Fine Dining at Ynyshir Hall
You may remember that Anna treated me to a fine dining experience at Ynyshir Hall for my birthday last year. It was 11 courses of Michelin starred food by renowned chef Gareth Ward. Not the full on dinner experience due to the cost, so just the lunch menu but it was still a meal to remember. I finished my blog post about the experience with the paragraph:
We’d love to go back and try some other menus but we may have to save up a bit before that. In the meantime we’ll just have to up our game a little on the flavour front with our home cooking!
I’m not sure of we’ve upped our game with the home cooking and we hadn’t saved up enough for the full on dinner menu either so returning was just a dream. I did treat us both to a Saturday Night Feast at River Cottage as a Christmas present which was nice too. In fact our ‘foodie’ experiences are always good fun and always an excuse for a nice night / weekend together. We don’t tend to take Moregan with us as he is really fussy about what little he does eat so it wouldn’t exactly be his thing, not to mention the fact that it would be a complete waste of money for him. It therefore becomes a ‘date night’ for us which has to be a good thing.
It’s not something we can afford other than as presents or treats either, so it is always a special occasion. However, Anna’s Mum decided to treat us for our anniversary with some cash to go towards some ‘foodie’ experiences. We looked around for some nice things to do. Maybe a city break in Europe somewhere with a a meal at an up-market restaurant? Maybe a trip to one of the top-rated restaurants in the UK. Whilst searching, the one place that seemed to be towards the top of all the lists and that looked most like our type of experience was once again Ynyshir Hall.
Its list of accolades are pretty impressive:
- One Michelin Star
- 5 AA Rosettes
- No 5 Good Food Guide 2019 with Gareth being their Chef of the Year 2019!
- No 15 Harden’s Best UK Restaurants 2018
- Decanter Magazine Best UK Restaurant 2018
- Best Place to Eat in Wales 2018
- AA Best Wine List in the UK 2018
Not only that but the type of food they offer seemed to fit better with our tastes than those of the restaurants listed above it, and of course as it is pretty much on our doorstep we wouldn’t have the additional cost associated with lots of travelling and an overnight stay. With one of the top restaurants in the UK around the corner it would be silly not to take advantage of it.
We also noticed whilst looking that the prices were about to go up from £150 per person to £180 per person. That was it, we decided to get in there before the prices increased and booked in for the full dunner experience.
Actually, they no longer offer the smaller lunch menu so we couldn’t really have booked anything else. The menu is described as a surprise menu of around 20 meat-focused courses. Menus prominently feature meat, fish and trace gluten and they want you to try everything when you are there. This means allowing up to four hours for the experience.
We take you through clearings and forests, sea and beach, mountain and pasture. We use the best from the best locale, at the best time of year. Nature and climate are always guiding. Ynyshir is about landscape and locality. It is seasonal in the traditional sense – we take the ingredients when they are ready and pickle and ferment them, salt and preserve to carry us through the winter and into the spring.Ynyshir Hall
The day Approaches
As the day approached and excitement rose, we had been reading a little more about Ynyshir Hall and Anna had been reading some of the latest reviews. It seemed as though a few things had changed. Fine dining had become ‘fun dining’ and there was now the addition of a DJ with a rock focused play-list. In fact, the music aspect seemed to be mentioned quite a bit. This concerned us a little but we were certain that all would be good. The food was still certainly highly rated and the reviews were as good as they get.
Time for some Fine Dining
FInally the day arrived and we headed off for the 10 minute drive to Ynyshir Hall. We were soone seated in the cosy bar along with the other diners for the evening. I guess that most people travel quite a way to get to Ynyshir Hall. We kind of live in the middle of nowhere so although it’s just down the road for us, it’s miles from anywhere else which is part of its appeal. The other diners were most likely staying overnight and were already settled into the bar.
We were given a choice of menus for the evening, either the lamb menu or a beef menu but otherwise they were fairly similar. The beef menu had a bit of a premium to pay and the lamb menu had a nice sounding chocolate dessert so we went with the lamb one. We did both have to have the same menu.
We were soon led to our table, a nice big table in the bay window overlooking the grounds and the dining began. As before it started with the ‘Not French Onion Soup’. It was worth coming back just for this! I won’t go through all of the courses as it turned out that there were 25 of them and every single one was a delight. So much flavour and a wide range of tastes too. Some were the same as we’d had in the lunch menu previously but not many of them.
Soup, duck & chicken starters were followed by sourdough bread with Welsh Wagyu dripping. This was one we had before, but this time it seemed better. It was then onto several fish based courses with mackerel, a delicious cod course with a shitake mushroom fish broth. The courses were coming thick and fast. All are of course small portions. Not much than a mouthful or two really but the range of flavours was amazing.
We were told a little bit about how each course had been prepared and the provenance of the ingredients. Everything seemed to have been preserved, hung or pickled for days before being cooked in several ways; slow cooked in a water bath, barbecued and roasted. I’m sure the logiistics of preparing such a menu four days a week must be quite a challenge. We could see the chefs at work in the open kitchen and we could watch the DJ spinning his tunes. The music was fine to be honest and not at all over-powering. In fact it was good to have it playing and did add somewhat to the ambience. We were even given instructions on how best to eat some of the dishes including slurping the broth from the bowl! Well, we wouldn’t want to waste any.
Anna wasn’t keen on the tomato course so I had an extra portion of that which was good as it was one of my favourites.
3 lamb courses all completely different were followed by an optional cheese course and then it was onto the desserts. Who’d have thought of pairing shitake mushrooms with chocolate! Mmm Mmm. The sticky toffee pudding was amazing too. There was even a ‘slush puppy’ course.
What a dinner! Thanks Pat! Anna claims that it has filled her up for two days! Where shall we go for our next dining experience?