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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.

Credit: Gareth-Ward-FJONA-BLACK kristian-baumann

 

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  !

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Kaz’s Indian & Bangladeshi Restaurant

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Earlier this week we had the pleasure of re-visiting KAZ’S Indian & Bangladeshi Restaurant in Sawston.

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This was my third visit to this wonderful restaurant so I was excited to see if they still held that special element that brings me back!
The restaurant itself is on the small side, being in an old Victorian building. It definitely holds a lot of character. I think having a group of over six would be a tad difficult as you would be split across tables, but we were fine being a group of five.
We were seated and given menus and our drinks orders were taken at the same time. I expected beer to be around the £4 mark which it was, £3.90 for a Cobra I believe.
The drinks were brought out quickly and we ordered poppadoms while we decided what else we fancied.
The poppadoms came with 5 sides which were mango chutney, lime pickle, coconut powder, onion salad and mint yogurt.
Each was delicious and we had some left over despite there being quite a few poppadoms between the five of us, though we were given two chutney trays which was good!

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I decided to go for a new dish as I had visited a couple of times before and tried my “usual” dishes. I went for a vegetable Pathia with plain rice and a Peshwari naan.
The food took a little while to come out, which was expected as we ordered quite a lot. The staff were very attentive though and made sure we were never out of drinks.
Everything came out together and we got stuck in. The vegetable Pathia was delicious! It contained an array of vegetables from cauliflower to peas and carrots. The flavours just sprang to life in my mouth which was great. I did expect it to be a bit on the spicier side but I wasn’t going to quibble about that, having nothing to compare it to. It is a lovely dish, sweet but with a nice hint of sour running through.
The Peshwari naan was very nice, not too tough and stuffed to perfection.
All the portions were generous. I ended up taking away some of mine (and other peoples!) for lunch the following day.
A couple of people ordered onion bhajis. Three were given per order and they were huge! Usually restaurants aren’t too generous with their bhajis but Kaz’s went all out! I tried one the next day and it was still fresh enough and just fell apart in my mouth, it was divine!

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As we were celebrating a birthday, we sang at the table and then to our surprise “Happy Birthday” was played over the speaker system and staff brought a bottle of champagne to the table, free of charge! This was such a lovely touch and shows how much they value their customers, most of our group being semi-regulars afterall!
We were given glasses and enjoyed celebrating a while longer The staff were keen to take photos for us and to assist in any way they could.
The bill was very reasonable considering the amount we ordered and you can’t put a price on happiness, though I’m sure my price would include a fair share of Indian food…!
We were given hot towels and a chocolate each to end the lovely night.

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Once again I find myself giving Kaz’s a brilliant 5/5

Navadhanya – 5 star Indian food comes to Cambridge!

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Another day another fine Indian restaurant opens in our city!

