Finally, after harping on for weeks about how much I love The First and Last in Cambridge, I have found the time to have dinner at the great city centre pub and write about it! Hoorah! The perfect antidote to a long, hard day at the office, the food on offer was varied, interesting, and absolutely perfectly cooked. The generous portions and ingenious combinations of flavours and textures took us by surprise, especially considering the prices, and we gleefully worked our way through some delicious wines by the glass to complement each course.
The pub, tucked away on Melbourne Place close to Parker's Piece and the Grafton Centre, is brimming with character and atmosphere. We even stumbled upon a troop of Morris dancers outside the pub! Even with the pub's now contemporary decor, the traditional feel remains, with plenty of space for drinking and socialising as well as tables for enjoying a leisurely lunch or dinner, plus a modern, funky vibe which creates a fun, relaxed atmosphere in the evening. We ordered some drinks at the bar and were shown to a table by the friendly and efficient bar staff, where we inspected the impressive menu - featuring a good selection of starters priced from 3.95 to 6.95 and intriguing main dishes such as Chickpea and Spinach Dahl with Flat Bread and Leg of Lamb Steak with port jus.
I opted for one of the day's special starters, Chicken Wings with Homemade Hot Sauce and Soured Cream, and The Boy chose Devilled Chicken Livers on sourdough toast with pickled red cabbage and beetroot coleslaw. The dishes were superbly presented, made up of good quality and fresh ingredients, and were just the right size to cure our hunger pangs but whet our appetites for the main courses. My chicken wings were meaty, sticky and, the best part, smothered in chunky sauce with a satisfying kick of chilli. I paired the zingy, spicy starter with a glass of Terrassa Tempranillo red from the extensive wine menu.
After a trip to the French seaside last weekend I was firmly in the mood for more fabulous fish accompanied by refined, fresh ingredients. Luckily, my main of pan fried Turbot and salt cod croquettes completely fitted the bill and lived up to my foodie expectations. Served on wilted spinach (delightfully creamy and salty in equal measures) with grilled fennel and a touch of roasted red pepper coulis and hollandaise, the firm and meaty fish held it's own flavour well and melted in the mouth against the crispy coating of the salt cod croquettes. Everything about the dish is what I love about fish - sweet and robust combined with salty, aniseed flavours and al dente vegetables. The glass of white Morande Pionero Sauvignon Blanc from Chile made for a very happy marriage with the Turbot and the fennel, although unfortunately it wasn't well chilled. Perhaps we'll just have to go for a whole bottle next time and ask for an ice bucket! The Boy's Pork Schnitzel from the specials board went down equally well, accompanied by a pint of Aspall Suffolk Cyder.
For a fresh, unique take on British pub food, The First and Last is a fantastic dining experience in a relaxed, friendly environment. The Boy and I are already planning our next visit!