Navadhanya for modern Indian fine dining in Cambridge: August 2017

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Last week Steve and I made a return visit to Navadhanya to sample their 7-course taster menu to celebrate my birthday. Since this refined restaurant opened in 2014 we have enjoyed eating there on two previous occasions and have always been impressed. Once again we were not disappointed. They offer an authentic Indian fine dining experience with exemplary service. The seven courses were all beautifully presented, bursting with flavour and perfectly accompanied by the flight of wines. Incidentally, I thought their Naan bread was the best I had ever tasted! Not surprisingly this popular and highly regarded restaurant was full on a weekday evening so booking ahead is strongly advised.

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Navadhanya is located on Newmarket Road in Cambridge

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We enjoyed this 7 Course Tasting Menu at £39.99 per person and it was great value too!

SHURUWAT – Chef’s Special Starter of the day

PAPDI CHAT – Spicy mashed chickpeas with crushed flaky pastry, sweetened yogurt, mint and tamarind chutney

OOTY FISH – Monkfish, fenugreek leaves, garlic, with aubergine mash

GRANITA – Refreshing home-made Sorbet, flavoured with fruit puree

PUNJABI MURGH – Chicken Tikka cooked with creamy tomato sauce and crushed fenugreek (served with Garlic Naan)

RAILWAY LAMB CURRY – Lamb Curry finished with classic Southern spices and potatoes (served with Pulao Rice and Dal Makhni)

HERITAGE CARROTS FUDGE WITH MANGO KULFI – Home-made Heritage Carrot Fudge served with Mango Kulfi for dessert

Accompanied by a FLIGHT OF WINES (served with five courses) at £19.99 per person

 

Navadhanya

73 Newmarket Rd

Cambridge

CB5 8EG

Tel: 01223 300583

http://www.navadhanya.co.uk

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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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Afternoon Tea and a spa stay at Wyboston Lakes Hotel and SPA, near St Neots, Beds: June 2017

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Last Sunday my daughter and I enjoyed an excellent Afternoon Tea in The Waterfront restaurant at Wyboston Lakes Hotel and SPA, near St. Neots in Bedfordshire. To celebrate my daughters birthday we were booked into the hotel for the *Sunday Runaway spa package, (details below). Set in 350 acres, this modern 4 star hotel and spa, with a golf course and leisure centre is 2.8 miles from the market town of St. Neots.

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The Waterfront restaurant at Wyboston Lakes is in a lovely location
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A choice of loose-leaf tea was available with refills at no extra cost
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We were delighted to receive a glass of bubbly on the house as it was a special occasion
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This traditional Afternoon Tea had everything we would expect and more…..
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The ham on brioche was a delicious twist on the usual sandwich selection
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The food was served on pretty pink floral china
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The plain scones were served warm with strawberry jam and clotted cream
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The Waterfront traditional Afternoon Tea cost a very reasonable £13.95 per person
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My daughter ended her meal with a complimentary cup of coffee 
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The extensive terrace area outside the lounge bar and restaurant

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We enjoyed relaxing in the fabulous outdoor Hydrotherapy pool at Y Spa, Wyboston Lakes

*SUNDAY RUNAWAY Y Spa stay 

This Sunday night break includes dinner, bed and breakfast, and a full day’s use of thermal spa facilities on Monday which includes a two-course buffet lunch and a choice of one of the following treatments.

  • Y Spa Fresh Face
  • Y Spa Soothing Scalp
  • Y Spa Happy Hands

£119 per person

To book call 0333 7007 667 or email reservations@wybostonlakes.co.uk

 (Many thanks to Wyboston Lakes Hotel for use of the Spa photographs)

Wyboston Lakes Hotel and SPA,

Great North Road,

Wyboston,

Bedfordshire

MK44 3AL

http://www.wybostonlakes.co.uk

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Art, Afternoon Tea and Cocktails: London – January 2017

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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.

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The 360 degree panoramic view from the 10th floor of The Switch House at Tate Modern was a spectacular start to our day

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.

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The ornate and beautiful frontage of The Wolseley
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The Wolseley dining room is elegant and sophisticated with a grand atmospheric interior

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.

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The Wolseley’s traditional Afternoon Tea was perfection and there was plenty of it!
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A nice touch to mark this special occasion – a  birthday tuile for my friend
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We enjoyed a tasty mix of finger sandwiches and were offered seconds!

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.

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At The Wolseley the freshly-baked scones were kept warm under a silver cloche

                        

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There was even a bespoke goodie box to take home our left-overs!

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.

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We ended the day with cocktails at the fabulous bar of The Gilbert Scott, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Kings Cross, London

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The opulent interior of the 19th century Gilbert Scott bar

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.

The Wolseley

160 Piccadilly

London

W1J 9EB

Telephone: 020 7499 6996

http://www.thewolseley.com

Afternoon Tea at Aqua Sana in Center Parcs, Elveden Forest, Suffolk

Last month as an extra birthday treat my daughter and I enjoyed an afternoon of total relaxation at Aqua Sana spa in Center Parcs at Elevedon Forest, with the added bonus of Afternoon Tea included. On a warm August day we sat outside in our robes in the garden of the café to eat a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, and lovely mini-cakes, accompanied by a pot of tea each. It was a perfect way to end our chilled out day!

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Center Parcs at Elveden Forest, Brandon, Suffolk IP27 0YZ

http://www.centreparcs.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Food nirvana at Ristorante Il Piccolo Mondo in Bottisham, Cambs

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Ristorante Il Piccolo Mondo is located on the High Street, in the village of Bottisham, Cambs

For my 50th blog post I couldn’t have wished to review anywhere better than Il Piccolo Mondo, 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!IMG_20160824_2158480[144389]

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The classy interior of the restaurant with exposed brickwork, interesting artefacts and decor makes a splendid dining space in this conversion of a former school buiding
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For our pre-starter we enjoyed delicious crusty bread with dipping oil and olives, which were provided for the table along with iced water
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The table decoration was simply beautiful
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Steve’s starter was a selection of Italian cold meats with sun dried tomatoes, artichokes and olives

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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 …….

