Chef Gareth Ward has gone all-out goth at this personality and protein-loaded restaurant with rooms outside Machynlleth on the southern edges of Snowdonia. Ynyshir does design in shouty caps. Everything from the Victorian exterior to the sitting room, bar and restaurant is dimly lit dungeon black, although a glinting stainless steel open kitchen takes centre stage in the dining room, where honeyed oak furniture provides extra relief. Staff are also dressed in black. The waiting team have the fast-paced, swivel-eyed vigilance of Kim Kardshian’s security unit as they talk into their headsets. As it gets late, the DJ cranks up the pounding music and turns on the strobe lights. Subtlety is not in Ward’s vocabulary.
Overall score 7/10
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Rooms and suites
If you want to stick to the theme book Room 1 or 7, which continue with the black moodboard of the public areas. They are spacious, with exposed beams, chunky wooden beds topped with cloud-grey crumpled bed linen, and a simple dried flower arrangement as adornment on their jet-black walls. The five other rooms in the main house and three garden rooms revert to conventional country-house decoration. Room 5 is compact but the most contemporary. Room 10 has a bath with knockout views over the garden. There are three tepees on the lawn with wood-burning stoves in front of their double beds, plus cute fire pits and hot tubs outside — but only a communal lavatory and shower.
Food and drink
Your epicurean experience starts at check-in with a culinary cocktail of Japanese custard laced with a warming dashi soup. Diners, ranging from special-anniversary couples to Gen-Zers in jeans and T-shirts, take their seats in the bar at 5.30pm for several zingy courses including an unforgettable lobster claw drizzled with satay sauce. Then it’s into the dining room where courses come thick and fast for the next four hours or so. Each is intensely flavoured and somehow always more thrilling than the last — the menu includes prawn with wild garlic, creamy cod soup, Ward’s take on a Big Mac and his heavenly version of tiramisu. There was a rumour that there was carrot in one dish but this is really gastronomy for meat lovers. The breakfast hamper of yoghurts, muffins, cold cuts and hot toast arrives outside your bedroom door at 9.30am and isn’t strictly necessary.
What else is there?
Ward clearly has few concerns beyond an insatiable need to feed, so unless you count the vending machine filled with chocolates, crisps and milk, there’s nothing on site.
Where is it?
Snowdonia awaits for epic walks. The Dyfi Furnace, a charcoal-burning blast furnace built in about 1755 that reached temperatures hot enough to melt rock, is nearby and has awesome architecture. A short drive away, the university town of Aberystwyth has its own Michelin-starred restaurant, SY23, owned by Ynyshir-trained Nathan Davies.
Price B&B doubles including dinner from £990; room-only tepees are from £170
Restaurant tasting menu starts from £350
Family-friendly N (no under-12s)
Accessible Y (one room)