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!
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!
Last week Steve and I visited The Green Man at Thriplow with two companions for a meal, because it had been highly recommended by another friend who described it as her new favourite place to eat, so I was keen to check it out for myself.
The Green Man is a community owned pub in the picturesque village of Thriplow, which is eight miles south of Cambridge. This traditional dog and family-friendly country inn serves seasonal locally sourced food and real ales and is a very popular destination so I would advise booking ahead for evening diners. We went on a Friday night and both the bar and restaurant area were full, but fortunately we had made a table reservation. The only problem was that it was rather loud where we were seated, making conversation across the table a bit challenging!
We fancied a little something to nibble before our main courses so we shared freshly baked garlic and herb bread with marinated olives. Unfortunately, the two dishes which we had chosen to share were off the menu. Tapas were advertised and we made the mistake of assuming we would share a selection of Spanish-style tapas, but the menu offered a wide range of small plates at £3, £4 and £5, which were more typically British pub grub starters.
Our friends both decided to have the BBQ pulled pork shoulder burger, in a poppy & sesame seed brioche bun with baby gem lettuce, apple slaw, feta salad, apple sauce, and whole-grain mustard accompanied by garlic and herb salted chips.
I wasn’t very hungry so I chose a small plate dish of Chargrilled Paphos Halloumi with rocket, tomato and sweet chilli, and a side of apple, cabbage and carrot slaw. It’s always good to see an option of small plates on a menu, – either for sharing dishes or for people like myself with limited appetites.
followed by the cheeseboard of British and Irish cheeses with salted and seeded Lavosh (crackers) and caramelised red onion chutney. Steve enjoyed the selection of cheeses, but he would have preferred plain crackers.
One of Steve’s pet hates when eating out is that he always gets ‘fancy’ upmarket types of crackers with his cheeseboard, which is his dessert of choice. We took a straw poll amongst our party and our personal favourite accompaniments to cheese were cream crackers, water biscuits, cornish wafers, and digestive biscuits. None of which are usually served when any of us have ordered a cheese course anywhere!
This community owned free house is warm and cosy with a real fire, and it’s worth noting that the kitchen and bar remain open all day. They even offer a lift home service to the surrounding villages, which must be a major plus for locals.
I was impressed with their eclectic craft Gin menu as it’s one of my favourite tipples, and I enjoyed a locally produced Pinkster gin with fresh raspberries and a Fever-Tree Elderflower tonic on this occasion.
I would certainly like to sample more dishes from The Green Mans interesting menu but I think a lunchtime may be a more relaxing and quieter time for a return visit. Despite being very busy the service was efficient and attentive, and the bill came to a very reasonable £73 for our meal, excluding drinks.
The village of Thriplow is famous for the Daffodil Festival which takes place every Spring. It attracts up to 10,000 visitors and is one of the best-loved charity events in Cambridgeshire.
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 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.
It’s been a while since I reviewed anywhere in Cambridge, but not for a lack of trying. In this long, hot month of July I have consumed food and drink at several different cafes, bars, pubs, and restaurants in the area, which have been underwhelming in general, and disappointing overall. So this week I was pleased to find somewhere to be enthusiastic enough to write about! Steve and I took advantage of a *Groupon voucher to try Latin tapas at The Emperor, followed by a drink at modish new bar and kitchen, the Old Bicycle Shop, which was a short walk up the road. Both places were busy, with a lively atmosphere, and we received a warm welcome from friendly staff, but one was a lot cooler than the other. Read on and all will be revealed……
The Emperor was formerly The Globe Ale House on Hills Road, now beautified and transformed this bar is loud with an exuberant atmosphere, and seemed popular with large groups. We drank my favourite Spanish lager Estrella Damm on tap, and took a window seat to watch the world go by, as we dined on an interesting variety of hot and cold tapas.
We started our Latin tapas journey with Chifles, – deep fried plantain and sweet potatoes . These ‘crisps’ were not to my taste!
The Emperor offers a tapas menu inspired by the culinary traditions of Latin America, using locally sourced ingredients, with sauces brought in straight from South America. We tasted a *special introductory deal of seven savoury tapas dishes to share, and a house dessert, with a glass of wine included for two people at £26. This offer was good value, and the food has an interesting mix of flavours and textures, but we both felt it looked better than it tasted, and there was too much fried food for my liking. The dishes were freshly cooked, and the service was relaxed and laid back with friendly staff. This is a fun dining experience if you are looking for something different. The ambiance lends itself perfectly to a party and tapas dishes – which are ideal for sharing, suit a large group well. This bright new conversion bares little resemblance to the old pub, with it’s bare floorboards, the attractive and colourful tiled bar, and modern artwork on the walls.
Personally I think this venue works better as a bar than a restaurant, so it falls into the common problems experienced by similar hybrids, making it unsuitable for an intimate dining experience. For example, there was a large flat-screen tv showing a salsa dance film on one wall, with loud background music being another distraction, and the acoustics of the place made our conversation a strain. On the upside I noticed that the well-stocked bar had a good selection of gins, a decent array of beers, and there is also an outside seating area.
We ended our evening with a visit to a very new bar, the Old Bicycle Shop, (which I had been very keen to visit since it opened in May) for a nightcap, and my first impression of both the exterior and the interior was …WOW! It probably helped that one of my all-time favourite Bob Dylan tracks was the first sound which greeted me, above the lively ambiance of the busy bar and dining area.
