The Clink – a restaurant inside a prison

The Clink is a restaurant that offers an alternative dining experience.

The BBC One television programme The Prison Restaurant featured  The Clink which is a restaurant with a difference – it is inside Her Majesty’s Prison Highdown in Sutton, Surrey. Once customers have been vetted by the Home Office and handed over any sharp metal objects and mobile phones at the prison gates, they are escorted through the corridors into a luxury restaurant and served mouth-watering dishes of lobster, shoulder of lamb and coq au vin prepared by prisoners using vegetables grown in the prison.

The menu sounds mouthwatering, but the paying customers at this classy establishment tuck into their crab, lobster and coq au vin knowing that most of the staff are convicted criminals.

The controversial scheme that opened in 2009 aims to train inmates to become qualified catering staff – in its first 18 months 13 fully-trained chefs and waiters were released from prison with a catering job. Read more about the Clink Charity

There are panic buttons on the wall and plastic cutlery, but otherwise the 85-seat restaurant could be any luxury restaurant anywhere in the world. “There will be critics,” says the Governor, Peter Dawson, “but I think people underestimate what you have to do for successful resettlement.”

For more information about The Prison Restaurant read Head Chef of The Clink, Al Crisci’s post on the BBC food blog

You can watch The Prison Restaurant on BBC iPlayer