A new £200 tasting menu from the world-famous Welsh restaurant Ynyshir is now available on Uber Eats. On it, chef-owner Gareth Ward has developed a 10 course menu, with dishes such as hot and sour crab soup, BBQ lobster claw, and A5 rib-eye steak. But how is it? Two Standard writers put it to the test.
A brace of Michelin stars. Number two in The Good Food Guide’s top 20 list. Twice and consecutively named the UK’s best restaurant by Restaurant magazine. Now on Uber Eats.
Who can blame Gareth Ward for taking the opportunity to bring a version of his famous Welsh tasting menu to London? Usually the food is the preserve of his restaurant on the west coast of Wales, an agrestic setting five hours’ drive from London. There, the four to five-hour, 30-course dinner costs £380 per head without booze. It is coveted by fine dining lovers, some of whom have been forced to adapt to his modern approach: a disco glitterball and a live DJ.
Uber Eats, meanwhile, is mostly based around last-minute decisions and hangovers: a Friday night pizza; a McDonald’s breakfast on a Saturday morning. Serves a noble purpose. But it is a world of chains and dark kitchens rather than lobster claws and caviar, both of which arrive in the takeaway box.
Ynyshir’s involvement is a spectacular modicum of commercialisation, reach, and PR for both parties. The delivery app looks almost cool for the first time ever, while Ynyshir is suddenly available 223 miles away in the capital, if only for a short time.
As is so often the case with these collaborations, availability means the partnership is bound tightly, a three-day affair: December 6-8 (the first night was only for Uber One members). Such lustrous cooking cannot be rolled out easily and Ward and his team are toiling away in a kitchen in Bermondsey, south London, while the restaurant in Wales is closed. This is no small project. No wonder the menu costs £200, a little more than a Nando’s double chicken wrap (about a tenner) or a roast dinner from Toby Carvery (yes, you can get one of these delivered nowadays).
Ten courses moves from a duck rillette sando to a hot and sour crab soup, later BBQ lobster, Atlantic cod — with that pot of caviar and a mother of pearl spoon — to a sizeable portion of Devonshire white chicken, served as a katsu curry with carrots and rice. Quality ingredients, prepared knowingly, absolutely no doubt.
Then comes an Iberico pork rib, Welsh lamb in a cherry glaze, Japanese A5 beef with black beans and shitake mushrooms, before two puddings, a white chocolate pot and a tiramisu. All this is designed for two to share. £100 a head.
Ynyshir’s involvement is a spectacular modicum of commercialisation, reach, and PR for both parties
Given my box arrived an hour late — a train strike and multiple deliveries to blame, Uber Eats said — the food was lukewarm at best. Yet only the pork rib fell short, really. Everything else made for the poshest takeaway since lockdown, when this sort of thing became quite common.
If you want it, I’d be quick. There are just 50 takeaways per night available, from 5pm. Not a huge number but the dining room at Ynyshir only has 24 covers, so Ward and his brigade are in for a tough couple of shifts. And it can’t be fun going first — this is a series and other high-profile chefs are on the way.
Worth it? Yes. But if you can afford a £200 takeaway, you can probably afford a trip to Wales. Delete your delivery app, save on takeaways, live. That's my plan now anyway.
My preferred way to have a takeaway is to eat it on the sofa in front of Masterchef while making judgy comments about a contestant’s jus. Fat chance of doing that with this option; the box is slightly smaller than my couch — though surprisingly light, which I later discovered was down to the minuscule portions carefully ladled out inside.
On first glance, it looked like a posh version of a giant munchy box, a wildly popular delicacy that hails from Scotland. Thankfully, no beige buffet or leaky Mars Bar hid under this hood. Instead, opening it revealed a series of hexagonal cardboard boxes bearing courses from Ynyshir, the celebrated Welsh restaurant that’s meant to be the best in the country. Delivered by Uber Eats, it aims to bring a Michelin-level experience to your door complete with music through a QR code, though the setting and service you’ll have to provide yourself. We might have done it a slight disservice there with IKEA plates and studio lighting.
Of the 10 courses, the crab soup and the BBQ lobster slapped hardest; I would have polished off the lot had I not had Josh haranguing me onto the next plate. The chicken was good, which is saying something: I normally think katsu sauce tastes like hair.
The pork, arrived stone cold — tough and chewy; maybe it really had been driven over from Wales
Others, like the pork, arrived stone cold — tough and chewy; maybe it had been driven over from Wales and not a dark kitchen somewhere in Shoreditch, like I’d assumed — in a sauce that looked like it’d been scraped off the set of Carrie. Spare rib? Going spare, more like. And the deep-fried stuff was swimming in so much excess oil, I was stunned the cardboard containers hadn’t turned see-through. You could probably run the car back to Wales with that lot.
Heat is clearly a vital element to most takeaways, and not everything in the Ynyshir delivery travelled well. It feels sacrilege to sling it in the microwave; some reheating pointers would be a welcome addition.
Would I drop £200 on this? Some delicious bites struck me dumb — the lamb! The Japanese A5 beef! — and the tin of caviar and spoon were suitably fancy, but the Michelin feel slipped because of the lack of all the other crucial elements that make a restaurant truly spectacular. I say better to head to the hills and enjoy it the way it was intended.
Uber Eats Hosts Ynyshir is now available on the app, December 7-8, from 5pm.