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Favourite Five Go To Cambridge

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Our recent report on the must-try dishes in and around Brighton proved so popular that we are now doing the same for Cambridge and like Brighton we could not settle on just 5…

So here are some incredible plates of food we found in and around Cambridge. We picked the dishes that we wanted to try and all the pictures were taken with our iPhone7 plus with no filters used. All the Restaurants are #BestRestaurants on favouritetables.com

 

The first stop… Johnsons of Old Hurst

  • Fillet Steak

Just outside Cambridge in Old Hurst is a 100 year old family run farm. The farm also has a small petting zoo, with alligators (not so petting friendly) and Tearoom/cafe and a farm shop with its own Butchers. Around 18 months ago they opened Johnsons Steakhouse. All the meat used in the Steakhouse is reared on the farm and butchered on site. The beef is then Dry Aged over Rock Salt for 28 days. The dish we choose, A Fillet Steak that came with Double cooked chips and Beer Battered onion rings. A blue cheese sauce, flat mushroom and vine tomatoes.

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28 Day Dry Aged Fillet Steak – Johnsons of Old Hurst – Cambridge

 

  • Rolled Pork Belly

The Plough at Coton just south of the Cambridge city centre has some impressive accolades including Chef of the Year for Cambridgeshire. Our pick is the Glazed Pork Belly |Burnt Apple Puree | Smoked Mash | Seasonal Greens. A dish that is rightly very popular on the main menu. We were lucky enough to have fine weather on the day of our visit, so sat outside on the terrace. As we were not driving a quick tour around the extensive wine list, many available by the glass, was called for.

 

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Glazed pork belly – Plough at Coton – Cambridge

 

We Could not resist the Caramelised apple and pear crumble, with custard

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  • Super Tabboulah Salad with Chicken

Pumpkin | Honey | Grilled Tenderstem Broccoli | Nuts | Cous Cous | Cracked Wheat

The Millworks is on the River Cam in the centre of Cambridge. Housed in an old watermill the building has recently been completely restored and re-energised into an eclectic modern brasserie.

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Super Tabboulah Salad with Chicken – Millworks Cambridge

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  • Rhubarb Seabass (Lalbagh)

The Lalbagh restaurant is an Indian and Bangladeshi in the village of Bourn just 4 miles from the City Centre. A family owned restaurant that has achieved numerous awards for it distinctive menu. Our favourite dish Lalbagh Rhubarb Seabass | Pan Fried Fillet | Garlic | Spices | Sweet & Sour Rhubarb Puree

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Rhubarb Seabass – Lalbagh Restaurant, Bourn – Cambridge

We have to also mention the amazing Peshwari Champen starter, Lamb Cutlets | Garlic Marinate | Raw Papaya | Paprika | Fennel | Cream

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Tandoor Lamb Cutlets – Lalbagh Restaurant, Bourn – Cambridge

 

  • Seared Scallops

At The Three Horseshoes at Maddingley, it’s the Seared Scallop starter that is the standout dish served with Chorizo | Peppered Watercress | Salsa Rossa.

A picturesque thatched inn, The Three Horseshoes is nestled in an idyllic village just 3 miles from Cambridge city centre. We ate in the bar area (because our dog would be allowed in). The main restaurant was very popular on a Wednesday evening we visited.

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Seared Scallops – The Three Horseshoes, Maddingley – Cambridge

 

  • Marinated Monkfish

The Galleria Restaurant on Bridge Street sits right on Magdelene Bridge overlooking the River Cam and has a great view of the Punts gliding up and down the river (main picture above is from just outside) This dish is a stunning Marinated Monkfish Fillets | King Prawns | Basmati Rice | Chilli & Coconut Cream Sauce

We were informed that this dish has made it on to a popular tourist website as one of the best in Cambridgeshire and we would not argue with that.

