The website does warn you. Don’t come for a business meeting or a first date, the music will be loud and there will be fire over the four to five hours that dinner takes. I’d personally challenge that a little; anyone who wants to do business here is worth your time and money, whilst a life long relationship can be decided upon purely from how they react to General Levy’s ‘Incredible’ being played to mark the beginning of the dessert courses. I would judge anyone who didn’t come here and adore every second. I’ll go one further; I’ll likely judge anyone who leaves not feeling they have eaten at the best restaurant in the UK.

It starts well before the half five dinner call. The checking in process in the lounge, stiff drink in hand being shown the produce for tonight’s feast. Japanese wagyu beef, the A5 type, milk bottle white fat veining through the pale pink meat. Tuna and hamachi caught off the same coastline thousands of miles away. Duck from Ireland, breed purely to be Peking in style for the afterlife, imperial caviar, crabs, and lobsters, and fresh wasabi which looks like it could grace the kinkier shelves of Anne Summers. And a first course prepared there and then. Formally known as the dish called ‘Not French Onion Soup’, now five years old and neither recognisable as a french onion soup, or the dish it was. A savoury custard base, onion dashi, nori, spring onion, chive oil, and cubes of miso cured duck liver. At once luscious and fatty. Richer than it ever has been, a theme that runs throughout the evening. Ynyshir is now about indulgence, the richest, most luxurious five hours of your life. 

Showered and suitably wined it’s back to the bar area. The first course of raw lobster – a process that involves freezing the lobster to -80 so that the shell can be separated from the meat with minimal damage – with nahm jim dressing and long mint. The flesh of the lobster is the softest, sweetest meat, offset by the fiery nahm jim. It is glorious, a statement that Gareth’s cooking is without compromise (he doesn’t do dietaries. Don’t ask). After this is lobster claw with the most peanutty of satay sauces, the thai green curry with raw shrimps from two miles away, and finally the sweetest langoustine tempura masquerading as scampi. I didn’t think much of the tempura the last time I was here. This time it’s feather light and greaseless, the best tempura I can recall eating. Four courses in and it’s clear that Michelin’s recent promotion to two stars might be one star behind. I certainly haven’t eaten at a better three star in this country.

The difference is clear. The flavours are more refined and the richness ramped-up. The early meals at Ynyshir were driven by acidity, but now it’s more balanced. The prawn with bisque and wild garlic starts, ever-present and so good. Then the chilli crab, now with more a more generous size and fatty chunks of just-cooked crab, still maybe the best singular course in the UK, before a new dish of scallop with duck liver and a brown ale from Northumberland. Umami driven, and so rich. Maybe too rich. The first sign of carbs appear as sushi rice under the oily hamachi dressed in furikake and fresh wasabi. Two tuna courses; the first as a vibrant mouthful of maki roll without the nori, the second as just warmed-through fatty belly with ginger and garlic. With both the quality of the fish shines through. Yes, £350 per head for dinner is a lot, but it is clear where the money is being spent. 

The cod with mushrooms course has been given a massive upgrade, now swamped under the rubble of caviar and two-parted with the lightest salt cod soup that packs the biggest of punches. The madai roll with pear is lost a little in amongst the big flavours, before the duck liver with apple and smoked eel that still bangs hard. A new dish of duck laarb that uses up the offal and leg of the bird hits the palate with spice, so much so that I question what percentage will find it too hot. For clarification, I ask for seconds. It’s one of my favourite Ynyshir dishes of all time, which, by default, makes it one of my favourite ever dishes. There is the hoisin duck with cucumber, as trusty and reliable as ever,  followed by the char sui pork of your dreams, and the lamb ribs. Little known fact: Dave Carlo, the legend that he is, once ate twelve of those in an evening. The one was plenty enough for me. The chicken katsu, now a deboned wing, has rice in a nod to them serving it over lockdown. Little known fact: Simon Carlo, son of the legend Dave Carlo, once had three of the full-sized versions in a day. Was almost worth having the pandemic for. 

By now it’s onto the beef. The small matter of A5 Hida, the much lauded wagyu from Takayama. There is the burger made mostly from the fatty trim and now with added duck liver so that it is rich and sharp and fatty at once. I could hear the table behind us orgasm, genuinely. Then the short rib, slow cooked so that the fat wobbles and melts on the tongue, with the black bean sauce that has been doing the rounds for years. We finish with fine strips of sirloin dipped in stock for eight seconds apiece. The strips of meat packaging enough caviar to keep an oligarch happy during these tough times. It’s my turn to orgasm.

Without ruining the surprise, the transition from savoury to sweet comes with a change of atmosphere that makes use of the disco ball. The room comes alive; in front of us the chefs are swaggering, behind there are demonstrations of lack of rhythm rarely seen past week three of Strictly. There’s a sharp buttermilk course dusted in Thai green curry spice that’s a nice call-back to the bar dishes, before a spoonful of white chocolate with black bean which tastes like salted caramel. Birch syrup with rye has almost pecan pie vibes, before a take on apple crumble that has custard made using the miso cured duck liver. I’ll be honest, it’s an excess I’m not sure is needed, but I’m the minority in the room for thinking that. The last two courses are the trusty sticky toffee pudding and tiramisu. Both uniquely Ynyshir. Both tasting better than ever before.

Twenty six courses, not including the hefty petit fours that I eat around the fire whilst having a chat with Gareth. He makes no bones about the push for three stars, even with the pub opening up this summer, and some pretty grand plans for development on the lawn space directly outside the house. Given that we spend more on booze than the food, I’ll spare you the total bill, but this is the best restaurant in the UK using the absolute premium ingredients. A late night followed by another five courses for breakfast. They give me crisps to ease the hangover on the way home. There really is nowhere else like here.