Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Ask the Foodie: Where to find the best value fine dining menus in Cambridge?

For my monthly food column in Cambridge Edition magazine, Ask the Foodie, I find the best value fine dining options in Cambridge... 

Q) Where can we find the best value fine dining menus in Cambridgeshire?

A) Now there’s a question. Regular readers of my restaurant reviews will know that my huge affection for fine food and wine doesn’t always match my modest budget. But as long as the tasting menu matches its flight of wine, I’m determined to find a way to afford it...

Cambridge’s fine dining scene has made steady but impressive progress since my first experience of the crisp white tablecloths and hushed formality of Midsummer House back in the summer of ’99. A good few years later, for me spent compiling a catalogue of exquisite foodie memories at the likes of Cotto and Alimentum, the city now proudly boasts three Michelin stars and a handful of top-end restaurants. Thankfully, fantastic quality food does not necessarily mean flashy price tags.

My top pick for the budget-conscious foodie is the set lunch available Wednesday to Friday at Midsummer House. The five-course menu changes regularly and provides a very generous opportunity to sample the signature style of renowned chef Daniel Clifford for just £45 a head. Certainly not only for those impressing corporate clients, this one’s best enjoyed on a luxurious day off, pretending to be ladies that lunch.

Another local superstar chef, Alimentum’s Mark Poynton hosts a cracking value Supper Club on the first Sunday of every month. It’s a sociable affair; guests are seated together, family style, and invited to sample and rate new dishes. It’s friendly on the wallet too at £45 for five courses, no corkage for BYO, and an optional matching flight of wine available for £15. Reservations must be requested in advance and it often sells out weeks ahead, giving a delicious air of exclusivity.

Out-of-towners will welcome the return of the set lunch menu to The Three Horseshoes in Madingley, available Monday to Friday and featuring three seasonally inspired courses plus inventive little extras and tea or coffee for £25 a head. Advance booking is essential to ensure a sunny spot in the conservatory restaurant.
For a reasonably priced formal dinner menu, at £35.95 for four courses, give long-established Restaurant 22 on Chesterton Road a try but, here’s a tip for you, sign up to the mailing list first and find offers such as a free fish course flopping into your inbox now and again.

Bon appétit!

Originally published in Cambridge Edition magazine, May 2014

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