The Cambridge Chop House – Cambridge (UK)

The Cambridge Chop House, one of the great restaurants in the Cambscuisine group, is located in the heart of town amongst many of the visitor attractions. However, this ideal location on King’s Parade doesn’t mean it’s a tourist trap. The Cambridge Chop House, a renowned dinner spot, has always consistently delivered excellent food, ambience and service.

So one can be forgiven if breakfast at The Cambridge Chop House doesn’t readily spring to mind. The good news is that a traditional British breakfast menu is now served every day between 9am and 11:30am.

It’s definitely worth popping in if you need to be in Cambridge early and want a hearty meal to start the day. Paulo and I went before the shops opened. We got to relax, admire the stunning views and enjoy a quiet, leisurely breakfast before the town came to life.

The ground floor is bathed in natural light with large windows wrapped around the corner of King’s Parade and Bene’t Street. It’s a cheerful spot to start the day right!

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À Mesa Supper Club: A Blossoming Spring – Cambridge (UK)

Stella Pereira is a true artist in every sense of the word. Her artistry is well known in Cambridge and the media, particularly her stunning Instagram. Stella’s artwork and culinary creations are inspired by the changing of the seasons, perfect timing for her latest À Mesa Supper Club held on 25 March. Titled “A Blossoming Spring”, the supper club (or “gathering”, as Stella prefers to call it) was held in her cosy living room. I had the honour of attending two of Stella’s previous gatherings in her home (An Autumnal Gathering) and at Espresso Library (Twelve at EL), which you can read about here and here.

We were a small group of (lucky) people who snapped up a place at À Mesa (Portuguese for “at the table”). Even though I have been to Stella’s supper clubs before, she still amazed me with her dishes, presentation and setting. It’s more than a supper club or gathering, it’s an EXPERIENCE.

Stella is a firm believer that food brings people together so the biggest part of her supper clubs is the comfortable, intimate environment where guests eat, drink, sing, laugh… and leave as friends. She serves modern Portuguese cuisine inspired by traditional ingredients (featuring staples in Portugal such as pork and salt cod) but she presents her dishes with a contemporary twist and this is where her artistic spirit really shines.

Preparations for A Blossoming Spring started way before the food and this was apparent in the little details, meticulously created to make up a truly unique experience. Stella’s tablescape was dotted with freshly picked blossoms, sliced bread (charmingly stacked in glass jelly moulds) and olives, both symbolising peace. We were intrigued by the variety of items handcrafted by Stella herself or her husband Carlos. All of the pieces on the table came together to tell a story, a reflection of Stella’s skills as a gifted food stylist.

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Giggling Squid – Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk (UK)

Giggling Squid is a chain of Thai restaurants located in affluent market towns. There are 20 restaurants and counting but it certainly doesn’t feel like a soulless corporate entity. Perhaps it’s because the story of their beginnings is a humble and endearing one. Andy and Pranee Laurillard came up with the concept of Thai Tapas Sets and opened their first restaurant in Brighton back in 2002. And if you’re wondering where the quirky name came from, it’s the nickname of one of their children.

It was only a matter of time before Giggling Squid came to the historic town of Bury St Edmunds and it’s a perfect fit. It has become massively popular so be sure to book.

The décor is simply stunning. Muted colours, gorgeous lighting and layered textures create a relaxing and welcoming ambience, complemented by friendly and helpful service.

Paulo and I popped in for dinner, so we missed their famous lunch time tapas (this will soon be corrected with a return visit). The evening menu was filled with tantalising dishes, some of them quite original, others more traditional but all reflecting their ethos of simple, rustic, fresh Thai food.

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Squires Restaurant, Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa – Newmarket, Suffolk (UK)

Pies are a big deal in the UK so it’s no wonder we hold British Pie Week every March to celebrate our love of the humble pie. Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa in Newmarket got in on the celebrations and invited me and Paulo to try out their British Pie Weekend menu at Squires Restaurant.

This 2 AA Rosette restaurant, with Executive Head Chef Sean Melville at the helm, provides a modern dining experience in beautiful surroundings. The restaurant prides itself on sourcing their produce locally whenever possible, and their suppliers are all within a 50-mile radius.

We were greeted warmly by restaurant manager Manfred Seibert and shown to a cosy table in the corner with comfy armchairs. The excellent service continued throughout the meal.

We ordered drinks while we perused the three-course pie menu: Adnams Ghost Ship pale ale for Paulo and a glass of Prosecco for me.

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Eric’s Fish & Chips – Thornham, Norfolk (UK)

Eric’s Fish & Chips, located in the pretty village of Thornham on the North Norfolk coast, is home to some of the best fish and chips I’ve tasted. Well-known local chef Eric Snaith opened the restaurant in 2015 and it’s been a huge success with locals and visitors alike.

The minimalist décor is bright, cheerful and modern with a nod to the fish and chip shops of yore. Concrete floors, multi-coloured wall tiles, rustic jam jar lights as well as stools, chairs and tables with hints of vibrant yellow and green all add to the fun and welcoming atmosphere.

The focus is on local, seasonal produce… from the sustainable MSC-certified fish to the potatoes (there is even a sign indicating the potato of the day).

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The Ship Hotel – Brancaster, Norfolk (UK)

The Flying Kiwi Inns is an independent group of luxury hotels in coastal Norfolk purchased by New Zealand Master Chef Chris Coubrough who has settled in the area. The Ship Hotel in Brancaster is one of those luxurious hotels. I already stayed at The Crown Hotel in Wells-next-the-Sea and blogged about it here a few years ago. Paulo and I really enjoyed the great food, wine, service and ambience and were eager to repeat the experience at The Ship Hotel. I’m pleased to say we were not disappointed.

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We had a bit of a stressful drive during Storm Doris but when we arrived at The Ship Hotel, check-in couldn’t have been more effortless. Within minutes we were shown to room 9, which I requested upon booking over the phone, where we could unwind before dinner.

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The deluxe Moroccan-themed room on the top floor featured a comfy King-size bed, a luxurious roll top bath, separate shower cubicle and a great little nook with a sofa bed nestled in the corner.

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Room 9 on the top floor was the pub’s attic before the refurbishment but the high ceiling in the roof’s apex and the original wooden beams made the room feel spacious.

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