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Marinated Monkfish with King Prawns – Galleria – Cambridge

Having seen the Sticky Toffee Pudding being delivered to a nearby table, just had to try and yes it was as good as it looks…

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Sticky Toffee Pudding – Galleria – Cambridge

  • Monster Ribs

The original Smokeworks is on Free School Lane right in the City Centre. This dish – “The Monster Ribs” is not for the faint-hearted. A full rack of Deep Cut St Louis Ribs with sides of Beef Dripping Mash | Sweet Potato Fries | Corn on the Cob | Cabbage Mustard Slaw (half racks are available for those of a nervous disposition)

 

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Monster Ribs & sides – Smokeworks – Cambridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chef’s Table chats to Luke French – Chef Patron of Jöro Restaurant, Sheffield.

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Luke French

There are shipping container restaurants and then there are Shipping Container restaurants, Jöro in Sheffield is the latter. The restaurant is situated inside Krynki, a revolutionary new space created to showcase the best and most exciting independent start-ups and businesses from Sheffield, where they can share space, skills and innovative ideas.

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Chef’s Table & Luke French – Chef Patron at Jöro Restaurant in Sheffield

“I started off working as a Kitchen Porter at The White Pheasant in Fordham near Cambridge when I was 14 and then I got really interested in what the chefs were doing. I wanted to have a crack at it so I went full time into the restaurant after my GCSE’s.

I stayed at the Pheasant for about 4 years before moving into Cambridge and working in the university kitchens and local hotels.

“I was very lucky to have a couple of great restaurants locally and spent time at both Alimentum and Midsummer House. Sadly, I didn’t last very long at Midsummer, I bottled it! I was young and I definitely wasn’t ready for it at that time. Looking back I gave up on it way too quickly! I left to do a stage at The Fat Duck and ended up carrying on working there before travelling and working in Asia.

“I was not away long when the opportunity to take on the Head Chef position back at the White Pheasant was offered to me, which I jumped at. It was a couple of years later I moved to Sheffield to join The Milestone Pub Group in which over the six years I worked for them I progressed to Executive Head Chef for the Group.

Towards the end of my time with them, I began a pop-up restaurant called Joro (which translates as ‘Earth’ in old Norse.) to test myself and test the waters of Sheffield to see if they were ready for it. I ran the pop up for around 9 months in which time it gave me space to think and hone in what I really wanted to cook and serve, the style of service, find and train a team, and get some hype for the idea of opening a restaurant.

In December of 2016, we opened restaurant Jöro

Q: Which Chef/s influenced you in the past? Who continues to influence you now?

First of all of the famous chefs was Gordon Ramsay, I remember reading his books and watching him on TV when I was a kid, just starting to realize I enjoyed cooking and didn’t really have a clue about any other chefs in the world, I admired him! He got me interested in the industry. My first head chef Stuart Trangmar was a big influence, he is a great chef and taught me a great deal. He has a great palate and taught me a lot about flavour and tasting food. Heston Blumenthal was a big inspiration to me when I really started to pay close attention to cooking and I was obsessed with the science behind it so naturally, he inspired me a lot.

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I then began to really enjoy naturalness and simplicity of using ingredients once I realized how complex cooking can be but doesn’t have to be – Rene Redzepi and many of the Nordics – based chefs Like Torsten Vildgaard, Matt Orlando, Esben Holmboe Bang to name a few were where I would look to for inspiration. The most present inspirational chefs to me are Gareth Ward from Ynyshir in Wales and Kristian Baumann of 108 in Copenhagen, I really love what these guys are doing in their restaurants. They inspire me a great deal. Of course, my team influence me on a daily basis, they all have similar ways of looking at things and ideas organically come together very well.

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Q: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”

It would have to be a roast rib of well-aged beef on the bone, with all the proper trimmings.

Roast Aged Rib

Q: Before you chose to be a chef did you have another career in mind?

I wanted to join the military when I was a kid like most young lads probably do! But I was cooking before I left school and it felt good, so I didn’t look back. It’s the best job in the world.

 

Q: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

Too many to mention! But at the top of the list at the moment is Ynyshir, Carters of Moseley and Casamia.

