Friday 18 January 2013

A foodie's Cambridge

My latest article for Varsity is online, I'm craving scallops already... Here it is:
From gastropubs to michelin stars, Rosie Sargeant recommends only the finest of eateries in the first of our new series.
It's time to bin the 2 for 1 pizza vouchers - as the following restaurants prove, Cambridge fine dining can be better value than you might think.


Just outside the centre of town, this cosy gastropub serves up all the British classics with a few inventive touches - veal shin with cavolo nero and orange, or leek risotto with chive mascarpone for veggies. Its main draw, however, is the £5 lunch, with three daily-changing options of simple but substantial dishes, which will satisfy both the ravenous and the refined palate.

Dining here is a seriously classy affair, with impeccable service and dishes presented with the utmost attention to detail. It's recently been awarded a Michelin star and while your budget might not be able to stretch to the dizzying heights of the chef's tasting menu, the fixed price menu (£18.50 for two courses, £24.50 for three) offers a tantalising taste of luxury at a more affordable price.

One of Cambridge's best-kept secrets, the value for money offered at this training restaurant for future chefs makes it well worth the journey out of the centre. Fine dining evenings typically involve five or so courses of inventive cuisine, all for a mere £10. If you're still feeling peckish, pick up whole pies, quiches, scones and tarts for ridiculously low prices from the adjoining bistro and make yourself the most popular person in college - if they survive the journey home...

If you’re a foodie or a quaffer (or both), this place is for you. D’Arry’s somehow manages to pull off a melting pot of delights - fantastic wine pairings, inventive takes on British classics with a subtle hint of Asian flavour thrown in the mix, exotic daily specials such as bison steak, a seriously indulgent pudding board – all whilst retaining a welcoming, unpretentious atmosphere. Carnivores take note: the Sunday roast would give Mum a run for her money, Tuesday’s Steak Night features juicy sirloin cuts for £10.95, and Thursday is devoted to 'Pull a Pig Apart' – pork cooked in three different ways and designed to be shared, although it doesn’t stand much chance.

Michaelhouse Café
This café is situated in the nave of St. Michael’s Church and is an oasis of calm just off the bustling streets of the city centre. The menu aims to do simple food well, using local produce whenever possible – bacon butties come served on homemade bread made with organic flour and extra virgin olive oil, and the bacon comes from the family farm in Herefordshire where pigs are treated well and the meat is cured and smoked in the slow, traditional way. There are meat, fish and vegetarian options that change daily, as well as a tempting selection of wholesome soups, quiches and salads. If you can't decide what to choose, go for the 'Hungry Student' late lunch deal and pile as much as you can on a plate for £3.95. It would be a challenge not to pack in your 5-a-day most delectably in the process.

The romantic atmosphere of this lovely restaurant is matched with lovingly-prepared dishes, making it a perfect date night choice, especially in the summer, when the walled garden is opened for al fresco dining and fairy lights twinkle as the sun sets. The menu also sparkles with Mediterranean-meets-British delights – fish dishes are particularly notable. The fixed-price lunch (£12 for two courses, £15 for three) offers a few of the à la carte menu's best picks at lower prices.

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