The Clink opened over a year ago and I’ve wanted to try it ever since, but the occasion has never been right (it doesn’t serve alcohol which has ruled it out a number of times, which I realise says a lot about me!)
I work fairly close to Cardiff Prison so last month a few colleagues and I decided to try it for lunch.
In case you don’t know, The Clink is a restaurant run by inmates from Cardiff and Prescoed Prisons. It’s run as a charity, as a way of rehabilitating low risk offenders and giving them skills for when they are released. This might concern a few cautious diners, but they are all classed as category D inmates, very low risk. But being located in a prison explains why they don’t serve alcohol.
The Clink launched in early 2013 in a flurry of media activity It was pegged as a fine dining establishment, with a whole host of celebrity chefs assisting them.
However this side of things seems to have gone downhill. The food was fine, but it was in no way ‘fine-dining’. While the dishes was presented beautifully, one colleagues duck was very overcooked, while another’s chips were barely cooked at all. While my pappardelle pasta with shredded duck and chilli was fine – it was tagliatelli not pappardelle and I’m not convinced the pasta was freshly made.
Main courses are around the £13 mark, which was quite pricey for lunch. Only when we’d ordered did the waiter tell us a light bite lunchtime menu was available.
The staff were really sweet, friendly and relaxed but clearly inexperienced, which made for an enjoyable lunch, but didn’t create the ‘fine dining’ atmosphere you would expect.
The project is doing fantastic work and despite my criticisms I would recommend a visit. But perhaps avoid the ‘fine dining’ hype and go with an open mind.
HMP Cardiff, Knox Rd, Cardiff, South Glamorgan CF24 0UG
The Clink did not know I would be reviewing them and we paid in full for our lunch.