t really say just what it is which gives it such an impression. There are many caravan sites as you come into Rhyl, which aren’t really seen as too much of a negative around here. However, with my American background, all I see are trailer parks with the fancier name of caravan.
Since we got there toward the evening and it is still January, the lighting wasn’t very good either, which gave it the impression of simply being dingy. I suppose I can’t hold that against the town, unless there’s a natural dinginess to air which filters through it.
Although, I will say this: they seemed to be quite delighted by clock towers. I think I saw at least four of them during our time there. I think that I might even have to go back simply so I can see what each clock tower is about.
We wandered everywhere, finding nothing to eat at all until we came across the aforementioned Front Room, which advertised a carvery from 12-8, meaning food right then.
The place was very nice—in a clubby sort of way. The chairs had celebrities on the backs of them, the lights behind the bar and along most of the wall alternated through the rainbow. The music was poppy and up-beat, and the waitstaff all dressed in black.
We had a look at the menu, both agreeing on the carvery. We made up half the customer-base in there at the time. I was tempted to order a cocktail due to the atmosphere, but my liver pleaded with me for a rest, so I was merciful and had a soda water with lemon instead. However, it was not without cost. The poor waitress sliced her thumb open while slicing the lemon, blood painting the countertop crimson. She didn’t let this stop her. She happily tossed the lemon into my drink and handed it over.
I grabbed a straw from the holder and threw it into my drink, leery of the potential hygiene bastardization. We found ourselves a seat in the back room, where it was quieter.
We commented again on how nice the space was, pointing out the neat little isms and details of the bar when I took my first drink, tasting something sweet and hard on my straw. I looked at it, and there was some brown goop that was not chocolate on the end of my straw. I assure you, this was not some quirky thing the bar did to make the utensil more enjoyable. This was something mucky, foreign, and horrifying.
Obviously, a mistake, surely. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, so I continued with my water sans sucking apparatus.
Our food arrived fairly quickly, piled all over itself in a heaping mound on a small plate. Our dinners comprised of pork, beef, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, carrots, broccoli, brussels sprouts, a Yorkshire pudding, and a very small ball—no bigger than a standard bouncy-ball—of stuffing. And, of course, gravy.
We looked at each other, apprehensively about to mow down on North Wales’ best carvery.
Instead of going into painful detail, I’ll give you the broad strokes—the meat was dry and hard, the mash was reconstituted potato flakes, the veg was boiled for so long that it was actually smeared onto my plate, crushed under the weight of the Yorkshire pudding—which was a frozen creation gone rubbery, and the stuffing had remnants of freezer burn in the middle.
Did we eat it all? You bet we did.
The waitress soon came over with comment cards for both of us to fill out, asking about the quality of the food, the waitstaff, and so on. The kitchen, not far away from us, was omitting a strange wailing as we tried to concentrate on our comment cards. We soon realized that it was the chef trying to play the guitar, and moaning along in what we presumed to be the lyrics of whatever song they were trying to master. It was a soulful, haunting noise, which made me question the cleanliness of the strings of their guitar and whether or not they washed their hands after running their fingers along them, pausing to microwave our meal.
My co-pilot’s pen didn’t even work.
I won’t lie. We finished our comments and shimmied away from that establishment as quickly and stealthily as possible. Through the window we watched the waitress near bolt for our table to see what we had to say. I didn’t want to find out what she thought of our review.
Certainly not the best carvery in anywhere except, perhaps, that building.
That was the extent of our venture. We felt full and ready for cheese and Game of Thrones.
As I mentioned before, I don’t think I’m done with Rhyl. I’d like to go back and explore some other odd bits of it, things that should be discovered and written about. I’d like to know more about their clock towers, their caravan sites, and why it’s built up to appear as a resort town, but instead looks as though a hurricane of trash blew through it. That’s harsh, and might not be 100% accurate. Like I said, it was bad lighting.