13 French restaurants in Cambridgeshire
French Restaurants in Cambridgeshire:
15-19 Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1QA [Map]
We hear a great deal about recycling these days - du Vin recycles attractive but sometimes un-loved buildings to restore real gems in the best tradition of British understated style.
Complement that with all that is best in the French bistro ethos, bars that reach out to please, and you have a setting that provides an inspirational background for people to meet, do business, get married, provide a base for golf or fishing, somewhere you can call your own for a private celebration, a spa or - most engagingly - a wine school that breaks the mould.
In historic Cambridge, du Vin has taken on a beautiful old building in Trumpington Street and transformed it into a distinctive luxury boutique hotel, engaging its quirky architectural features in a manner that is wholly convincing. Inside the 41 bedrooms and boutique suites, some with private terraces, are fitted out with luxurious Egyptian linen and monsoon showers.
du Vin are renowned for their bistro style restaurants, and this one has more than a touch of La Français, making the right setting for a cuisine that looks to Europe for inspiration with a modern edge, as well as being serviced by the first du Vin open style kitchen.
Down in the labyrinthine cellars, vaulted ceilings look down on a splendid bar with, amongst other commendable attributes, a noble array of single malts and armagnacs. Add to this a specialist wine tasting room and private dining room, and the library overlooking the bijoux terrace where a mildly scholastic style reminds its occupants that they are sitting near the centre of one of the finest universities in the world.
In the snazzy bistro a choice of around ten starters could include devilled chicken livers, half a dozen Colchester oysters, or smoked duck breast with beetroot and pecan salad. Amongst the main courses expect to find that fast fading from the scene but delightful gastronomic extravagance, venison haunch with pickled red cabbage and artichoke puree and gilt head bream with sautéed potatoes and sauce vierge. Only in Cambridge? Well, perhaps in that other place beginning with 'O' where they used to make cars?
In amongst the classics there's braised ox cheeks with marrow bone dumplings and hot and sour cabbage, or crepes filled with mussels, cockles and crab.
Whilst one might argue that the whole point of being in a du Vin is to snuggle up to the wine list, this list is designed to match with the food and can only be described as superb. With a team of sommeliers, there is no room for anything but the best. Service is telepathic in the best possible sense.
Click on their Website for full information and rates. Hotel du Vin, with fourteen options throughout Britain, awaits your call.
Bistro, French, Modern European
24-26 Bridge Street, Cambridge, CB2 1UJ [Map]
Café Rouge has over one hundred branches throughout Britain all offering a wide range of dishes drawn from the French cuisine. Slightly less than half their branches are in or close to London. Almost inevitably the décor and design of each restaurant differs from the others, but there is a general curtsy towards La France.
Many restaurants do an excellent breakfast, or shall we say petit dejeuner, at which such delights as scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toasted brioche, croque Madame, croissants and pain au chocolat make welcome appearances, and to their credit the English traditional gets top billing.
An array of small dishes takes in pulled pork pâté with French bread, and spicy beef and lamb sausage with harissa mayonnaise. Salads and pasta feature largely, as do baguettes and croques. Quick dishes, ideal for lunch, include slices of saucisson and cured pork loin with French bread.
Moving on to more serious stuff we find steaks, an 8oz bavette and thin cut rib eye, with a choice of béarnaise or peppercorn sauce. No French menu would be complete without the poulet jaune grille, pan-roasted breast of corn-fed chicken served on a warm taboulé of bulgar wheat and a medley of roasted vegetables with minted crème fraîche, or a steak frites before moving on to the crème brûlée, or the tart tatin. Almost invariably the coffee tastes like coffee should, something that sadly can all too often still not be said of our English restaurants, who depend too much upon technology and too little on the acquisition of a certain flair for this important conclusion to a meal.
By now we all know that the French, despite their distinctive habits when it comes to matters of satisfying the inner man, maintain a miraculous longevity of life. This is generally attributed to a number of causes, of which a measured consumption of decent wine is foremost. Café Rouge, you may be pleased to hear, encourages this with a well-chosen selection of French wines. Their prix fixe lunch and meals for children, both at a very reasonable figure, also offer excellent value.
Their Website will keep you updated on menu changes, news and other competitions and offers from the Café Society.
Christmas Party Menu - 3 courses £23.95 / Christmas Day Feast Menu £50 Book
20% off your total bill - Book our Christmas Party menu any time in November and get 20% off your total bill Book
20% off food – Book your Christmas Party menu on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday at the beginning of December Book
New Year's Eve Menu Book
North Road, Whittlesford, Cambridge, CB22 4NZ [Map]
The Tickell Arms, for many years home to the eccentric, unpredictable and late Kim Tickell, is a much-loved landmark within the Cambridge scene. Chef Spencer Patrick has taken over with the result that the food in particular is more reliable and arguably much improved, though the medley of flamboyant decor, part of the Tickell legacy, lingers on.
A set lunch and dinner is offered, of two or three courses, with lunch offering the traditional good value that is so often the case. A well-remarked starter could be a terrine of smoked guinea fowl, sweetbreads and foie gras, with pistachios and truffle, served with glazed figs, and in the evenings a panache of sea scallops, cauliflower puree and sauce Perigord helps to underline chef's regard for the conventional alongside the modern touches.
Great North Road, Stilton, Peterborough, PE7 3RA [Map]
It would be churlish indeed to omit mentioning what many mistakenly assume to be the home of the famous cheese of that name, nor is there the slightest intention to do so.
