To celebrate National Afternoon Tea Week I sampled a traditional Afternoon Tea yesterday with two friends at SIX, the restaurant at The Varsity Hotel in Cambridge.
SIX is located on the top floor beneath The Roof Top Garden of The Varsity Hotel and Spa with its own terraces for al fresco dining and breathtaking 360° panoramic views across the Cambridge skyline.
We were spoilt with sweet treats at SIX which included a three chocolate mousse mini-dessert, a blueberry and custard tartlet, an orange and chocolate macaron and an indulgent dark chocolate truffle. I was delighted that we were able to order fresh pots of tea at no additional cost too.
SIX is located on the sixth floor of this boutique hotel with floor to ceiling windows ensuring spectacular views of the historic Cambridge skyline. This is certainly a magnificent location for enjoying Afternoon Tea in Cambridge, and the food and service are of a high standard so it ticks all the boxes.
The traditional Afternoon Tea at SIX remains faithful to the classic combination of finger sandwiches, followed by warm scones served accompanied by clotted cream and Jam and a selection of sweet treats. I was particularly impressed with the extensive loose-leaf tea menu which featured many interesting and unusual blends from Ceylon, China, and India.
Vegetarian and gluten free Afternoon Tea options are available and booking is essential as all the food is freshly-made daily.
Afternoon Tea at SIX is available Monday to Friday: 2 pm – 4.30 pm at £19.50 per person or on Saturday and Sunday: 2.30 pm – 4.30 pm at £24.50 per person.
Afternoon Tea Week is an annual celebration of one of this nation’s favourite traditions. Whether it’s enjoyed in a 5-star hotel, or as a home baked treat, we British love the combination of savoury and sweet treats, accompanied by some of the 165 million cups of tea we drink each day in the UK!
This week Steve and I enjoyed a superb meal at Trinity which opened its doors four months ago and quickly established itself as the number one place to eat in Cambridge. We have tried to visit this restaurant on four previous occasions but something always prevented us going so I had booked a table in advance and kept my fingers crossed! When the day came Steve was unavoidably delayed so I had to phone Trinity and say we would be about one hour late, but they were very accommodating and held the table for us. On arrival, it was busy with a great atmosphere and the service was prompt, friendly and efficient. I particularly liked the fact that chilled water was placed on the table without having to ask. We loved the decor too!
We started our evening with a glass of fizz and complimentary bread and oil whilst we perused the a la carte menu which although small did have a good selection of seafood dishes, and Steve was looking forward to sampling the oysters.
I chose the lentil and goats’ curd salad, with salt baked beetroot for my starter – very pleasing to the eye and the tastebuds!
My dessert of Amaretti and lemon cheesecake, orange jelly, honeycomb, with lemon mascarpone was rich and tangy
Trinity is an elegant and stylish restaurant which serves tasty food in fine dining style where the surroundings are relaxed and informal. It’s a lot bigger than it appears from the outside and there is a downstairs seating area too. Following in the footsteps of sister restaurant Varsity on St Andrew’s Street, Trinity has the same emphasis on great flavours and knowledgeable service with a finely tuned Modern British menu celebrating carefully sourced fish and meat. The food is exceptionally well-presented with evidence of some real cheffy artistry at work, and it was delivered to table very promptly. (Impressive on a busy night and a sure sign of a well-run kitchen.) We were served by Ashley who was professional, warm and enthusiastic and a real asset to the restaurant.
Trinity is not the place for an inexpensive meal out but it’s ideal for a special occasion or celebration and excellent value for food which tasted as good as it looked. We paid £38 per head for three courses without drinks or service. Highly recommended and we’ll certainly be going back!
This is a working farm which has successfully diversified and is collectively known as Wyken Vineyards. The Leaping Hare comprises a classy interiors shop, cafe and restaurant, and there is a vineyard and lovely gardens which are open to the public and all are part of the private estate of Wyken Hall.
