I’ve been to Cambscuisine’s The Crown & Punchbowl several times since it opened three years ago after an extensive refurbishment. I wrote all about their seasonal, modern British food here but had never stayed in their accommodation until now.
This country pub, restaurant and inn located in Horningsea, just 3 miles from the centre of Cambridge, offers the best of both worlds with a village setting but still close enough to the city. Our home is in the midst of renovations so we took advantage of the Sleepy Sundays deal for a little getaway, looking forward to good food and a comfy bed.
Sleepy Sundays at The Crown & Punchbowl features a double, ensuite room on Sunday evenings for only £50 when you spend £75 on dinner in the restaurant, including food and drinks. However, you need to book the deal by contacting The Crown & Punchbowl directly (not through their website) and it excludes Bank Holiday weekends and breakfast (which is an extra £10 per person – more on that later).
There are five rooms (Erasmus, Coleridge, Forster, Woolf and Marlowe) in The Crown & Punchbowl’s traditional old part of the building, where the restaurant is just down the stairs. Our room, the Hawking, was on the upper floor of the adjacent Science Wing, their latest extension featuring a total of four rooms named after influential scientists with a connection to Cambridge (Stephen Hawking, Alan Turing, Rosalind Franklin and Jane Goodall).
Our beautifully decorated room featured a luxurious bed and shower, all the more sumptuous with Egyptian cotton bedding as well as quality pillows and mattress. However, the two rooflights (one above the bed and the other in the ensuite) were the only design features that let the room down. Not significant enough to spoil our stay but still slightly inconvenient having to stand over the bed to open/close the window and blind, and struggle to reach the vaulted ceiling in the ensuite. A remote control option would have been safer and less hassle for guests as well as housekeeping.
We enjoyed a leisurely dinner in the bright and airy conservatory dining room with excellent service from start to finish. Such a lovely way to spend a Sunday evening. The bonus was being able to take advantage of their fantastic wine list and enjoy a bottle of sparkling rosé (Rosé Crémant de Limoux, Émotion, Antech, Limoux), not having to worry about a designated driver or booking a taxi. Our room was just steps away.
The food in every single course, from our starters to dessert, was perfectly cooked and expertly prepared. We could not fault anything so kudos to the kitchen staff!
Paulo and I loved the flavours and textures of our starter from the specials board, the Devon crab salad. The sweet richness of the crab meat was offset by the piquancy of pickled cucumber, caper berries, chilli and garlic mayo, with the crispbread providing a nice, crunchy texture.
With no kitchen at home, we’ve been popping ready meals in the microwave or mini-oven so we both really fancied a good steak. Cambscuisine are known for their quality meat so we each ordered the 9oz sirloin, which came with roasted tomato, mixed salad leaves, chips and our choice of sauce (peppercorn). Both were cooked medium rare, exactly as we wanted them. Spot on!
We shared a side order of tenderstem broccoli with garlic, chilli and herb butter.
My sweet tooth was depleted from a charity cake sale at another location earlier that day, so I went for the cheese board. I had the selection of British cheeses all to myself… even I admit it was a lot, but I so enjoyed each and every morsel of Godminster smoked cheddar, goat’s cheese and Cambridge Blue with biscuits and grapes.
Paulo feasted on the elderfower cheesecake with pickled strawberries, elderflower gel, strawberry purée and fresh mint.
He ended his meal with a double espresso and a cognac (Maxime Trijol XO Grande Champagne).
If you are staying at The Crown & Punchbowl, don’t miss their breakfast. For an additional charge of £10 per person, it is a great price for a cooked breakfast with quality ingredients, including tea, coffee and a selection of items from the buffet (cereals, fresh fruit, yogurt and juice). We both enjoyed a delicious full English but there were other options on the menu, such as porridge and smoked salmon or poached smoked haddock with eggs.
However, breakfast is also open to non-residents for the price of £15 per person, from 7:30am on weekdays and from 8:30am on weekends. It’s the perfect, quiet spot for breakfast meetings but make sure you enquire first.
Whether you’re local to Cambridge or visiting from elsewhere, I heartily recommend the food and accommodation at The Crown & Punchbowl. We enjoyed our little Sunday night escape and would gladly stay and eat here again.
The room, dinner and breakfast at The Crown & Punchbowl are based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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