Archive of ‘Reviews’ category

The Cambridge Chop House

Finding a decent Sunday Roast in Cambridge can feel like a bit of a mission sometimes, especially when you are as picky as I am. On one cold, rainy Sunday the only thing that was going to warm me up was a nice roast dinner in a cosy spot. I’ve been to the Chop House before and I was glad that I had the brainwave to go along to try their Sunday dinners.

The location, opposite Kings College, would make you think it is an awful tourist trap, and whilst it probably can be the food is really good, hurrah. Last time we visited I had some of their housemade sausages and mash, and a sticky toffee pud.

I had roast pork this time around and Mr had the vegetarian wellington. The pork was quite huge, with all the requisite veggies and extra crackling! The veggie wellington was nicely thought out- with a big mushroom inside, greens and other veggies, with a mustardy mushroom sauce and greens. We shared a sticky toffee pudding (to which the neighbouring table all exclaimed ‘wow’ when it arrived, I think they ordered one too).

I really like it here, the food is homely, well made and the puds to die for.  I was really glad to hear the waitress say they have taken over the Tickell Arms in Whittlesford, which is a stones throw away from home. We’ll definitely be going when it opens – they are blogging about the progress too –

Cambridge Chop House

Other places for a Sunday Roast (we’re getting there..)
The Eight Bells, Saffron Walden 
Clarendon Arms, Cambridge – yet to try out
The First and Last – review from Ireena over here.

Bibimbap House, Cambridge

On what I think has been the coldest day of the year, or maybe the last decade, so far we made the most excellent decision to finally try the much raved about Bibimbap on Mill Road, Cambridge. And it was such a good decision.

Formerly a not very good Chinese restaurant (I had the misfortune of going there once) Bibimbap House has been open for probably just under a year, and I’ve heard lots of good things about it from fellow bloggers Nora and Ivana.
As the name suggests, has one type of dish that it serves. I always like simplicity in a menu, it excudes confidence! There are 7 different kinds of Bibimbap, some veggie, some meat. Some come with an egg, some with sweet potato or ‘japchae’ noodles. Each bibimbap comes with a bowl of miso, pickled vegetables (I’m sure I’m getting the terminology wrong), creamed corn, and for a couple of lucky dishes you will get kimchi too. You are presented with it on a tray and in the centre a huge stone bowl, which keeps the dish hot, you mix everything together – add a bit of their homemade soy sauce or chilli sauce, and then tuck in.

I had the pork bibimbap which came with the most tender marinated pork I have ever eaten. It had a little chilli kick and was mixed in with sweet caramelised onions. Mr had the vegetarian japchae noodle bibimbap, which was a mixture of veggies topped with sweet potato noodles.

Everything was very good value, with 2 bibimbap, a coke and a corn tea for £18. I can’t wait to go back, and with a beautifully small menu I think it is achievable for me to eventually try every dish on it. Let’s hope so.

Bibimbap House
60 Mill Road, Cambridge

Christmas Feast at Dishoom, London

Earlier this month I was very lucky to win the competition on Kavey Eats for a Christmas Feast for 2 at Dishoom (named from the comedy ‘dishoom’ punching noise you so often get in Bollywood fight scenes). I’ve seen lots of tweets about how great Dishoom is, and I have spent time drooling (and reminiscing) over the menu on their website. So I was really excited to win the prize, plus I never win anything!

The menu is a mixture of Christmassy items (turkey, mince pies, warm spiced pimms) and classic Indian dishes (bhel puri, roti and naan, dhal and chai). Everything was beautifully spiced, just the right amount of heat and lots of aromatic spices, and authentic too but with a little twist.

We started off with a Winter Pimms for me and a Mango and Fennel Lassi for Mr. Giraffe. The pimms was like Christmas in a glass – lightly spiced with a dash of calvados and apple juice. The fennel with the mango lassi was surprisingly excellent, not overpowering at all, it worked just right.

First up we were served a selection of chutneys to go with our meal. Tamarind chutney, a cooling yoghurt and mint raita and a very hot house made chilli chutney.

Next up, bhel puri. This is one of my favourite things to eat in the world ever, everyone should have this at least once in my life – either made by my Mum or at Dishoom – I get the pleasure of being able to try both! Bhel is a mixture of puffed rice, spiced chickpeas, onion, lots of coriander and tamarind chutney. Sometimes with potato as well. At Dishoom the bhel had roasted crunchy chickpeas (a nice alternative to the normal kind) and pomegranate seeds which gave a lovely sweet flavour and extra crunch. I wanted to lick the bowl clean but we were in a public place, so I didn’t.

