Cambridge Foodies: Five top festive dining spots
In his debut column for Velvet, Cambridge Foodies founder Simon Tompkins spotlights five of his favourite destinations for festive dining out
Greetings! My name is Simon and I run the Cambridge Foodies Facebook group, aimed at sharing news, reviews and opinions about the Cambridgeshire food scene. In 11 years running Cambridgeshire-focussed food groups, I have learned that our area punches well above its weight when it comes to incredible and unique dining experiences.
With the festive season nearly upon us, it’s a great time to share top foodie hotspots for Christmas dinner in and around Cambridge.
This stylish yet surprisingly informal restaurant has only had praise from my fellow foodies and it’s easy to see why, as everything is always executed perfectly.
The Ivy offers traditional British cuisine that will please every generation in the family while still offering the foodie in you the chance to try something exciting and different.
They really get into the spirit of the season here, offering a selection of holiday-themed cocktails to help you feel extra Christmassy. Private dining rooms are available, decorated perfectly for the holidays with a colourful and festive interior.
Make sure you try: Goose shepherd's pie and the gingerbread martini.
Yup, you heard me: an Indian restaurant for Christmas. It’s just crazy enough to work! Navadhanya is one of the top Indian restaurants in Cambridgeshire and one of only four Cambridge restaurants to be included in the Michelin Guide.
Their five-course Christmas set menus offer an exciting fusion of modern Indian and traditional Christmas cuisine. They also offer a fantastic selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes, something frequently overlooked in the Christmas food frenzy.
Make sure you try: The home-made kulfi and their set menu.
The Cambridge Chop House
Specialising in alternative cuts of meat, from Butler to Meat Chop steaks, or honey glazed pork knuckles, any die-hard meat connoisseur will be spoiled for choice.
One thing I have always loved about dining here is the quirky interior and traditional decorations, which would feel right at home in a Christmas novel. Imagine sitting at the window watching people walking past in the winter cold while tucking into a three-course Christmas meal with a pint of a hand-selected ale straight from the cask.
Make sure you try: Any steak and their cask ales.
The Three Horseshoes
Christmas is so much more than eating good food: there is also a lot to be said for sitting in a picturesque thatched country pub in front of a wood burning stove – or for something a bit different, try one of the Horseshoes’ garden pods, where you can eat in comfort and bring your own music.
Not only does the Christmas menu here offer all the classics, such as roast turkey with pigs in blankets, it also offers game, such as pigeon breast. This is a great chance to try something different, while still being able to please the traditionalists in the group.
Make sure you try: Roast turkey with pigs in blankets.
The Old Fire Engine House, Ely
Ely has a bustling and ever-growing foodie scene, so it can be easy to forget the long-established restaurants - especially ones lacking any sign or menu out front! Located close to Ely Cathedral, this family-run restaurant fits perfectly into the scenic Christmas fantasy.
With a huge emphasis on locally sourced produce and meat, the Old Fire Engine House offers excellently executed meals with a focus on local produce, from free-range Norfolk turkey to Cambridgeshire honey, and fenland celery. This is the restaurant for the person who likes to know where their food is from, and support local producers.
Make sure you try: Neal's Yard London cheeses with chutney and biscuits.
For more: request to join the Cambridge Foodies group on Facebook.
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