**Fortunately Chef, Ynyshir is featured on Favourite Tables so you can book directly when you’re ready…..

 

Q: Have you ever been presented with a dish/ingredient that you just could not eat and where was that?

I ate at the KOKS pop-up at Den Vandrette in Copenhagen, it was one of my most enjoyable dining experiences I’ve ever had, but there was one dish that I just couldn’t stomach. It was a little cracker with fermented lamb intestine fat shaved over it and it was just insanely strong in flavour, I just couldn’t eat it! I admired and understood the reason they serve it and its traditions, but I just couldn’t do it.

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Q: Which city or country is the most innovative in terms of food?

Personally, I think Either Denmark or Spain – the diversity and creativity coming out of them is insane.

 

Q: What is set to be the next ‘new’ ingredient? And which in particular interests you.

Well, It isn’t new, its thousands of years old but it is only now beginning to really hit a lot of chefs reach, and is gaining more attraction; it is Koji – grains that have been cooked and inoculated with Aspergillus Oryzae (a friendly bacteria). It’s the building blocks for soy sauce, miso, sake and so on.

We have been experimenting with it for over a year now at JÖRO, so early days! But it has completely changed the way we cook now and it is part of our cooking DNA. Incredible stuff. We began using it traditionally to make miso’s and following other recipes we’d researched, and then we took a different path with it and it is used in all sorts from bread to ice creams, brining and curing proteins etc. It is magical stuff.

 

Q: If you could change any misconceptions about restaurants/restaurant food, what would they be?

As a whole, the service we as an industry provide, and the food we deliver to guests is NOT expensive. The time, labour, thought and energy that goes into providing it all is worth far more than what we charge people for it. It really pisses me off when people think they are being hard done by in an honest restaurant providing high levels of food and service (all aspects of it) and I’m not just speaking about my own. We have such a high level of respect for the people that get our ingredients to us, whether it be a wine producer or farmer, and everyone in between. Sometimes this gets forgotten. People don’t think about what it has taken for them to receive it, from the welfare of an animal to sustainable fishing and farming etc to getting ingredients from them to training people to prepare and serve it, energy consumption, the people that take away the waste etc. It’s all relative, people must understand it more and I do think some restaurants give away too much, however, I do think that some milk it a bit too. It’s a tough topic.

 

Q: With the increased TV food programmes, is there a greater rivalry among chefs?

I don’t think so. Healthy competition! I think it has made us all more aware of each other, brought us together and in my opinion, it has made us talk more and help each other out. At the end of the day we always want to be the best at what we do, it’s natural, but I don’t think anyone should have a rivalry as such, surely this would stem from a personal problem between chefs and not what they’ve seen on TV… it’s more inspirational no?

 

Q: How important is a Michelin star? A chef in France, who has 3 Michelin stars, recently asked that they be removed because of the pressure – your thoughts

It is the highest accolade. It would make me very happy if we were ever awarded one, either where we are now or in years to come somewhere else. But first comes having a healthy, growing business, happy staff and happy guests, I think if these boxes are ticked and we get better at what we do every day then we can achieve it. But obviously, there is a tremendous amount of pressure to retain these kinds of accolades. I have seen what it takes to retain stars and it is pretty scary to think about if you were ever in the position where it was your reputation on the line…

 

Q: What do you think about negative reviews?

Some reviews take the biscuit, but the really bad ones are mostly just because some people do not understand or research into what it is we do and what we offer, or they have made it up! But everything is taken on board seriously and looked into.

All negatives lead to positives. It makes us work harder and focus more, failing is learning, learning is knowledge, knowledge is a big part of is what makes us better at what we do.

Everyone expects different levels of service, has different opinions and palates, and of course we can’t please everyone all of the time as much as I’d like us to, but so long as they don’t happen regularly and the business is not affected and what we do every service is the best we can, then I’m happy. You just have to take them on the chin and react proactively.

 

Q: You have said that although you love where the restaurant is right now the plan is to have a restaurant with adjacent access to land/farm (like Winteringham Fields) What influence do you see that having on the menus.