The mains all came at once so at this point we definitely felt like we were feasting! The centrepiece was the ‘flaming turkey raan’. A whole turkey leg slow roasted with spices and then shredded, served with crispy crushed Bombay potatoes and charred chilli green beans. Everyone should cook turkey like this.
We also had a lovely vegetable biryani and an amazing deeply savoury and excellently spiced black dhal. . We were also given a selection of roti and naan, all house made, I could see the man at the other side of the restaurant shaping and cooking them fresh to order.

All the food is perfectly spiced, nothing is just pure heat, it is spiced too – quite a different thing and hard to achieve well.

Pudding was some chilli mince pies, lovely crumbly pastry with rich mincemeat and flecks of red chilli, served with spiced custard, yummy! We also had a passionfruit ‘gola ice’ which was lovely shards of fruity ice, perfect to cool off after the mains.

We finished up with chai, naturally. I had a Baileys chai which does an amazing job of warming you right through. Mr. Giraffe had an ordinary chai which was pretty authentic, and lovely.

We’ll definitely be coming back to Dishoom for their normal menu. The bhel puri and the house dhal are worth going back for alone.  The Christmas menu is served until the 24th December, so hurry!

Thanks so much for having us Dishoom, we had a great time trying your menu out!

Cooking from the River Cottage Veg Book

Never before have I made so many recipes from a recipe book before. I think I am like a lot of people, I buy cookbooks promising to try all the recipes, I look at the pretty pictures, feel my stomach grumble, make one or two and then resign it to the shelf. Google is a lot quicker if I need to find a recipe in a hurry so my books get neglected.

I’ve loved the recipes from this book, and we’ve been watching the TV programmes too. Mr. Giraffe became a vegetarian nearly a year ago so I’m really glad to find a book full of many recipes that are inventive and veggie.

Our favourite by far is the broad bean and pea bruschetta – we use frozen peas when there are no broad beans in season – topped with crumbly goats cheese or feta. A small portion makes for a lovely side to a plate of pasta too.

We’ve also made the polenta chips, the mushroom stoup (make lots of this, it tastes better the next day), beetroot soup, aubergine parmigiana (Sainsburys basics ‘italian hard cheese’ is veggie and also tastes pretty good) and the beetroot tarte tatin.

Next on the list is the rest of the book – but more specifically the cauliflower pakoras, chickpea ketchup curry (for a day when we are feeling lazy!) and the beetroot and chocolate ice cream.

I cannot recommend this book enough, whether you are veggie or not, it is huge so you’ll find something you’ll like. And I agree with Hugh that we all need to eat less meat, not no meat but a lot less than we eat now.

I’ve also forgiven Hugh for cutting his hair, this book has made up for him having run of the mill short hair.

The Jolly Scholar, Cambridge

Update: The Jolly Scholar has now closed and has been replaced by the Cambridge Brewhouse, read my review here.

Since I heard the Jolly Scholar had opened I was quite keen to go, it was formerly the Bun Shop which is a pub that was crying out for new owners and refurbishment. The Jolly Scholar is very gastropubby, in the decor and the menu. Inside it is lots of oak, old style furniture and little Cambridge themed decor – ie the punt suspended on the ceiling.

They popped up on Groupon recently so I bought a voucher, thinking that if it wasn’t up to much then at least it only cost me £12 for £35 worth of food. Anticipating it being very busy due to the voucher (our experience at using a Groupon for The Rice Boat taught us this) we booked for 6pm, although when we arrived it was pretty quiet – a good sign, or not?

The Jolly Scholar is part of the same group as The Jolly Sailor in Orford – a very good place to find something yummy to eat, and of course a great place to find seafood. Mussels are one of my favourite things to eat so I ordered these, and Mr. Giraffe ordered the veggie burger (halloumi burger with other fried veg) with aioli & sweet potato chips. Both were good, a nice start. The mussels were very very fresh with a lovely white wine sauce and a slightly too huge portion of very nice crispy frites. The sweet potato chips that accompanied the burger were great too, they know how to do chips here.

Unfortunately the puddings let us down. I had a broiche & marmalade bread and butter pudding, which was perfectly acceptable if a little soggy, I like my bread and butter pudding to have a crispy top. The custard was however homemade, not the flouro Birds stuff. Mr’s berry crumble was a huge disappointment, the berries were nondescript and mostly full of seeds and the crumble top was dusty and uninspired. Such a shame.

We loved the mains, but the puds let us down and so did the service. The restaurant was pretty quiet which only made the rather brash member of staff behind the bar barking orders at his staff sound even louder –  this also meant that the waitresses were quite nervous and obviously under undue pressure.

I don’t think I’d pay full price here, the whole experience wasn’t up to scratch despite the main courses being nice.

The Jolly Scholar
King Street, Cambridge

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