A young entrepreneur has cornered and conquered a niche we never knew existed and can now proudly claim to operate the best Jamaican eatery in Ffynnongroyw.
It’s not exactly an oversubscribed market. Ffynnongroyw, little more than a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it single-street village between Talacre and Mostyn, is not known for its sizeable Caribbean community – so why did Charlotte Stanley, owner of Up A Yard Jamaican Cuisine, set up here, of all places?
“I just wanted to bring some more colour and culture to North Wales,” says Charlotte, 25. “There’s not a range of different cultures and ethnicities here, but people want a different experience to Chinese, Indian and fish and chips.”
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Speaking for myself, that’s very true. I’m always keen to try something different and I’m already a fan of Jamaican food, but until now I’d have had to go a long way to get it – possibly as far as Manchester, where Charlotte was born and where her Jamaican grandmother still lives.
“I moved here [to Ffynnongroyw] when I was five, but my dad and grandma live in Manchester,” she says. “I go there a lot, and my grandma always cooks up Jamaican food on a Sunday. That’s where I got a taste for it, and she always encouraged me to cook, too.”
Charlotte, who trained as a chef at Coleg Cambria in Connah’s Quay, launched Up A Yard in February after spending months sidelined from her role as head chef at the 1891 restaurant in Rhyl during the pandemic.
“It’s council-run, so I was still being paid. I could have just taken that wage and done nothing, but I was so bored in lockdown,” says Charlotte. “I just thought ‘what am I waiting for?’, and took the plunge.”
Up A Yard currently operates out of the community centre in Ffynnongroyw, for takeaway or delivery only, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Plans are afoot for a restaurant launch, but for now, customers are asked to call or check the eatery’s social media pages for the menu – which changes every week – and place their orders in advance.
I do exactly that and, having booked on a Thursday, go to pick up my Saturday dinner. Reggae music and aromatic aromas float on the air as I await my haul, which is punctually presented by a Charlotte who is hard at work but whose disposition is just as sunny as that bright summer evening.
Back home, I unpack the goodies on a garden table. It’s not quite a Caribbean beach setting, but the food and the weather lend themselves to al fresco dining. The dishes are packed in wide, recyclable containers in generous portions. They are best spread out and served buffet style – even if it is just my wife and I eating.
From this week’s choice of three mains, we’ve opted for curried goat, and ackee and saltfish (there was also a vegetarian option), bolstered by side orders of two rounds of chicken wings (jerk and lemon peppa) and one of dirty fries, plus a couple of cans of Old Jamaica Ginger Beer. The mains alone would be more than enough for the two of us, so having ordered extras means we’re sorted for tomorrow’s lunch as well.
Curried goat is likely the most exotic option for most locals, being such a rare meat in these parts. But don’t be coy – it has a light, delicate and slightly sweet flavour, with a soft texture that lends itself to absorbing the flavours it’s cooked in. In this case, it’s a mild curry, peppery rather than spicy, and accessible to all but the most heat-averse.
The dish is bolstered by rice and beans, baby spuds, mashed sweet potato and plantain (cooking banana), which combine for a “comfort food” effect and a nutritious carb boost.
Ackee may also be unfamiliar to locals, despite being one of Jamaica’s signature foods. It is a savoury fruit, boiled and then fried, and ends up looking a lot like scrambled egg. This too absorbs the flavour of the seasonings – in this case, chilli, garlic and pepper – as well as the salted cod it’s paired with. The fish is tangy and moreish, and its saltiness is tempered by the ackee. Again the dish is rounded off by rice, beans, sweet potato mash and mixed vegetables, plus a couple of dumplings.
For many people, their experience of Jamaican food starts and ends with jerk chicken, so naturally Up A Yard offers this. It’s a favourite for a good reason, and the jerk wings here are an excellent take on the sweet and spicy signature. But better yet are the lemon peppa wings, which boast a zesty, charred flavour that perfectly complements the meat which is cooked to a drier consistency.
Both orders of wings come with spicy handmade coleslaw, and the dirty fries – chips topped with thousand island sauce and chopped spring onions – are almost polished off by my wife before I get a look in.
As with many people in North Wales, she had not previously tried Jamaican food, but proclaimed herself a fan afterwards. As for myself, as an existing fan, I can testify to its quality and authenticity.
What a surprise, and what a treat, to now have it available in rural North Wales.
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Curried goat £12
Ackee and saltfish £12
Jerk wings £5
Lemon peppa wings £5
Dirty fries £3.50
2 x Old Jamaica Ginger Beer £4
Opening times: Thursday, Friday and Saturday 4-9pm, takeaway or delivery only. All food must be pre-ordered.
Car parking: Spaces in front of the community centre and on the street
Service: As sunny as a Caribbean island
Overall: As authentic and delicious as it is incongruous
Up A Yard Jamaican Cuisine
Ffynnongroyw Community Centre, Main Road, Ffynnongroyw, Flintshire CH8 9HA
Tel 07741 149621 or order online via Up A Yard’s Facebook or Instagram pages
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