Last week I had lunch at the award-winning Packhorse Inn with two friends to celebrate a birthday. It was a glorious summer day and our meal at this five star AA restaurant and hotel owned by the Chestnut Group didn’t disappoint. Moulton is an idyllic village located to the north east of Newmarket, and just beyond “The Gallops” where they exercise the racehorses.
The Packhorse Inn is located on Bridge Street, in the picturesque village of Moulton near Newmarket, the home of horse-racing
Starter of Quail
Salmon and dill fishcakes, fish cream, fennel salad
Starter – Blow-torched mackerell
My rissotto main course was a hearty portion!
Scampi with fries
Another main course – Sea trout with globe artichokes
We all enjoyed our splendid three-course meal from the a la carte menu which was beautifully presented. The bill came to £40 per person including drinks which I thought was on the pricey side, but then this was a birthday celebration lunch so it was well worth pushing the boat out!
Afternoon Tea was served on pretty bespoke china with linen napkins
Unusually The Tamburlaine Afternoon Tea was served on a floor-standing three tiered stand
The finger sandwiches were freshly made with delicious fillings of egg, smoked salmon, ham and cheese and cucumber
The large freshly baked raisin and plain scones were served warm, and there were two of each
The top tier held a selection of gorgeous miniature cakes and sweet and tangy Mango Panna Cotta mini desserts
The scones were light and fluffy and served with strawberry jam and fresh cream
This brand new four-star hotel is the first UK property from the Irish O’Callaghan group, who own four stylish hotels in Dublin. The Tamburlaine is ideally located on Station Road close to the rail station at the heart of the extensive regeneration of this business and residential area, which has now changed out of all recognition. The 155-room hotel had only been open for three weeks when I visited yesterday, and work is still ongoing inside and out. The staff are very friendly and enthusiastic and they gave us a guided tour after our tea. I noticed that the restaurant has an impressive fine dining menu which I intend to sample sometime.
By the way, the hotel’s name Tamburlaine references a 16th-century play by Christopher Marlowe, who attended Corpus Christi College in the city.
My friend and I were celebrating her birthday and taking Afternoon Tea amid the genteel grandeur of the Colonial-style Garden Room made an excellent start to her celebrations. With ornate Victorian wallpaper and gorgeous silk velvet sofas, this is an exceptionally light and splendid room with a unique style.
The Tamburlaine traditional Afternoon Tea cost £21.50 per person and is priced on the high side for Cambridge, so not the best value for money but the surroundings more than compensate with a strong sense of occasion. One minor quibble though – I was surprised that a selection of loose-leaf tea blends wasn’t available, although we could have unlimited tea or coffee to accompany the food. Highly recommended.
Tamburlaine 27-29 Station Road Cambridge CB1 2FB Tel: 01223 792888
This week Steve and I dined at Cotto in it’s new home at The Gonville Hotel in Cambridge. The reopening of this highly acclaimed restaurant has been long-awaited and much anticipated, so after reading lots of ecstatic reviews we were very keen to see what has been a triumphant return for ourselves. Readers we weren’t disappointed – as the food, the service and the ambiance were all delightful. The perfectly cooked dishes were well-devised with interesting flavour combinations, and the presentation was nothing less than fine art on a plate. This is special occasion fine dining at it’s absolute best!
I chose ‘Chocolate Time‘ for my dessert – Papouasie Milk, Single Estates Dark and Milk Ice Cream.
The fine detail of this stunning dessert designed by Masterchef and chocolatier Hans Schweitzer was awesome. The plate was covered in a fine chocolate spiral which was so perfect I thought it was actually a design on the china !
Sublime, superb, and supreme are just three of the superlatives I could use to describe the Cotto dining experience. This is an inspirational partnership between The Gonville Hotel and the restaurant. Now in the perfect location overlooking Parker’s Piece with the welcome additions of the hotel’s bar and car park Cotto can only go from strength to strength. We loved the design of the new restaurant which has been purpose built and is light, bright and welcoming, with décor which oozes taste and class. The attention to detail is obvious and the service is exemplary from a young, well-trained team who are professional, friendly and attentive without being intrusive.
We started our evening with a Gin and Tonic at the hotel bar and with dinner Steve chose a dry white wine from Germany – Schloss Johannesburg Yellow Seal, and I drank Prosecco.
Booking in advance is essential and prices are £65 for three courses (minimum) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and £70 on Fridays and Saturdays. Expensive yes, but well worth it for a special dining experience which never disappoints.
Last week I had a lovely day out in London with a friend to celebrate her birthday. We started our day with a visit to The Switch House, – the new extension to the Tate Modern gallery in Southwark which opened to the public in June 2016.
Having skipped lunch we were looking forward to enjoying a full Afternoon Tea at our next destination The Wolseley, a café-restaurant in the grand European tradition located on Piccadilly, London.