This restaurant is not your typical spicy slop in a bucket, which seems to be the standard in our country for Indian food these days. The Navadhanya has set itself up as a high end Indian establishment with chefs from 5 star and Michelin rated backgrounds, setting a whole new benchmark of standards for the city.
Located in the old “Bird In Hand” pub on Newmarket Road, opposite the Grafton Centre and “The Zebra” pub, this place seems to snuggle in nicely to a very crowded market in Cambridge. The only Indian restaurant close by is the Raja on King Street which offers more traditional British Indian food so is a very welcome addition to the city without stepping on anybodies toes.
Hopefully there will be a time in our lives when we shouldn’t ever have to walk more than 5 minutes for a curry in Cambridge! One can dream but this could soon be a reality at this rate!
The place is decorated with bright blue lights upon entering so the restaurant is not hard to find. Once inside you are warmly greeted by incredibly polite and friendly staff who offer to take your coats. The place is modern and very new. I wouldnt say the place has an overly homely or atmospheric feel to it but as the night went on the lights dimmed and we both felt incredibly cosy.
Considering this place is not your traditional British Indian restaurant, things such as vindaloo were not on the menu. So I had to climb out the sty, hose off the slop, and act like a human being for the night and try some of the finer delicacies on the menu. Something I was more than willing to oblige with mind!
The prices were understandably higher than what I am used too, being a higher end restaurant. A Biriyani (without rice) was around the £11-£15 mark and the main courses were hovering around £13-£19 each. Beer was reasonably priced, however at £3.50 (with a selection of Kingfisher and Cobra on tap). Rice and Naan were around £2.50, which was not too bad, but you can easily see how two people could easily rack up £60-70 at a time here.
After looking at the menu we decided to take them up on their 7 course promotion, which is a set selection of different dishes from all over India. I thought this would be an ideal way to sample what this restaurant, and the country of India, has to offer.
After all, this is a place I probably couldn’t afford to come back to very often, so lets make the most of it!
The 7 course menu came to around £30 a head but gives you a selection of different things including prawns, salmon, chicken, lamb and dessert. Considering a Biriyani, rice and a naan would have been well over £20 I didnt think it was a bad deal.
We ordered some poppadoms while we waited for our food to be prepared, which was presented in a basket with three side sauces. No lime pickle or onion salad here, even on request. From memory the sauces were mango chutney, yogurt and some sort of chili sauce. Each sublime and full of flavour with a great texture, though incredibly stingy portions. We managed to make it last with some economising but felt we could have had at least a little dollop more.
The service was incredibly quick and the food was brought out almost immediately after our poppadoms were finished. The courses were brought out little and often so you were constantly being served and had something new to experience and talk about while dining.
Its a great way to eat and I loved the experience, I couldn’t recommend it enough. Each dish was not a massive portion but it was all excellently prepared and of an incredibly fine standard.
The first thing to arrive was the Masala Dosa, one of my favourite dishes. When it was brought out the head waiter came over and explained the dish to us, telling us exactly what we had ordered, what was in it and what kind of work went in to the dish . Considering that we ordered 7 different dishes, it was greatly appreciated to be reminded through the night and it really made you feel like you were being taken on a journey with them.
The Masala Dosa was excellently presented but a little different to what I am used too. My experience of Masala Dosa is dining at Cocum with a giant pancake roll which has a form of mashed potato inside. This was more of an appetizer than anything else, but it was full of so much flavour and spice. It really went down a treat, I could have eaten many more of these if I had the chance!
Once we had finished (which didn’t take long), the next dish was out. The Salmon and Prawn tandoori. Sadly my low quality camera phone does this picture absolutely NO justice at all (I am trying to get a new camera sorted soon, sorry folks!).
As usual, the dish was well presented. You could tell that these chefs were from a high end background as everything was a work of art. Though it doesn’t just stop at the kitchen here as the customer service matches to boot. The waiter, again, came over and explained the dish to us giving us a very detailed explanation of everything that went in to making it. They really look after you here, they really couldn’t do enough for us!
The prawn was absolutely huge! It was succulent, full of flavour and just so juicy. It reminded me of the fantastic prawns I had at The Rice Boat in Newnham.
 The salmon just fell apart when you pulled it with your fork. A simple dish with not much complexity to it but still, it managed to blow me away with flavour and texture. Easily some of the best salmon I have ever had in my life, and the prawn was certainly a contender too!
I am not a huge fish man myself but we both had absolutely no trouble devouring them both.
Gone!