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….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!

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We chose side dishes of a mixed salad and Zucchine Fritte, – delicious deep fried courgettes to share with our mains
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Steve really enjoyed his main course of tender Scottish fillet steak with porcini mushrooms and red wine sauce, served with a selection of vegetables 

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IMG_20160824_2005004[165520]Steve found his fillet steak was cooked to perfection, and it went down very well with a nice glass or two of red!

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My dessert of Sicilian Lemon pot was fresh, light and delectable

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Steve chose Formaggi, a selection of Italian cheeses instead of a sweet

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The cheese plate included creamy Gorgonzola and Taleggio, accompanied by celery, grapes and relish
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It was good to see a generous amount of crackers to accompany the cheese
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We ended our sublime evening with a nightcap of Benedictine

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I loved the fresh flowers everywhere

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Even the ladies toilet was fabulous!

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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!

        

RISTORANTE IL PICCOLO MONDO  

85 HIGH STREET

BOTTISHAM

CAMBRIDGE

CB25 9BA                                                                   

01223 811434

info@ilpiccolomondo.co.uk

LUNCH SERVICE

Wednesday to Sunday: 12:00 – 14:00  

DINNER SERVICE

Wednesday to Saturday: 18:30 – 21:00

*Book early to avoid disappointment

 

My birthday Afternoon Tea at Poets House Hotel, in Ely, Cambs

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Happy Birthday Granny Apples! My daughter had arranged this birthday greeting and the candles
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The Poets House Afternoon Tea arrived on the traditional 3 tier cake stand
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These exceptionally good finger sandwiches with classic fillings were freshly made
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We both felt that these were possibly the best scones we had come across in an Afternoon Tea. The Poets House plain and fruit scones were warm, light, and had a melt in the mouth consistency. 
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Unfortunately the cakes, and mini-dessert promised much but looked better than they tasted, so were a disappointing element.

For one of my birthday treats this week my daughter took me for Afternoon Tea at Poets House, which is a charming hotel in the heart of historic Ely, in Cambridgeshire.

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Poets House hotel is located on St Mary’s Street, Ely, Cambs with views of Ely Cathedral

Originally consisting of three Grade II listed properties of the early 1900s, Poets House is a uniquely stylish hotel, restaurant and event venue. A blend of original charm with innovative contemporary interiors, this hotel combines luxury and comfort. We both felt that this would be a lovely hotel for tourists to stay in.

The Study is a light, airy, relaxing lounge and bar where we sank into the sofas and ate from low marble topped tables, whilst sampling the Poets House traditional afternoon tea.

 We chose a pot of tea each from an extensive range to accompany a selection of finger sandwiches, warm scones with clotted cream and jam, and mini-cakes and a dessert. Fresh pots of tea were available at no extra charge, and we drank copious amounts of iced water, as it was one of the hottest days of the year.

The finger sandwiches were filled with smoked salmon and lemon creme fraiche, cucumber with dill cream cheese, honey roast ham and mustard, and egg with peppery watercress. They were extremely fresh and obviously made to order as we had quite a wait before the food arrived. Likewise the scones were warm from the oven and freshly-baked, and probably tasted better than any other ‘afternoon tea scones’ we had eaten anywhere. The scone recipe was different and my daughter (who is a baker) described the texture as resembling a sponge. These melt in the mouth scones were accompanied by a very generous amount of Devonshire clotted cream, and a choice of preserve.

The top tier held a lovely-looking selection of sweet treats which were a disappointment upon tasting. The blackcurrant panna cotta dessert hadn’t set properly, (possibly due to the heat) and the macarons had a peanut butter filling, which we found quite an odd combination.

Service was on the slow side, but efficient and friendly. A nice leisurely way to spend an afternoon in elegant surroundings, and a birthday treat for me, complete with a greeting and candles!

I noticed that unusually a Childrens Afternoon Tea was available at £4.25.

This Afternoon Tea cost £15 a per person, and needs to be pre-booked

Poets House Hotel and Restaurant
40 St Mary’s St
Ely
Cambs
CB7 4EY

Tel: 01353 887777 or e-mail reception@poetshouse.uk.com

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The very splendid frontage of Ely Cathedral

Fine Art on a Plate at Alimentum

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Alimentum 1 Michelin star restaurant is located on Hills Road, Cambridge

This gourmet continental restaurant is renowned for its slow cooking ethos and chef’s tasting menu.

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I loved this fabulous feature light in the bar where ……

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we enjoyed a complimentary squid ink crisp canape, creatively presented in a box of pebbles which certainly had the WOW factor!

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We were able to watch the chefs hard at work in the kitchen through the viewing window
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The amuse-bouche…..

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was accompanied by milk bread and delicious 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

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Eel smoked, fennel, buttermilk, grape and almond served with Gruner Veltliner, Austria
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Quail breast and leg, yakitori, peanut and lime served with Palomino Fino, Spain
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Cod, asparagus, cured egg yolk and truffle served with Mauzac, France

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Beef Sirloin, (Hannan 80 day aged) beef fat potato, veal sweetbreads, parsley and mushroom served with Touriga Franca, Portugal

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The pre-dessert Gin and Tonic was an excellent palette cleanser 

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BBQ Orange Parfait,mojito and liquorice dessert served with Chenin Blanc, France

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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

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Steve chose 5 delectable cheeses from an eclectic selection on the Cheese trolley….. 

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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

152-154 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 8PB

01223 413000 | Reservations