In a classy and relaxed atmosphere we enjoyed The Wolseley’s full traditional Afternoon Tea, which had a lovely selection of finger sandwiches and small cakes, with freshly baked warm fruit scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam, and a choice of loose-leaf teas. At £28.50 per person I considered this to be excellent value, as we were offered more sandwiches and a second pot of tea at no extra charge. Although this place is always busy the service is remarkably good because they have lots of staff. The ambiance is buzzing and it was a super place for people-watching! It’s good to know that their scones and pastries are made on the premises, with an ever-changing selection of cakes, which typically might include a Battenberg or Sachertorte. Everything was perfection, from the white linen napkins, the marble-topped tables, the silver cutlery and tableware, to the bespoke china. We felt that this Afternoon Tea provided a quality experience and it’s the perfect venue for a special occasion. Highly recommended if you are looking for somewhere to eat in London, but booking is advisable.
The sandwiches were freshly-made and especially tasty with fillings of Chicken and tarragon, Smoked Salmon, Celery and Tomato, Cream cheese and cucumber, and Egg and Watercress.
A full Afternoon Tea is served from 3.00pm (3.30pm at weekends).
First opened as a prestigious car showroom in 1921 for Wolseley Motors Limited, the venue became The Wolseley in 2003 and soon became the famous institution it is today.
The Bar at The Gilbert Scott offers flavour, ingredients and theatre and provides the ultimate cocktail experience in show-stopping 19th century surroundings. Guests are welcome for drinks on a drop-in basis, and although I thought it was expensive, it was well worth it for a special occasion.
Tate Modern is a modern art gallery located in the Bankside area of the London Borough of Southwark. It’s Britain’s national gallery of international modern art and forms part of the Tate group. Based in the former Bankside Power Station, the Tate holds the national collection of British art from 1900 to the present day and international modern and contemporary art. Tate Modern is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world, and the new Switch House extension provides one of the best panoramic views over London free of charge, so it’s well worth a visit. As with the UK’s other national galleries and museums, there is no admission charge for access to the collection displays, which take up the majority of the gallery space.
Last week I enjoyed an excellent lunch with a friend as a belated birthday treat at the curiously named ‘Flitch of Bacon’ in Little Dunmow, Essex. I was delighted to find a new place which lived up to my expectations, as I am often disappointed. The owner Daniel Clifford (of ‘Midsummer House’ fame) lives nearby and is behind the Flitch’s new lease of life, so the long history of the Flitch of Bacon has a new chapter. The pub has undergone a sympathetic restoration to become a restaurant and pub with rooms, with an attractive outside seating area.
We found a relaxed atmosphere, amazing food and a wonderful drinks list in this dog and child-friendly restaurant in a pub, which is a Freehouse. I felt prices compared favourably with similar gastropubs in the Cambridge area, where the food was not of the same standard as we found at The Flitch. The cuisine is British/European, the service was friendly and professional from a young team, and we paid £25 a head for two courses without drinks.
The History – The Flitch of Bacon takes its name from the trials that award a flitch of bacon to married couples that can swear to not having regretted their marriage for a year and a day. It does rather sound like a tradition from a different age and it is , as the trials can be traced back to 1104 and the Dunmow flitch is referred to by Chaucer. At Little Dunmow, the home of the Flitch of Bacon, the ceremony survived into the eighteenth century.
And now to the food…. we were tempted by several of the starters on the a la carte menu but knew we would want room for desserts, and this being lunchtime we sensibly restrained ourselves. We ordered Beer Battered Fish and Triple Cooked Chips, Mushy peas, with Tartare Sauce for my main course, and Truffle and Ricotta Dumplings with Chicory, Pear and Walnut (without the Stilton) for my friend.
Both desserts were delightful, rich yet light with perfect flavour combinations, and all the dishes were appealing in their presentation.
The Flitch’s distinctive pig motif is everywhere – even on the curtains!
For my 50th blog post I couldn’t have wished to review anywhere better than Il PiccoloMondo, which is the best authentic Italian restaurant in the area in my opinion, and a personal favourite. Knowing this Steve had thoughtfully booked a table for a celebration dinner as a treat for my birthday. It was one of the hottest night’s of the summer, so we enjoyed an aperitif on the terrace before dining inside this hugely popular eatery, which well deserves it’s excellent reputation. From the minute we arrived until our departure several hours later the staff ensured our evening was a wonderful dining experience, and as for the food, every dish was superb. I could easily run out of superlatives in this review!
My smoked salmon starter with avocado and prawns was fresh and appetising, and I was reminded how generous the portion sizes are at Il Piccolo Mondo …….
….so for my main course I ordered a small plate of ricotta filled Tortelloni in a butter, sage and Parmesan sauce, because I wanted to leave room for a dessert!
Steve found his fillet steak was cooked to perfection, and it went down very well with a nice glass or two of red!
Steve chose Formaggi, a selection of Italian cheeses instead of a sweet
I loved the fresh flowers everywhere
Even the ladies toilet was fabulous!