Once we were done with the previous dish  we were presented with a Granita strawberry ice dish. It is like a refreshment dessert, but in the middle of our journey of sampling rather than at the end. It felt like it was there to give you a breather from the heavier eating and hydrate you a little.  It was greatly appreciated and something I thought was a very good idea, though nothing which blew me away in itself. It was a bit of an anti climax perhaps after the bar had been set so high for everything else.
Next on the list was the Afghani Murgh, which is tandoored chicken. Again, a very common and basic dish, but somehow they have managed to make this chicken burst with flavour. Not overly spicy, but that didn’t matter, the flavours were incredible. The chicken just fell off the bone and was incredibly juicy. A lot of places get chicken wrong and leave it too dry, often leaving the sauce to cover it up. The chicken came with a small dollop of sauce but it still had so much moisture and succulence to it.
Next was the Lamb Varathu Curry, serviced with ground spices and coconut milk. This was the closest thing I got to a real “curry” all night.  It came with rice, garlic naan and Dal Tadka soup.
Everything was well presented, as usual. There was so much to take in here, as up until now we had only been given tiny little dishes. This certainly came across as the main meal of the evening.
The lamb was so tender and rich in flavour. They got it absolutely spot on. It wasn’t too fatty, it fell apart on my fork, and it melted in our mouths. The sauce had a nice kick to it but it was also bursting with complex flavours.
The Dal Tadka was not my cup of tea though I could appreciate its appeal to others. The rice was cooked well and the garlic naan was well presented and cooked just right. There was a lot of colour to make the bread look quite herby but lacked much of the flavour you would expect from eating a garlic naan. That being said, its texture was perfect for mopping up the sauce from the Lamb Vatathu. So though we were in a fancy high end place, we were still able to wipe up the plate like a back alley Indian on Brick Lane!
Sensational!
The last dish to come out was the dessert. A chocolate mouse and mango kulfi. Both looked like they would be quite soft and full of air, but on digging in with my spoon I was incredible surprised (and pleased!) to see how thick the dishes were. They were incredibly sweet and quite filling. They were also very small but they did have a lot of substance to them. After finishing them off, I naturally wanted more as it was so creamy and moreish, but I really felt like I had enough so was not disappointed!Once we were done we decided that we did not want any coffee or anything else to eat. I quite simply couldn’t eat another bite. Since I hadn’t whoofed down an entire curry within 45 minutes and instead slowly sampled 7 smaller dishes over a couple of hours I didn’t feel too bloated either, just incredibly well fed.
At no point did the staff try and rush us out of the restaurant once we said we were finished, even though the place was getting packed (I am looking at you, Maharajah!). Once the bill came we were given two chocolates but not hot towels.
Wheel Chair access:
Wheel chair access looked difficult from the entrance with a couple of stubborn steps.
 After quizzing them about their facilities they showed me a side door which chairs can use as its on ground level. Upon further investigation I noticed that the door was blocked by a Mercedes outside, which was parked on a gravel drive, with bits of concrete along the way, making it incredibly hard for access (not to mention a lot of fuss to go with it, including moving a table which was next to the door).
To their credit though, they did have disabled toilets, though the restaurant really doesn’t seem to have much space for moving around. I can see people on manual wheel chairs moving around fine but I feel that anyone operating an electric wheel chair might find themselves knocking tables over and catching chairs to get around, especially on their way to the toilets in the corner. This can be slightly forgiven as the place is quite small and there is only so much you can do. If I was a wheel chair user I would think about this and consider your needs before coming here. They staff are incredibly polite and easy to talk to here, I am sure any of them would be more than happy to talk to you on the phone before coming.
Conclusion:
We were both blown away by the quality of this restaurant. I felt like we have both been taken on a food sampling journey throughout India with our waiter as our trusty tour guide. We sampled a bit of everything that the north and south has to offer in India. Every single thing which was prepared was not just good but of excellent quality.
If I was going to put this restaurant in to a category, I would say that it was in the same league as The Rice Boat or Cocum because it is not a standard British Indian restaurant, but focusing more on the traditional Indian cuisine. The only difference being that Navadhanya focuses on dishes from the north and south rather than just a particular area of India.
 For me this is a perfect place to introduce someone to what India has to offer, as it takes a bit of everything from lamb, chicken, fish and deserts and presents it excellently and executes everything to such a high standard. Nothing I have experienced in Cambridge before can compete with the quality I sampled tonight, and I honestly mean that.
Absolutely nothing here disappointed me and even though I ended up paying double the usual for my meal, I felt like I easily got good value for money.
The good people at Navadhanya have added a fine piece of variety to the Indian restaurant scene in Cambridge and a new dimension to Indian cuisine as a whole.

