It’s amazing really, since we moved to London 10 years ago this November, we have hardly left the capital to visit other areas of England, well apart from many a long haul trip to far of climes.
As when we lived outside this metropolis we were always wandering around this fair country of ours, but since then we’ve hardly done this. Does that mean that London is too good to leave? Me thinks not, we’ve just lazy that’s all.
The wife was getting fed up of this and on a whim booked us to goto Cambridge last Saturday, and it was my job to find us somewhere to eat and of course enjoy myself.
We’d been to Cambs. once before, the year before last in between Christmas and New Year. Big difference this time.
Then Cambridge was empty and cold and we got into all the colleges for free, this time it was packed and they were either closing them at 1pm or you had to pay a tenner. Leave that to the tourists. Oh how a difference some good weather makes.
The last time we ate at the Cambridge Chop House, ate ourselves silly on good English fare and real Cambridgeshire ale. A fine establishment.
I was tempted, or lazy to just say bollox we’ll go back there, it’s central, food and ales are good, but somehow that was the lazy way.
Luckily the same group has several other restaurants to choose from, sadly only one of them Cambridge.
So we were to eat at the St John’s Chophouse. A more refined, slightly upmarket version of the Cambridge Chop House.
We could not have timed it better, just as we ventured inside the heaven opened up and stopped just before we left an hour or so later. Love it when that happens.
The décor is your standard country design, lots of wood, big open fireplace, but with some modern touches of a few contemporary photos of Cambridge.
It’s slightly away from the main college drag, and therefore less people, as we and another table were the only people inside the whole time. Sad as everyone else is missing out on some great cooking.
The menu is big on English food with lots of traditional dishes, like steak and kidney pudding, which I was so tempted to have, but as it was August I would have suffered.
After much deliberation and half a pint of Hopping Mad, a fine local brew that would have any of those big bellied, grey bearded CAMRA executives jumping for joy.
So between us we went for the Ham Hock, with a parsley mash, greens and a mustard sauce and an Old Spot Pork Chop, which came with a potato and black pudding cake, seasonal greens and a mustard sauce gravy, plus the added bonus of a piece of crackling on top.
Even though the portions were hearty, they looked good on the plates, very clean, sexy even and so bloody well cooked that if this place was in London it would be full every single day.
The ham hock came from a worthy beast, it was so full of flavour, something that lacks in some animals these days. The parsley mash was well parsley mash and a damn fine version of it it was as well. With some seasonal greens and a parsley sauce this was a bloody good plate of traditional English food.
The pork chop again came from a beast that had a great flavour. I like to think he or her lead a happy and comfortable life before being slaughtered to be served on my plate. I dream a lot.
The chop was juicy, favourable and a good piece of fat round the edge. My idea of heaven. We even gnawed the remaining meat off the bone at the end it was that good.
The potato, black pudding cake was really good, with no under pieces of potato in there and well seasoned, as were the seasonal greens, which I have forgotten what they were, but they were good.
The added extra of a piece of some of the finest crackling I’d had in a long time just rounded this meal off. Really amazing, so much porky flavour and a great crispy crunch that was not teeth shattering as I’ve had in the past. Perfect it was.
The waitress tried to tempt us into having pudding, and I was tempted to have the sticky toffee pudding, but that would have been too much.
All in all the Chop House group has given us two good meals in scenic Cambridge and if we ever come back I know where we will be eating.
The rest of the day we spent by the river drinking beer and taking in the sun, watching tourists and brides being punted down the river by the school kids. A fun and relaxing afternoon. Must get out of London more often.