La Raza is a long standing, family run, independent business with an enviable location on Rose Crescent in the heart of Cambridge. This popular basement bar and restaurant has been feeding, watering and entertaining their customers since 2003. It is primarily known as a venue for events, live music, DJ nights and cocktails but also serves Mediterranean inspired cuisine. I admit I only thought of events and cocktails when it came to La Raza, having danced away there with The Early Night Club as well as attending their well organised Cambridge Cocktail Weekend in 2017 (I blogged about it here). I was invited to check out their food offering and came away suitably impressed.
Their superb tapas menu offers a variety of sharing dishes: meat, charcuteria, salads, seafood, vegetarian and croquetas. There is also a choice of four different types of paella, suitable for two to share, as the main course for heartier appetites. Sides & nibbles, desserts and a sharing plate round out the menu. The food complements their fantastic selection of cocktails – they really do make some of the best in town. I particularly liked their “What’s Your Flavour” chart, divided into four categories (smart, refreshing, rich, casual), to help choose a cocktail of my preference.
Amid the new restaurants cropping up all over the King’s Cross area, Camino has remained steady and true. It’s a chain, but one that has maintained high standards and quality despite its multiple locations. There are currently four restaurants in London (King’s Cross, Bankside, Monument and Blackfriars) plus two bars (Copa de Cava specialises in cava and Bar Pepito in sherry). In fact, Bar Pepito is adjacent to Camino, both tucked away in Varnishers Yard in The Regent Quarter, a short walking distance from King’s Cross and St Pancras stations. Unless you are “in the know”, you could be forgiven for overlooking it. Its charming location in a hidden courtyard feels like a world away from bustling London.
Camino’s interior is all brick and wood, with stunning circular roof lights letting in the sun’s rays. The place is well laid out with a sweeping bar and tables that are close together but don’t encroach on personal space. Lively music enhances the cosy ambience but doesn’t overpower it. Service is welcoming and friendly.
Camino’s focus is on authentic tapas from all over Spain with a slight bias to the north as Executive Chef Nacho del Campo hails from the Basque country, widely recognised as the gastronomic heartland. Call them tapas or pintxos… either way they are supremely delicious. The menu features all of the better-known favourites such as patatas bravas, tortillas and croquetas but there are some other fantastic dishes for the more adventurous. All of the tapas go extremely well with Camino’s impressive drinks list featuring the best in wine, beer, cider, brandy, sherry and cava from Spain as well as gin (both Spanish and British) and cocktails with a Spanish twist. Continue reading →
On 3 October 2015 foodPark’s fourth instalment of its popular NIGHT MARKET took place, once again, at Gravel Hill Farm at the North West Cambridge Development. I attended every one of them so far (February, May, July and October) and I can safely say I have experienced fantastic street food and drink in all seasons. I enjoyed them all and raved about the winter and spring NIGHT MARKETS here and here.
With foodPark founder Heidi White at the helm, this NIGHT MARKET was the biggest and best yet. The main difference was the addition of more bars. Apart from the foodPark BAR, which sold wine, fizz, soft drinks and water, there was a bar run by Jolly Good Beer dedicated solely to craft beer and a Pinkster gin den that was a bit of a hidden gem around the back.
Food and drink were the main attraction and Heidi and her team of volunteers kept the evening flowing smoothly. The event was well organised with rubbish being gathered in a timely manner. I noticed there was first aid cover provided by a private company.
Cambridge is fortunate to have foodPark, a collective of top quality local street food traders. The brainchild of Heidi White, foodPark has a solid presence in Cambridge for its regular lunchtime markets. Occasionally pop-up events are organised, such as the foodPark NIGHT MARKET, where the best of Cambridge street food and drink is the main attraction. Heidi has embraced the street food movement and works to remain true to its ethos of sourcing traders who provide high quality, artisan food and care about provenance. It’s not about flogging mass-produced food with cheap ingredients.
“foodPark is a collective of street food traders, formed and operated as a not-primarily-for-profit organisation which promotes local, independent street food in Cambridge. We select traders based on strict quality criteria. foodPark was founded and is organised by Heidi White – just one local person with a huge passion for street food and experience in business, events, and marketing”. (Official Website)
Therefore, it’s no wonder foodPark NIGHT MARKET has been increasing in popularity. The last one took place on Valentine’s night at Burwash Manor and proved to be massively popular. (I raved all about it here). The much-anticipated second instalment of this pop-up night market was held on 9 May, 2015 at Gravel Hill Farm at the North West Cambridge Development, as part of Eat Cambridge’s fringe events. The venue was spacious and could accommodate a greater number of people.
The event was very well organised. Based on the popularity of the previous night market, this time it was a ticket-only event to ensure everyone could get in. It sold out very quickly so I was glad I got my ticket nice and early! People arrived in droves by foot, bus, taxi, bicycles and cars (we found parking on nearby streets and those cycling in had lots of space to store their bikes on site). The queue started before the opening time of 5pm. The anticipation was building!
foodPark NIGHT MARKET, a pop-up night market featuring the best of Cambridge street food, was held on 14 February, 2015 at Burwash Manor. It was part of Burwash Food Hall‘s Love Food festival. With so much love in the air, it was only fitting to have foodPark’s very first NIGHT MARKET on Valentine’s night.
The evening’s focus was LOVE… mainly love for street food, all freshly prepared by the carefully-selected traders that form part of the foodPark collective, founded by Heidi White who has been instrumental in promoting street food in Cambridge.
“Street food markets are for wandering around, taking in the sights and smells, for tasting, sharing, anticipating food cooked “just-so”, and experiencing something different from your usual idea of eating out. But please remember the NIGHT MARKET *is* different from a usual restaurant, pop-up dining experience, or supper club. It is a market, it is not somewhere where reservations are taken, and here at foodPark the food and drink is THE main attraction.” (Official Website)
I was honoured to be invited to the VIP Launch of foodPark Cambridge at The North Pole, which was held on 20 November, 2014. For the first time, foodPark was able to make Parker’s Piece its winter home… a bonus for this increasingly popular collective of street food traders as well as the many people celebrating the winter festivities at The North Pole. A brilliant collaboration in an enchanting city centre location!
foodPark’s daily pop-up street food market and bar is running alongside The North Pole’s ice rink and funfair, which means you can access the foodPark during its trading hours, with no entrance fee.
However, in the midst of such a magical and festive winter setting it only makes sense to give the ice rink a whirl, or take the kids to the many rides and attractions The North Pole has to offer.
I have been struggling to find decent tapas for quite some time so when I found out I was going to Liverpool I knew I just had to go to Salt House Tapas as I had heard great things about the food. I had no idea what to expect but the imposing listed building which houses the restaurant made a good first impression.
Salt House Tapas in Liverpool
I never had tapas in Spain and don’t really know what traditional tapas are supposed to be like, if there is even such a definition. However, the emphasis at Salt House Tapas is delicious, expertly prepared food with fresh ingredients. They certainly delivered!
The restaurant’s layout and close tables lend a wonderful convivial atmosphere.
The eating of tapas is very much a social activity. These are little plates that are meant to be shared and enjoyed together.