The best restaurant in London? It's inside a prison

The restaurant at HMP Brixton reached the first place beating 18,000 restaurants. The Clink inside a South of London prison has a five-star rating, with 97% of reviews being "excellent". The menu costs around £30 for three courses. 

However, the Clink is much more than a top Tripadvisor restaurant (see below). It's a social enterprise with not one but four locations in or just outside prisons. Each has become the top ranked in their respective areas on TripAdvisor, and the reviews are gushing.

Satisfied customers have praised the food, atmosphere, and service on the reviews website, with many reporting returning for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries.

The Cardiff restaurant has over 1,000 five star reviews, and recently received the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Award for the 10th Best Restaurant in the UK. 

How it all started

Chris Moore, chief executive of The Clink Charity says to the I, “One of the biggest challenges we face as a charity is public misconceptions of prisoners and rehabilitation. Having this feedback from our diners provides evidence that we’re combating these views and are helping people to understand how important a part education and meaningful work plays in reducing reoffending rates."

The first Clink restaurant was set up at HMP High Down in Surrey in 2009, four years after the prison catering manager Alberto Crisci first conceived the idea of a restaurant manned entirely by inmates. 

Crisci identified the need to provide prisoners with work experience, qualifications, and formal training in order for them to re-integrate into society and find employment after their release. 

Since then the Clink Restaurants have gone from strength to strength, with branches being opened at HMP Cardiff, HMP Brixton and HMP Styal in Cheshire. 

Over 800 prisoners have undertaken the Clink program, which has reduced reoffending rates dramatically from the UK average of 46% reoffending within 12 months to less than 10%.

Three-quarters of the vegetables and herbs used at Clink Restaurants and by the events team is grown in the two Clink Gardens. The Gardens are located at HMP Cardiff and HMP Send in Surrey, a female prison.