The famed cheese was in fact first produced by the Housekeeper at Quenby Hall, one Mrs Beaumont, not far from Leicester. It became associated with Stilton largely because this was the most convenient staging post for sending copious quantities of the stuff to London.
Dick Turpin is alleged to have had a hideaway at The Bell. Turpin would undoubtedly have approved of the dining arrangements which blend traditional and modern into an attractive menu that must have tickled the palate of many a weary traveller.
A parfait of chicken livers could precede an excellent braised blade of beef with creamed celeriac and roasted shallots, followed by some Long Clawston Stilton with home-baked plum bread. House wine is from £11.95 and a supple list offers choices from most continents.
Midsummer Common, Cambridge, CB4 1HA [Map]
Midsummer House, the only Michelin starred restaurant in Cambridge, is pleasantly situated on Midsummer Common. One may sit in the conservatory dining room and idly watch the River Cam meander by as one course blends agreeably into the next.
And what courses! Daniel Clifford's modern style of cooking chases the seasons and draws well upon the nearby kitchen garden. Imagine starters of deep fried snails, risotto of bacon, parsley ice cream or terrine of guinea fowl, wild mushrooms and foie gras, spiced pear purée, port reduction, followed by squab pigeon, pommes anna, onion tarte tatin, caramelised chicory, jus of morel or pan fried tranchon of turbot, cep risotto, glazed baby leeks and celery, mushroom biscuit, cep foam.
Daniel has gained some impressive experience before settling at Midsummer House, including a spell at two star Michelin Restaurant Jean Bard in France, followed by two and a half years at Rascasse in Leeds, during which time it gained a Michelin star. The award of 2 Michelin Stars in 2005 serves only to confirm the record of this exceptional Chef.
The menu is elaborate in places, perhaps overly so, but one really cannot fault the results. It's just the agony of decision-making. While it is undoubtedly expensive, if you are looking for value, then their lunch set menus are a comparative bargain.
Desserts are a match for the rest of the menu and an excellent but somewhat expensive wine list, with fairly steep mark-ups, completes the picture. House wines start at £13.95.
57 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 1NT [Map]
If fancy French cuisine is the mood of the hour, Le Gros Franck in Mills Road, Cambridge is as French as it gets. The ambience is lively and relaxed, as opposed to popular belief tagged to French restaurants - sophisticated and imposing. The service is friendly and welcoming, but the food here is determined not to share the spotlight with anything else. Award-winning Chef Franck Parnin is the whiz behind the outstanding quality of food you get to sample here. Having trained in his home region of Alsace, Franck brings authentic recipes to the table and adds his own intuitive twist to the flavours, making the experience unique and unequalled in this part of the world.
Begin with duck and venison pate, followed by best of spring lamb pan-fried with cumin and herbs on a bed of chickpeas casserole honey sauce. For dessert, go for caramelised orange tart with grand marnier mousse on crème anglaise. Le Gros Franck is a French patisserie by day, offering fresh pastries, pastas and sandwiched. Specialities include genuine French-style steak frites, fish pies and stews - a gastronomical extravagance indeed. Bon appétit!
French, Patisserie, Sandwiches
Cambridge Golf & Conference Centre, Hemingford Abbots Golf Complex, Cambridge Road, Huntingdon, PE28 9HQ [Map]
Abbots has been created to provide a warm family-friendly restaurant in the Cambridge area, to serve as a focal point for members of the Cambridge Golf and Conference Centre as well as a place for those who wish to drop in for a meal at a restaurant where reliability and quality are the watchwords. The result is a comfortable mingling of sport, pleasure, relaxation and, when you want it, peace and quiet. Head Chef Darren Marchant is renowned for his search in pursuit of the best local ingredients, with the aid of which he launches a modern British menu, with occasional assistance from France and Italy.
Family, French, Modern British
125 Church Street, Werrington, Peterborough, PE4 6QF [Map]
French, Modern British
30 West Street, Isleham, nr Ely, CB7 5SB [Map]
Tucked away in the Cambridgeshire fens, this 17th century pub is today a welcoming inn, renowned for generous portions of reasonably priced, traditional English and French dishes. The ambience, complete with low ceilings, inglenook fireplaces and exposed beams, is positively inviting and unusual features like stainless steel charger plates make a meal at The Merry Monk especially memorable.
Coquilles St Jacques - queen scallops seared in a white wine cream sauce - is a popular starter. For mains, slow roasted half a duckling glazed with honey and orange vies for attention with pan-fried line caught sea bass on dauphinoise potatoes with tomato chive and crayfish tails. Round off with treacle and Thai ginger tart with vanilla custard or clotted cream from the venue's dessert list followed by an impressive cheese board.
French, Modern British
2 Lynn Road, Littleport, Ely, CB6 1QG [Map]
In this rather wild part of the Fens it is encouraging to come across somewhere like The Fen House where good taste is well ensconced, even it is only available at dinner on Friday and Saturdays, or other times by arrangement. Booking is essential.
Starters may include delicately cooked chicken livers with Madeira sauce and red grapes nestling in a brioche, grilled goat's cheese on vegetables provencale, before rolled saddle of lamb with onion sauce and Madeira gravy.
Puddings follow the same sort of drift with spiced apple tartlet and Calvados custard a good whacky dish on which to complete. The wine list, starting at just under £14, is some sixty long, a brave effort for a restaurant of limited space and opening. I would think The Fen House comes into its own for parties of like-minded people who want to take off into the wilds and have a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxed evening to themselves.
More French restaurants in Cambridgeshire:
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