The Boot Pub Brasserie in Histon, Cambs: A tale of two soufflés!

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The Boot pub in Histon, which has recently reopened as a White Company Brasserie

Last night Steve and I braved the sub-zero temperatures and the snow to meet up with friends in the village of Histon, which is located a few miles north of Cambridge. We had booked a table at the newly reopened and refurbished pub The Boot which now includes a French-style brasserie, run by the company of celebrity chef Raymond Blanc.

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We began our meal with a basket of stone-baked artisan baguette and Rustica olives.

 

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Two of our party chose the Cheddar cheese soufflé for starters, which was served with a warm Ford Farm Coastal Cheddar sauce. It was perfectly light and utterly delicious!
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Steve chose the Burgundian snails in garlic herb butter, served with a baguette
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Another one of our starters was French onion soup, with Gruyère cheese croûtons

 

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For my main course, I chose this classic dish of Slow-cooked Bœuf Bourguignon, red wine, lardons, baby onions, mushrooms, with smooth mash
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Must say I liked the look of this Pie of the Week, a chicken and leek traditional homemade pie served with green beans chosen by one of my companions 

Steve and one of our party chose Scottish Hebredian rope-grown mussels, steamed with traditional white wine and shallot marinière or creamy saffron mouclade, served with chips and baguette.

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For my dessert, I couldn’t resist this Pistachio soufflé, famously light with rich chocolate ice cream. Two irresistible soufflés in one night!
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One of our party chose this Normandy apple tart, with salted caramel ice cream
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It came as no surprise that Steve chose this excellent Cheese plate, with Boy Laity Cornish Camembert, Lyburn Gold, Cheviot and Brighton Blue served with homemade chutney, dried fruit, nuts and crackers
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The Three-fruit marmalade crème brûlée was enjoyed by another of my dining companions

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The Boot is a fabulous conversion which includes a big new bar where dogs are welcome, cosy snugs, and open and log burner fires make it a warm and welcoming environment. The sensational oak beamed extension houses the main brasserie restaurant which is extremely attractive. The cuisine is a winning combination of French brasserie favourites and British pub classics with a choice of menus at competitive prices. The service is good and the staff are friendly. For home-cooked food in an informal setting, this place is going to become a firm favourite of mine for the soufflés alone! Highly recommended.

The Boot

1 High St,

Histon,

Cambridge

CB24 9LG

Tel: 01223 209010

boot.histon@whitebrasserie.com

http://boothiston.com

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A Winter break in Whitstable, Kent: January 2018

IMG_1024.jpgLast week Steve and I enjoyed a 3-day winter break in Whitstable which is a quaint fishing and harbour town on the North coast of Kent. It’s located 5 miles north of Canterbury and 2 miles west of Herne Bay, and very popular with visitors, especially from London. Harbour Street has many independent shops and there is a wide selection of pubs, cafes and restaurants in the town which has the working harbour as it’s focal point. This was our first visit and a post-Christmas gift to me from Steve as he knew I have been wanting to stay in Whitstable for years and had never got around to it.

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Whitstable Harbour

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We stayed in one of these 150-year old converted Fisherman’s Huts, which were formerly fishermen stores and are now run by the Hotel Continental. They provided the perfect setting for something of a unique overnight accommodation experience that is quirky and fun. The huts are situated just metres from the beach in the centre of Whitstable offering magnificent sea views of the Thames estuary.  Breakfast was served at the Hotel Continental which is about 10 minutes walk away from the huts and included in the price.

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The Hotel Continental is in a prime location as it’s the only beachfront hotel in Whitstable.
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Dating from the early 19th century ‘The Old Neptune’ Whitstable, or ‘The Neppy’ as it’s affectionately known locally is one of only a handful of pubs to be found on the beaches of Britain.
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After a bracing walk, we enjoyed a pint of local beer and fish finger sandwiches with salad and chips at The Old Neptune. 

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The Royal Native Oyster Stores in Whitstable is a seafood restaurant offering some of the very best oysters, fish and crustacea. The restaurant housed in a whitewashed former oyster store is located on the beach and offers stunning views of the company’s oyster grounds.
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The classic rustic interior of The Royal Native Oyster Stores restaurant where we enjoyed a splendid meal on the first night of our stay. 
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We found this gem of a pub and restaurant offering real ales, fine wines, delicious seasonal produce and live music, just a stone’s throw from the sea in Whitstable.
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The Pearson’s Arms has a lovely bar area and a rather fine restaurant upstairs where we enjoyed dining on our second night, from a menu which showcased the best of fresh, local produce.
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Steve relished eating both native and rock oysters in Whitstable.
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The Official Brewery of the world-famous Whitstable Oyster Company. We enjoyed sampling several of the beers!

Some of the interesting images we found in Harbour Street, Whitstable by local enigmatic graffiti artist Catman, a Banksy-style street painter – who apparently keeps his identity firmly under wraps!

