10/01/2021

When our Chef-Patron, Tristan Welch, hangs up his apron strings he heads to these Cambridge foodie havens

There are times when even I want to get out of the kitchen and be a guest for a change, and luckily, there are some truly sensational cookery talents in Cambridge. Here’s where you can find me and the team when we’re off-duty.

Feast Like a Maharaja: Navadhanya

Listed in the Michelin Guide every year from 2018-2021 and winners of the 2019 Asian Curry Awards, the chefs at this Indian restaurant offer a sublime à la carte menu as well as 7-course tasting menus for omnivores, vegans and vegetarians. The layers of flavour in every dish are truly exquisite, but I find myself constantly reordering the Chennai Fish Curry with aubergine, mango, coriander, and lemongrass and the Tellicherry Duck with fennel, coconut milk, and Tellichery pepper sauce. Nobody stares when I wipe the plate spotlessly clean with an entire buttered naan.

Ring 01223 300583 or visit www.navadhanya.co.uk

Head for the Med: The Olive Grove

This third-generation family-run restaurant brings back the flavours of Elafonisos, a small Greek island between the Peloponnese and Kythira, and if you close your eyes and pretend it’s not raining, each bite transports you on holiday. For my five-a-day, I like the Gemista – vegetables stuffed with rice, pine nuts, apricots, courgettes, and herbs – while the Kotsi Kleftiko – lamb cooked for 12 hours with vegetables, baby potatoes and herbs – is a true melt-in-the-mouth experience. But my usual? The Halloumi Wrap, which is not only filled with oozing cheese and salad but also with chips! Chips! Bliss.

Ring 01223 778575 or visit www.the-olivegrove.co.uk

Be an Urban Nomad: Bedouin

Set in a Bedouin tent decorated with Saharan textiles, this North African oasis serves tagines and couscous as well as less familiar and utterly delicious treats washed down with Non-ABV cocktails by the London Cocktail Club. I never share my plate of Haniounette – fried cauliflower patties with potato, cheese and nutmeg – and might give you just one piece of the Tagine Berkook – lean and tender beef cooked with prunes, apricots and toasted almonds with an onion, cinnamon and ginger sauce. But then again, I might not.

Ring 01223 367660 or visit www.bedouin-cambridge.com

Passing the Torch: Cambridge Cookery

Cambridge Cookery’s team of passionate chefs and artisan bakers not only prepare locally sourced, seasonal ingredients for their delicious home-cooking, but also offer classes showing you how to reproduce it all at home. Their 5-day “Cooking for Uni” course will ensure your heirs never go broke on Uber Eats again. This is my go-to for brunch, be it savoury, like the Turkish Eggs on Sour Dough Toast (poached eggs with dollops of garlicky yoghurt drizzled with chilli butter), or sweet, such as the Pancakes with Vanilla Ricotta & Seasonal Compote. Yum.

Ring 01223 247620 or visit www.cambridgecookery.com

Michelin-Starred Marvel: Midsummer House

I salute Chef Daniel Clifford, who has won two Michelin stars and five AA rosettes for the fantastic food he creates in this light and airy conservatory dining room set in a beautiful Victorian villa on Midsummer Common beside the River Cam. This is a special-occasion destination, with a five-course lunch menu and nine-course tasting menu, and you’ll savour every mouthful. The Bramley and heritage Blenheim Orange apple trees in Daniel’s kitchen garden provide the ingredients for the signature dish of Scallop, Truffle and Apple, which is served all year round.

Ring 01223 369299 or visit www.midsummerhouse.co.uk

A Scoop of Heaven: Jack’s

From classic Strawberries & Cream to Stroopwafel and every Willy Wonka concoction in between, Jack’s gelatos are my stress-beating, lick-it-better comfort foods. The gelato is made every day by hand in small batches from the best seasonal ingredients, sourced locally wherever possible: milk and cream from the Estate Dairy; chocolate from Pump Street Chocolate; honey from beehives in the city; and coffee beans from British artisan roasters. You can order online or visit his two shops in the heart of historic Cambridge, where his team churn and scoop seven days a week, 361 days a year, at 6 Bene't Street (11am-11pm) and 7 All Saints Passage (12pm-10pm).

Ring 07909 224178 or visit www.jacksgelato.com

British Modern: Vanderlyle

A truly pioneering restaurant, Vanderlyle serves a vegetarian menu on a find-out-what-when-you-get-here basis. Led by chefs Alex Rushmer and Lawrence Butler, the team work directly with farmers, growers, and producers – some of whom use equipment powered by horses, not machines – to raise local, ethical, and regenerative ingredients for dishes that are driven by the suppliers. Expect fresh-off-the-field flavours that are elevated by masterful sauces and reductions – who knew celeriac, cabbage, butternut squash, kohlrabi, and chard could be such superstars?

Ring 01223 366514 or visit www.vanderlyle-restaurant.com

Catch of the Day: Fin Boys

This “fish butchery” and restaurant champions lesser-known species and offers ocean-fresh, line-caught, sustainable fish that is never frozen. Small fish are stored on perforated trays, large ones hung in the dry-ager, which intensifies the flavour. You can come for advice on how to prepare your own fish at home, or sit down for a meal. For lunch, I like the starters of Dorset Crab and Devon Smoked Eel, while the Cornish Day Boat Hake, Romesco Stuffed Piquillo Pepper, Garbanzo & Black Garlic is dreamy. Brace yourself for dinner though – it’s a tasting menu of 10 courses!

Ring 01223 354045 or visit www.fin-boys.com

Join our Chef-Patron Tristan Welch every Thursday at 6pm for a cook-along on Instagram, @Parkers_Tavern, and also on “Cooking With the Stars” every Tuesday at 9pm on ITV.