Novi is a new place on the food and drink scene in Cambridge. It was once known as The Fountain and it’s had a complete rebrand. Novi is a contemporary, Scandi style restaurant and bar with a bright, open space on the ground floor that works well for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks. There is a cosy, laid back cocktail bar on the top floor that opens at 5pm and keeps going until 3am, Wednesdays to Saturdays. There’s even a second floor that’s perfect for private events and there’s an exciting outdoor terrace in the works… stay tuned!
I heard good things about this place so I was delighted when Novi’s Matt and Faye invited me and Paulo to a tasting of their dinner menu. Novi already had breakfast and lunch sussed, but had only recently launched their dinner menu.
Novi’s focus is on social dining in a relaxed environment so the dinner menu features small dishes that are meant for sharing… it’s the same idea as tapas or cicchetti and the concept really works at Novi. It’s a great place to have a bite to eat in the evening and enjoy selections from their drinks menu featuring wines, craft beers and botanical cocktails. Their cocktails, even their non-alcoholic ones, are quickly becoming legendary in Cambridge and after having tasted 5 of them, I can see why!
The evening started with a refreshing herb cocktail named Seventy Seven, featuring Juniper Green Organic Gin, Chase elderflower, fresh lemon juice, rosemary and sparkling wine. I loved the sprig of rosemary attached to the rim of the glass with a small clothes-peg.
I really enjoyed the appetisers we were served. They made delicious nibbles whilst we sipped our cocktails. The appetisers included fried sushi rice with soy ginger, crispy garlic spatzel (very addictive) as well as hoisin and sesame tofu.
Novi emphasise locally sourced ingredients and I was pleased to see that one of their suppliers is Dingley Dell, whose pork belly was threaded onto skewers, along with apricot. This dish was nicely presented and the thyme, cardamom and chilli complemented the pork and apricot flavours.
Another dish we tasted from the Meat section of the dinner menu was smoked wood pigeon with broad beans, new potatoes and pickled mushrooms.
Dishes from the Fish section included Thai fish cakes with bean sprouts, mange tout, peanut and chilli, as well as mackerel tartare with baby gem, wasabi and oyster. Both lovely and very fresh.
Soon it was time for another refreshing cocktail. This time it was the Vine, made with Adnams Copper House Gin, Sauvignon Blanc, Chase elderflower liqueur and fresh lime juice. On top of the crushed ice were two plump, fresh white grapes. I couldn’t help popping them into my mouth afterwards!
We were served some light and airy doughnuts (Parmesan donut, porcini, almond velouté) and delicious spiced corn cakes, topped with avocado purée and salsa.
I loved the fresh, vibrant taste of the avocado and tomatoes… very much like a good guacamole. The perfect pairing with corn flavours.
We finished off the meal with a nice salad tossed with broccoli, lemon, chilli, black onion seed, sesame seed and sesame oil.
We were then shown to the stunning and beautifully lit bar on the top floor where we were left to enjoy the other two cocktails on the tasting menu (Chai and Afters). Classed as dessert cocktails, they were sweet and creamy.
I fell in love with the Afters cocktail, made with Disaronno Amaretto, cherry syrup, fresh lemon juice, cherry preserve and egg white. A beautiful, fresh cherry was wedged to the side of the glass. I will never be able to go to Novi without ordering one of these!
Paulo had the Chai cocktail, featuring Appleton VX Rum, vanilla chai syrup, double cream, almond milk, cinnamon and a star anise at the top. I had a sip and it was very delicious. This cocktail makes a nice, comforting drink.
The tasting menu was over but we enjoyed the ambience and cocktails at the upstairs bar so much, we took advantage of the lovely table service and relaxed. Paulo had a gin and tonic. I chose the East West cocktail with white peach purée, peach liqueur, apricot liqueur, cardamom syrup and sparkling wine. Another fresh fruit was on the glass, this time a cape gooseberry (physalis). This cocktail looked and tasted gorgeous!
Novi’s motto is “thoughtful food and drink” and they certainly delivered. This is a place where I will definitely be returning. With their excellent breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks options, there’s no excuse not to!
Update: Novi are no longer offering this evening menu. Their cocktail menu remains the same.
Novi invited me to attend the dinner menu tasting. The food and drinks were complimentary, except the East West cocktail and G&T we paid for at the end of the evening. I did not receive compensation for my review. All views are my own.
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