CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

The Clink, Her Majesty’s Prison High Down, High Down Lane, Sutton SM2 5PJ - restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 16:00 24 August 2015 | UPDATED: 16:25 24 August 2015

The Clink is as stylish as most High Street restaurants

The Clink is as stylish as most High Street restaurants

©Nishi Sharma, All Rights Reserved

When opened in 2009, The Clink at HMP High Down could claim to be unique in the culinary world. The first public restaurant to operate inside a prison, it proved such a success that it now has a number of imitators. Matthew Williams runs the rule...

There's no cutting corners at The ClinkThere's no cutting corners at The Clink

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine August 2015

***

The Clink,

Her Majesty’s Prison High Down, High Down Lane, Sutton SM2 5PJ

Tel: 0207 147 6724

***

The verdict:

Food: 9

Venue: 9

Service: 9

***

REVIEW: Before being greeted by an ominous looking brick wall and stout door, my accomplices and I have already handed over our passports, sharp objects and mobile phones, and passed through airport-style security, barbed wire fences and ‘neutral zones’.

It’s fair to say that The Clink isn’t your average restaurant – and that anyone who happens to read books by their covers would be struggling along punch-drunk by the time the prison officer opens the hole in the wall that leads to the eatery within.

Because then something magical occurs. If Porridge did Harry Potter, The Clink would be Diagon Alley. As the hinges creak, the view creeps up on you and then, suddenly, here’s a venue packed with cool designs 
and sharp lines that wouldn’t look out of place in the City.

It’s easy to forget that you’re currently standing in HMP High Down, a category B prison for over 1,000 male offenders.

Opened in 2009, The Clink was the first public restaurant to operate inside a prison and has proved such a success in reducing reoffending that a further three restaurants have launched around the country, with more to come.

The restaurant is staffed, both in the kitchen and service, by prisoners working towards City & Guilds NVQs in Hospitality & Catering and Customer Service. The ultimate goal: employment in the UK hospitality industry upon release. You’ll find plenty more about that though on the previous pages. So what about the food?

Best local menu

Opening to the public for breakfast and lunches, with a menu that would have had Norman Stanley Fletcher plotting peace with Mackay for a dinner date, this is the second time I’d visited in a year – the first having been for the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards, where it won Best Local Menu for the provenance of its produce.

Hugely impressed first time round, this time the plastic cutlery and lack of wine list (the reasons why are obvious when you think about it) come as less of a surprise.

Dining today with the chief executive of The Clink, Chris Moore, he picks our three-course journey – as a former restaurants general manager at Harrods, he’s the kind of man whose taste is easy to defer to.

First from the kitchen, which is led by head chef Adam Venn (the professional chef who oversees the trainees), is a vibrant citrus gravalax with dill mayonnaise, burnt lemon gel and micro-herbs. All at our table are immediately won over by presentation and flavours, which far surpass expectations.

Next comes a succulent and earthy roast chicken breast with a sage crust, accompanied by onion purée, onion rings, creamy mashed potato, radish and green beans. Certainly no complaints here.

To finish, a creative lemon meringue with a twist: lemon posset, mini meringues, shortbread crumb and a teasing basil sorbet explode together on the palate.

Suffice to say, what’s on offer at The Clink is far more than some mere gimmick to spark idle chatter. The service is immaculately friendly, the cooking superb and the setting is far more relaxing than some might imagine.

Initially, The Clink may have been a hard sell to some, but privately-funded and with an increasing number of high-profile chefs keen to get involved, it’s very much looking like the future of a service that needed a spark of ingenuity. I can’t recommend a visit highly enough.

***

Discover the inspiration behind The Clink prison restaurant and garden

More from Surrey Life

Yesterday, 16:06

Education expert Dr Ryan Hinchey, Coordinator of College Counselling at ACS International School, with campuses in Cobham, Egham and Hillingdon, answers your questions

Read more
Yesterday, 11:34

Surrounded by reservoirs and located on the banks of the famous river from which it takes its name, Staines-upon-Thames (as it is now called) is a town working to reshape its future and celebrate its picturesque riverside setting

Read more
Mon, 16:30

She may have recently moved to the seaside, but Surrey still holds a uniquely “precious” place in the heart of legendary children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson – not to mention the crucial role the county played in bringing everyone’s favourite and newly-returning feisty foster-kid to life

Read more
Mon, 11:59

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (23, 24 and 25 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Surrey is full of secret hideaways and hidden gems. Slades Farm on the Wintershall Estate is definitely one of them

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The new hotel is set to open in spring 2019 and will be located in the heart of the vineyard, offering sweeping views over the North Downs Way.

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

From Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Surrey this season

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Having bloomed in Brighton’s restaurant scene over the past decade, The Chilli Pickle opened its second site in Guildford this summer

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Historic Royal Palaces and IMG have announced that Kylie Minogue is the first headliner confirmed for Hampton Court Palace Festival 2019. These will be her only London shows of summer 2019. Here’s how you can get tickets

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Enjoy this linear rail to ramble section of the Thames Down Link route taking the short train-ride from Box Hill & Westhumble to Ashtead before walking back

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s that time of year when our beautiful countryside is alight with the colours of autumn. Here, we pick out some of her favourite spots to enjoy the seasonal splendour – as well as some perfect places for a post-walk refresher

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Found on the stretch of the River Thames between Weybridge and East Molesey, Sunbury-on-Thames is blessed with a village feel where it meets the water. From antique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Verity & Violet are Loui and Jess – a singing duo from Surrey who specialise in blending vintage classics with modern favourites. The two have achieved success in the capital, but are now hoping to attract an audience closer to home

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search