Wyken Vineyards is located approx 11 miles from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk and it had been highly recommended by a friend as a splendid destination for a day out in the countryside.
Wyken Farmers’ Marketwhich islocated in the old stables blockwas open from 9-1 when I visited last Saturday with a companion. After a look around the stalls, we found the Leaping Hare restaurant for a spot of lunch. As an aside I have to say that the name of this restaurant appeals to me almost as much as ‘The Giggling Squid’ Thai restaurant in Bury St Edmunds. (Unusual names must be a Suffolk thing!)
It was one of those typically changeable English summer days when there was a heavy rain shower one minute followed by bursts of bright sunshine the next, so we were wearing macs and sunglasses!
We started lunch with ice-cold sparkling orange and cranberry drinks
We both chose the Eggs Benedict dish for our lunch
My companion chose a slice of light and moist carrot cake instaed of a dessert.
Still thirsty and enjoying a leisurely-paced lunch we orderd a pot of tea each from a selection and it was loose-leaf!
Wyken Vineyards restaurant,The Leaping Hare, is located in the 400-year-old barn. A Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide and now in its 15th year in The Good Food Guide, the restaurant tries to source their ingredients from a five-mile radius, so the beef, lamb, game and eggs are local (and when possible from the Wyken farm and estate) with fruit, herbs and vegetables from the kitchen garden.
Curious sign on the entrance door into the restaurant!
Wyken Cafe, which serves breakfasts and lunches daily, is also located in the barn and offers a lighter menu choice with the same quality of food and service as the elegant restaurant. Prices were on the high side but the food was exceptionally tasty. We paid £20 a head for our lunch which included two soft drinks each, cake/dessert and service.
There was also a Summer Exhibition in the Leaping Hare Cafe Gallery of limited edition prints of watercolours by Eric Ravillious.
The Leaping Hare restaurant is located in the 400 year old barn
Wyken Shop – The Leaping Hare Country Store
This very attractive and stylish shop apparently sells wool throws and blankets from Scotland and Ireland, braided rugs from North Carolina, French grape-picking baskets, Panama hats from Ecuador, and much, much more. The Leaping Hare Country Store also included the book room which houses a selection of books from small specialist publishers. I particularly liked the designer pottery, the chic and classic clothes and accessories, and their range of unusual cards and gift wrap. This veritable cornucopia of beautiful and useful household items and consumables was an ideal place to buy presents. I came home with a bottle of Good Dog Ale brewed by Wyken Vineyards for Steve!
The Wyken Farmers’ Market
At The Wyken Farmers’ Market, there was an impressive selection of stalls from local producers including farmers, bakers, and a distillery. I noticed fish, artisan cheese and fine tea stalls, and an abundance of organic fruit, veg, plants, flowers and herbs for sale. The Market is open from 9 am to 1 pm every Saturday.
Wyken is a 1200-acre working farm which includes a flock of Shetland sheep, a small herd of Red Poll cattle and in 1988 they established a 7-acre vineyard with some 12,000 vines. It has produced award-winning wines, including the English Wine of the Year, and in 2009 their ‘Wyken Bacchus’ won the East Anglian Wine of the Year,
On average they produce some 12,000 bottles a year, and these are all sold through their Shop and Restaurant. From the Leaping Hare, you can take a walk to the vineyard over Home Meadow and through the beautiful ancient woodland of the estate.
Wyken Hall Gardens
These beautiful formal gardens surrounding the Elizabethan manor house are crammed with topiary, herbs, roses, and fruit trees and you may see meandering peacocks, guinea fowl and chickens too!
The gardens are open from 27th March until the end of September, from 2 – 6 pm daily (except Saturday unfortunately, but all the more reason for a return visit!)
Wyken Road Stanton Bury St Edmunds Suffolk IP31 2DW
For the third blog post in my series on roof terrace bars to be found in Cambridge, we headed for dArry’s Liquor Loft and Restaurant this week. I’ve been intending to seek out this popular venue since the loft space and roof terrace opened at dArry’s last year. I had also realised that it’s been over two years since we had last eaten at dArry’s restaurant so I was pleased to find that on Tuesdays they still have Steak Night. Regulars readers of my blog will know that my partner Steve loves a steak, but I invariably choose a fish or veggie main course.
