On Thursday I was invited to try a rather unique restaurant in Ystrad Mynach. Based inside the college, the recently revamped Scholars restaurant is run by students for the public.
Open between 12-2pm on Thursday and Friday, Scholars is a sister restaurant to the popular Nant restaurant on the Heol y Coleg campus (currently #1 on Trip Advisor for restaurants in the Cardiff area) and Llewellyns. Having little knowledge of any of the three restaurants I was excited and curious to see what was in store during my visit with fellow blogger Miss Nicklin.
The restaurant from the outside is rather unassuming, however inside it’s bright and modern with beautifully presented tables and jazzy music.
The staff (also current students) were incredibly welcoming and sociable and it was a pleasure to learn about their college experiences. Most were undertaking their NVQ’s in cooking, the top chef’s are on level 3 (it takes one year to complete one level) and have creative control over the menu that changes weekly.
The students also switch roles regularly so everyone gets to experience all aspects of running a restaurant, gaining valuable skills that they can apply to their real jobs or add to their CV.
The menu offered the choice between two starters, three mains and two desserts. I was informed every course has a vegetarian option at Scholars.
There’s also a bar with a good wine selection and hot drinks to accompany your three courses.
We were invited to see how the food was put together by the cooks to understand the effort and professionalism that goes into each plate.
I was warned the Mushroom Souffle was made to order and would take six minutes – I grinned as I thought that was rather quick!
Miss Nicklin ordered the Crab Bon Bon and Sweetcorn Pannacotta. It’s something both of us wouldn’t usually order, however we both tried it and appreciated the beautiful presentation and flavours. The crispy crab balls are served warm and sit on a chilled, creamy and light sweetcorn sauce.
The warm Mushroom Souffle was very comforting compared to the fresh and summery flavours of the crab. Like a savoury pudding, the crispy top gave way to a thick, creamy interior with chunks of mushrooms. It’s a very good portion and worked well with the crunchy salad dressing and glaze. I also really liked the slate plate it was presented on.
Photo by Miss Nicklin.
We were again impressed to see how our main plates were crafted – the smallest of marks were wiped away, new plates were drafted in to enhance their aesthetics, and they discussed where future improvements could be made.
The restaurant manager noted this process happens for every customer and wasn’t purely for our benefit.
I ordered Cod Fillet, Wild Mushroom, Asparagus, Saffron butter with a Poached Egg. I’m not a huge seafood lover but the cod was fresh and perfectly cooked with pure white thick flakes of juicy meat.
Photo by Miss Nicklin.
I also particularly enjoyed the side plate of diced potatoes, crispy onions and asparagus that accompanied our main dishes – delicious!
Miss Nicklin ordered the Crisp Halloumi, Beetroot, Blood Orange and Shallots and thought the fresh flavours of the beetroot blended well with the tangy orange. The halloumi also came as billed, nice and crunchy.
The other main option on this week’s menu was Duck Breast, Confit Duck Leg, Butternut puree and a Spicy Plum Sauce.
Both desserts sounded a real treat; Apple Roses with Rose Petal Icecream or Chocolate, Pistachio and Nougat Semi-Freddo.
They were both stylish and luxurious and what you’d expect from an upmarket a la carte restaurant with a sprinkling of gold dust over the chocolate dessert. I particularly liked the light texture, surprising crunch from the nougat and pistachio that exploded in your mouth like popping candy.
The apple roses reminded me of turkish delight with its delicate floral flavour. The pastry was flaky and contained a subtle warm spice that paired up perfectly with their homemade icecream.
I was so impressed to hear everything is made with fresh ingredients from scratch by the students. The quality and taste of the food would knock spots off many well established restaurants – particularly when you find out the cost for the three courses……………….. £9!
I think it’s terrific value for a restaurant that’s just half hour outside of Cardiff by car.
The restaurant doesn’t have the facility to put the menu’s online presently and I’m told they’re in talks of setting up a social media page. I think this would really help remind the public of their presence as I would be encouraged to return to try their take on a pasta or lamb dish sometime.
It’s good to know you can also host private functions here (presently seats 78 people comfortably).
To enquire or to book, here’s the details:
01443 810039 or 01443 810075
Twyn Road, Ystrad Mynach, Hengoed, CF82 7XR
I was invited to Scholars Restaurant as a guest and my food was complimentary, but I was not obliged to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.