Forget all those clichés about prison grub, this enterprising eatery at HMP Cardiff offers “fabulous food in a unique environment with a socially conscious twist”. Like its siblings at other HMPs, it was set up by the Clink Charity as a training establishment for inmates and an opportunity for rehabilitation – all supported by local businesses and members of the public. Delicious and high-quality meals are cooked and served by the prisoners in training, who are working towards their City & Guilds NVQs in Professional Cookery, Food Hygiene and Food & Beverage service. Everything down to the leather upholstery and boardroom tables have been made by prisoners at HMP Frankland and the poetry on display comes from former Clink trainees.
The dining room has a bright, clean-cut contemporary feel, while the food shows a strong European bias – from generous helpings of pan-fried trout with saffron potatoes, wilted rainbow chard and seaweed butter sauce to striploin and braised shin of beef with fondant potato, cauliflower purée, roasted shallots and bordelaise sauce. Start with a ballotine of guinea fowl and ham hock; finish with raspberry mille-feuille. Of course, no alcohol is allowed on the premises, but with “brilliant” food and service as standard, who cares. It’s “nice to see an initiative giving something back”, concludes one fan.
Note that all reservations are made through The Clink website, including ‘gourmet dinners’. The restaurant recommends booking with around 72 hours prior notice to guarantee your table but they do also accept walk-ins should you happen to be passing by.