Fine Dining In A Prison: The Clink

The Clink, the first commercial restaurant built inside a British prison.


Looking for a more unusual and unique setting for your lunch? Gourmet dining with a twist?  You’ll find that twist you’re looking for at The Clink, no doubt about it! That twist being that you have to go through a security check before you enter the restaurant, and leave your mobile phone and any sharp objects at the door.  Oh, and that your food will be cooked and served by current inmates of the prison you are in…

The Clink, first opened in 2009, is a gourmet restaurant at the centre of HMP High Down in Surrey, which houses 1,100 inmates. It’s the first commercial restaurant to open inside a British prison.  The restaurant was born from chef Alberto Crisci’s desire to provide vocational catering training to inmates, beyond what was already available in the inmates’ canteen.  His aim was, and still is, to aid the rehabilitation of offenders, and decrease the chances of repeat offending, by providing inmates with the skills needed to take on a job after leaving prison.  Some past Clink workers have even been lucky enough to have landed jobs working in Aldo Zilli’s restaurants – he’s a great supporter of the work happening at The Clink.

For safety reasons and due to prison protocol, there are strict security processes to go through before entering the restaurant, and during the meal, the panic buttons on the walls, plastic cutlery (no metal cutlery is allowed), and the fact there is not a drop of alcohol to be found on the menu, are all constant, but subtle reminders of the restaurant’s unlikely location.  

Despite this, critics have claimed that The Clink could quite easily be mistaken for a restaurant in Mayfair, its fine and lavish furnishings created by the inmates themselves. The quality of the food will pleasantly shock visitors, with high quality dishes such as poached Pollack fillet with clams and bacon, or shoulder of lamb with spring vegetables featuring on the seasonal menus.  Individuals and prison workers can book to eat the reasonably priced gourmet cuisine, and there is even a private dining area for business meetings or large bookings.

So, if you’re looking for gourmet dining with a difference, then this might be for you.  Who would ever have thought prison food could be so good!



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About Sophie Jenkins

Sophie likes to mix up her dining experiences, and will enjoy juicy burgers & cocktails at Meat Liquor, or Lebanese mezze at Yalla Yalla, as much as a fine-dining dinner at The Ritz! With good food, good service, and good company, you can’t have a bad time.


David Miller

This prison is just up the road from my family home. I have heard a lot of good reviews about the restaurant – I must go and try it out and report back how the experience was!


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