Alimentum, Cambridge

This weekend we were in Cambridge. We’ve both been before but a long time ago and neither of us could really remember what it was like so we plumped for the academic city for our first romantic get away of the year. We arrived to blue skies and merged with the hoards of tourists to view some of the stunning colleges around the city centre. Sight seeing was followed by an uninspiring lunch at Revolution and a trip to Hotel Chocolat for some luxury evening nibbles.

The day led way to night and we got ready for the big treat of the weekend – a meal at Michelin starred Alimentum, just outside the city centre. After much deliberation we opted for Alimentum over local (and 2 starred) Midsumer House for 2 reasons. 1) It was cheaper 2) Daniel Clifford came across as a grumpy sod on last years Masterchef the professionals and it put us right off him!

So, we arrived at Alimentum to be greeted by a fantastic New York style bar complete with gentle jazz piano in one corner. We had a drink in the bar before being escorted to our table.

Alimentum Restaurant Bar in Cambridge
Olive crisps with orange mayonnaise
Olive crisps with orange mayonnaise

We opted for the Al a Carte menu which is priced at £36 for 2 courses or £49 for 3 courses. The menu is clean and simple with ingredients listed out leaving everything to the imagination! The Amouse Bouche was a parsnip veloute with salted caramel popcorn. The popcorn was a surprise and worked well with the creamy parsnip sweetness.

Parsnip Veloute amouse bouche at Alimentum restaurant, Cambridge
Parsnip Veloute with popcorn

To start I went for Quail, hubby for Ham Hock. The quail was absolutely delicious, full of subtle thai flavours, the ballotine sweet and tender and the legs crispy and full of flavour and slithers of roasted peanut were to die for. The hubby’s ham was salty and smoky with a delicious broth which the waitress poured at the table!

Hamhock  Parfait, smoked hazelnut, pickled mushroom Alimentum Restaurant, Cambridge
Hamhock parfait, smoked hazelnut, pickled mushroom
Quail  Breast and legs, broccoli, lime and peanut, Alimentum Restaurant Cambridge
Quail breast and legs, broccoli, lime and peanut
For main I had Venison loin served with potato, celeriac and plum. The venison was absolutely delicious, very tender and melt in the mouth. The hubby had his usual – Beef. Sirloin, oxtail, shallot and bone marrow on the plate but nothing else. We were surprised there was nothing else on the plate, a potato or vegetable element would have worked well. 
Unfortunately my phones camera stopped working at this point so all I have picture wise are a couple of blurry shots! We decided to skip pudding and finished our wine (Conde de Valdemar, Crianza Rioja, Spain, 2008, £34) before getting the bill and heading back into Cambridge. In total we paid £138.00

Overall, we felt that the service was quite rushed – within 45 mins we’d finished eating and they were turning the tables over quickly around us. The food was absolutely delicious but this wasn’t the best Michelin experience we’ve ever had. In my opinion, michelin starred dining is about more than just the food, its the ambience and the experience from start to finish should be special. I do want to give a shout out to the Sommelier though – he was very knowledgable and friendly. We often drink the same wines so he helped us choose something different and actually, he got it spot on!  Thank you Alimentum for a lovely night but not a great night.

Maybe next time we’ll try Midsummer House after all. 

Leave a comment

  1. 21st February 2013 / 10:50 pm

    Oh shame, I've been past it countless times but have never actually eaten there. I agree with you though, the atmosphere and the mood leading to a good lingering over the table with a satisfied tummy are essential. We even have a name for it in Spanish "la sobremesa". Midsummer House is supposed to be amazing, I was tempted to go there last year but then I saw the prices and remembered that we have a kid and very seldom do we have anyone to babysit her… perhaps once we do.

  2. 27th February 2013 / 6:23 pm

    I totally agree, a fine dining experiemce is about more than just the food.

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