UPDATE: This restaurant is now closed.
A long overdue lunch date with talented Cambridge artist Naomi Davies brought us to Osteria Waggon and Horses in Milton. Naomi had visited before and was keen to go back. She’s a real foodie so I take her recommendations seriously. I was intrigued by the innovative menu at Osteria Waggon and Horses. It’s Italian food with a modern twist, steeped in tradition yet evolving into some exceptional culinary creations.
Osteria Waggon and Horses is a real stand out, not only in Milton. It’s a destination restaurant that’s worth the drive to experience its inventive cuisine.
Their three course set lunch is a bargain at £15, given the complexities of the dishes and quality of the ingredients. Naomi and I are no strangers to Italy. We both speak the language (I’m of Italian heritage and Naomi lived in Italy for a few years). However, we still had to ask for more detailed descriptions of some of the menu items. This isn’t a negative point as Italy’s cuisine varies greatly throughout the regions.
Naomi and I made a pact not to order the same starter so we could share but with 15 dishes to choose from, this wasn’t a problem. We were told that Osteria Waggon and Horses smoke their own salmon so we agreed on the smoked salmon starter. We expected thin slices of salmon but the dish was a wedge sprinkled with toasted seeds and topped with fresh dill. It sat on a bed of finely diced crostini (toasted bread). There was a strong smoked flavour that was very tasty but the thicker part of the wedge was hard to cut and bite into. However, this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the dish.
We also ordered Jerusalem artichokes with bagnacauda. The photo isn’t representative of the serving. The dish consisted of three slices in a bowl with a generous amount of bagnacauda, a velvety warm dip with garlic and anchovy flavours. Jerusalem artichokes aren’t from Jerusalem and aren’t artichokes but rather knobbly, rounded tubers that are notoriously difficult to peel and scrub. They have a fresh crunchy texture. Naomi had the brilliant idea of mixing the other starter’s crostini with the bagnacauda. We found ourselves scraping as much of the dip as we could… it was that delicious.
Naomi’s main, Gnocchi alla Romana, was an unexpected dish – not pasta at all. The rectangular gnocchi were made with semolina flour and were stacked in a neat pile on the plate. I had a taste and they were packed with butter, egg and cheese flavours. It was a very rich comforting dish that Naomi found quite filling.
Don’t be put off by my photo of trofie (a short, thin, twisted pasta) in squid ink sauce. It tasted much better than it looks! Once I dug into the pitch black sauce, the tomatoes and onions made an appearance. In fact, when I put some trofie on a plate for Naomi to try, she immediately saw the artistic beauty in the sauce and told me to photograph the gorgeous gold and black marble effect. A succulent dish very much enjoyed.
Naomi’s espresso was done properly and the coffee bean was a nice touch. She had it with her choice of dessert: cassata ice cream, supplied by Cambridge’s own Jack’s Gelato. Inspired by the cake from Sicily, the ice cream contained candied peel and flecks of chocolate. Naomi said it was excellent.
I’m not a fan of candied fruit and both sweet dessert options had them as an ingredient (the other being panettone & candied fruit pudding). I went for the taleggio, a semi-soft cheese with a strong aroma but mild taste. It had a fruity tang, enhanced by the relish served on the side. The accompanying crackers were delightful crispy flatbreads sprinkled with oregano and sea salt.
The imaginative menu is varied enough to keep us interested, so I know I’ll be visiting Osteria Waggon & Horses again. Service was friendly and attentive and we felt as though they genuinely cared about our experience. It’s apparent there is a lot of pride in the food as well as the beautifully decorated premises. Osteria Waggon and Horses is definitely a gem worth checking out. I’d like to thank Naomi for her insight and fine company!
The owners, managers or staff did not invite me to visit this establishment and 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.
Unless otherwise noted, I am the legal copyright holder of the content and images on this blog. Please contact me for permission if you wish to use, reprint or publish any material.