Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Midsummer House, Cambridge restaurant review

Midsummer House in Cambridge is a restaurant which needs no introduction.

Located in a picturesque villa on the banks of the River Cam, Chef Patron Daniel Clifford has held two Michelin stars for ten years and become a household name thanks to his banquet winning dishes on The Great British Menu.

We visited Midsummer House for dinner when there is choice between a seven course (£82.50) and ten course (£105) tasting menu. You guessed it, we ordered the ten courser.

We kicked off with a light yet potent Bloody Mary foam paired with a quenelle of cleansing celery ice cream. A finely diced salsa of pepper, red onion and cucumber added some bite. 

A cute strawberry patch arrived next. Perched on the end of a stick, a crisp red pepper shell contained rich foie gras mousse sprinkled with crumbs of dehydrated strawberry. 

Crunchy cod skin was topped with stunningly fresh mackerel tartare.

A brilliant warm éclair filled with cream cheese was slathered with aromatic truffle spread. Another snack balanced cream cheese, zesty lime and chive. 

Bread was as good as it gets – wholemeal and plain sourdough were crisp of crust and complex in flavour with just the right amount of chew. 

Finally, the first of the night’s 10 courses arrived. Creamy smoked haddock brandade with tender flakes of fish was joined by warm smoked haddock foam, golden nuggets of grilled cheese and acerbic slices of baby pickled onion. Stunning. 

A trolley was wheeled in containing a miniature green egg cocooning charred beetroot. The sweet and smokey interior of the beet was scooped out and served at the table. 

Paired with beetroot puree, candied beetroot, pickled beetroot, quinoa crisps and goats cheese (which had been flash frozen in liquid nitrogen), it elevated the root vegetable to the highest level.

Next, a whopper of a sweetbread was topped with pistachio crumbs and joined by a punchy turnip and pistachio puree and a fragrant and sharp pink grapefruit puree.

Another of the evening’s highlights followed. Vibrant asparagus was joined by asparagus puree, burnt onion powder, a cleverly set hollandaise and pickled onions. What looked like a filo pasty wrapped asparagus spear nestled a fine dice of wild mushroom and asparagus.

The following dish brought together a trio of elements.

A killer piece of fried sourdough was topped with duck liver pate and grape and pickled onion slices.

A runny quail egg was wrapped in potato strings, deep-fried and then smoked. Oofh.

Pink quail breast was topped with an armour of grape slices and joined by smooth shallot puree studded with sourdough croutons.

The following three courses were very good but didn’t hit the standard of those which had come before.

A meaty mullet fillet, panfried with a slice of bread on top, was served with sweet grelot onions, oyster leaves and a blob of duck liver puree. However, the bread only served to make the dish a bit dry.

A perfectly pink pigeon breast, a slightly anaemic breadcrumbed leg and a brown meat lollipop were accompanied by sweet apple puree, a charred roast apple slice, wilted greens, chickpeas and a fragrant chamomile sauce. 

The highlight of the dish was a pot of offal rich pigeon puree topped with mashed potato and an uber-thin pastry dome – I’d have been happy with just a huge pot of this comfort food.

Segueing between sweet and savoury was a sort of delicious, sort of weird pousse café. Warm sweet maple syrup was topped with pasteurised egg yolk, a boozy bourbon foam and a scattering of chive.

A mix-up with the serving team meant that our two desserts were brought out of order. However, a pair of complimentary glasses of champagne more than made up for it.

First up was a chocolate dome nestling all kinds of goodies – chewy caramel, crisp chocolate crumble, jelly and mascarpone. A hot coffee sauce melted the dome in order to reveal its contents whilst a scoop of silky smooth almond ice cream balanced the richness of the dish.

Finally, fragrantly citric kumquat slices were joined by tamarind sorbet, carrot cubes and cardamom jus. A pretty piece of sugar work perched atop the dish. 

Peppermint tea was summoned to settle the stomach and a swan song arrived in the form of warm beignets served with a pair of dips – stonking salted caramel and crème anglais with a whack of calvados.

Our meal at Midsummer House was superb - a clutch of show stopping dishes were accompanied by perfectly paced and friendly service.

The Details:

Address - Midsummer House, Midsummer Common, Cambridge CB4 1HA
Telephone - 01223 369299

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