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Are you looking for a unique dining experience? You can find it within the walls of a prison

A prison from UK with more than 1,100 inmates has a restaurant whose quality is higher than you will find in many other places.

Clink, the charity organization that runs the restaurant based in Surrey, near London, promises to offer to its costumers “a delicious meal, cooked using fresh, seasonal ingredients, and the latest cookery techniques, in our open-plan kitchen, which allows diners the opportunity to watch food being prepared by prisoners”.

According to the organization, this is “a unique experience that challenges perceptions”, and rightly it is so given that food is cooked and served by prisoners who participate in The Clink Restaurants’ training scheme.

The Clink Restaurant at HMP High Down has a high-ceilinged room whose modernity with slate walls and tiled floor draws warmth from soft lighting and colorful paintings, and waiters are dressed in smart uniforms with a tartan waistcoat and gray trousers. The restaurant has a also a private dining room which is available for exclusive hire. “Seating 20 and offering projector and AV facilities it is ideal for meetings, conferences and presentations”, the organization mentions on its website.

The differences from a regular restaurant are that it has no windows, the cutlery is plastic, and it can’t use yeast, because it can be used in brewing, while vanilla essence is banned because it contains alcohol. Also, no wine or drinks are served.

In order to prevent acts of violence, the kitchen knives are kept in a locked cupboard with a so-called shadow board that shows any missing.

The inmates learn how to cook and serve the paying public, who have applied in advance and received security clearance.

Among the staff’s mentors are several of the U.K.’s leading chefs, including Albert Roux, Antonio Carluccio, Giorgio Locatelli, Thomasina Miers and Cyrus Todiwala. Also, another supporter is Silvano Giraldin, who retired in 2008 after 37 years at two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche.

Earlier this month, The Clink Charity has appointed chef Daniel Galmiche as group sustainability ambassador.

But this is not the only restaurant build inside a prison walls. In february 2014, another restaurant has opened to the public in a south London prison staffed by inmates. The Clink Restaurant Brixton is run by the same charity organization.

The charity organization Clink seeks to help rehabilitate trusted prisoners, be they murderers, rapists and drug dealers, from four jails around the U.K.: Brixton, Cardiff, Style (a women’s prison in Cheshire) and HMP High Down. Those involved in the program are the end of their sentences.

The restaurant within the walls of the prison, awarded by TripAdvisor

Since 2009, when the first Clink Restaurant opened to public, 800 prisoners were trained, and 200 employers disposed to give a Clink graduate a job. The charity organization also prides itself with 87.5% succes rate in reducing reoffending, but also 40 awards won by The Clink Charity and Restaurants. Among the prizes won by the restaurants is also The Certificate of Excellence won in 2015 from TripAdvisor. Till now, on world’s largest travel site were published 254 reviews for The Clink Restaurant at HMP High Down, 180 costumers rating it as „excellent” and 60 „very good”.

How can you book a table at the restaurant from prison

If you want to book a table at one of The Clink Restaurants you have to complete a booking form. “As two of The Clink Restaurants are located inside prison walls, we do have to complete a security check on all people visiting. Once we have received your enquiry we will be able to confirm if your booking request has been successful. Once successful, all reservations are subject to a £15 deposit per person to secure the booking. Once you have received your booking confirmation, we ask you to read our security guidelines carefully before you arrive.”, the charity organization mentions on its wbsite.

Instead, for The Clink Restaurants at HMP Cardiff and Styal, that are located just outside of the prison walls, there aren’t required security checks so you can make a direct booking online and walk-in guests are welcomed.

How much you have to pay for a dinner at HMP High Down

At the restaurant HMP High Down you have to pay for a starter minimum £5.50, for chef’s soup of the day, sourdough bread, and £6.95 for savoury baked cheesecake, cranberry relish, thyme
shortbread or a portion of potted brown shrimps with paprika croutons, chicory salad, and lemon dressing. The main course’s price varies between £13.50 and £15.75 – price listed for a portion of a duo of venison, seared loin and cottage pie, cavolo nero, and light pan juice.

You can also order a dessert for £6.50 – £7.50. The maximum price for dessert is available for a portion of local cheese board, fruit chutney, celery and grapes.

Madeline Gorthon