Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Review: Poet's House, Ely

Don’t you just love it when an exciting new place comes along? Every time I hear of a new opening in the area I do a little jump for joy (in my head only of course), because it feels like it's another string to Cambridge’s bow and a step towards shedding our foodie wasteland label. And by Cambridge, I mean our county not just the centre. The location for this post is Ely, just 20 minutes away and a great spot for a wander (and a good rummage at Waterside Antiques of course).

The lovely Heidi Sladen (from The Moving Foodie Blog and one of my partners in crime for Eat Cambridge) and I were invited along to try the new Poet's House and jumped at the chance. 

Poet's House is part of the House Collection, a group who take on old houses and converts them in to luxurious hotels. They will be opening Paddocks House in Newmarket in September 2013 and they have plans to take on a house in Cambridge centre at some point I believe.

On our weeknight visit we were ooo-ing and ahh-ing at the lovely bar and décor as soon as we walked in the door. It is mightily impressive. It feels elegant enough that you could imagine being there for a black tie affair, but equally cool enough that you could rock trendy/casual wear as well.

As we sat down to peruse the cocktail menu, a friendly face appeared; it seemed the bar man not only recognised me but knew my favourite tipple from his previous haunt. I am not sure what that says about me (well I am, but I'll brush past that) but I can't deny my love of the gin. Luckily it is my mother’s reward rather than ruin so don’t worry for me just yet.

The food was impressive throughout. My favourite dish of my three courses was a pea velouté with crispy egg and asparagus soldiers. The combination of having the waiter pour the velouté at the table, and my own love of releasing the runny egg yolk made it just my sort of dish. Equally I couldn’t get enough of the peanut butter crème brulee. Heidi did some more ooo-ing noises when she was eating her Riverside beef cheek with shallot tart and so I will take it from that that she rather liked it. She also had an intriguing Binham Blue cheese ice cream for dessert. It's not my thing, but as a savoury fiend she ate every scrap and announced it different but delicious when the waiter asked.

As a designated driver I left the wine alone for once. Heidi did ask for recommendations with each course but unfortunately they were more eager than informed. It is entirely possible that there is a dedicated sommelier come the weekend though.

Overall it is a sparkling new addition to our counties’ fine dining scene. I want to go back for afternoon tea and cocktails very soon and I do hope they might add some tables in their new garden for those occasional sunny days.

As I mentioned we were very lucky to be invited to try this fine establishment but a la carté would come in at around £30 for three courses (not including wine) and cocktails start from £7.50. 

Poet's House, 40 St Mary's Street, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4EY

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Review: The Snug Bar, Cambridge

Memories of tipsy nights out (in a pre-baby world) give me a real fondness for The Snug Bar on Lensfield Road. So when I got chance to try the new menu and reminisce, albeit with a baby in tow and at lunchtime, I was keen to pop along.

As ever I had a good nosey at the menu beforehand and straight away the Magic Milk Bottles stood out as a must-try. Six mini potions to sip on is right up my street! I should probably make it clear here that we were trying both the food and drink menus, but ardent cocktail fan that I am, I sussed the beverages out first.

If like me, you love a cocktail but struggle to choose what to go for, then these mini bottles might float your boat as much as they did mine. They are a fantastic idea in my book - they quench both my need for a drink and my love of the quirky and miniature. I would have them every time, to share on a lunchtime visit but to myself anytime past 5!

As luck would have it, my husband favoured the Snugism, Amaretto Sours and Woo Woo (he loves a good girly drink!) and I guzzled the Margarita, Dune Bug and Cosmo. Other sharers on the new menu include the Tiki collection for two to share or the truly enormous B.F.G, served in a giant pineapple for a group drinking session. Plus you can find the usual array of tempting classics and Snug favourites on the menu as well. Those with a sweet tooth should flip straight to the dessert cocktail page - Banoffee Pie in cocktail form anyone? I loved the design of the new menus as well, especially the illustration showing what good stuff goes in your favourite tipple.

Our little girl Tilly seemed to like it too, here she is making her selection, she's a bit of a Cosmo girl already it seems!

Of course lunchtime drinking without a little sustenance would be foolish and I had my heart set on some fajitas. Pete went for a classic cheese and bacon burger. Both with some chips of course, mine sweet potato, his chunky.

The menu is full of classics, with the burgers taking centre stage. It was great to hear from Mike, the manager at The Snug, that they make it all by hand (the chips being the only exception). Misshaped burgers are testament to this. Next time we visit we will be trying the Coca Cola ribs, a secret recipe dish that takes the kitchen team a few days to get perfect - what with all that sticky marinating. They sound marvellously messy to me. Overall the menu has a slant towards a traditional American diner, which is a great shout as carbs and meat is exactly what you need when indulging in a cocktail or three. Saying that though, there are some great summer salads on offer too if you want a lighter bite. The grapefruit and radish salad would take my fancy on such an occasion.

