1 Michelin starred restaurant with rooms on the very central-west tip of Wales, serving quality dishes via a cohesive and happy team - a gem find
This was one of the highlights of the year so far without a shadow of doubt. I say this because not only did it include some wonderful and carefully created dishes, but rarely do I see it being provided by a team that all seem to click, get on with each other and have a sense of enjoying themselves in the process so much (the bonus of keeping the covers to staff at such a good ratio). Each dish was brought out by a member of the kitchen providing superb detail about the dishes in a calm manner (a far cry from places that wish to explain the dish in the quickest and most unintelligible manner). The set lunch menu worked out as 12 courses / elements in total for £46 which is almost unheard of, especially for a restaurant with 1 Michelin star and most certainly one of the best adverts to come back I have experienced in any establishment in the UK. This was a meal where I knew pretty early on I would be coming back as there is serious potential within this place, tucked away in mid-west Wales.
As a welcome to the table, a Birch tree had been ‘tapped’, enabling sap to pour out and be collected. This was allowed to ferment slightly, kicked off by adding a dash of sugar and then with rasins added resulting in a refreshing and sweet, fractionally carbonated welcome drink – a very nice touch an opener.
Miso onion and dashi with local sea vegetables from the beach two miles away were then brought in a bowl and I had an automatic love with the buttery feel of the dish (pretty impressive when no butter was used) and refreshing fragrances of the sea but without being too pungent. I seriously wanted more and more of this dish. The sour dough was made over 7 days of proving to increase the sour flavour, with fermented grains was deliberately charred on the crust but carefully made not to taste burnt. This had a lovely texture but in retrospect I personally would have opted for a crust that stretches more as opposed to being brittle, but the effort was plain to see. The cultured miso butter (made by adding yoghurt and putting in water bath for 4 days) then churning (beating to separate fats to gain consistency) was more the pleasure as was the wagyu dripping butter; the miso butter was itself on way to being cheese and had a complimentary sourness to the bread – overall a clever and a good combination.
The mackerel turned out to be wrapped in seaweed for 24 hours with rhubarb ketchup and pork fat shavings. This had sweetness from the ketchup with richness of fat and the crunch of the slices and was a very good dish. It was fresh, fatty and tangy all at the same time – utterly well done, with all components serving their function absolutely. Then came the duck liver with apple syrup and woodsorrell with spelt biscuit and smoked eel shavings on top – this was beautifully smooth, had the earthy overtone of woodsorrell, glorious crunch from the spelt and v good combo of the eel and liver.
Then came the Lamb rib: treated and rested for four days in total with shizo onion in vinegar with soy glaze and mint. This was undeniably a lovely play of sweet and acid with the most tender of lamb had in a LONG time. I could have have practically eaten the fat on its own and this was perhaps the nicest piece of lamb I think I have ever had, it was that good. Next time I come here I am going to simply destroy this rib in about 6 seconds.
Then another absolute belter of a lamb dish came(!) – mint kombucha (Asian tea left for a month which turns in to a vinegar) with roasted lamb and soy sauce. The lamb itself, prior to cooking, had been brushed with lamb fat for 2 days in order to lock in the moisture and the combination of the soy and the mint was frankly an outstanding combination. This was also a perfect example of using good fat and moisture with Asian influences without the need for dairy / butter.
The truffle and cultured butter tunworth cheese with maple and sour crumpet made me instantly happy. I usually find cheese on its own on a board with grapes or chutney a little boring frankly, so having a cheese course like this I thought put this in the same league as The Square when I visited there a few years ago – cheese to be made ultra interesting and wonderful to the taste as well. This was another corker – light vinegar was sprayed on for the final effect producing an absolutely instantaneous, lovely squidgy, rich, smokey combination. I literally couldn’t have been happier.
Beer was poured over lime gel with grated lime on top for the next course. The lime gel I found quite sour and with a hard crunch; it was nice to have balanced with yoghurt at the bottom but overall I found this a little too sour for my palate. Next up, white chocolate with black bean which was beautifully sweet, rich and with a savoury blend. Too much of any one of the components of this dish would have been a train wreck but together and in the portions they were, this was absolute harmony.
The nitro rhubarb with rhubarb gel was wonderfully sweet with a sharp twist and an enjoyable, light crunch in the mix as well. This was followed by a deconstructed tiramisu which was very nicely balanced, with good textures but the only aspect being a bit of a shock for the roof of ther mouth being so many nitro-frozen elements dominating the sesnations in the mouth. Flavour wise this was very nicely balanced for the coffee as well. Finally, a Fat Duck style nitro-poached white chocolate mousse with injected fennel emulsion was provided in the kitchen for a lovely finish.
This really was a superb meal and I instantly regretted having to do lunch as opposed to dinner (my other restaurant that day did not do lunch and meant having to do it this way round). As this ‘glimpse’ of a lunch was so impresssive in its own right, in my mind this is one of the discoveries of the past 12 months for me and of all the Michelin starred retaurants (1-3) in the UK, I haven’t been this keener to get back to one so much, since the likes of doing Midsummer House for the first time. This is an incredibly strong 1 Michelin starred restaurant which, based on the flavours alone, I would go back to before I would to at least eight of the 2 Michelin starred restaurants in the UK. I honestly cannot wait to get back here for the full, nine yards; it was a great meal and living proof why this is so enjyoyable to do. Thank you, the team at Ynyshir for making this what it was.
Food Grade: 89%
Location (Click google logo for directions)