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  • Visit Date: 13th September 2022
  • Restaurant: Ynyshir Restaurant and Rooms
  • Address:  Eglwys Fach, Machynlleth, Wales

Where to start.. well. It took eight whoppingly stressful hours to get to this very remote part of Wales, thanks to the UK’s finest train services operating as they do. Multiple unanticipated changes and delayed trains led to my second train, which runs every two hours, being missed, and my slot to interview Gareth Ward too (don’t worry I did this but after service, which makes for an even more entertaining podcast). However, I finally arrived, and the lovely Rory (drinks manager) picked me up from the station and next stop through the roving greenery of Wales, was Ynyshir (pronounced like “in his ear”). I would absolutely suggest driving or taking a helicopter versus the train…. My return journey was thankfully smoother.

On arrival I was told I would immediately be receiving my first course, which totally threw me, as I knew I had two hours until my dinner. I had to very quickly reset my train travelled brain to be on form and switch into gear to capture everything fast. I was seated in the bar area, and given a warm cloth and and a glass of sparkling wine, which certainly took the edge off my crazy travel day. Meeting Jake, the manager, was fab, and his telling me how he is best friends with one of my yacht chefs on my agency books, small a world as ever, and this keeps happening to me lately at every place I have been reviewing.

I was taken back to the front entrance hallway which has a row of fur coats, which created a Narnia through the wardrobe feel to everything, and a taste of more to come. Outside is a rather cool area with a green egg fire to gather round and wear said fur coat after dinner with drinks.

At the counter area, I am first shown, à la Franztén style (lots of influences here, including the placemats) all the ingredients that will be used in the thirty courses ahead, including A5 Japanese Wagyu, N25 caviar, incredible Hamachi, Black Cod, Japanese Blue Fin Tuna loin and belly… it all looked incredible, the best of the best ingredients.

Now onto the ‘Not French Onion Soup’ made in front of my eyes.

Chawanmushi- a Japanese steamed custard with a miso caramel – adding in a spoon of chives, spring onion, onion oil, diced nori, miso cured duck liver and a dashi broth. This was then taken back to the bar for me to sit and enjoy. It was so delicious and with all the flavours of Japan and precisely what I needed, along with my wine, to unwind me. It was a hug in a bowl.

I was then taken up to my room where I quickly got some emails done and got ready for dinner, and headed back down. I was asked if I would be happy with Head Chef Corrin joining me, which of course I was, and meant I could ask more questions about the dishes and more, and he was cracking company too, for such a long dinner with so many courses, so it was quite a clever move on their part.

Back to the bar to kickstart the next dishes, the first being lobster- three different ways and all the immensely satisfying tastes of Thailand.

Raw Tail – Nahm Jim – with a lobster oil made from the shells. Oh wow. I have a feeling I will be saying this a lot.

Thaidorri BBQ Claw – Satay Shrimp – this was excellent, that satay sauce was so packed with flavour, and I loved the custom fork to jab it and demolish as I did.

Raw shrimp, Thai aubergine, sugar snap peas and a Thai Green Curry sauce.. very good. Just cram packed with flavour.

Langoustine Scampi, rolled in roast garlic, finished with red miso sweet chilli. WOW- loved this. I could have eaten ten more. A brilliantly clever bite. Siphon gun to create this, lots of air tempura with xanthum gum and the prawn was encased – stayed so juicy, the sweet chilli on top was sensational.

Chilli Crab – Deep Fried Bun Prawn – Wild Garlic. I did not eat this, although Corrin almost convinced me to try- it’s the brown crab meat I am severely allergic to, but have avoided all crab for twenty five years since.. I tried the bun though and this was fab, like a doughnut.

Corrin told me about their -80 freezer which changes their fish and shellfish, almost how slow cooking tenderises meat, but using it the other way round and makes all their produce so much better.

The music is pumping here, there is a DJ and if you crank your sound up on the highlight for this visit you will hear for yourself.

Next was a Cabiniro prawn cooked in prawn oil, prawn head soy and and wild garlic. This was super tasty.

Orkney Scallop poached lightly and then seared BBQ in A5 beef fat, finished with a scallop dashi that was sublime. My god this was just perfection. And that freezer making the texture of the scallop just out of this world, melt in the mouth amazingness.

Black Cod cured in miso and roasted, pork fat and miso sauce, and N25 aged Kaluga caviar on top.

Creamy cod velouté made from all the bones from the fish served with smoked butter and parsley oil. Very nicely balanced. 

Onto the bluefin tuna next, served over two Japanese courses. First the Belly, raw with shiso pickled ginger and wasabi.

