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Ynyshir Hall

Ynyshir Hall, Powys, Wales, SY20 8TA, United Kingdom

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Be aware that chef Shane Hughes since moved to Roussillon in London, which itself closed shortly afterwards. In August 2013 it was announced that Ynyshir Hall's new head chef would be Gareth Ward, who previously worked at Sat Bains and Harts in Nottingham.

Ynyshir Hall is a smart country house near the west Welsh coast, set in large and attractive grounds with formal gardens. The dining room itself had quite high ceilings, turquoise carpet and walls of a similar colour, decorated with a series of paintings of sheep, each one painted in shades of blue. Classical music plays in the dining room. The head chef was Shane Hughes Shane was head chef at the Talland Bay hotel in Looe, Cornwall, and before that head chef of Le Poussin in Hampshire.

We came on a Sunday lunch, where a set lunch is offered at £24 for three courses, with two choices at each course. The a la carte menu in the evening runs to a heftier £72.50. The 36 page wine list had some quite cheap wines, the d'Arenberg Stump Jump 2008 at £17 for a wine that you can purchase for £8 in the shops. It progresses up, covering a wide variety of countries, with Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 at £60 compared to a retail price of £20, up to grander selections such as Ridge Montebello 1995 at £210 for a wine you can buy for £113, and Chateau Latour 1978 at £430 compared to a shop price of £319.

A single amuse-bouche was offered, a beetroot and salmon mousse. My wife has a childhood hatred of beetroot so declined, explaining she disliked beetroot, at which point the waiter rather bizarrely suggested that she should eat it anyway. He also mentioned that "three quarters of our customers dislike beetroot", which does rather beg the question why this is the one and only amuse-bouche offered (no alternative was produced). The mousse itself was quite good, cooked with apple as well as the advertised beetroot, and laced with strips of salmon (15/20).

Foccacia bread was made from scratch and also featuring caraway seeds, which may not be to everyone's taste but worked well enough; the foccacia had good texture (16/20).  A starter of rabbit featured a fairly miniature portion of rabbit, served with celeriac and mozzarella roulade, with a parsley puree. The rabbit was moist and the celeriac had good flavor (15/20).  Poached salmon with macadamia nut, apple and celery salad with apple syrup was nicely made, the salmon carefully cooked though not having great flavour, but the salad elements working well together (15/20). 

Pork ballotine was my favourite dish of the meal, with seared scallop, spiced lentils and a smooth cauliflower puree. The earthiness of the lentils contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the scallop and the richness of the pork, and the elements were carefully cooked (16/20).  Also good was roasted sea trout, with potato tarte tatin, topped with fennel salad. The trout had good flavour and the fennel was of high quality (16/20).

For dessert lemon tart was genuinely good, with pastry having excellent texture and a smooth lemon filling; I could have done with a little more lemon, but this is more personal taste than anything (16/20). Cheeses were in very good condition.  Petit fours were a cut above the norm, with an orange jelly in particular very good indeed, and coffee was fine.

The cooking was of a high standard throughout, between 15/20 and 16/20, but the service was something else. From the moment we declined wine for lunch we appeared to be relegated to the cheapskate service class, and were largely ignored for interminable periods of time. Three courses and coffee took well over three hours, and the French waiters were distinctly aloof (they seemed happy enough to pay attention to some regulars drinking multiple bottles of wine). This was a shame, as it left rather a poor impression on me, and yet the cooking here is clearly skilled.

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  • Thomas B Rogers

    “A very poor culinary experience not at all as expected………………………. This restaurant promised to be a delightful experience in a stunning location, so I booked a two day stopover to try out their acclaimed cuisine. We were really attracted after studying their website and hotel brochure espousing their newly acquired Michelin Star status. However we were extremely disappointed with the culinary offering because it didn’t represent what was stated in their marketing promise. The brochure espouses Cardigan Bay succulent fish and seafood, local wild salmon and sewin, venison and wild game, Welsh wagyu beef and salt marsh lamb, organic pork to name just a few of the acclaimed delights mentioned. Regrettably we never experienced any of these ingredients and after being presented with the five course tasting menu we were totally uninspired by what we observed and what was about to be presented. Our five course meal commenced with a simple sweetcorn starter which was barely enough to experience the taste. This was followed by a coddled hen’s egg with giroles and this we felt was a tasteless experience and not sure what the chef was trying to prove with such a totally non dish. This dish turned to mush after we commenced tasting and remained inedible mush. A very small sample of plaice with black beans was our next course which was pleasant enough by did not warrant the title of main course. This was followed by two desserts initially a passion fruit yogurt with grantta, and the grand finale of a strawberry granola which tasted ok but certainly nothing special. All the courses were minuscule but did not satisfy even the smallest of appetites. We therefore left the dining table as hungry as we were at the commencement of the meal. We had bread placed on the table at the commencement of the meal accompanied by wagyu beef fat/dripping the intention I believe was to satisfy ones appetite at the beginning of the meal. We were informed that more bread was available if required. Whilst this may have tasted delightful for some folks my wife and I passed on this experience which predominantly represented a ‘heart attack on a plate’. We noted there was no mention of ‘beef dripping’ in any of the marketing literature!............... Whilst there is no doubting the culinary skills and creativity of the chef now with a Michelin Star we regrettably did not experience Michelin Star cuisine on the occasion we dined at Ynyshir Hall. Furthermore I would suggest the chef is only able to produce a menu dependent on the budget he is allowed per meal. Perhaps this is the reason the acclaimed ingredients mentioned in the restaurants literature were not in evidence on the evening we dined. Experience has taught me that several restaurants adopt the policy of strictly limiting their chefs to spend only 10 to 12% maximum of the cost of the meal on ingredients and this could be the case here why these alternative and much cheaper alternative ingredients were being used. There is however no doubting that this hotel is a delightful establishment to stay at. It is in a beautiful setting with extensively manicured gardens and the whole establishment is very tastefully furnished throughout and the service is welcoming and friendly. We made the decision after our evening meal and spoke to Mrs Reen (owner), that we would not be staying a second night and would therefore be leaving the following morning after breakfast. We therefore only stayed one night of a planned two night stay. This experience regrettably represented very poor value for money hence the overall grading given in this review and was without any doubt our very poorest Michelin experience to date. In conclusion we would say it was an interesting but extremely costly experience at £400.00 for an overnight BB&D but regrettably our stay represented very poor value for money which would not be repeated or recommended.