Chicken Katsu – Ynyshir, Powys

'Ingredient led, flavour driven, fat fuelled, meat obsessed' is the mantra at Ynyshir, the Mid Wales restaurant with rooms where chef Gareth Ward’s bold-flavoured, Asian-influenced cooking has been recognised with two Michelin stars and the title of Best Restaurant in the UK in the National Restaurant Awards 2022.

Their tasting menu features over 30 dishes, many of which are cooked over charcoal. Arguably the standout is a chicken katsu skewer. Chicken leg and compressed chicken skin are coated in a sticky roast chicken glaze and crisp panko crumbs and drizzled with curry-twanged katsu ketchup.

Pork belly cubano - Wright’s Food Emporium, Carmarthenshire

Wright’s Food Emporium, in Llanarthne near the National Botanic Garden of Wales, is a shrine to the best Welsh produce. This cafe and delicatessen serves killer sandwiches, salads and freshly baked cakes as well as hearty heat at home meals such as pies and lasagne.

Wright’s pork belly cubano is a sandwich whose reputation precedes it. Soft and crusty home-baked ciabatta is stuffed with golden pork belly, thick cut ham, cheese, warming sriracha mayo and richness busting jalapenos and gherkins. It’s an absolute beauty.

pork belly and melted cheese in roll.

Pork belly cubano sandwich - Wright’s Food Emporium, Carmarthenshire, West Wales

Afternoon tea - The Angel Hotel, Abergavenny

The afternoon tea at The Angel Hotel was once named the best in the UK in the tea industry’s equivalent of the Oscars. Overflowing tiered stands of freshly baked quiches, sausage rolls, cakes, choux buns, custard slices, sandwiches, meringues and more are washed down with the perfect cup of loose leaf tea.

Afternoon tea on two silver serving dishes.
plate for cakes.

Afternoon tea - The Angel Hotel, Abergavenny, South Wales

Tea brined fried chicken - Thomas by Tom Simmons, Cardiff

Tom Simmons’ eponymous Cardiff restaurant serves some of the most technically accomplished cooking in the capital. And with its relaxed atmosphere and approachable menu of brasserie dishes, it’s the kind of place you could easily visit every week.

Impressive mains, which showcase Welsh produce, include fillet of Welsh beef with an onion and shortrib tartlet and Welsh lamb shoulder with black garlic. But it’s their snack of tea brined fried chicken that is always a must order. Ridiculously juicy chicken pieces are coated in a crisp and rugged crumb with a background chilli heat and are balanced by a perfectly judged lime mayonnaise.

Three tea-brined fried chicken pieces on a plate.

Tea-brined fried chicken, Thomas by Tom Simmons, Cardiff, South Wales

Bacon cheeseburger - Hills, Brecon

People travel far and wide to eat the burgers from Hills in Brecon. And it’s easy to see why. As well as the restaurant’s stunning views of the Brecon Beacons, Hills have dedicated a lot of time and energy into perfecting the fine details required to make a top notch burger.

 A sturdy yet pillowy toasted and steamed challah bun is stuffed with seriously juicy, fat rich bronze crusted smashed patties and topped with a huge ooze of creamy and tangy Monterey Jack and American cheese, crisp bacon and essential richness balancing tangy burger sauce. 

A massive bacon and cheese burger on a table.

Bacon cheeseburger - Hills, Brecon, Mid Wales

North Pole - Joe’s Ice Cream, Swansea

Munching on an ice cream while strolling by the seaside; if there’s a more idyllic match then I’m yet to find it. Joe’s Ice Cream, in the swanky Mumbles area of Swansea, has been serving their uber-creamy Welsh-Italian ice cream since 1922. While Joe’s serve a range of  flavours, you really must order the vanilla ice cream which is churned on site fresh daily. A signature North Pole comprises of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between wafers and topped with sauce (I’m a fan of the strawberry marshmallow), sprinkles and chopped nuts. 

ice cream dish.

North Pole - Joe’s Ice Cream, Swansea, West Wales 

Torgelly farm lamb - Hare and Hounds, Aberthin, Vale of Glamorgan

If there’s an advert for quality seasonal Welsh produce then the Torgelly farm lamb served at this Vale of Glamorgan country pub, the Hare and Hounds is it. 

Grass-fed lamb, sourced from just a couple of miles down the road, is served as a blushing pink chop and slow-cooked shoulder. Accompaniments change with the season and include butternut squash and chargrilled spring onion or asparagus and wild garlic puree. One ever-present feature is the richness-balancing homemade mint sauce. 

Welsh lamb dish with gravy and vegetables.

Welsh Lamb dish - Hare And Hounds, Aberthin, Vale of Glamorgan

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