Next was the Loin, sushi rice and wasabi and nori powder to top, this was their version of an un-rolled hand roll. Both of these dishes were just so good, really tasty and wow, just allowing the tuna to speak for itself.

Onto the Hamachi, thinly sliced with white soy and sesame dressing and nori to finish. I LOVE Hamachi and this was just incredible. The simplicity of it all. 

Madai, which is a Japanese sea bream, Japanese mayonnaise,  yuzu compressed apples,  soy glaze and chives. Just beautiful.

Liver with apple, bacon and spelt, this was okay, probably my least favourite or memorable dish if I was forced to pick. It was a little rich, and tasted like Frazzles, the retro crisps.. which perhaps was the point seeing as all the dishes are based on what Gareth loves. Not a Frazzles fan, more of a Skips girl…

I had sake with this, after some exceptional wines selected by Rory, which between Corrin and him convinced me to try, as sake always reminds me of biology lab alcohol when back at school. Just that pure alcohol taste, and I don’t like it. However, I tried this and it was lovely, so converted to this sake, opposed to sake in general.

Duck next, warm Thai salad, larb, suck skin crumb, mint and coriander. This was really tasty.

Irish Peking duck, hoisin duck, cucumber and spring onion. I ventured into the kitchen to see these coming out of the oven and Gareth removing the breasts, they specifically get these ducks from Ireland, and being specifically Peking ducks also, a really beautiful bird, it tasted so good.

Buttermilk fried veal sweetbread. WOW- this was so good, and these guys are so funny, initially telling me it was a rabbit’s foot… the comedy aspect of being here, as well as Corrin for company made this whole experience and visit ten times better for sure. Just fab, there is a lot of my laughing, as always, on the highlight videos.

Sticky rice, carrot and coriander, and katsu sauce. Instead of having all together, appreciating the fried sweetbread on its own, and then the simplicity of this, the rice and sauce also, very clever, and once again so very delicious.

Iberico Pork, Char Siu served with a bowl of its own cooking juices. Yum, yum, yum.

Welsh Lamb Spare Rib, slow cooked and barbecued, pickled shallots and fresh mint, it just slid off the bone. THIS WAS AMAZING. All the flavour.

Onto the Japanese Wagyu, A5, sirloin, poached in a broth, a technique called Shabu Shabu. Well, as you’ll see on the video, Corrin demolished his before the description of the dish was even over, and I know why, my goodness, this was melt in your mouth heaven. Again paying homage to the ingredients in all the most simple and respected ways. Delicious.

Rump cab, with black bean sauce and spring onion. Super tasty.

That First Bite, being a play on McDonald’sm even with a metal burger box… dill pickles and sourdough mayonnaise.

Thai flavoured McFlurry… kaffir lime soft serve ice cream, and of course I had have a go at pouring one myself, although the guys were horrified that I poured what was the equivalent of 10 portions worth and tipped it back into the top of the machine again… haha.

By this stage the music cranked up, the smoke was brought out and slung around, doof doof music started and lights swinging in the kitchen, party party vibes, even a mirror ball too.

White Chocolate and tofu mousse with black bean. Really good.

Banana and caviar dish next which was so yummy. Sweet, salty, deliciousness.

Bramley Apple and Duck Custard, this was comforting in its simple flavours reminding me of apple crumble and custard after a Sunday roast.

Sticky Toffee Pudding, with a miso toffee sauce and Tahitian vanilla ice cream. WAHHHHH… this was out of this world amazing. I love a good sticky toffee pudding, in fact I make a really good one, which is plant-based and refined sugar free, you’ll find it in my cookbook.. but this, this was very nice, and actually, as I am not a huge fan of sweet stuff, just the right amount of sweet. The portions being just a bite or two have been so spot on, so many courses but it works, and it’s balanced and even at this point I am not crazy full.

Tiramisu, served back in the bar, made with Difference Geisha coffee.

To finish, Jenkins Milk, Ynyshir Honey, Chamomile and a lemon biscuit.

From here I then went to interview Gareth for my podcast which, after a fair few glasses of wine, and being past midnight, made for a very fun interview. You can listen to that later this year over on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

What an incredible visit and experience. I loved it all, unlike anything I have ever had before. It is truly all Gareth’s heart, on each and every plate. He’s not afraid to do his thing, and stand in all his authenticity and that is precisely what makes him so special and so successful. He and his team are insanely fantastic, I laughed so hard and just adored the whole protein led goodness, twenty nine bites of yum. I will return, but someone needs to drive or fly me there next time.

They have a new smaller restaurant opening soon, which Corrin will run and this will be for locals to be able to enjoy as a humble and affordable eatery which will massively add value to the community for sure.

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