Those of you familiar with the best of the Cambridge street food scene already know Steak & Honour and Jack’s Gelato. They formed a dining collective and named it Over The Tracks, a nod to the location of their Cambridge HQ tucked away in a winding industrial estate, just past the train tracks.
Leo Riethoff and David Underwood of Steak & Honour and Jack van Praag of Jack’s Gelato don’t just flip burgers and scoop ice cream. They are proper chefs who expertly create their menus and have worked in some of the best professional kitchens. Over The Tracks is their opportunity to expand their culinary offerings, and in Jack’s case, show what he can do away from the churn.
“Over The Tracks is quality, seasonal and local cooking in an informal and communal setting. With OTT, the guys are taking their product off the street and placing it in another context.” (Eat Cambridge Official Website)
This well organised fringe event for Eat Cambridge, held on 20 May 2015, was beautifully set up inside and outside the industrial unit. The bar was housed inside, along with several large communal tables and charming mismatched chairs. The minimalist décor and ambience worked well in the overall context. The chilled out sounds of instrumental hip hop music added to the urban atmosphere.
Outside, wooden stand up tables were surrounded by the different food stations: the iconic Steak & Honour van, deep fry area, wood-fired pizza oven and gelato trike. There was plenty of space to roam around, sit or stand, and explore the culinary delights on offer. The menu was pay-as-you-go so it was flexible and people could pick and choose what they wanted to eat and drink. The event appealed to people of all ages.
Steak & Honour served up two types of burgers. One was the deliciously spicy and aptly named “Some Like It Hot” burger with jalapeño, charred onion and their own hot sauce on a Riverside beef patty.
The other burger was quite unexpected and featured pork… and eel! Wow, a real nod to the flavours these two chefs can create! Named “Eel to the MFK”, the burger featured a Dingley Dell pork patty, pork belly, smoked eel, kale ketchup and Steak & Honour’s own smoked sauce. The eel served more as a background flavour than an obvious ingredient. Everyone who was adventurous enough to try one raved about it. And those whose curiosity was peaked at the name (like me) found out that “Eel to the MFK” means “Eel to the Muthaf**kin’ Kale”. Brilliant… and very street, yo!
Fried chicken and ‘slaw were available at the deep fry station. Chicken thighs coated in buttermilk and seasoned breadcrumbs were expertly deep fried to their juiciness and crispiness. The ‘slaw combined herby flavours such as dill and fennel with a real hit of spicy heat… such an original combination of flavours that went down well with the craft beers, wine and soft drinks on offer.
We were in for a special treat as Jack offered his pizzas to the public for the first time. His station was set up to tantalise the taste buds, with all of the fresh ingredients on display such as pancetta, basil, olives, capers, anchovies, red onions, chilli peppers, olive oil, tomato sauce and cheese.
Jack paddled his freshly made pizzas into the wood-fired oven and cooked them to perfection, each and every time. His pizza creations – all on a thin, crisp base – included 3 different types: tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil; tomato, cow mozzarella, anchovy, olive and caper; and tomato, smoked pancetta, ricotta, red onion and chilli. These were so good, I went back for more!
Of course, the evening wouldn’t be complete without something sweet. Jack’s Gelato trusty tricycle was on hand, scooping out his famous Vanilla Marsala flavour freshly churned for the event. You could see and taste the vanilla seeds. Now that’s a sign of high quality ingredients!
There was option to drizzle on some chocolate and red wine sauce and I was glad I did. I don’t know where Jack sourced that quality dark chocolate but it was heavenly.
The event was a success and the team, including volunteers, all worked very well together to get the food out hot and fast, without sacrificing any of the quality. The discreet and tucked away location made us feel as though we were all in on a special secret on where to get some truly amazing food. The convivial and chilled out atmosphere made the event an even greater pleasure.
Over The Tracks were unaware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. It is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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