A Welsh restaurant has been named the UK’s best at a prestigious awards ceremony – becoming the first outside of England to claim the title since the awards began. Ynyshir, near Machynlleth in Powys, scooped the gong at the National Restaurant Awards 2022 and adds to the venue’s two Michelin stars, five AA rosettes, and top ranking in Wales in the Harden’s Guide.
Ynyshir was described by judges as “combining a thumping soundtrack with a succession of tiny plates of punchy, Japan-influenced cuisine cooked over fire” and praised for providing “a culinary experience like no other”. It’s the first time in the awards’ 16-year history that a restaurant outside of England has claimed the top spot.
Chef and owner Gareth Ward, originally from County Durham, has turned Ynyshir into a true destination restaurant for foodies since taking over in 2013. The 30-course taster menu takes around five hours to enjoy and lunch will set you back £350.
(Image: Richard Swingler)
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Stefan Chomka, editor of Restaurant by BigHospitality, described Gareth’s achievements as “remarkable”. He said: “Taking on a restaurant located in a traditional country house hotel and putting such a personal and edgy stamp on it was a bold, brave move – a real statement of intent – but one that has really paid off. Ynyshir is without doubt one of the most unique and exciting places to eat in the UK at the moment, possibly in the world, and is a very worthy winner of this year’s awards.” In 2017 WalesOnline visited Ynyshir and spoke to Gareth who has totally refurbed the kitchen, described by the chef as the ‘Premier League’ of kitchens, and specialises in a “fat-fuelled” and “meat-obsessed” menu.
The annual awards, held at London’s Hurlingham Club on June 13, were dominated by the London restaurant scene with 60 restaurants in the top 100 list being in the capital. One of those was Brat, which came third overall, which is the project of Welsh Michelin-starred chef Tomos Parry. Additionally for the first time in the history of the awards the public was asked to vote on their favourite restaurant in the UK. The inaugural Food Lovers Award was handed to Beach House in Oxwich.
(Image: Phil Boorman Photography Ltd)
Other winners included Simon Rogan, chef-patron of L’Enclume in Cumbria, who was named this year’s chef of the year, while The Ritz restaurant took home the service award. The Ritz’s head chef Spencer Metzger picked up the chef to watch award. Restaurateur of the year went to Dan and Natasha Smith from The Fordwich Arms and The Bridge Arms, both in Kent, while the lifetime achievement award went to Ruth Rogers, the chef-owner of London’s The River Café.
The Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards is Restaurant by BigHospitality’s annual countdown of the top 100 restaurants in the UK as voted for by the UK’s leading chefs, restaurateurs, and food writers. The full list of the UK’s top 100 restaurants can be found on the National Restaurant Awards website.