Rang Mohol

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Tonight, we hit the Rang Mohol.

This has been a well over due target for us for some time now and I am so glad we have finally managed to visit. Sadly, thanks to geographical inconveniences, a lack of time and a serious lack of money,  it has not been a possibility, until now!
The Rang Mohol is the sister restaurant of The Lalbagh in Bourne and is located in the fine town of Sawston, just south of Cambridge. It is an award winning restaurant (English Curry Awards 2014) so should serve us well.
Lets see what the fuss is about.
The first thing I like about this restaurant is that is has free parking in the back. It sounds trivial I know, but it makes a big difference when coming from out of town (which is probably for most people in this case).
I do not know if this is just the man inside me or some sort of weird Simon thing, but I would much rather drive all the way out to Sawston and not have to worry about where to put my car, or worse yet, pay for parking my car, then actually drive in to Cambridge, which is actually a much shorter journey.
The wheel chair access to this restaurant is fantastic and actually the best I have ever seen in an Indian restaurant. Not surprising really after my Disability access blog post the other week where someone from the restaurant actually challenged us to visit and test their restaurant and test their disabled access. So clearly they are confident and I can see why. Well done guys!
I would recommend this to anyone who is wheelchair bound.
Once you enter, the first thing you notice is how modern the place looks. Like its sister restaurant, Lalbagh, it has a water themed look to it, with blue neon lighting. This makes the place look very modern and atmospheric but also quite hard to take pictures with a poor camera phone, so I apologize again (new camera coming soon, I promise!).
The water walls (with bubbles) were a real winner for me, it just made everything feel so mellow. This would be an ideal place to impress a work college, boss or a date if you wanted to show them some sophistication…but still just wanted a good curry!
The staff were very polite, well presented and tended to our every need. We were seated in a fantastic spot in the corner which overlooked the restaurant. The whole place is very clean and the toilets especially are incredibly classy. We really liked the blue lights on each of the tables, they gave us that bit extra light which was really needed considering how dim it was in there.
We ordered some poppadoms while we decided what we wanted. The menus are fantastic and incredibly varied, catering for traditional Indian cuisine and more standard British Indian dishes too, so there is something for everyone, including a good fish selection.
They brought out the poppadoms quite quickly and gave us four side sauces in white china pots. Yogurt, lime pickle, mango chutney and onion salad. The yogurt was quite runny and unfulfilling but everything else was spot on. The onion salad especially was fantastic. Over all very impressive.
There was Mongoose and Kingfisher beer on tap at the bar, though as I was driving we decided to just have a can of coke. The prices were over £4 for a pint, so be careful!
Shorisha seabass.
The Rang Mohol are known for their sea bass, so naturally I found it hard to resist the temptation.
I went for the “Shorisha seabass”, which is a pan fried seabass with coriander, cumin and served on ground mustard seeds. This came excellently prepared in a fish shaped dish, which impressed me more than it probably should have, but was a nice touch either way.
I couldn’t help but think if it had come with a few extra potatoes then it would have been a perfect dish in its own right. I think they were trying to encourage people to buy rice with it as it had a lot of spicy sauce. After looking at the menu and seeing that the rice portions were nearly £4, I thought that id give it a miss. Nice try fellas.
All things considered, the 3 small potatoes nearly sufficed, and the over all experience of the dish was very good. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys something a bit different or quite simply loves sea bass.
The korma was no different. It was well presented (if you ignore the picture), it had a fantastic texture to it and it also just burst with sweet flavour. The prawns were quite small but tasted fine. There were no complaints all around with this dish.
Once we were done we were asked for coffee or dessert, which we both declined. We were keeping it short and sweet tonight. We were offered a chocolate, some orange, and a blue packaged hot towel (warm wet wipe) to freshen up with. Which was a nice touch as a lot of places are not so generous now days. Once we paid, we left the building. The staff were polite enough to walk us out and open the door for us. No complaints all round.
The bill came to much less than it did at Frankie And Benny’s, so that might be something to consider. You can have fine delicacies while dining in modern restaurants without paying for the earth. Not to mention fantastic access and disabled facilities.Conclusion:
I loved the Rang Mohol, as I did the Lalbagh. Though I don’t think both restaurants are for everyone.
The place is modern, sophisticated and quite atmospheric. I think some people might not like how dim and dark it is in here, and perhaps prefer a place with more light or somewhere with more of a traditional feel. Othherwise there is not really much to fault here.
Prices are a little over average, though the food is fantastic and easily worth it. The selection of food is even better, with menus catering for traditional Indian cuisine and more British Indian styles of cooking too, so there is something for everyone. The fish selection is fantastic too.
Its clear to see why Rang Mohol has won awards and gets a lot of respect within the industry. It has clearly put a lot of effort in to its cuisine, image, and its service. Not to mention catering for its customers.

Tasty Thai in Cambridge

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Thaikhun – Quayside Cambridge

I went  to Thaikhun, a Thai restaurant Cambridge.
it was good access with a ground level floor. That is good and for me to get in and  move around the restaurant.
 They gave us some free prawn crackers once we sat down..The food was bloody good.
I had look at the menu and decided to go for the Massaman Gai curry. The food  come out  really quickly, I was impressed.
The staff speak to people in wheelchair users like me really well, which made me really happy.
  I had a green pancake for dessert with  ice cream – it was interesting but also lovely.
  Over all, I had a great time. The wheel chair access was really good. The staff were polite and the service was fast. The food was all very good and the bill was reasonable.
They gave me a reward card so I will defiantly be coming back!
Full marks all around!
Thanks for stopping by!
Jim