I used to go to Llywelyn’s a lot back in the early 2000’s, long before Christine and I met. At the time I was a huge fan of frothy pints of Guinness and overflowing baskets of bar food, often enjoyed in massive quantities with my other beer drinking buddies. Then at one point I decided to change my diet and stopped drinking beer and avoided chicken wings and potato skins like the plague. I became a health nut for a while, abstaining from anything alcoholic or fried, eventually transitioning into a cocktail snob who would only drink beer or ale if it was at least 15 proof. Then my wife and I met and we began our transition into foodies.
So, my only memories of Llywelyn’s were of my beer-soaked days of bachelorhood and I never gave thought of going to an Irish pub unless I had a comedy show to perform at. Despite seeing Llywelyn’s while driving around to find a place to eat, we never even gave it any consideration as a place we’d enjoy. Finally we decided to give it a try at the Webster Groves location and we were quite surprised by what they had to offer.
We’re huge mussels fans. If they are on your menu we are going to order the them and eat them immediately, so we were very happy to see them at Llywelyn’s. These mussels were sizable and came with an amazing sauce that is made with garlic, butter, and Jameson. Our only complaints about this dish is that the mussels were a little dry and we could have used more of that wonderful sauce for dipping the bread into, which was very tasty as well. Still, I would recommend this dish to any other mussel lovers out there.
A good salad is something else I generally do not think of when an Irish pub is mentioned. We really loved this salad. It’s nothing terribly fancy, no arugula, beets or goat cheese, but it had fresh, crispy ingredients and the basil balsamic dressing was wonderful.
The real winner of our visit was their White Chili with chicken. It was hearty, full of rich flavors, lots of gooey cheese, huge chunks of juicy chicken, and just the right amount of heat. Perfect wintertime food and not so heavy it’ll weigh you down all day. They say it has won awards and we can see why. Order a bowl of this when you visit for sure.
I was a huge fan of this item which they refer to as “The” Famous Steak & Cheese. The steak in it was not bad, could have been a little more rare (though I admit I forgot to ask to get it rare), but what really stole the show was the bread and cheese sauce. The bread was soft and soaked up the wonderful cheese sauce well, which was creamy and had a nice spicy flavor. The fried onions on top helped the flavor, but maybe made the sandwich a little too heavy. We definitely loved the sweet potato waffle fries that came with it.
And how could we go to an Irish pub without ordering some classic Fish & Chips? Christine had actually never had fish & chips before and I am so glad that the version at Llywelyn’s was the first she got to try. It is the best fish & chips I have ever had. I remember ordering it way back in my bachelor days and not liking it so much, maybe because my tastes were not so finely tuned at that point, but whatever they are doing now I hope they keep it up. The cod filets were so flavorful and delightfully flaky and the breading perfectly complimented the flavor and had just the right amount of crunchiness. Perfectly cooked and a great pleasure to eat, plus the tarter sauce was some of the best I’ve had as well.
One dish we had to try was their Pub Curry. For those who have never tried an Irish pub curry, it is a lot sweeter and less spicier than it’s British counterpart. We were expecting something a bit more spicy, which is not to say we did not enjoy the dish, but it was not quite what we expected. Do not let that stop you from ordering it though, especially if you do not like things that are overly spiced. It still has plenty of complex flavors like a good curry should, especially the peas and the well seasoned chicken.
One thing we regret is that we did not come here in the evening or the weekend to try out their line of cocktails. Perhaps we will add those to this review on a later visit. Overall we were impressed by the sheer variety of Llywelyn’s menu and we liked everything we ordered. It’s all very reasonably priced and there was plenty of seating in their Webster Groves location.
Like many other places we’ve profiled, Llywelyn’s is not fine dining, but it is a great place with some really good food and it is a St. Louis institution loved by many. I’m so glad I decided to pay them a visit for the first time in many years. We will be back again!
- Pros: Some of the best pub fare in St. Louis. The White Chili and Fish & Chips are Spectacular!
- Cons: It’s not fine dining, but it is great pub fare.
- Charlie’s Favorites: White Chili, Fish & Chips, Irish Mussels
- Christine’s Favorites: White Chili, Fish & Chips, Llywelyn’s House Salad