Surrounded by rhododendron bushes and undulating yet carefully trimmed lawns, Ynyshir looks like a typical country house hotel. But all is not quite as it seems at this remote property, located just south of Snowdonia National Park on the western edge of mid Wales.
Those that venture inside will find a massive chef cooking a 20-course tasting menu of uncompromisingly edgy, Asian-influenced food. That chef is Gareth Ward, a protégé of the Nottinghamshire-based Sat Bains.
Run by Ward’s partner Amelia Eriksson, the small dining room is stripped back and a little Scandi in feel with a fully open kitchen where diners can watch the casually clad brigade at work (Ward often rocks a pair of denim cut-offs).
The food itself is described as ‘ingredient led, flavour driven, fat fuelled and meat obsessed’. This is an entirely accurate description, but one that doesn’t quite do justice to Ward’s explosive cooking. His approach is strikingly different to the norm – a peculiar but effective marriage of top-quality produce, Asian flavours and unusual technique served in a succession of tiny bites.
Dishes include salted wagyu rib with shiitake; Tunworth cheese aged for five weeks and melted over a sour crumpet with a salsa of Bianchetto truffle; and Ward’s famous ‘not French onion soup’, a breathtakingly powerful take on miso soup made with miso, fermented fruit juice, seaweed and shiso vinegar-pickled vegetables.
The Best Restaurant in Wales award is sponsored by Hildon