Our food hit the spot. My favourite part was my sweet potato chips served in an enamel mug. I imagine I would have loved the burger too but it magically disappeared before I had chance to pinch a bite! My only niggle with the whole meal was that I would have like my fajita condiments to come separately (they came all together on some lettuce) but even as I write that I can see how petty it sounds. Please note here that I am the kind of girl who can't eat soggy toast and has to have my spaghetti hoops in a bowl on the side. Feel free to judge me - on the weird food preferences or my love of spaghetti hoops.

And of course no indulgent weekday lunch would be compete without a knickerbocker glory. Our choices of brownie and strawberry ice creams went down a treat.

The Snug has five sister restaurants, one of them is just up the road on East Road, but it is worth remembering that it is an independent. And it's always great to see a local restaurant doing exciting things. I will certainly be back for more Magic Milk Bottles and those ribs.

The Snug Bar, 67 Lensfield Road, CB2 1EN
01223 367684,

The Snug team were kind enough to invite us along to try the new menus and we didn't pay for our meal. They even entertained Tilly for us and didn't bat an eyelid when she threw chips on the floor!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Linton: the new Saffron Walden?

I love discovering a new place; somewhere I can take my one year old daughter, Tilly for a stroll and pick up some nice food at the same time. My staple favourites are Great Shelford, Mill Road and Saffron Walden because they all have that lovely community feeling and numerous places to browse. And now, rather splendidly, I can add Linton to my list. It's not too far from me in Duxford and recently both Jigsaw Bakery and The Linton Kitchen have sprung up on the High Street. Rumour has it there is a butchers on the way too.
The idea of wandering from one end of the high street to the other picking up fresh bread, popping in for some meat and then stopping by the Linton Kitchen for some veg, cake and a cup of tea really appeals to my romantic notion of going back to the old style of shopping.

Jigsaw Bakery
The bakery is run by Matthew Whitby who is up early on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Friday and Saturdays to bake his wonderful loaves. He puts on daily specials, from beetroot and feta focaccia to cranberry and white chocolate scones, plus staples such as bloomers, sourdough and baguettes.  
The bakery is open from 11am to 6pm Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 11am to 2pm on a Saturday. A mummy tip: pick up an olive oil grissini for the journey home - it keeps Tilly occupied every time.

You can follow Jigsaw Bakery on Twitter and keep up to date on their specials on their Facebook page. Matthew is also a keen Morris dancer so expect some fine bell jangling on the Facebook page as well!

The Linton Kitchen
A girl after my own heart, Gemma Whiting loves local food so much that just last week she realised her dream of opening her own shop-cum-cafe. At the Linton Kitchen you can sit down to a cup of Hot Numbers coffee and slice of cake or be tempted by a hearty lunch - all lovely and all local. 

You can also pick up all sorts of essentials, including the most critical item of all - cake. The kitchen is open 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 3pm Sundays.  

Find out more on their website Or through Twitter and Facebook.

The Flower Boutique
Just opposite the kitchen you can find The Flower Boutique. It might not sell anything edible but it's still right up my street - there's nothing like a few stems to brighten up a room. I normally justify buying them by thinking how many times they will make me smile when I walk in the room and somehow it makes them seem just as necessary as bread.

Have a look at some of their beautiful bouquets at

And now work is afoot for the butchers to open up next to flower shop soon so the high street will be even more bustling. 

Linton looks quaint and feels full of friendly faces so as far as I can see it is starting to give the likes of Saffron Walden and Ely a run for their money. I will be visiting often for a sourdough and a good cup of coffee. A village with a thriving high street is a great thing to see; they are few and far between in the age of the supermarket so do use these local spots as often as you can.

Mums - as an aside there is also The Spotted Giraffe for little ones, I am yet to visit but it looks nice. It's always good to know that there is somewhere for toddlers to wear themselves out - you might even get them to have a nap so you can enjoy a coffee in peace and quiet!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

I'm back and Eat Cambridge

I know, I know, I have severely neglected this blog for some time. Life seemed to get in the way for a while there but I am finally through the haze of becoming a first time mum and ready to get back out and eat my way round Cambridge again. 

You can expect more reviews and news to come very soon, but in the meantime I wanted to tell you more about my newest baby, Eat Cambridge. I am working with a team of other local food devotees to set up Cambridge's first proper food festival. It's going to be stupendously exciting and I can not wait for it to come to life in March. Bookings for the various events will open very soon. Please click on the image below to take a nosey at our website and follow us on Twitter for regular updates.