This new gastropub in Regent Street takes its name the ‘Old Bicycle Shop’ from and in homage to Howes Cycles, the site’s former occupiers. With bespoke beers from TheCambridgeBrewhouse, the bar has an extensive drinks menu including cocktails, craft beers in cans, wines and spirits and soft drinks, like lemon iced tea and pink lemonade. Open all day for coffee, brunch, lunch and dinner this bar and kitchen has a cool, hip vibe, and it’s been so popular I noticed a 2nd floor dining area is opening soon.
I loved this ultra stylish conversion which has lots of quirky touches that reflect its cycling heritage, – like featuring a vintage style delivery bike mounted to the front of the pub, as well as cycle paraphernalia being prominent in all other branding…..
Although the Old Bicycle Shop is aimed more at dining, drinkers are welcome in the small front bar area, and the staff are friendly and enthusiastic, so there is a real buzz about the place. Most of the space is reserved for dining, including two upstairs function rooms and an outdoor seating area. I noticed the interesting menu featured many gluten free, vegan and veggie options, and the prices sit comfortably in the mid-range dining market. We intend to return here for a meal very soon.
Last week Steve and I dined with two friends at The Galleria Restaurant on Bridge Street, which is in a perfect location at the foot of Magdalene Bridge, overlooking St John’s and Magdalene colleges. This independent restaurant is a popular Cambridge institution, and a favourite with locals and visitors alike. The menu is best described as modern British fusion with world influences, and we enjoyed two courses of well-presented, freshly cooked and tasty dishes in stylish contemporary surroundings. On the downside the service was rather slow, and we had a long wait before our first course arrived. Also despite booking in advance we were disappointed not to get a table outside on one of the terraces beside the river, as it was a warm summer’s evening.
Diners at Galleria not only have a ringside seat of the antics of people punting on the river, but also one ofCambridge’s loveliest views. This three-level continental restaurant is light and airy, with wrought-iron balconies, ferns, French prints, and bistro-style seating. Prices are affordable, and portions are on the large side, so overall it’s good value for money. We were all too full for desserts after we had eaten two courses from the a la carte menu, and the bill came to £30 per person including drinks.
Galleria has two terraces overlooking the River Cam which are perfect for al fresco dining, but unfortunately we found it’s not possible to reserve a table on the terrace
My starter of Smoked salmon mousse, Tomato and Cucumber Salad with French Bread was light, fresh and delicious
After dinner we walked across Quayside to The Varsity Hotel and Spa in Thompson’s Lane to have a drink at their recently opened bar and restaurant called Six
Another charming view of Quayside, where punts are available for hire *
Six panoramic bar is located on the 6th floor of The Varsity Hotel & Spa just below the hugely popular roof terrace. Recently opened, this very new Cambridge restaurant has breathtaking 360° views of the city, including the historic colleges and the River Cam.
We found the impressive drinks menu to be reasonably priced and about half the cost of drinks on the roof terrace. The food menu at Six was also surprisingly inexpensive, apart from their traditional Afternoon Tea, which at £22.50 a head is way more expensive than high end rival establishments in Cambridge. Another surprising thing is that there were no toilets either on the roof terrace or in the restaurant, so we were directed to the unisex washroom on the 2nd floor of the hotel in the guest bedroom area. Not an ideal situation and surely an ‘inconvenience’ for all the drinkers and diners at such a busy venue!
We were disappointed to find the roof terrace was closed at 9.30pm when we arrived at the hotel.
Last week Steve and I revisited the beautiful island of Crete for an all too short seven night holiday. Once again we stayed at a villa in the traditional village of Vamos, which is located midway between Chania and Rethymnon. The closest good beaches are 8km north at Almyrida or 10km east at Georgoupoli, and bustling Chania itself is a 30 minute drive northwest. From the terraces of the villa we enjoyed magnificent views over greenery and tiled rooftops to the Lefka Óri (White Mountains), which are typically snow-streaked from December to May, and of the bluest of blue seas on the other side.
We rented The Old Bakery, a delightful villa with private pool from Vintage Travel
We explored the island in a hired Jimny Jeep, which was perfect for the terrain
Flowers and churches are two defining images of this beautiful island
We enjoyed a healthy diet of perfectly cooked fresh fish with crispy skin, tender and succulent Souvlaki, and delicious light spinach and cheese pies among other local dishes. Meals were always accompanied by salads, and preceded by Meze dishes including tzatziki, bread and olives. Every meal ended with a complimentary drink of raki, and often cake or a dessert. I preferred the honey flavoured raki , as I found it sweeter and less harsh. Chilled water is always served free of charge which is a welcome touch. Eating out was reasonable in Crete, and on average we paid around 40 Euros for a typical main meal with appetisers and drinks.
Along with Dacos, another typical appetizer which was on every menu
We drank lots of thirst-quenching Mythos beer whilst basking in warm sunshine
Steve experienced Cretan tradition first-hand at the Vamos Snail Festival. Every year the village holds a culinary celebration where the locals cook up snails and wash them down with raki and red wine.
I found Baklava too sweet for my taste, but I loved the frappes!
Along with Dacos, another typical appetizer which was on every menu
We paddled in the sea on the pristine and extremely beautiful beach at Elafonissi
The beach of Elafonissi is on the south east side of Crete and well known for its pure white sands. In certain light, you can see the pink sand of Elafonissi said to be caused by the coral that over time has been broken down by Mother Nature. The beach is mainly sandy with small rocky outcrops and it was the perfect for an excursion, and the highlight of our holiday. Granny Apples says “We are very tempted to return to Crete again in 2017”