Tag Archives: tasting menu

Ynyshir restaurant and rooms: an oasis of loveliness miles from almost anywhere

The wonderful thing about writing the ALadyofLeisure.com blog is that I’ve discovered so many new places which I would never in a million years have come across otherwise, and Ynyshir – which now bills itself as a restaurant with rooms – is a perfect example. Not only is it in a remote (to me) corner of West Wales, the nearest towns being Machynlleth to the north and Aberystwyth to the south, but thanks to spending teenage years hiking around Snowdonia I tend to associate the Welsh countryside with Youth Hostels and food cooked on a camping stove.

Nothing could be further from Ynyshir, former AA Hotel of the Year Wales, named in the Good Food Guide 2017-18 as one of the best restaurants in the UK, recently awarded an unprecedented five AA rosettes and with a Michelin star to its name thanks to chef Gareth Ward.

ynyshir wales
‘Ynyshir’ means ‘long island’ and the hall has stood here for several centuries. The hall used to be owned by Queen Victoria and famous guests include Richard Gere and Robert Plant

However it wasn’t the food that stays in my memory as much as the wonderful setting and the fabulous welcome I received. Some hotels can pay lip service to the idea of customer service and treating guests well but you can’t fake genuine warmth, and Joan Reen, who owned Ynyshir Hall with her husband Rob since 1989 before her sad passing last year, was a lovely and welcoming presence.

ynyshir wales
Ynyshir is set in 14 acres of beautiful gardens

Continue reading Ynyshir restaurant and rooms: an oasis of loveliness miles from almost anywhere

£20,000 wine and the Judgement of Paris at The Vineyard, Newbury

Halfway through our meal at The Vineyard, Newbury, I was beginning to wonder if I knew as much about wine as I thought I did. Not only could I not guess what grape variety I was drinking or what country it came from, I couldn’t even work out what colour it was, this particular wine being served in a black glass which made the wine inside completely invisible. Was it rosé…? Or maybe it was red? No, it was definitely rosé.

The answer was white. This was worrying. If my judgement was all over the place now, what on earth would it be like after I’d tried all 14 wines scheduled for the evening? Thankfully by the end of the meal I was so replete and content that I my success or otherwise in identifying the wines no longer seemed important – the evening had been so interesting and memorable that my lack of wine knowledge could be safely overlooked.

The Vineyard, Newbury
The Vineyard, Newbury, site of a nightly recreation of the Judgement of Paris wine-tasting

The Vineyard is a hotel serious about its wine – it hosts wine-tastings and wine courses and has 30,000 bottles in its cellars. Its ‘Judgement of Paris’ wine-tasting aims to replicate the notorious (for wine buffs) event in 1974 when Californian wines went up against French wines in a blind tasting.

To the shock of the French, and indeed much of the wine world, the Californian wines won the day, and Sir Peter Michael, owner of the Vineyard as well as a winery in California, has recreated the experience at his hotel. Continue reading £20,000 wine and the Judgement of Paris at The Vineyard, Newbury