We would have better control over when and what we serve. Nature is my biggest inspiration of all so obviously being surrounded by open land would better our style of cooking better than a steel city, we’d have to travel less to forage, food miles would be less for some ingredients, to be more self-sustainable would be great, having to depend less on others. Ultimately it would just make me a happier chef so naturally I think it would benefit the menu, the happier we are the more creative we are and the better we cook.

Q: What is your favourite dish on the current menu/s in which you use foraged ingredients or produce from your most local supplier?

Wild Mallard with blackcurrant and cabbages. The mallards are shot 8 miles away on the Wortley Estate and brought to us the same day, sometimes still warm! The blackcurrants are from a mile away, picked by the team and preserved, the cabbages are grown half an hour away.

Q: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?

Paul Cunnigham (Henne Kirkeby Kro), without a doubt! What a legend. It would be a good laugh with plenty of banter, and the look’s good too!

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My Favourite Tables – Two restaurants I have visited and why?

 

Restaurant (1): Fera at Claridges, London – always a solid meal with great service.

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Restaurant (2): Ashoka, Sheffield – banging curry.

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Smokeworks “Steampunk BBQ” arriving at Station Road

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We love it when a place is taken over by an innovative company who obviously want to put their mark on it but want to retain the history.

Well, the great CambsCuisine are doing just that.  Known for culinary hotspots including St John’s Chophouse, The Crown & Punchbowl, Cambridge Chophouse and the Millworks, their creative juices, both visually and culinary, are once again flowing with the soon to be opened Smokeworks Number 2 in Station Road, Cambridge.

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Once known as the Great Northern pub, CambsCuisine have taken this once derelict old boy and turned it into the fabulous new boy in town!   Of course, you can still pop-in and have a beer or a cocktail or two but now you can also enjoy some brilliant BBQ – as their motto says “slow cooked. fast”

Can’t wait to try the “At Table” ready to order system and you will now be able to book your table on-line on the website and on favouritetables.com

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Ribs, wings and more pulled meat than thought humanly possible, the menu is one that, even as you read it, makes the mouth water.  Even as I type, thoughts of naughty fries and a pulled chicken, smoked bacon & bacon jam bun is making concentration difficult.

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So, as you come out of the station, keep walking straight ahead – the aromas of the Steampunk BBQ will lead you there – but not until around the 23rd June!

 

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East End “Pie and Mash” comes to Cambridge

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Head Chef at the  Cambridge Chop House Chef Andrew Skipper, known as ‘Skip’ to friends will be opening Skip’s Pop Up Pie Shop in the upper shop part of the Kings’ Parade site whilst the main restaurant (downstairs) is being refurbished.

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Running from the 9th till the 13th of January and serving traditional East London style Pie, Mash and Liquor (or gravy for those who are not aficionados of the parsley and eel stock “liquor” sauce)

Skip who grew up in Ely but lived in East London for three or four years, used to once or twice a month on days off visit pie ‘n’ mash shops, his favourite was Manze’s.

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Established in 1902 Manze’s is now world famous and a favourite with the likes of David Beckham and also boasts some famous visitors/helpers including Chef Heston Blumenthal

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The Cambridge Chop House is part of Cambscuisine, a group of independent restaurants in and around Cambridge, which includes the Smokeworks, the Millworks and the St John’s Chop House.

Executive Head Chef, Sanyi Kiliti, said: “When Andrew spoke to me about his ideas for the pie shop, I immediately thought it was brilliant and perfect for Cambridge during the colder January period”. He added “everyone loves comfort food, and you never know, if it goes well we might even consider opening a permanent pie shop!”

 

The Steak and Ale pies will be made using a local real ale from the Milton brewery at Waterbeach just 6 miles from the restaurant.

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Chicken and Mushroom pie as well as Sausage and Mash will be on offer along with some fine wines by the glass and a selection of local real ales such as Justinian from the Milton Brewery.

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No bookings, just turn up!

