Last 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.
The Official Brewery of the world-famous Whitstable Oyster Company. We enjoyed sampling several of the beers!
The Royal Native Oyster Stores in Kent is a seafood restaurant offering some of the very best oysters, fish and crustacea. The restaurant is located on the beach and offers stunning views of the company’s oyster grounds.
We found this gem of a pub and restaurant serving real ales, fine wines, delicious seasonal produce and live music. Just a stone’s throw from the sea in Whitstable.
The Hotel Continental is in a prime location as it’s the only beach front hotel in Whitstable.
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.
The Hotel Continental is in a prime location as it’s the only beachfront hotel in Whitstable.
After a bracing walk we enjoyed a pint of local beer and fish finger sandwiches with salad and chips at The Old Neptune
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.
We will certainly return whenthe weather is warmer!
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!
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.
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.
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 withplush 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.
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.
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.
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!
We loved the high ceilings and spacious interior, which is both stylish and elegant
Steve chose asparagus and prosciutto ham with poached free range egg in hollandaise sauce for his starter, and I had the crab and avocado concoction with crostini and watercress. Although both were excellent dishes I wished I had chosen his!
My main course was perfectly cooked pan fried sea bass fillets, and barley risotto with mushrooms and crispy shallots in garlic and parsley butter. Simple but delicious.
My dessert was salted caramel pot with cream, and truly scrumptious shortcake biscuits
The heart shaped biscuits seemed an appropriate symbol for our 3rd anniversary!
Our next stop was The Snug Kitchen and Bar on Lensfield Road for a nightcap
I loved the distinctive interior design of The Snug where I enjoyed a …….
Last week Steve and I decided to have dinner in the grand cafe setting of Browns Brasserie on Trumpington Street in Cambridge. It was a special occasion for us (3rd anniversary) but we wanted a low-key celebration, and to eat in a place where we wouldn’t be disappointed. I don’t usually promote a chain restaurant on my blog, but I am happy to make an exception for Browns, which is a beautiful building with a buzzing atmosphere.
Pro’s and Con’s – my first thought when I removed my coat and sat down was how chilly I felt in the restaurant. There appeared to be no heating on and the air-con blew cool, although it was a cold night outside with a bitter wind. I had to put my coat back on and then I didn’t remove it all night!
We were served with a jug of water at table whilst perusing the menu, but no bread was offered. The starters and main courses were all very tasty, freshly cooked and pleasing to the eye, but in my opinion the portion sizes of the dishes we chose were on the small side. My pan-fried Sea bass fillets were crisp and cooked to perfection, and for my dessert I was delighted by the taste and richness of the salted caramel pot, served with cream and accompanied by excellent shortcake biscuits. Steve chose the cheeseboard, which at £10.50 I considered to be over-priced, but he appreciated the selection of British cheeses.
Despite my minor quibbles we enjoyed our meal and the evening, and the service was good as always, so we overlooked the mistake with our order. Browns is known for traditional British food with a contemporary twist, and I like the wide range of choice on their menu. Prices are average for Cambridge at £30 a head for 3 courses, plus drinks and service. By coincidence I will be returning to Browns next week to sample and review their Afternoon Tea.
We decided to end our anniversary date night with ‘one for the road’ at The Snug in Lensfield Road where I enjoyed an old favourite drink of mine, a Pina colada cocktail. Very retro!
The question I am most often asked is ‘where’s the best place for ‘…. Sunday lunch, Afternoon Tea, Fine Dining, Oriental cuisine, Fish and Chips or simply good pub grub etc.
When people know I write a food blog about eating out in Cambridge I am frequently asked to make recommendations, so I have come up with a ‘BEST PLACE FOR‘ list of my favourite places, which I have tried and tested. Everyone has their own favourites of course, so this is just my personal opinion.
I was tempted to list my Top Ten but I had more than ten places to eat and drink which I’m happy to recommend, so they are in no particular order. All of my suggestions are in Cambridge, except one, which is too exceptional to exclude!
RistoranteIl Piccolo Mondo is the best place for authentic Italian food. Located in Bottisham, only 6 miles from Cambridge it’s advisable to book months ahead for this hugely popular restaurant, which is always very highly rated on every Top Ten listing.
Ristorante Il Piccolo Mondo in Bottisham, Cambs is the best place for Italian fine dining
Elegant, modern restaurant with exposed brickwork, serving homemade pasta with fish and meat dishes. Totally charming, with exceptional food and service.
The Clarendon Arms on Clarendon Street in Cambridge is the best place for a Sunday roast dinner. Highly popular sobook in advance for Sunday lunch to avoid disappointment, but they do have two sittings.
A Cambridge public house since 1812, with a good selection of real ales, ‘The Clarrie’ serves bistro-style food in a traditional pub setting. A friendly local and a firm favourite of mine.
The Clarendon Arms
35-36 Clarendon Street
Cambridge CB1 1JX
Phone: 01223 778272
Cau, the Argentinian restaurant on Bene’t Street, Cambridge is the one of the most popular places for Steak, I can also recommend ‘Rockers’on Mill Road asthey source their meat from a local butcher, and their chips are excellent.
This contemporary Buenos Aires-style restaurant is extremely stylish with cloud murals, and booths for intimate dining. Booking is advisable.
The Golden Curry Tandoori Restaurant on Mill Road, Cambridge is the best curry house in the area, and it never disappoints us. This place is always busy so it’s advisable to make a reservation.
The Golden Curry Tandoori Restaurant is a classic curry house serving traditional Indian and Bangladeshi meat, seafood and vegetable dishes. The service is exceptional, and it’s a family favourite when in need of ‘comfort food’.
Thirsty is a funky indie drinks shop and bar located on Chesterton Road, Cambridge, and the best place to find upmarket street food kitchens.
For a quirky and different night out try Thirsty in liaison with the best street food trucks in the area, which are parked outside on different nights. Wines, craft beer/cider, spirits, and coffee are also available. Note: It’s good to know that it’s possible to book for parties of six or more, as this place gets packed!
Thirsty the indie Wine Shop on Chesterton Road, Cambridge is the best place for a drink accompanied by excellent street food.
The Sea Tree on Mill Road, Cambridge is the best place for fish and chips and much, much more…..
The Sea Tree is an alternative fish bar offering a menu of traditional fish and chips alongside alternatives such as grilled mackerel, calamari and fish stew to eat in or takeaway.
The Sea Tree
13/14 The Broadway
Cambridge, CB1 3AH
Phone: 01223 414349
The other question I am most frequently asked is to recommend interesting pubs in Cambridge. There are so many to choose from but my personal favourites are The Free Press, The Elm Tree, and The Cambridge Blue for drinks, and The Earl of Beaconsfield for live music.
The Elm Tree is snug and eclectic local serving Real ales, Belgian beers and artisan ciders in a friendly candlelit pub with a terrace.
The Cambridge Blue is a Free House and Real Ale Paradise where visitors are given a warm welcome.
The Cambridge Blue
85-87 Gwydir Street
Cambridge CB1 2LG
Phone: 01223 471680
The Free Press is a dimly-lit, century-old pub with a fireplace and an intimate walled garden, serving fine cask ales and wine with locally sourced British cuisine. Quirky, interesting and well worth a visit.