Restaurant Twenty-Two – Cambridge (UK)

There’s an exciting addition to the Cambridge food scene and that’s the newly re-opened Restaurant Twenty-Two. It’s now in the hands of Sam Carter (chef) and his fiancée Alex Olivier (front of house manager) who are taking the restaurant to the next chapter of its 30-year history. It has been a labour of love for this lovely couple, who purchased the restaurant from the former owner and painstakingly refurbished it into a business and home.

The converted Victorian townhouse is a real gem along Chesterton Road, understated in its presence among the large pubs and shops but once noticed, it leaves a lasting impression. The exterior is beautifully presented with its muted tones of white walls and dark grey door and window frames, with some gold accents for a touch of luxury. The bespoke stained glass has been retained and sparks curiosity about what lies behind the Dining Rooms lettering.

The 22-cover dining room is small but there is still space between the tables to sit comfortably. It’s cosy but not overcrowded. There is also a private dining room upstairs that seats 14 people.

The venture is a match made in heaven as Sam has an impressive culinary resumé in Michelin-starred kitchens, and Alex is a former solicitor with experience in restaurant management. It’s apparent they have a great team in place as the food, drink and service during our dinner proved to be faultless.

The menu, which changes every fortnight, focuses on contemporary British dishes with a creative twist. There is a definite emphasis on seasonality with many of the ingredients sourced from local producers. An à la carte menu is available but I heartily recommend the tasting menu (five or seven-course) for the complete gastronomic experience. Paulo and I went for the seven-course menu with the additional cheese board option because we wanted to taste ALL OF THE THINGS. Luckily we agreed as the tasting menu must be ordered by the whole table. Each bite was an explosion of flavours and textures and I found myself eating every last crumb and scraping the last bit of sauce on my plate. The food was that good.

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The Waterfront Restaurant and Y Spa, Wyboston Lakes Resort – Wyboston, Bedfordshire (UK)

Wyboston Lakes, located between Cambridge, Bedford and Milton Keynes, is a 380-acre resort offering conference facilities, a training centre, serviced offices, a golf course, spa, hotel and restaurant. With such a focus on business, it’s easy to forget that The Waterfront Hotel houses a luxury spa and a wonderful restaurant. Admittedly the premises have a corporate and industrial feel – our first impression driving in the area – and the exterior of the hotel is a tad dated but all that was quickly forgotten upon entering the bright welcoming space.

I was invited to experience Y Spa, including lunch, then enjoy dinner afterwards at The Waterfront Restaurant. Men are welcome at the spa; they even offer treatments especially for couples, so I was delighted to have a little luxury break with Paulo in this peaceful oasis.

The spa was simply outstanding. All of the staff were friendly, helpful and welcoming. The facilities feature the spa café, treatment rooms, relaxation areas and thermal spa suites, including an 11-metre outdoor hydrotherapy pool, saunas, steam rooms and showers. We received waterproof wrist bands at check-in which proved handy to charge any food or drinks, open doors and securely lock our lockers.

After filling in a medical questionnaire, we were welcomed at the café with a mango tea, complete with hourglass to time the desired brewing strength.

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Menu Tasting at The Cock – Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire (UK)

The Cock in the beautiful village of Hemingford Grey is one of the fabulous Cambridgeshire restaurants operated by Cambscuisine. I’m already a huge fan of one of their places – SmokeWorks, which I raved about here and here. I have been meaning to try out their other restaurants so I was delighted when Jessica Donnithorne, who’s in charge of marketing and people development at Cambscuisine, invited me to a sneak peek of The Cock’s new à la carte starters and mains menu, which launches on 14 May, 2015. I was impressed, not only by the delicious 20 or so dishes served, but by the very well organised, professional and hardworking team. It was also great to meet one of the owners, Oliver Thain, as well as head chef Wil Findlay who designed the new menu. I was joined by fellow blogger Miss Sue Flay, who made a rather neat video of the tasting session. You can view it here.

Tasting table

The Cock’s ethos is to provide high end casual dining and they’ve definitely hit the mark with their menu and decor. The food is guided by the seasons and there is an emphasis on sourcing fresh, local ingredients. It’s no wonder The Cock has been named the 2015 Cambridgeshire Dining Pub of the Year in the Good Pub Guide.

The Cock Collage 2

It’s worth noting that the new à la carte starters and mains menu is mostly gluten free, which will please coeliacs, allergy sufferers and those with dietary preferences. There are plenty of meat-free options too, such as risotto, polenta, truffle gnocchi and smoked camembert.

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The Salthouse Eaterie, Salthouse Harbour Hotel – Ipswich, Suffolk (UK)

The Salthouse Eaterie is the restaurant at The Salthouse Harbour Hotel, which is ideally located at Neptune Quay on the Ipswich Marina in Suffolk. Paulo and I were looking for a night away at a luxury hotel that offers fine dining and the Salthouse Harbour Hotel delivered on both counts.

Hotel Collage

We hadn’t been to Ipswich before and the waterfront, although still under development, was a pleasant and relaxing place to visit. The Salthouse Harbour Hotel is a beautiful Victorian building featuring arched windows and iron columns. It was originally a merchants warehouse and was refurbished to a high standard over 10 years ago. The Salthouse Eaterie overlooks the harbour.

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