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Skip’s Pop Up Pie Shop will be at The Cambridge Chop House, 1 King’s Parade, CB2 1SJ from January 9 to 13, 10 am to 10 pm.

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Cambridge Goes Wild For Game this November

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Back with a vengeance, following the amazing popularity of last years event, this year the Cambscuisine restaurants are going the whole hog for a Wild Game Week in November! They will be sourcing all the wild game locally from the Radwinter Estate (Saffron Walden) and the Denham Estate (Bury St Edmunds.) All 6 Cambscuisine restaurants will be offering wild game specials at lunchtime and during the evening throughout the week (7th – 13th November 2016.)

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In addition, you can now book at the restaurants below for a unique 3 course game night menu on the following evenings in November:

 £35 per person for 3 courses

Monday 7th – Cambridge Chop House

Tuesday 8th – The Tickell Arms, Whittlesford

Wednesday 9th – St John’s Chop House

Thursday 10th – The Cock, Hemingford Grey

Friday 11th – The Crown & Punchbowl, Horningsea

Winners at Thai Cookery School

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Thaikhun – Cambridge

Saturday 9th January saw the first Thai cookery lessons take place at Thaikhun in Cambridge and favourite tables had our competition winners there learning how to cook some very tasty thai dishes.

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Chef Thong checking everything is ready for the first cookery school at Thaikhun Cambridge

Competition winner Tanya treated mum Maria to the day in the Cambridge

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School about to start, just getting the house rules sorted and getting to know the others in today class

The day started with Chef Thong showing the class how to make Spring Rolls

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Chefs hats optional…

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Chef starts by preparing all the ingredients for the spring roll filling – some serious knife skills

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Note taking before our winners take on the challenge of making Thai Spring Rolls for the first time

Then it was over to the “students” to have a try. Chef was on hand to offer extra help where needed. Tanya and her Mum got straight into preparing the ingredients for the spring roll filling.

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Maria finely chopping the chicken breast ready for stir frying

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Once cooked the filling needed to cool slightly before being wrapped ready for deep frying. Chef Thong then showed the group how the wrap the filling in the pastry ready for cooking

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Everyone in the class really enjoyed the lesson and then had a go at the spring rolls

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The results were very impressive and really tasty….

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Now back to school for the main course Pad Thai…

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Chef Thong demonstrates how to take the ingredients and create a fabulous Pad Thai. We had the chance to try chefs result and it was amazing. How would the students get on…

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Fantastic result by Tanya and Maria, which left some over for a doggie bag (box). Everyone had a brilliant day and chef was very impressed with the winners of the Favourite Tables competition.

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If you want to attend a future Cookery Class at Cambridge contact natalie.emery@thaikhun.co.uk for further details.

We would like to thank Thai Leisure Group for making the two tickets available for this competition and we are sure future competitions will be possible.

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Riverport Grill – St. Ives

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We visited this bistro style restaurant for my son’s 17th birthday and were pleasantly surprised by this little ‘gem’ . This cosy restaurant is located  very near to the River Nene, it’s simple yet classy interior decor  is cleverly lit to give an intimate feel without making the menu’s unreadable.

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The menu although not vast  offers a good selection of  varied and interesting food  plus the  daily specials board with some rarer and unusual choices.

Portions are not huge but sufficient and satisfying  ( they also have a children’s menu) the main courses were well presented and some of the most flavoursome tasted in this area for a long while and the desserts were simply scrumptious !

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I chose the Greek pulled lamb ,feta and cucumber bun which came with a choice of skinny fried or chips – the chunky type which is what I opted for and it had a side of shredded vegetables, it was delicious! Two other members also opted for other types from the many choices of  filled buns and were equally impressed , the cost for my main course was  a very reasonable  £8.50 and worth every penny !

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The restaurant is obviously very popular,  we had booked our table in advance but whilst there we saw many turned away it was completely fully booked for the evening -so  I highly recommend you book in advance.

A good experience , lovely food , relaxing ambience, we shall return  !