Tamburlaine Restaurant and Bar – Cambridge (UK)

Cambridge’s Tamburlaine hotel opened last March to a lot of fanfare, particularly their launch party (which I missed due to illness). There was a great buzz about the place, bringing some life to the developing area by the train station.

The hotel’s stylish rooms and venues certainly have the wow factor. It’s a gorgeous place to visit and I did pop into their stunning bar a while back and really enjoyed their cocktails.

I had read conflicting reports about the restaurant so Paulo and I decided to try it for ourselves. We visited on a Wednesday evening without a reservation. There was no need as the restaurant was fairly empty. We were warmly welcomed and given a choice of nice tables by the window, near the open kitchen.

The Brasserie-style dining room is elegant and quite large, almost a little too large for any kind of warm ambience. Still, additional people in the room would have made for a more intimate experience but it looked like the other diners were lone hotel guests who didn’t feel like venturing into Cambridge’s busier areas.

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Cambridge Cocktail Weekend 2017 – Cambridge (UK)

Cambridge Cocktail Weekend is back for a second year, taking place at the Cambridge Corn Exchange 25 to 27 August 2017. The event was founded by Muddle and Mint to highlight the cocktail offering in Cambridge. It features a selection of Cambridge cocktail bars showcasing a menu of classic, signature and cutting edge cocktails. Local spirit and liqueur producers as well as premium national brands are on board too, giving attendees the opportunity to discover what they can do with their products

Cambridge Cocktail Weekend also offers an educational and interactive experience through workshops, masterclasses, live music and the WFA World Championship Grand Slam Competition where the world’s best flair bartenders compete in the art of juggling bar equipment to entertain and make great cocktails. Cambridge has the honour of hosting the fifth of seven annual Grand Slams held across the world.

Paulo and I attended on Friday, the opening day. There were ten bars selling cocktails and Nanna Mexico served up a variety of dishes made with nachos.

The little booklet prepared by Cambridge Cocktail Weekend, called a compendium, was well put together and contained all the information required for the event. We could peruse each bar’s cocktail menu and take our pick. It was a difficult choice to make! Some of the bartenders were happy to talk us through their cocktails, which helped us decide. The compendium also listed the masterclasses and workshops. Belvedere vodka ran two very popular ones on Friday.

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Browns – Cambridge (UK)

Browns has been a Cambridge institution since it opened its doors in 1987. The beautiful building was part of the old Addenbrooke’s Hospital originally built in 1766 and the outpatients department, with its majestic columns, was built as a memorial to King Edward VII in 1914.

I visited Browns a few times when I moved to Cambridge and I have to admit it was looking a little tired and the spaces didn’t flow. Browns has now been completely transformed thanks to an extensive interior refurbishment. It’s contemporary and luxurious with a touch of glamour in every area, from the sweeping bar and its grand piano to the various purposely designed spaces for public, semi-private and private dining. Ideal for parties, family gatherings, business meetings and romantic dinners, there are sections for every occasion.

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Pop Ups at Novi – Cambridge (UK)

There have been some exciting new developments at Novi on Regent Street in Cambridge. Since their rebrand last year, Novi have taken the innovative approach of hosting pop ups in their kitchen. They have moved away from serving small dishes to inviting local independent traders to showcase their menus.

Novi Exterior

Described as an espresso bar, cocktail bar and kitchen, Novi certainly tick all of the boxes. They acquired a Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II T3 espresso machine making speciality coffee supplied by Frank and Earnest. Tick!

Novi coffee

But that’s not all… they have a selection of teas by Kandula and recipes for some of the best smoothies I’ve tasted. I’ve tried Novi’s yummy smoothie with mixed berries, banana and apple juice. Another great one is made with frozen banana, nut butter, cacao powder, blueberries and toasted almonds.

Novi mixed berry smoothie

Novi nut smoothie

Novi also specialise in botanical cocktails that can be ordered in the restaurant or enjoyed in the gorgeous bar upstairs. Tick! A few of my favourite cocktails are Seventy Seven, Detox While You Retox and Sloe Down. Be sure to ponder the menu and choose what tickles your fancy. The cocktails are great on their own but even better with the delicious food served by the pop ups.

Novi Cocktail 1

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Steak & Honour Residency at Novi – Cambridge (UK)

There’s an exciting new development for Steak & Honour’s ever-increasing fan base. Their pair of Citroen H vans, named Red and White, have been popping up on Cambridge’s street food scene since 2012 and their burgers are now legendary. Owned and run by Michelin trained chefs Leo Riethoff and David Underwood, Steak & Honour have built quite a following, and we can now find them in the kitchen at Novi on Regent Street for a winter residency until the end of January 2016, Wednesdays to Saturdays from 5:30pm to 10pm. [UPDATE: Steak & Honour will be continuing their residency through February and March but on Saturday evenings only, serving 5:30pm to 9pm.] This is a wonderful collaboration as Novi boasts a gorgeous space to enjoy beer, wine, spirits or their famous cocktails paired with Steak & Honour’s menu. A match made in heaven.

