It was a huge blow to Cambridge’s food scene when Cotto had to close its doors at The Gonville during the pandemic in 2020. This revered restaurant owned by chef Hans Schweitzer and his partner Ruth was a top dining destination, having begun its existence on East Road in 2008 and steadfastly becoming a Cambridge institution over the years. I wrote about Master Chef Hans Schweitzer’s prestigious culinary history and my past dining experience here.
Those of us who missed the gastronomic delights and fantastic hospitality provided by Hans, Ruth and their team are delighted that Cotto is back. The restaurant has a new home in the impressive Cambridge Country Club, which boasts a golf course as well as wellness, spa and dining facilities in Bourn, Cambridgeshire – about 10 miles west of Cambridge.
The entire F&B service at the Cambridge Country Club is being run by Cotto, which includes the Spikes Bar (casual breakfast, lunch and drinks), Cotto Lounge (lunch, Afternoon Tea, Sunday Lunch and evening fine dining) and Garden Suite (parties and events). The Food & Beverage facilities are open to everyone – not just members of the Club. Cotto’s much-missed evening fine dining is due to start after some finishing touches, so diners will once again be able to enjoy chef Hans’ beautiful and delicious culinary masterpieces.
In the meantime, my Sunday Lunch in the Cotto Lounge was a fine dining experience in itself with chef Hans’ signature style, presentation and menu, all impeccably executed by the team and coupled with the same excellent service I’ve always experienced at Cotto.
The Cotto Lounge is a lovely, bright space overlooking the terrace and golf course. White tablecloths, plush seating and a beautiful bar add to the pleasant and relaxing ambience.
Our Sunday Lunch experience began with a cocktail of our choice from the fabulous bar, expertly made by their mixologist. I ordered the P*** Star Martini which had extra lime to cut through the sweetness as I had told the mixologist I didn’t like overly fruity cocktails.
Paulo asked for a cocktail that wasn’t on the menu and the mixologist successfully concocted Paulo’s favourite, the Sidecar.
Cotto’s Sunday Lunch menu began on a gastronomic note with a series of amuse bouches rather than a choice of starters. Each one was a little feast for the eyes and taste buds but they also left room for Cotto’s spectacular desserts, which are not to be missed.
The delightful amuse bouches included Smoked Salmon & Prawns, Tuna Tartare with Wasabi Cloud, Field and Forest Mushrooms with Hollandaise, and Duck Parfait with Fairway12 Apple Chutney.
We chose wines by the glass to accompany our meal – a Portuguese white for me (Santo Isidro de Pegões 2021) and an Argentinian red for Paulo (Andeluna 1300 Malbec 2020).
Cotto offered an impressive selection of artisan freshly baked breads with accompanying butters, including a quenelle of basil butter.
The Sunday Lunch menu featured several tempting dishes for the main course. I enjoyed the Supreme Breast of Guinea Fowl wrapped in Pancetta with Sage & Shallot Stuffing.
Paulo chose the Angus Roast Beef with Sauce Bordelaise. The high quality beef was tender and rich in flavour.
All dishes were served with roast potatoes, natural gravy, savoy cabbage, vegetable bundle, Yorkshire pudding, mustard and horseradish sauce. The cauliflower cheese was a surprise! I was glad to see it as this classic accompaniment is an integral part of a Sunday Roast.
It was wonderful to experience chef Hans’ stunning desserts again. They are works of art! Paulo enjoyed the Warm Pear & Almond Frangipani Tart with Heather Honey and White Chocolate Parfait. How beautiful is that spun sugar dome?
The chocolate piano dessert was originally created in Luciano Pavarotti’s honour during chef Hans Schweitzer’s time at Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados and I was thrilled to have it again. ‘The Original Chocolate Piano’, as named on the menu, featured truffle cake, chocolate mousse and ice cream. I knew this dessert varies in presentation so I was intrigued to see this latest creation. It was as finely detailed and expertly made as always. It really must be seen (and savoured) to be believed!
We took home a box of ‘Hans Made Chocolates’ featuring Heather Honey & Rosemary, Cocoa Milk, Raspberry Marquise, Caramel, Fruit & Nuts and Espresso. As the name states, these delights are Master Chocolatier Hans Schweitzer’s famous handcrafted chocolates.
It really is such great news for Cambridge’s culinary scene that Cotto is back. I enjoyed their Sunday Lunch tremendously and I’m very much looking forward to the opening of their evening fine dining. Now with additional options at the Cambridge Country Club for breakfast, lunch and Afternoon Tea, there are even more reasons to go and experience Cotto’s excellent food and drink.
I was invited by Cotto owners Hans and Ruth for a complimentary Sunday Lunch for two. I did not receive compensation for my review. All views are my own.
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What a marvellous review Pina! I’m also a huge fan of Cotto and I’m delighted they have reopened in a new home.
Thank you, Yvonne! You’ll have to tell me all about their Afternoon Tea.