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AD: Five of the best alfresco dining places

Eating, drinking and socialising outdoors is among summer’s greatest pleasures. Velvet visits five of our area’s best alfresco dining spots

Carousel by The Willow Tree, Bourn

Close your eyes. . . Imagine an enchanting pretty pink foodie pub set in the beautiful Bourn countryside near Cambridge. There lies a lush Secret Meadow with a pretty cream horsebox serving a new playful summer barbecue concept.

“Welcome to Carousel, bringing you a magical fairground flavour. From gourmet hot dogs, mini burgers and kebab sticks to waffle pops, mini toffee apples and candyfloss.” Shaina Galvin, owner of The Willow Tree, describes Carousel as ‘fun dining’ rather than ‘fine dining’.

“A place where childhood nostalgia meets modern cuisine, a relaxed dining experience served exclusively to the Willow gardens. Cosy chill-out areas, a giant teepee, fairy-lit domes, and deckchairs to bask in the sunshine.

“Add a sprinkling of live music, garden parties, outdoor cinema and walkabout magic. Now open your eyes. . . We are here all summer with our stunning new concept.”

Carousel opens mid-June – book your dates now for the teepee, garden or lounge domes. Or book for The Willow Tree’s gorgeous restaurant, terrace and dining domes to experience the Willow fine dining summer menu by chef Steven Saunders.

Location: 29 High Street, Bourn CB23 2SQ

Web: thewillowtreebourn.com

Facebook: thewillowtreebourn

Instagram: thewillowtreebourn

Ely Grazing Company

“At Ely Grazing we offer a unique and new dining experience,” says Martin Meredith. “Take your time and enjoy a fabulous journey of flavours. . .”

Inspired by the grazing culture he’d experienced in Australia, the professional musician launched Ely Grazing when lockdown called a halt to touring, taking the concept from online start-up to bricks-and-mortar eatery in little more than a year.

From its new base in Ely’s Buttermarket, it offers a wide range of boxes, boards and cones, all filled with carefully curated selections of sweet and savoury treats. “We have a wonderful variety,” says Martin, “from our popular afternoon tea box to XL grazing platters which can also be ordered for corporate events, weddings, at-home gatherings and days out.”

With the drinks menu including teas, coffees, cocktails, craft beers and juices, snd plentiful outdoor seating and boardgames for visiting children, “come and say hi,” he adds.

Location: 2-3 Buttermarket, Ely CB7 4NY

Web: elygrazing.com

Facebook: elygrazing

Instagram: ely.grazing.company

Cambridge Cookery

Home to one of the largest and loveliest terraces in the city – away from traffic, overlooking a tree-lined lawn and providing the perfect balance of sun and shade, thanks to plentiful parasols – Cambridge Cookery School is a dream spot for coffee or lunch.

Establishing the school in 2008, on a heritage site between Homerton college and Hills Road sixth form college, owner Tine Roche added the cafe in 2016, housed in an old stonemason’s building and manned by a team of Leiths and Cordon Bleu trained chefs.

The cafe is known for its Scandinavian vibe, with authentic Swedish cinnamon buns, Danish open rye sandwiches and bold seasonal salads using local produce. The cherries on top of the cakes? The cafe is licensed and dog-friendly too (you’ll even find complimentary home-baked treats on the counter).

The cafe at Cambridge Cookery School is open Wednesday to Sunday, 9am to 2pm.

Location: Homerton Gardens, Purbeck Road, Cambridge CB2 8EB

Web: cambridgecookery.com

Facebook: ccookeryschool

Instagram: ccscafe_

The Porterhouse, Willingham

Seating up to 34 around a central firepit and furnished with comfy cushions, soft blankets and twinkling fairy lights, the teepee at The Porterhouse, Willingham, is a magical place to dine on either a summer’s day or night.

Provided with swirling fans on hot afternoons and water bottles on chilly evenings, guests can look forward to a “relaxing atmosphere, personable service and great food,” say the team, adding: “No surcharges or fees apply to dine in our teepee. Just book a table and come and enjoy yourselves!”

Famous for its authentic pizzas – baked in a traditional oven and available with both classic and contemporary toppings, ranging from pepperoni to duck-and-hoisin – another Porterhouse signature dish is cheesecake, with flavours, such as Biscoff and Pimm’s, changing with the seasons.

The Porterhouse teepee is open noon to 9pm Monday to Saturday and noon to 6pm on Sundays.

Location: 1 Station Road, Willingham CB24 5HF

Web: theporterhousepub.com

Facebook: porterhousewillingham

Instagram: theporterhousepub

The Linden, Stansted Mountfitchet

Billed as “a trendy restaurant, bar and rooms in Stansted Mountfitchet”, newly refurbished The Linden is fast making a name for its food thanks to head chef Keith Deeks, who’s worked both at The Savoy and with Marco Pierre White.

With the suntrap Courtyard Terrace the perfect place for lunching or dining alfresco, it’s also open for Bottomless Brunch every Saturday: offering unlimited drinks of your choice and delicious food, the 90-minute sittings running from 11am to 4pm with a DJ from 1pm to 4pm.

Say the team: “We’re all about really good food, drinks and first class service.”

The Bottomless Brunch is priced £28 per person (with a £10 deposit required). For Ts and Cs and to book visit the website.

Location: 1-3 Silver Street, Stansted CM24 8HA

Phone: (01279) 813654

Web: thelinden.co.uk


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