Steak & Honour Novi Signs

Steak & Honour Poster

The dining experience at Novi is casual and relaxed. You find a seat (reservations recommended if you’re a group), place your order at the kitchen and pay in advance, then your name is called for pick up. You can help yourself to napkins, cutlery and plates, if needed.

David Underwood

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The High Tea Club – Cambridge (UK)

The High Tea Club is a new addition to Cambridge’s vibrant Mill Road, tucked away just over the railway bridge. Created by sisters Danielle and Jessica Xiao, The High Tea Club is a beautiful space with a little something for everyone, serving breakfast, lunch, all day brunch, afternoon tea and cocktails/drinks with an evening nibbles menu. However tea is the focus, offering a staggering variety of imported teas that aren’t available anywhere else. It’s a veritable tea lover’s paradise.

Tea

The menus are extensive and quite varied… from English breakfast, through afternoon tea to exotic tea based cocktails and everything in between. It’s just crazy enough to work. After all, The High Tea Club is very much a reflection of Mill Road… lively, diverse and fun! I attended to the press launch on 29 October. I liked it so much, I couldn’t wait to go back and I did, a couple of weeks later.

Collage The High Tea Club

At the launch, I was offered a choice of tea. I had Jasmine Chai consisting of black tea, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, white pepper, jasmine petals, rose petals, lavender petals, clove and nutmeg. It was packed with flavour and served in a lovely cup and saucer.

Jasmine Chai tea

Some people at the launch ordered one of the spectacular flowering teas where the tea slowly opens into a flower once hot water is added. They are served in clear glass teapots so you can enjoy the show! When I went back to The High Tea Club a few weeks later, I made sure to get the Mountain Dream Flowering tea. It was not only gorgeous, it was a very enjoyable cup of tea.

Flowering Tea

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Novi – Cambridge (UK)

Novi is a new place on the food and drink scene in Cambridge. It was once known as The Fountain and it’s had a complete rebrand. Novi is a contemporary, Scandi style restaurant and bar with a bright, open space on the ground floor that works well for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks. There is a cosy, laid back cocktail bar on the top floor that opens at 5pm and keeps going until 3am, Wednesdays to Saturdays. There’s even a second floor that’s perfect for private events and there’s an exciting outdoor terrace in the works… stay tuned!

Novi signs

Novi

I heard good things about this place so I was delighted when Novi’s Matt and Faye invited me and Paulo to a tasting of their dinner menu. Novi already had breakfast and lunch sussed, but had only recently launched their dinner menu.

Collage Novi

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Mint Leaf Restaurant & Bar – Haymarket, London (UK)

I have to thank Trafalgar Transformed for introducing me to fine Indian dining at Mint Leaf Restaurant & Bar in Haymarket. To celebrate the run of family comedy-drama East Is East at Trafalgar Studios, they ran a Twitter competition on photo fails. The prize was 4 tickets to the play as well as dinner at Mint Leaf Restaurant & Bar. This was my winning entry:

fail

Needless to say I was thrilled because I love the theatre and of course, I love food! In fact, food writer Zoe Perrett discusses precisely this combination on her blog specialising in Indian cuisine, Culinary Adventures of The Spice Scribe. Her post on food and the East Is East cast is a great read: An East Is East Feast – Talking Food with the Play’s Cracking Cast.

Collage Mint Leaf

After we enjoyed the brilliant performance of East Is East, we headed to Mint Leaf Restaurant & Bar with our stomachs rumbling in anticipation. As we arrived slightly before the restaurant opened for dinner at 5pm, we waited at the bar where the extensive cocktail menu was too good to pass up!

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No.77 – Caxton, Cambridgeshire (UK)

Once the old Cross Keys village pub in Caxton, No.77 has been transformed into a freehouse and Thai kitchen. It’s been described as a pub full of “local loveliness and faraway flavours” and I can see why. The pub retains its village feel whilst offering a taste of the exotic. There was a gap in the market for a good Thai restaurant just outside Cambridge (this place is only 13 miles from the town centre) and No.77 certainly delivered. A complete refurbishment was commissioned by the new owners, not only inside but outside as well. It is now definitely eye-catching!

77Sign

As soon as we entered, we were struck by the tantalising aromas emanating from the kitchen as well as the sumptuous ambience and decor. Cosy and atmospheric with its dark blue and copper tones, we immediately relaxed as we were shown to a table with surprisingly comfortable velvet cinema seats.The crystal decanter chandeliers illuminated the place and reflected light onto the furnishings, including the stunning copper bar. All of our senses were intrigued.

Tables

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