Having spent several years extensively renovating what is now Carlton Riverside – a converted 19th century inn on the banks of the River Irfon – they finally moved their business to its new venue in 2005, and have remained there ever since. Mary Ann Gilchrist has developed her culinary skills over the years and has kept her style contemporary, while still treating beautiful, regional ingredients simply and with respect. A typical Carlton Riverside meal could start with Pea mousse with Carmarthen ham and pea-shallot salad, before moving onto Featherblade of beef slow-braised in Welsh ale with punchnep mash and buttered cabbage. To finish, perhaps a Chilled caramelised rice pudding with whinberry compote, and, if you’re feeling particularly gluttonous, a Selection of Welsh cheeses with homemade biscuits.
Lamb is a speciality of Mary Ann Gilchrist and all her meat is sourced from Welsh farms. The restaurant’s fish and shellfish come from Pwhelli and is caught using sustainable methods. She has a real fondness for seafood, particularly the under-utilised brown shrimp, and when asked what dish she would most like to be remembered for, it was her Sea bass with leek and lobster velouté and spiced brown shrimp croquette.
Mary Ann Gilchrist has appeared in the 2013 and 2014 series of Great British Menu, coming second in both years’ Wales heats. One of the biggest characters to ever grace the programme’s kitchen, she has likened her on-screen personality to that of pioneering 1950s television chef Fanny Craddock, whose bold, theatrical and combative style saw her become the foremost celebrity chef of her day.
Now very much settled at Carlton Riverside, the appeal of Mary Ann Gilchrist’s cooking is summed up perfectly on the restaurant’s website: “you can expect high quality ingredients cooked with care and flair by a chef with passion.”