The Boot – Histon, Cambridge (UK)

The Boot, located in Histon near Cambridge, is the latest addition to The White Brasserie Company’s portfolio of pubs in affluent villages and towns. The company, launched by celebrity chef Raymond Blanc (he sits on the board), has already accumulated a whopping 17 brasserie pubs in the last 4 years. The Boot is the latest addition and the first in Cambridgeshire. Refurbishing tired, old pubs into high end establishments with good, expertly prepared food is clearly a formula that works and The Boot is no exception. C’est magnifique!

I booked a table for 4 people on a Sunday evening and the place was buzzing when we arrived at 6pm. I was almost sorry to walk past the cosy pub area with its comfy seats and fireplace but then the space opened up with a real wow factor. Past the big, welcoming bar we were led to our table in the pub’s new extension – a stunning oak-beamed dining room filled with customers. My photos don’t do the place justice – I concentrated on the empty areas at the end of the evening so as not to bother my fellow diners.

It had been a busy day so we were told that some of the menu items had already sold out or were on the verge of selling out. As a newly opened brasserie adjusting to their supply and demand, this was understandable and we appreciated being informed at the start. No matter as there was plenty to choose from, including the daily specials.

The menu is a combination of French brasserie favourites and British pub classics. I’m from Québec, the French part of Canada, and seeing escargots on the menu took me back to my childhood. It was a bit odd to see the classic escargots à la Bourguignonne translated into “Burgundian snails” but I suppose the French is a bit of a mouthful. Speaking of which, when I popped the snails into my mouth they were delicate, not the least bit rubbery and absorbed the succulent flavours of the garlic herb butter. The slices of baguette were the perfect vehicle for dipping into that heavenly butter.

Other delicious starters included:

  • Wild mushrooms on toasted sourdough, topped with a poached free-range egg.
  • Traditional country terrine, a coarse pork & chicken liver pâté served with pear & apple chutney, pickled vegetables, kale crisps and toasted baguette.

We got an extra starter for the table to share as I heard great things about the soufflés. The fluffy cheese soufflé was perfectly executed. Served with a little pitcher of warm Ford Farm Coastal Cheddar sauce, this starter was both light and decadent.

My main course of slow-cooked shoulder and leg of roast suckling pig, drizzled with rich pan juices, was tender and flavourful. The dish was a work of art with beautifully arranged prune stuffing, caramelised crisp, hispi cabbage, sautéed potatoes and gooseberry compote. This may sound like a lot of food but I think one of their tantalising side orders would have made the dish more substantial. Next time I’m ordering the dauphinoise potato, one of my favourites.

Paulo had the right idea with two side orders for his steak: a requisite bowl of chips and tenderstem broccoli with toasted pine nuts.

Paulo chose the onglet with Café de Paris herb & mustard butter from The Boot’s impressive steak menu. Their beef is sourced from prime, pasture-reared Cornish cattle and these breeds are chosen for their flavour and tenderness. All of their chargrilled steaks are from 30-day dry-aged beef. The onglet, also known as hanger steak because this flat cut of beef hangs beneath the diaphragm of the animal near the flank, is not very well known here but it was flavoursome and cooked to perfection (medium, like Paulo asked).

More soufflés for me, this time as dessert. The light chocolatey pistachio soufflé was served with rich chocolate ice cream. A real winner! It’s worth going to The Boot just for their soufflés alone.

However, their cheese plate was phenomenal too and featured a varied selection to please the palate: Boy Laity Cornish Camembert, Lyburn Gold, Cheviot and Brighton Blue. Accompaniments included homemade chutney, dried fruit, nuts and a good amount of assorted crackers. The latter is important because there’s nothing worse than running out of crackers for your cheese.

The Boot has it all. It’s a great pub and a top brasserie with good food and drink. It’s family friendly too with a really cute kids menu. I also have to give props to the staff. From the moment we walked in to the time we reluctantly left, service was helpful, friendly and efficient. There’s a really great team in place and it was evident in the wonderful food and service we experienced.

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.

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