The Three Horseshoes has been an integral part of Madingley, a lovely village three miles from the centre of Cambridge. The charming pub/restaurant entered an exciting new chapter in January 2018 when it joined Cambscuisine, a local independent restaurant group. The Three Horseshoes is Cambscuisine’s ninth venture, which includes their other country pubs The Cock (Hemingford Grey), The Tickell Arms (Whittlesford) and The Crown & Punchbowl (Horningsea). I’m a big fan of Cambscuisine’s model of good food, service and ambience. I’ve blogged about The Cock here and here, as well as The Crown & Punchbowl here.
It was a smooth transition as Cambscuisine inherited the excellent team at The Three Horseshoes. In addition, the building didn’t need a full redecoration and was already in fine order. However, some beautiful decorative touches recalling the building’s history have been added, such as antique saddles, mirrors with bridal leather surround and wall-mounted horseshoes. Gone is the formality of white tablecloths. The solid oak tables are bare and fuss-free, lending a more relaxed vibe to the dining experience.
The dog-friendly pub area is more approachable with its cosy corners and wood fire… and the pints are now cheaper – bonus!
Paulo and I visited for dinner the day after it re-opened. We received a friendly welcome and were shown to our table in the restaurant. As with Cambscuisine’s menus in their other country pubs, there is still a focus on fresh, seasonal food with high quality ingredients. The steaks and selections from their fish board are first-rate and there are good vegetarian options. The menu at The Three Horseshoes is slightly different than Cambscuisine’s other country pubs. This is probably because they have retained the team already in place. For example, you won’t find their famous duck parcel here but that’s OK. I can always go to their other country pubs for that. The Three Horseshoes’ menu has more than enough options to keep us interested.
We kicked off with a glass of Champagne (Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale Brut NV) for Paulo. I had an elderflower lemonade from the mocktails menu. It was very refreshing with elderflower cordial, lemon juice, mint and soda water.
Warm, fresh bread with butter was provided to get our appetites going.
The fish board featured some tantalising starters and mains. The fish and seafood are delivered fresh daily and come from a sustainable source.
For his starter, Paulo chose the herb crusted scallops, served with wheat berries, caramelised shallots and thyme vinaigrette. The scallops were plump, juicy and perfectly cooked. The shallot on top didn’t contribute much to the dish in terms of flavour and texture but did add to the presentation. The scallops sat on a bed of sweet, nutty wheat berries (wheat kernels that contain all three parts of the grain: bran, germ and endosperm). The wheat berries had a chewy, sturdy texture that complemented the fleshiness of the scallops. I’d love to try more dishes with this whole grain form of wheat.
My crayfish cocktail starter was also from the fish board. It was more like a salad with its fresh crayfish, baby gem, rocket, cucumber and pepper purée. This was a delicious dish with nicely balanced textures and flavours.
Still tempted by the fish board, Paulo ordered the whole baked sea bass. Served with roast new potatoes and rocket & Parmesan salad, the delicate flesh and tender flakes of the fish just melted in the mouth.
Cambscuisine are known for their high quality meat. I ordered the 10oz flat iron steak, served with garlic mushrooms, baby spinach, chips and a little jug of peppercorn sauce. The chips were spot on… fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside. The flat iron steak (also known as butler steak) was well-marbled and juicy (cooked “medium” as requested).
The dessert menu featured a delicious pear crumble with maple syrup ice cream, which Paulo enjoyed tremendously. It made a nice change from the usual apple crumble and the pears had a wonderful sweetness.
I was intrigued by the rice pudding croquettes on the dessert menu. I love rice pudding so I couldn’t go wrong with my choice. It couldn’t have been more right. This was one of the best desserts I had in a long time with the rolls coated in breadcrumbs and fried to perfection, giving the croquettes a crisp exterior and warm, soft rice pudding interior. The apple & star anise compote and scoop of crème fraiche made flavourful dipping companions to the croquettes.
I enjoyed a pot of earl grey from local tea company Kandula. Paulo had an excellent espresso, followed by a fragrant and full-bodied Armagnac (Château de Laubade XO).
We’re looking forward to returning to The Three Horseshoes to try more of the appealing menu. They have plans to grow some of their own produce by planting fruit trees in the garden, which will enhance the food offering. It’s heartwarming that Cambscuisine are continuing the legacy of this gorgeous pub/restaurant as a popular eating and drinking destination in Cambridgeshire.
I was invited by Cambscuisine. The food was complimentary but the drinks were at my own cost. I did not receive compensation for my review. All views are my own.
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