AFTER years of experience of writing theatre reviews I know the importance of a pre-show meal.

Too often I’ve rushed to the venue after work with no time to eat and paid the consequences as that gulped down glass of wine gets its revenge after the interval and I inevitably nod off.

Thankfully there were no such dramas when I arrived at Theatr Clwyd recently in plenty of time for the wife and I and our two children to sample the menu before we watched The Nutcracker.

A spacious and bright bistro, the cafe offers a decent range of lighter meals as well as pastas, soup, sandwiches, salads, cakes and hot and cold drinks. There’s wine and beer too.

Ingredients are locally sourced and meals are freshly prepared on site by chef Richard and his team and prices range from £5.95 for the lighter main courses.

In a seasonal mood, I picked the turkey burger while the wife selected a tempting dish of mushroom and ricotta ravioli with sage butter. From the kids menu we ordered two fish and chips and with plenty of paper and pens to keep them occupied we settled down to enjoy our surroundings and sip a large glass of merlot.

The one woman serving was full of apologies and politeness as she explained that someone had phoned in sick but despite having to clear the tables, take the orders and serve the food, she was doing a fine job and needn’t have worried.

Our food came in plenty of time and was well worth the wait. My burger came in a pleasingly tall stack with cranberry sauce and a large helping of stuffing complementing the large turkey patty and toasted brioche buns. Large chunky chips and some tasty ‘slaw completed a filling and satisfying meal that was delicious and gave me yet another idea about what to do with those leftovers on Boxing Day.

The wife described her dish as ‘delicious’ with the well-seasoned sage butter a particular hit while the kids’ helpings were perfect and resulted in two spotless plates.

A mouthwatering selection of cakes enticed us to stay for a coffee and we were all finished in time for our performance at 2pm. And I didn’t fall asleep once.

How it fared:   Ambience 8/10 Service 7/10 Food quality 8/10 Children welcome - yes Disabled access - yes   The bill   Turkey burger – £9.95 Raviloi – £6.95 2 x kid’s fish and chips – £8.00 1 x large glass of red wine – £5.50 1 x Appletise – £2.00 2 x milk – £2.00 Total: £34.40