We thought it would be nice to tell you a bit about ourselves and how we got here – so to speak.
Taste Inn Wales is a small privately owned business run and owned by two chefs Glyn Bridgeman, Sean Gerrard, and Jessica Bridgeman the brains and green fingered one.
Why Taste inn Wales?
Well, our first love has always been food, and in particular tasty food, we also had a country inn (more about that later), and all our business are located in the green and pleasant land Wales - Taste inn Wales just seemed right
How it all began - ‘Fourgates’
In the late 80’s we opened our first restaurant in the city of Chester – “Four Gates”
Only 4 years out of catering college and still in our early 20’s we were full of ambition, energy, an unnerving belief in our skills and in hindsight a little bit mad !
It was a learning curve - but we were honing our skills and learning fast.
Nevertheless a good solid business was built up and we gained some encouraging reviews particularly on the quality of our food which culminated in entering the Good Food Guide after 3 years. But something didn’t feel right – the whole restaurant scene was not exciting, and licensing laws were very restrictive - there had to be another way.
It was around 1990 after 4 years in Chester and many a brainstorming session we realised the need to change tack. We were passionate about food, and understood the importance that atmosphere played in creating an experience. The answer was simple – pubs – but pubs that celebrated food and their locality, delivered an ambience that was relaxed and informal – but driven above all by quality.
The search began, We were looking for somewhere rural but within easy reach of a town or city, a car park, separate dining areas and above all close proximity to the food source.
Nantyffin Cider mill
In 1991 we took on the lease at the Nantyffin Cider Mill near Crickhowell,within the Beautiful Brecon Beacons national park in south Wales and part of the Glanusk estate.
It was closed down at the time but we felt it met all of our criteria and we jumped in with all 6 feet.
That was over 20 years ago and having arrived in Crickhowell , we quickly set about putting our blue print into action. It was an instant hit serving food that was local and inventive – during those early years produce such as Lamb shanks, rabbit, pigeons, wild salmon, mushrooms, local cheeses, cream and the like were not being used extensively and therefore were incredibly good value, enabling our menus to be of a high quality and very affordable to the public.
We have always worked hard to use produce that we could gather from our surrounding area – long before it became the trendy thing to do – With Jessica coming from a farming family (Glaisfer Uchaf) made that even more important for us, and we have built strong relationships with many people who work hard to make a living in what have been very difficult times for the rural community. We buy Jersey cream from Bower farm - formally Tim Ling, Stuart the Milkman, Derek for beers, Simon for game today as we have for over 20 years.
Over the intervening years other food led businesses have opened in our area and we have heard many times that the Nantyffin played a part in their inspiration.
We were at the Nantyffin Cider Mill for 17 years, only recently selling the business in 2007.
The Manor Re-born
In 1997 the success of the Nantyffin had allowed us to purchase another local business, The Manor hotel in Crickhowell a 22 bedroom hotel which was in a serious state of disrepair and in administration. We had been looking for some time for ways to extend our business into the function and accommodation sector, and over the past 13 years we have taken the business to a level where it is now in a position to be expanded and upgraded with a luxury spa facility, a brasserie and a serious re-modelling of the exterior.
Peterstone Court Country House
Never a group to shirk a challenge, we then had an opportunity to take on Peterstone Court near Brecon - another business in receivership - during 2003.
Between then and 2010 we have upgraded all the rooms, bathrooms, gardens, created a spa area, raised the profile of the dining room and have been awarded two AA rosettes, entered the good food guide on a high, plus culminating this year in achieving 5 star restaurant with rooms status.
Our formula has always been to create a relaxed, informal atmosphere serving excellent food and wine with friendly service. This approach is at the heart of our ethos and we apply it to all aspects of our trade weather it’s a meal in the restaurant, a wedding, a conference or a resident. Over the years this has helped us build a very strong local, national and international cliental that seek out the quality product that has come to epitomize our business identity over the last 20 years.
The Castle Hotel
In November 2010 we acquired The Castle Hotel in Llandovery. After a slightly longer refurbishment than originally planned (ever conceivable thing that could go wrong did!) we opened in time to host the Llandovery Mayors Ball in April 2011. We have been serving great tasting food every day since. The next challenge was to get some accomodation up and going. The first 6 rooms were completed with just a few hours to spare, before the first guests checked in. Another then followed two weeks later, with the next 3 available hopefully ready by July. For more information - take a look at http://www.castle-hotel-llandovery.co.uk
Good food guide rated for over 17 years
Welsh dining pub of the year - Good Pub Guide 1997, 2000, 2001
The Michelin Guide
Hardens Guide highest rating AA
Silver award True taste
Gold award True taste
Collectively 5 AA food rosettes
Numerous quality press articles