My main course of asparagus and sun-dried tomato risotto with Parmesan shavings
I enjoyed sharing Steve’s starter of Padron Peppers pan flashed with sea salt, which were delicious
Steve’s main course of Rump Steak with Mushrooms & balsamic roasted tomatoes, salad and hand cut chips
At dArry’s restaurant the service was friendly, professional and prompt and prices were very reasonable. The menu could be described as modern British with a Mediterranean feel and we paid £25 a head for 3 courses without drinks and service. The addition of the Liquor Loft and roof terrace to dArry’s sheltered courtyard area offers even more opportunity for al fresco dining in the summer months. Bookings are only taken for large parties but they can usually seat walk-ins. dArry’s is an attractive cocktail bar and eatery with distinctive design features which also offers a wide range of events from live music to wine tasting. So lots of reasons to make a return visit and I’m more than happy to recommend it!
Last night Steve and I decided to revisit an old favourite eatery of mine De Luca Cucina and Bar which is an independent modern Italian restaurant in Cambridge. It was a warm and sunny summers evening so we hoped to dine on the roof terrace, and although it’s not possible to reserve a table there we weren’t disappointed.
De Luca Cucina and Bar is located on Regent Street in Cambridge
To start I opted for a selection of rustic Italian breads served with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and Kalamata and boscaiola olives marinated in virgin olive oil with mushrooms, sweet peppers, garlic and herbs, which we shared.
Steve’s colourful starter of Deep fried crispy squid served with sweet chilli and ginger relish, rocket and lemon
For my main course I chose the pasta ‘special’ dish of rigatoni with parma ham in a creamy white wine sauce with gorgonzola, dressed with rocket
For my dessert I chose Affogato al caffe, – hot espresso and Amaretto poured over homemade vanilla ice cream. Steve sampled an Expre coffee liqueur as a nightcap.
For affordable prices and good quality freshly-cooked food which is well presented with friendly and courteous staff De Luca is highly recommended. (We paid £28 per person for 3 courses from the a la carte menu without drinks or service.) It doesn’t surprise me that De Luca Cucina and Bar was a finalist in the Cambridge News Food and Drink Awards last year and I wish it more success in 2017.
In addition to their delicious food, De Luca has a Top Floor Cocktail Lounge which becomes Cambridge’s only Piano Bar on Friday and Saturday evenings. Cocktail-making classes are also available and having tried one of these sessions myself I can guarantee it’s great fun if you fancy a boozy night out!
Yesterday I sampled the Brunch menu at Novi bar and kitchen with two friends. I’ve been meaning to eat and drink there since it came on the scene in 2015 and never quite got around to it! To coincide with Novi’s 2nd anniversary last month I heard that it had opened a Living Room terrace which I was very keen to see. It was good to note many gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options on the menu and although fairly expensive the food, drinks and service didn’t disappoint.
Novi is centrally located on Regent Street in Cambridge
The achingly hip interior of Novi is light, airy and spacious
We sampled a couple of Novi’s famous cocktails, Breakfast Martini – juniper green organic gin, cointreau, marmalade, and fresh lemon juice, and Frank & Earnest – kraken spiced rum, cold brew coffee, almond milk, homemade gingerbread syrup, fresh cardamom, and molasses bitters
From the extensive Brunch menu which is served from 9am to 4pm daily, two of us chose healthy and nutritious veggie salads. My other friend ordered a large plate from the Daytime menu of Sirloin steak sandwich, silverskin onions, salad, gherkins, and creamed horseradish on sourdough, with a side of polenta chips.
Another interesting salad of Feta cheese, pomegranate, toasted walnuts, and mixed leaves with a pomegranate dressing
After our brunch we went upstairs to explore the new roof terrace. This al fresco seating area has already become a popular spot so we were lucky to find an empty table where we enjoyed huge slices of cookies and cream cake with iced coffees.
