The opening of a second SmokeWorks on Station Road is great news for BBQ lovers and fans of the restaurant. A bigger kitchen means they can offer an expanded menu such as brunch and dessert options. All of the SmokeWorks favourites are still on the menu, with some items only available at this sister restaurant. They take reservations at this location – bonus!
Executive Head Chef Vladimir Hromek is still at the helm with his expertise in the culinary arts. His vast knowledge of traditional and modern BBQ techniques, complemented by extensive travel and research, brings the authentic flavours and textures to SmokeWorks. They have their own smokers and ovens imported from the US and they smoke, pull, brine and season their own classic BBQ food.
There’s no denying SmokeWorks is a meat lover’s paradise but there are some non-meat options such as salads, fish, eggs and vegetable dishes.
The building gives SmokeWorks the room it deserves to thrive. There is ample seating, spread out over two floors, with a nice bar area for drinks, cocktails and nibbles.
As with all restaurants in the Cambscuisine group, the interior design is stunning. The décor features science fantasy, technology and industrial elements. The wheel cogs on the wall not only reflect SmokeWorks’ logo but also the train theme, a nod to the restaurant’s location on Station Road, near Cambridge train station.
Cambridge’s local food and drink scene was celebrated with another successful Eat Cambridge festival, organised by Heidi White with the help of her team of volunteers. The Main Event kicked off at the Corn Exchange on 7 May 2016, leading the way to a series of fantastic fringe events over a two-week period. Eat Cambridge is a foodie’s dream and I tried to attend as many events as I could.
I started off by volunteering at The Main Event. Heidi put a lot of work into organising Eat Cambridge and I thought the best way I could show my support was to volunteer and help out that day. There were about 40 stallholders, all local independents, showcasing their fabulous food and drink products.
The Gin Festival took place at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on 8-10 April, 2016. Tickets sold out in record time and I was delighted to attend the Friday slot with my husband Paulo. Aimed at gin novices and connoisseurs alike, the Gin Festival was a lot of fun and I enjoyed discovering the fantastic variety of gins in a laid back setting.
The event was well organised and each ticket holder received a branded balloon gin glass and a handy Gin Book.
All of the gin brands at the festival offered samples but with a staggering selection of gins at 4 different bars (A, B, C or D), it was a good idea to purchase tokens (4 for £20). One token per G&T and two tokens for a cocktail, served at the bar upstairs. The gin-based cocktails included Drunken Tulip, Northern Soul, Rhubarb Rumble, English Garden, Red Snapper and Negroni.
I took the time to go through the booklet as it contained information about the gins on offer and which bar they could be found. I also brought my own tote bag to carry the Gin Book and any other promo material I picked up from the brands. It was also handy for carrying my gin glass when I needed to keep my hands free.
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.
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.
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.
“Time to make the donuts!”… anyone know the 80’s TV commercial for Dunkin’ Donuts where Fred the Baker woke up at some ungodly hour in the morning to make fresh doughnuts? (If you don’t, you’ll find it on YouTube). Dunkin’ Donuts no longer make doughnuts on site, but SmokeWorks do. They’re fresh, tasty and definitely NOT factory processed!
Back in August 2014, I posted a review of SmokeWorks (which you can find here) so I was asked to sample Head Chef Vladimir Hromek’s latest culinary adventure… the humble doughnut, with a twist. Vladimir has ‘zhuzhed up’ his doughnuts with a variety of sweet and savoury fillings, which at first may sound like an odd combination but they really work. I sampled all four of them and I can safely say Vladimir is an intrepid adventurer in the world of doughnuts! He has perfected the batter and has put his skills to the test by creating some innovative fillings.
Our summer of the BBQ joint took us to SmokeWorks on Free School Lane in Cambridge. I had been reading rave reviews about the place and it was about time we tried it out. We braved the torrential downpour (hence no outside photos) and walked into a restaurant with industrial décor and functional seating. It was smaller than I expected but then realised there was a whole other floor downstairs. We were greeted warmly and boy, did the place smell delicious. We instantly forgot all about the rain as we were shown to our table by our friendly server.
We knew the portions were big and it was going to be a filling meal so we saved our appetites for this dinner. We had a very early dinner (4:30pm) so the place wasn’t full yet. This gave me the opportunity to take photos without bothering any customers. I explored the basement (and the cool communal loos!) and I admired all of the little decorative touches, the exposed brick, lighting and the seating in the alcoves. They made the most of the limited space they have and it is laid out is a very functional way. The big red button at each table, which you twist when you want service, is an ingenious idea. The table number lights up on a big board, which is very visible to the servers. That way, they don’t have to continuously hover around the tables in the tight spaces and peek around any corners to see if they are needed.