So what did I make of our winter break in Whitstable? It certainly has a unique appeal and I can’t really compare it to anywhere else, although I felt that there are similarities with Aldeburgh and Wells-next-the-sea. Our stay in the fisherman’s hut, a meal in one of the best fish restaurants and a pint of a local brew in one of the seafront pubs sums up the charm of quintessential Whitstable: a combination of the classic rugged, cosy seaside town aesthetic and a touch of the modern bohemian! Well worth a visit, a short stay or as a base for a holiday.

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We will certainly return when the weather is warmer!

 

A celebration lunch at The Packhorse Inn, Moulton, near Newmarket, Suffolk : June 2017

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.

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The Packhorse Inn is located on Bridge Street, in the picturesque village of Moulton near Newmarket, the home of horse-racing 
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These freshly baked rolls and canapes made an excellent appetiser
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A starter of blow-torched mackerel for one of my companions
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For my starter I chose Salmon and dill fishcakes with fennel salad
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Another starter of Quail with pea mash

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I chose a hearty-sized main course of veggie risotto 
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Another main course – Scampi with fries
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Sea trout with globe artichokes was another of our main courses
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Two of us chose the blackcurrant soufflé and raspberry sorbet for dessert
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Another dessert – Coffee and Chocolate bar with Guinness ice cream

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!

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The picturesque Packhorse Bridge at Moulton, near Newmarket, Suffolk

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This pretty four-arched late medieval bridge spans the River Kennett on the old route from Cambridge to Bury St Edmunds

The Packhorse Inn

Bridge Street

Moulton

Newmarket

Suffolk

CB8 8SP

Tel: 01638751818

http://www.thepackhorseinn.com

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The Petersfield, a new Cambridge pub and restaurant : March 2017

This week Steve and I visited The Petersfield, as we were curious to try this new pub and restaurant which opened last month in the building which was formerly home to the well-loved Backstreet Bistro, in Sturton Street. We had heard quite a buzz about the place, and were advised to book by friends who had been disappointed not to get a table last weekend. The Petersfield is another addition to the ever-growing City Pub Company group, who own the Cambridge Brew House and The Old Bicycle Shop amongst other popular locals so I had expected a stylish refit, and I wasn’t disappointed.

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The Petersfield is located on Sturton Street, Cambridge
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The interior was smart and classy, but the tables were too close together for my liking

Service was brisk and attentive and despite being very busy there wasn’t a long wait for food. The atmosphere was lively and fairly loud, but although it’s new this pub should continue to do well in this location at the heart of the neighbourhood.

 

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The pub is full of charming design features and I loved the glass bottles ceiling in the bar

The Petersfield has a contemporary retro look with a large L-shaped bar and lots of dining tables. The décor features a rich use of colours with plush furnishings and good lighting, so this impressive refurbishment looks like no expense has been spared with a lot of thought being put into the detail.

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The ceramic fish water jug made an interesting gurgling sound when poured!

The Petersfield features an impressive range of local real ales and offers a fairly ambitious menu of British food of the gourmet pub grub variety at restaurant prices.

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Steve had Potted Goose and Sourdough for his starter
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The Petersfield had a good range of craft beers, so we tried several!
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For his main course Steve chose Pork Belly, roasted sweet potato, crispy black pudding, savoy cabbage, and apple sauce….
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and to finish his meal the British Cheese selection with pickle, celery and fancy crackers

 

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I had Cider-battered Haddock, chips, peas and tartare sauce, and Chocolate Fondant for my dessert

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We ended our evening with a nightcap in the bar

My general impression was that the food I had was only average and slightly over-priced. We paid £44.25 for our meal without drinks, but it’s an attractive pub and a welcome addition to the area.

 

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The attractive outdoor seating area made a great use of the space

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The Petersfield

2 STURTON STREET

CB1 2QA

TEL: 01223 306 306

http://www.thepetersfield.co.uk

The Flitch of Bacon, a dining gem of a pub found in Essex! September 2016

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The Flitch of Bacon is located on The Street in Little Dunmow, Essex

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.

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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.

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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.img_0122-2

 

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I declared this to be the very best fish and chips I have ever tasted!

 

 

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My companion enjoyed her main of course of Truffle and Ricotta Dumplings with a house salad which had a fresh citrus dressing

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We both loved our desserts of Brown Sugar and Greengage Crème Brulee and Iced Lemon Parfait with Blueberries and Raspberries

Both desserts were delightful, rich yet light with perfect flavour combinations, and all the dishes were appealing in their presentation.

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The Flitch’s distinctive pig motif is everywhere – even on the curtains!

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The stylish bar area

 

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The attractive outdoor seating area

Flitch of Bacon                flitch-at-night-2

The Street

Little Dunmow

Essex

CM6 3HT

Tel: 01371 821660

reservations@flitchofbacon.co.uk

http://www.theflitchofbacon.co.uk

 

Note: Midsummer House  The Flitch of Bacon is Midsummer House’s more accessible little brother http://www.midsummerhouse.co.uk

Granny Apples says – “The Flitch of Bacon is well worth seeking out for somewhere special and not just for special occasions, and I will certainly be returning for dinner some time soon!”