• If I ever needed Motivation! Ynyshir hall

    Last night I was fortunate enough to eat, once again, at Ynyshir Hall in Mid-Wales.

    Throughout the years the hall has had a fabulous reputation for its culinary delights. Notably for its history of gaining and retaining Michelin star status, first with Shane Hughes, now working at Thackeray’s restaurant in Tunbridge Wells, and now Gareth Ward.

    Gareth has some incredibly impressive skills, with the ability to create the seemingly impossible.

    We had the 8 course tasting menu which comprised some really outstanding and spectacular food, there were also 5 and 11 course menus available.

    As always at Ynyshir hall, we were greeted by the very approachable and friendly staff, including Mrs Reen and Theo (The gorgeous Bernese mountain dog!).

    The bar area to which everyone is initially lead, has a wonderful warm feeling, with a beautiful window feature, looking out onto a very picturesque rockery, a wide range of drinks are offered from local beer to kir royal, and delightful fresh olives, while you wait, and choose which menu you want to order from, surrounded by the artwork of Mr Reen.

    The amuse bouche was a delightful sour dough loaf served with Waygu dripping and crumble.

    To begin the meal, a dish was presented with the name “Not French onion soup”, essentially this dish was a deconstructed onion salad drizzled with a crystal clear fish consommé. The textures were outstanding, the crunch of the salad leaves and tiny rings of shallots was a great contrast to the rich and warming velvety liquid of the stock.

    The next course was described as “Sweet and Sour Mackerel” and gave me the feeling of “first class rollmops” the mackerel had been ‘warmed’ under a light to a perfect temperature. The tanginess of the fish and the sauce complimented each other perfectly.

    A dish presented as “Duck liver with cox apple and smoked eel”, melted in the mouth. I’m not really sure the exact differences between duck liver and Foie Gras. Even with my fairly good palette I’m not really able to tell.

    Perhaps the name Foie Gras is now not used so often? As it is one of my favourite foods, I could not fault this very clever course.

    A very clever sensory trick was played on us next. A bowl of “burnt” leeks was bought out and put on the table in front of us. This was a smell and atmosphere tool, activated by pouring hot water over dry ice, immediately releasing a wonderful aroma that flowed over the table. To go with this we were given a wonderful leek dish, I’m not sure how it was cooked, possibly sous vide?

    Along came the Barbeque pork dish. Never have I tasted such a wonderful combination of flavours to go with pork belly. It was served alongside sweetcorn, which had been charred ever so slightly, and very clever cooking techniques had been employed to maintain a strong, concentrated and intense flavour which dispersed as it made contact with the tongue.

    Welsh Waygu three ways, simply outstanding. The first was designed as a finger food, and was on par with the best tasting beef I have ever had, as you lifted the small cube of beef in between your fingers you could immediately tell this was something special, before the scent had even hit your nose. Biting down into the piece of beef was a whole new experience for me, it exploded with great flavour and intense gustatory and olfactory sensations. I thought to myself “beef doesn’t get better than this”…

    … I was wrong, the second part to the beef course was brought out, and was rump cap. This surpassed all my expectations of what would be possible in terms of texture, taste and smell. By this time in the evening we had been trying to offer feedback to the chefs, but as we started with words like “amazing”, we were slowly running out of good adjectives. By this time the word was “incredible”.

    A short interlude of an optional cauliflower cheese was offered, of course, we accepted. It was delightful, the cauliflower was perfectly cooked and sunk into a mixture of melted cheeses, similar to camembert, and accompanied with a balsamic reduction (I think).

    The most spectacular part of the meal comes now, little slate dishes bought out to us, with what I immediately recognised as fudge. What is so special about fudge, you may ask. Well this fudge was made from the Waygu fat. In my head this could not possibly work. But, sure enough I bit into it, and it worked perfectly. If the balance had been even slightly out, this dish could have been a disaster, but it was executed to perfection. The word at this point was “impossible”.

    There were two deserts, one was shitake mushroom infused chocolate torte with soy sauce. Doesn’t sound right does it? It worked, and it worked well!

    The final bit of fun was, quite similar to a take on an inside out fried ice cream, or Baked Alaska. Warm white chocolate mousse quick frozen in liquid nitrogen at the table, with a choice of either eucalyptus or cumin mayonnaise. I tried both, both were very good, but the cumin was the winner for me.

    If you’re in the area, I suggest you visit Ynyshir hall, and if you’re not in the area, I recommend you make a journey