Welsh, Welsh, Welsh

Llywelyn's expands the empire

Service, though, was hit-and-miss. An order of white chili was a no-show, as was a scoop of ice cream that had been requested with the strawberry-cherry cobbler (which was too sweet and had too much filling for its thin crust).

Of course, it's the CWE location that causes most Llywelyn's regulars to wax misty-eyed, even after the restaurant expanded into the antique store next door and the apartment upstairs. Out back there's now a cozy beer garden (if you're in an outdoor-dining mood but would prefer not to dine amid the street traffic at one of the tables on the sidewalk out front). Gone are the large booths and the banquettes, making for a more open space -- or losing its dark, dirty charm, depending on your perspective.

Despite the disappointing rarebit of my first visit, subsequent meals were fine. My friend Nancy swears that for as long as she's frequented this place, she's never ordered anything but the Llywelyn's chicken sandwich. And for good reason: A hoagie roll stuffed with sliced grilled chicken breast covered with pepper cheese sauce and fried onions makes for one addictive combination. Fish and chips is another good choice: two thick pieces of cod coated in a light yeasty batter and served with those delicious thin-sliced chips. The fish invariably arrives with a soggy bottom, but it's from the juices, not from grease. A chicken in cranberry sauce special ($9.95), a recipe ostensibly passed down through the chef's family, proved tasty but would have been better were a roasted half chicken substituted for the single grilled breast. (A side note: Both here and in Webster, a kid's menu is offered.)

Hail Wales: Llywelyn's now has three locations 
(including Webster Groves, pictured) to satisfy your 
ale-and-rarebit cravings.
Jennifer Silverberg
Hail Wales: Llywelyn's now has three locations (including Webster Groves, pictured) to satisfy your ale-and-rarebit cravings.

Location Info

Map

Llywelyn's Pub

17 W. Moody Ave.
Webster Groves, MO 63119

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Webster Groves

Llywelyn's Pub-Central West End

4747 McPherson Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63108

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: St. Louis - Central West End

Details

Welsh rarebit $6.95
Llywelyn's chicken $9.50
Fish & chips $8.95
Shepherd's pie $8.95
Fruit cobbler $4.25

4747 McPherson Avenue, St. Louis, 314-361-3003.

17 West Moody Avenue, Webster Groves, 314-962-1515.

318 Westport Plaza, Maryland Heights, 314-317-9009.
Call individual locations for hours.

At any of Llywelyn's locations, it's worth bellying up to the bar and working your way through the extensive beer list: eighteen brews on tap, including Fullers, Tennents and a host of American microbrews. Plus 22 bottled beers and a brief wine list of four inexpensive whites and reds.

For all its casual charm, Llywelyn's suffers from some irritating problems, some long-standing (unpredictable and sometimes surly or absentminded service), some new (chips arriving cool more often than they do hot; the unpredictable quality of the rarebit). And what's with the all the TV sets? Westport has four and Webster has five, all tuned to competing channels. It interferes with the piped-in music, let alone the conversation. But then you run into a server like Kristen in the West End -- friendly, knowledgeable and attentive -- who makes it all worthwhile.

Llywelyn's is named for Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last independent prince of Wales. Family dysfunction being what it is, Llywelyn's father, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, fell to his death back in the mid-thirteenth century while trying to escape from the Tower of London, having been set up by his half-brother Dafydd, who was then prince of Wales.

Dafydd died childless, leaving Gruffydd's three sons, Owain, Dafydd and Llywelyn, in line to be prince. Llywelyn brushed aside his brothers and got King Henry III of England to recognize him as Prince of Wales, then commenced to piss off Henry's successor, Edward I. In 1282, his brother Dafydd launched an unprovoked attack on Hawarden Castle, then held by the English. Llywelyn had to make a choice: Capitulate to the English or side with his brother and countrymen. He opted for the latter, and died with his boots on (and his head cut off).

Llywelyn's owners might ponder the prince's fate, should they ever consider further expansion.

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