The Gunton Arms – Thorpe Market, Norfolk (UK)

A lovingly refurbished pub with rooms surrounded by a 1,000-acre historic deer park in North Norfolk, The Gunton Arms hit the mark on all counts: stunning location, stylish accommodation, cosy pub, great staff, fantastic food & drink and impressive art collection. It was the perfect getaway, only two hours from Cambridge.

The Gunton Arms Norwich Norfolk

The Gunton Arms Thorpe Market Norwich Norfolk sign

Paulo and I visited The Gunton Arms with our friends Peter and Jenni, who had dined at the restaurant and were keen to repeat the experience in our company, as well as stay on the estate.

The Gunton Arms Thorpe Market Norwich Norfolk

The location was a little difficult to find but it added to the cachet of a unique hideaway. We spotted the neon sign to reception where we registered our arrival.

The Gunton Arms Norfolk reception sign

The Gunton Arms Norfolk seating

The Gunton Arms Norfolk Christmas tree

We were directed to the car park and once inside the remarkable inn, staff welcomed us and showed us to the residents’ lounge, the coffee/tea making facilities and our rooms.

The Gunton Arms Norfolk residents lounge fireplace

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Mercado Central – Cambridge (UK)

Mercado Central is bringing expertly prepared, market fresh produce to the heart of Cambridge. The painstakingly refurbished building on Green Street now has a cohesive presence with its uniform colour and striking hand painted sign. This independent restaurant is warm, classy and welcoming – the type of place that stops you in your tracks and makes you want to step right in.

Mercado Central Spanish restaurant Cambridge exterior

Mercado Central Green Street Cambridge

The interior is elegant and modern, with subtle Spanish accents such as greenish-blue tiles (reminiscent of Cambridge Blue) and a gorgeous Sargadelos ceramic tap for pouring Estrella Galicia beer. There is a cosy area near the bar where customers perched on stools can enjoy drinks and nibbles.

Mercado Central Cambridge Estrella Galicia Sargadelos ceramic beer tap

Mercado Central Cambridge kitchen bar

Mercado Central Cambridge restaurant collage

There are more tables at the back but the main dining area is on the first floor. It’s a stunning space with high ceilings, soft lighting, beautiful wood flooring, sumptuous curtains, linen napkins, wooden and velvet chairs as well as tables without stuffy tablecloths.

Mercado Central Cambridge Spanish restaurant first floor

The inspiration lies in Spain’s historic markets and restaurants and Mercado Central certainly deliver. It’s clear in their excellent food and drink offering but the owners (the majority Cambridgeshire locals) have the background, expertise and experience to bring a restaurant of this calibre to Cambridge. They are Daniel Grana of local company Pata Negra Spanish Food, Spanish retired footballer Gaizka Mendieta who is a childhood friend of Daniel’s, and brothers Lee and Mark Hughes, part of the popular Provenance Catering Airstream and horsebox.

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The Flying Pig – Cambridge (UK)

The Flying Pig is primarily known for its quality beer and live music, including their annual Pigfest charity music festival. However, this independent pub also serves lunch Monday to Friday, from noon to 2pm. I was kindly invited by the chef, Callum Templar, to try the menu.

The Flying Pig Cambridge Hills Road exterior

The Flying Pig pub 106 Hills Road Cambridge

I have to admit that I never thought of The Flying Pig as a lunch spot but it makes perfect sense. The pub is located on Hills Road near the station and office buildings so it’s a great location for the lunch crowd to come in for some good food in a cosy atmosphere. It’s certainly a different experience from lunching in a café or eating ‘al desko’ – a little break from the norm, perhaps?

The Flying Pig Cambridge bar menu

The Flying Pig has bags of character with its extensive collection of porcine keepsakes and old posters adorning the walls and ceiling. There’s so much history there – in fact, there has been a pub on this Hills Road site since the 1840s. The landlords, Matt and Justine Hatfield, have been living above the pub for over 20 years and have made the place a hub for local residents and workers alike.

The Flying Pig Cambridge tables

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The Duck Truck – Cambridge (UK)

Food Social, the dining quarter in The Grafton, has added The Duck Truck to its exciting line up of independent restaurants near Vue cinema. Founder Ed Farrell, who hails from Bury St Edmunds, has already been operating The Duck Truck successfully in London as a food truck since 2012.

The Duck Truck Ed Farrell Grafton Cambridge

The Duck Truck Cambridge Grafton Food Social

The Cambridge location, on the first floor of a shopping centre, required some tweaks to the mobile street food concept. The Duck Truck’s signature Airstream trailer was retained, but as a small, stationary version where orders are placed at the hatch, drinks are prepared and coffee is made in their La Marzocco machine.

The Duck Truck order here Grafton Cambridge

The Duck Truck La Marzocco coffee machine Grafton Cambridge

Next to the Airstream’s gleaming façade is the spacious kitchen where the food is freshly cooked and placed at the pass when it’s ready. Upon ordering, customers are given a buzzer that glows and vibrates when they need to pick up their numbered order from the shelf. It’s a great system that allows diners to find a seat and relax with a drink whilst waiting.

The Duck Truck ordering Grafton Food Social Cambridge

The Duck Truck buzzer Grafton Cambridge

The Duck Truck is nestled between fellow Food Social traders Amélie Flam-Kuche and Chi. The seating is well laid out, with a mix of chairs, booths, benches and stools. It’s a cheerful, pleasant space with a great vibe.

The Duck Duck The Grafton Food Social Cambridge

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