The recently opened roof terrace at Novi is sheltered and stylish with lots of wood and plants creating a very attractive outdoor space
Sitting in the sun relaxing with our drinks on the terrace we all agreed it was a perfect way to spend a summer Saturday afternoon. Highly recommended. Novi we will definitely be returning!
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!
It’s been a while now since my last blog post (Easter) and I’ve been waiting for something really special to share with you. Steve and I recently enjoyed a lovely holiday in Costa Verde, Northern Portugal and I found plenty to write about. It was our first visit and we explored an area resplendent with colour, sunshine, seafood, striking architecture, and much more. We stayed at Casa da Galé – a villain the picturesque coastal village of Moledo doMinho. We were within walking distance of one of the area’s most scenic sandy beaches. It was very quiet being low season, and although the weather was good the unspoilt beach was often deserted.
Our holiday home Casa da Galé was a charming stone cottage with a pool, which was set on several levels amidst spacious grounds of lawns and fruit trees.
We visited some picturesque cities like magnificent Porto with its stunning architecture and enjoyed several delicious meals in restaurants where locally caught seafood was always on the menu. We found eating out to be generally inexpensive and soft drinks were usually priced at one euro. Beer was also cheap and we drank copious amounts of SuperBock Portuguese lager!
A striking piece of street art seen in Porto
Just two of the lovely restaurants where we enjoyed traditional Portuguese cuisine. We found it a challenge at most places to understand exactly what we were ordering because we didn’t speak the language, but although the food and drink were sometimes not as expected it was always delicious!
The vast and colourful weekly market held in Barcelos sold everything from livestock to furniture, so we came home with a few interesting souvenirs.
The pretty harbour at Vila Praia de Ancora
The tiles are outstanding on these harbour front houses in Ancora
This shopping street in Vila de Castello was hung with gaudy and highly effective umbrellas
We loved the ornate door and the coloured tiles on this town house inVila do Castelo
Entrance to the Town Hall at Ancora
I loved the look of these apartments in Vila do Castelo
We explored Northern Portugal in a Fiat 500 convertible hire car
We explored Northern Portugal in a Fiat 500 convertible hire car, and I’ll have to put together another blog post of Steve’s wonderful photographs to really do the holiday justice.
On Good Friday Steve and I met up with friends for lunch at The Punt Yard, which was a new place to all of us, but I had high expectations as I’d heard good things about it. This retro-styled bar and kitchen opened last November and is another splendid addition to the portfolio of The City Pub Company, who own the Cambridge Brew House and the Old Bicycle Shop amongst others. It has a distinctive, fun and funky 50’s style, and an eclectic menu of yummy artisan pizzas, ‘posh’ kebabs, superfood salads, crafty cans and quirky cocktails.
New riverside venue The Punt Yard is a perfectly located eatery on picturesque Quayside in Cambridge.
Drinks are all about the cans at The Punt Yard, and with some stacked into a high tower on the bar, they made an unusual but appropriate feature and were something of a talking point.
At The Punt Yard their artisan Sourdough Pizzas are ordered by the yard. For smaller appetites quarter, half, and three-quarter yard sizes are available – that is if you can’t go the full yard! Ideal for sharing, with a big choice of unusual toppings.
We enjoyed a selection of drinks including zingy house cocktails, Amstel on draft, Ginger Beer and table water served in a retro milk bottle.
We loved the interior decor and the staff were fun, helpful and very friendly!
The bill was presented in an old-school style medicine bottle and the total cost of our meal with drinks came to a very reasonable £98 for the four of us. The Punt Yard benefits from not being one of a chain and it has a really cool vibe and a great atmosphere. There are lots of veggie and vegan options, and it’s a family friendly, fun place to eat. We will definitely be making a return visit, and it’s an ideal place for both locals and tourists. Highly recommended. Enjoy!
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