Driving through the winding countryside roads on the Isle of Anglesey, you'd be forgiven for sailing straight past one of the best eateries in the UK.
The location of The Marram Grass cafe is unusual to say the least, hidden away on a caravan park in rural Newborough. From the outside you wouldn’t imagine that this little cafe could be so popular.
So popular in fact, people are regularly turned away because the cafe is full. We visited last weekend and watched in disbelief at how many people arrived desperate for a table. One poor chap even tried his luck three times and was told on each occasion that they were fully booked all weekend.
Marram Grass is owned by Liverpool brothers Liam and Ellis Barrie, whose parents bought the White Lodge Caravan Park on which the cafe is situated. Liam is front of house while Ellis is chef. It’s set in an old potting shed with a corrugated iron roof. Chickens and hens wander freely outside, keeping watch over the cafe’s carpark.
When the brothers first took over the cafe in 2011, it was a greasy spoon serving all-day breakfasts with just four tables. In a previous life if was even a rabbit breeding shed. The cafe has since developed and has become something of a gourmet caravan park cafe with over 40 covers. The brothers aim was simply to create a relaxed place where the menu would be based on quality, provenance and seasonality. They’ve certainly achieved this, and have earned themselves a place in the prestigious Good Food Guide.
The interior is charming and quirky. There is a lovely little wood-burning stove in the corner, hanging baskets and mismatched glass bottles dotted around on window-ledges and a humorous sign above the bar, “no bloody swearing.”
Yet the real star of the show is undoubtedly the food, which is absolutely beautiful. The menu is confident and changes to reflect the season. The brothers source the ingredients from as many local producers as possible, including mussels from the Menai Strait and Anglesey Sea Salt from the nearby Halen Môn. It makes the most of Anglesey’s fantastic local produce and the great relationship that the Marram Grass has with local farmers and suppliers.
Soup of the day with homemade bread (£4.75)
Menai mussels with white wine, shallots and leek (£13.50)
Anglesey Goats cheese roasted fennel with cumin, fennel bahji, picked salsify and passion fruit (£7.95)
Maris piper potato terrine with stuffed leek, broccoli variations and Hafod crisps (£15.95)
Traditional fish and chips served with mushy garden peas and tartar sauce (Half £9.50/Full £14.50 - this was only half!)
The desserts were our favourite and went down an absolute treat. The panna cota was one of the nicest desserts I’ve ever had.
Anglesey Apple panna cota with ice cream (£7.50)
Bitter orange, cardamon and fennel creme brûlée (£6.50)
Rhubarb custard crumble (£6.50)
The cafe was full to the brim while we were there and the phone rang off the hook; people desperate to secure a reservation following a recent wave of publicity from Julia Bradbury’s program, ‘Best Walks With A View’, which featured the cafe as well as a recent article in the Guardian.
The atmosphere inside was cheerful and buzzing, despite the changeable Welsh weather outside, everyone seemed happy to be in the safety and comfort of the little Marram Grass shed.
Our waiter, Ally, was a real character, very friendly and passionate about the food he was serving.
After our meal, we got chatting to the brothers aunty and uncle outside who were visiting for the day from Liverpool. Even they had difficulty booking in. The Barrie brothers might be charming chaps but they also know good business!
I love how passionate and enthusiastic Liam and Ellis are. Their personality has trickled through into every detail; the menu, the decor and the service. Despite their success they seem grounded and remain committed to the caravan park, undeterred by a recent flooding which caused them to close the cafe for a period to refurbish. They have recently set up Gardd Rhosyr, a 14 acre agricultural space which is going to be used as a kitchen garden and recreational space where they will grown their own produce and rear their own animals.
Ellis told me that he would love to open up another eatery close-by. Judging by the people who we saw turned away in their droves I’m sure they wouldn’t have any difficulty filling up a second place. I know I’d be first in the queue!
If you do plan to visit, it goes without saying that you should book in advance. I’d also coincide the visit with a walk on the nearby Newborough Beach to Llanddwyn Island, which is absolutely stunning.
Parking at the cafe is limited so make sure you arrive in plenty of time and be prepared to park on the road. Unless you’re in a caravan, in which case, pitch up and make yourself at home.
Breakfast (09:30 - 11:00) : Saturday & Sunday
Lunch (12:00 - 14:30) & Evening (18:00 - 21:00): Thursday - Sunday