When we arrived at this elegant, modern restaurant we had an excellent first impression of the building, which is splendid conversion of a former school. Polly and her front of house team are friendly and highly professional, ensuring that all diners have a fantastic experience. The restaurant is light and airy with a good ambience, and the tables aren’t too close so there is a feeling of privacy and space. The kitchen (La Cucina) is openly viewed from the dining room, but although busy it was calm and smoothly run. Fish dishes are a specialty, and the varied menu has plenty of hearty meat courses in addition to homemade pasta. The freshness and quality of the food, and the preparation and presentation could not be faulted. If you want somewhere impressive and very special plan well ahead to *book a table for lunch or dinner and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
We paid £34 a head for 3 courses, excluding drinks, and it was worth every penny!
This gourmet continental restaurant is renowned for its slow cooking ethos and chef’stastingmenu.
I loved this fabulous feature light in the bar where ……
we enjoyed a complimentary squid ink crisp canape, creatively presented in a box of pebbles which certainly had the WOW factor!
was accompanied by milk bread anddelicious mini onion loaves, both served warm
We chose A TASTE OF ALIMENTUM in 7 courses at £75 per person and Steve had a flight of wine at £37.50
BeefSirloin, (Hannan 80 day aged) beef fat potato, veal sweetbreads, parsley and mushroom served with Touriga Franca, Portugal
The pre-dessert Gin and Tonic was an excellent palette cleanser
Chocolate Gateau and passion fruit was the delicious final dish served with Moscato Rosa, Italy
To complete his meal Steve added a cheese course at £7.50
accompanied by an assortment of delicious biscuits and breads
Special occasion dining at Alimentum
Last week Steve and I celebrated his birthday by dining at Alimentum, where we enjoyed the chefs 7 course taster menu at £75 per person, accompanied by a flight of wine at £37.50.
It was a return visit for us and fully lived up to our expectations for special occasion dining. The menu at this 1 Michelin star restaurant is best described as Modern European and Chef Patron Mark Poynton delivers dishes which are original, contemporary and full of vibrant flavours and colours.
On arrival we had an aperitif in the bar where we were served a complimentary canape featuring squid ink crisps in a box of pebbles which blew me away with its creativity and invention. When seated in the restaurant we were close to the viewing window where it was fascinating to watch the chefs at work in the kitchen. Every dish from the amuse bouche through the seven courses on the ‘Taste of Alimentum‘ menu were delightful in taste, flavour and presentation. We both preferred the cod and beef dishes of the savoury courses, and relished the yummy desserts. I had been concerned that I would find eating seven courses challenging but in fact the amount of food was just right, and I didn’t feel uncomfortably full. Steve chose to end his meal with a cheese course because he had been so impressed with the choice of cheeses available on our previous visit.
This is certainly one of the best restaurants in Cambridge and we can highly recommended it for magnificent food and service. The atmosphere is cool and relaxed and the staff are friendly, knowledgeable and professional. It was an expensive night out but worth it for a special occasion, and we had a most enjoyable fine dining experience.
Alimentum – 1 Michelin Star Restaurant in Cambridge
This week we dined at Navadhanya with high expectations and we weren’t disappointed. Since it opened it’s doors in mid December 2014 this exciting new restaurant has jumped straight to the top of the Trip Advisor listings as the no 1 place to eat in Cambridge. Located in Newmarket Road it was formerly The Birdin Hand pub. Now it’s transformed into a cool, contemporary fine dining Indian restaurant. First impressions were inviting when viewed from outside, and a warm welcome lay within.The staff were courteous and hospitable and the service was outstanding without being intrusive. Seated in the middle of the room we found the noise levels rather uncomfortable as the place was fully booked and loud. I could hear the conversation of the woman at the next table more than I could hear my partner!
However this is a minor criticism as the food is not just fine Indian dining, its superlative cuisine which is created by award-winning chefs and staff who come from Five-Star Hotel and Michelin Star backgrounds. In fact we ran out of adjectives to describe the exquisite food by the end of the evening. The menu opens with a page of Allergens information from the Food Standards Agency which is very useful. There is a 7 course taster experience available at a very reasonable £29.99, but we decided on this occasion to choose from the a la carte menu. We started with a couple of beers and glasses of iced water whilst we feasted our eyes upon the very smart menu which claims to take you on a culinary journey from south to north India.
I chose Alootikki, a pan-fried potato cake with spinach filling, and my partner Steve decided upon Malai Tikka, Tandoor chicken with cream cheese, yogurt and cumin to begin our meal. The presentation was a work of art and looked glorious on slate. This was followed by the interestingly named Railway lamb curry for Steve, and I decided on Murgh Makaini, which is a chicken tikka dish for my main. We shared a side order of Aloo Jeera, a potato dish, accompanied by rice and naan bread. Portion sizes were just right and not feeling too bloated we both chose a dessert. I had Pastachio Kulfi, anIndian style ice cream and Steve had an indulgent Belgian chocolatemousse.
Accompanied by another beer and plenty of iced water we ended the meal with a liqueur as it was a date night! Overall it was excellent value for money as the bill came to under £80 and to quote Steve ” the food didn’t just burst with flavours but tastes exploded in the mouth”. Needless to say we will be dining at Navadhanya again, and recommend to anyone who is looking for something very different and special, that is fine dining Indian style. Enjoy!