After much anticipation and waiting and impatient we dined at Le Gavroche on Tuesday. We were celebrating our first anniversary, we had planned it even before we got married which is kind of silly!
We booked for the set lunch menu which was very good value at £48 per person including half bottle of wine each and coffee and petit fours. Due to the attentiveness of the staff and the rather formal atmosphere I didn’t take any pictures of our meal , save for the petit fours, but I can assure you they were beautifully presented!
To start we had champagne and were bought some pretty little appetisers. Some kind of soft cheese with quince jelly and pistachios on a little toasted cracker (I am not sure exactly what the cracker was but I don’t think my explanation does it justice!) and celeriac remoulade in a pastry cup with a soft boiled quails egg. Delicious, I could have eaten the quince jelly all day!
After we had ordered our starters and mains we were presented with an amuse bouche – rabbit terrine with olive tapenade on a long very crispy crouton. I am not much of a fan of terrines in general but in a restaurant like this they are always good, the olive tapenade was extremely rich and worked really well.
For started I plumped for the herb risotto with veal belly, the risotto was different to any risotto I’ve had before. It was flavoured with light herbs and what I think was the roasting juices of the veal which gave it a really amazing slightly barbecued flavour – the fact that I have waxed lyrical about risotto before even going onto the veal shows you how good it was. The veal belly was so tender, small slices- crisp on the outside and soft on the inside served with the roasting juices/ gravy around the risotto – I’ve never had veal before and what way to start eating it!
My husband had salmon tartare which was served in a light cream sauce with caviar (the lucky sod!) on top. Obviously I had to try some so I could tell you about it, and it was excellent – light but creamy and very different to the usual salmon starters you find in most restaurants.
For main I ordered roast fillet of pollack with lobster jus and crushed potatoes – accompanied by the best cooked broccoli I’ve ever had, seriously, I think it was cooked in stock and was just right, not mushy but not undercooked. The fish was perfectly flaky, fresh and the lobster jus was really rich, unfortunately I was only treated to a single piece of lobster underneath my fish, more lobster please! Having said that if I had asked I am sure they would have bought a long a small bowl of lobster, damn I should have asked for more lobster.
Pork au poivre served with pomme mousseline, fondant caulifower and mustard cream sauce was the hubbys choice. Fondant cauliflower was something of a revelation, so creamy and well flavoured with a slight crispness on the outside, something I need to try making – which I may fail at. The potato was light as air and the pork cooked perfectly pink.
For dessert we both chose the Apple Charlotte with Calvados sorbet. Not being familiar with it I didn’t know it was made with bread rather than pastry, being so crisp, sweet and butter I was sure it was pastry but no it was bread. The apples inside were cooked til soft and flavoured with spices, just right against the crisp outside. The sorbet was very strongly flavoured with calvados, almost like drinking it but with a nice creamy texture!
apologies for the fuzzy pic!
We finished with a cappuccino each, unable to continue drinking the wine, shameful! I’m not really sure how much we drank each as they like to keep your wine at the same level throughout, very precise service.
The petit fours were just lovely, I was aghast when I saw that the table next to us had disregarded theirs and left without touching them – awful!
The petit fours were made up of a delicate peppered brandy snap, praline macaron, toffee cape gooseberry and a mini madeline. The brandy snap was my favourite, the pepper was a lovely surprise. The toffee cape gooseberry was an inspired idea but they were a bit too sour for me, maybe more caramel is required? Or maybe I just have a ridiculous sweet tooth.
We left feeling full, not stuffed, just right, and possibly a little tipsy. I want to go back right away, next anniversary maybe, although we are talking about visiting the Waterside instead, we like to plan ahead with our fine dining….
We’ve been meaning to go to Wimpole Home Farm for a long time now, well the whole 5 years we’ve lived here. It took the National Trust offering a free entry day for us to go.
I couldn’t have been a better time to go, during their lambing season.
They have several rare breed sheep, pigs, cows, donkeys, chickens, shetland ponies and ducks!
We also took a walk around the walled garden where they grow fruit and vegetables which they use in the restaurant and sell in their shop. The meat is also sold there too. We’ll definitely go back soon once more things come into season to see what their garden and farm can offer.
Lately it seems like we’ve been dining out a lot, I can assure you this is not a very regular occurence but I’m pleased we’ve been out more recently.
One place that we’ve had our eye on for a while is Alimentum, its been open since 2007 and has recently recruited the chef from Midsummer house, the two Michelin starred restaurant in Cambridge. Since he joined in April this year Alimentum has been enjoying a lot more press and is steadily gaining a very good reputation for excellent food.
If you live in Cambridge you’ll know that there is very little choice of restaurants unless you like chains – because of high rents (mainly caused by the University owning 90% of the land and buildings) not many independent restaurants pop up in central Cambridge.
Alimentum prides itself of local and seasonal food (the waiting staff emphasise this greatly) as well as an ethical approach to running their business. They also offer a great deal of good value options as well as their a la carte menu.
We booked for the fixed price pre theatre menu which was very good value, £15.50 for two courses or £18.50 for three.
I started with the artichoke barigoule with goats cheese, I wasn’t exactly sure what this was but I thought I’d try it as I’m terrible at preparing artichokes myself. It turned out to be a stew of artichoke hearts with baby vegetables in a light white wine and mustard sauce. The goats cheese was perfect alongside it and it was beautifully presented.
Mr had Tilbury Meadows rib eye of beef- it was prepared by very thinly slicing rare roast beef with parmesan crisps and a light horseradish cream – a very nice alternative to a carpaccio.
For main I opted for the roast fillet of cod with mussels. Both were extremely fresh and the cod was cooked perfectly, it was served with a delicious spinach and garlic sauce which didn’t taste as iron-y as you would think from a spinach sauce. Mr opted for the confit duck which was cooked to perfection, falling off the bone with a lovely crisp skin.
I again had already chosen my dessert before my starter or main, I went for the chocolate mousse with praline and mascarpone sorbet. I loved the presentation, the mousse was layered on top of a crispy biscuit base and finished with another layer of dark chocolate. The handmade praline was beautiful, the highlight of the pudding. The sorbet was a wonderful idea, it wasn’t as rich as ice cream but still had a nice creamy taste but with the freshness of mascarpone.
Mr had the mulled wine poached pear which was completely christmassy in every way, the wine was spiced just right. It was served with ice cream, a pear crisp and pear puree.
We had a great experience at Alimentum, there are lots of good value options for dining which is something Cambridge badly needs. Alimentum already has 3 AA rosettes and I expect it will gain a few more accolades quite soon.
But in a more civilised way….
We stopped by one of the newest restaurant additions to Cambridge yesterday, The Sea Tree on Mill Road. An ‘alternative’ fish bar providing the usual favourites as well as some other interesting additions. I’d spotted a good review over on Not Another Food Blog, so after a mornings shopping/elbowing through the crowds we went along to rest our weary feet.
I opted for the battered calamari with salsa verde and the hubby (still getting used to saying that!) had cod and chips. Both were great, the chips especially – handcut with skins on! Everything is made to order and there is lots of choice. I particularly like the fact that they do a range of freshly made sauces – things like tartare sauce, aioli, sweet chili and the aformentioned salsa verde.
They also have a little fishmongers section with the seasons fish on offer, things like salmon, rainbow trout, sea bream and haddock. I think they do shellfish on occasion too.
Will definitely be stopping by again, this is a great addition to Mill Road and its good to have some kind of fishmongers option that isn’t the local supermarket.