Another Dinner at The Hole in the Wall

I just realised I hadn’t written about my latest visit to The Hole in the Wall a couple of weeks ago. With two different friends this time, we arrived on a nice early summer evening and were seated right next to the bar which provided ample light. Again, the menu made our selection hard as everything on it sounded rather tempting indeed.

Crayfish skagen
As it was recommended to my by friends, I chose the “Crayfish Skagen” to start, a modern take on the classic prawn cocktail. Applied liberally to the wonderfully crusty sourdough bread, this was a pleasure to eat, perfectly seasoned without overwhelming the flavour of the crayfish.

Sole, sea vegetables
For main, I picked the steamed sole with sea vegetables and potatoes. The fish was well cooked and seasoned, and the rest of the plate worked perfectly with it. As always at the Hole, it was a very generous portion and very good value at £17

My friends were equally happy with their chicken on lime risotto:
Supreme of chicken, lemon risotto
and rump of lamb:
Rump of lamb

And then, the glorious finale (we all had the same):
Salted caramel choolate pot
Salted caramel chocolate pot, with chocolate sorbet and shortbread on the side. Rich chocolate, made even richer by the expertly judged salted caramel so the whole thing was not too sweet. Due to the rather warm room, the chocolate sorbet quickly melted but that was not much of an issue as we could dip the stars of the evening into it, the (in)famous doughnuts:
The famous doughnuts
I had heard many a friend praise their lightness and flavour and indeed they were outstanding. I described them as “deep-fried air” as there really was not much too chew inside the crispy shell, they just melted in your mouth. Apparently, our Uhh- and Aahhing was noticed and we were served a second helping, so in the end we had two each. The banana parfait in the small pan was nice as well but I preferred the chocolate.

It is a shame this fine restaurant/free house is a bit out of the way for those of us without a car or I would visit a lot more often. The tastefully renovated building with its low ceilings and even lower exposed beams (there are areas where even I at 1.70m height have to stoop) has a lot of character and provides a homely atmosphere, service is efficient and friendly amd food and drink are excellent.


Cambridge Brew House Opening Party

This is just a quick thank you to the management and staff at the Cambridge Brew House in King Street for their invitation to their opening party last night.

The place buzzed even more than before, there are now even more excellent local beers on tap (no boring lagers here!) and the in-house brewery is running. There was cheese and bread and staff wandering around with platters of finger food (scotch egg quarters, “fish and chip”, goat’s cheese toast etc.) and two boozy tasting tables, one from the Moonshine Brewery and one from the Brew House’s wine supplier. As I’d tasted most of the Moonshine’s offerings during a Cambridge Food and Wine Society event earlier this year, I kept to the wine and I thought they were excellent. Next time I have dinner at the Brew House, it’ll be tricky to decide whether to have beer or wine.

Caroline and Heidi from Eat Cambridge (starting this Thursday, with the main food and drinks market at the Guildhall on Saturday) and the Platelickers Jo and Ivana were there as well so I was in good foodie company.

I had had a bit of a rubbish day so this invitation came at the right moment and lifted my spirits.

First visit to Cambridge Brew House, King Street

The Cambridge Brew House opened today in the former premises of the Bun Shop and its various incarnations in King Street. What used to be two rather cramped spaces is now one large open one with diner-style booth seating along the window front to the right of the door with tables and chairs filling the rest of this area with table service. Opposite the door is the bar with quite a wide selection of beers, including currently two house brand ones and a few other locals as well as a few well known beers. In the back to the left of the bar is the onsite brewery bit behind glass. This is not operational yet, their own beer is currently brewed off site until it’s all set up. This is also a bit more casual area with a wild mix of seats (chairs, armchairs, bar stools and even a wooden vaulting horse) with low and high tables. I’m not sure if there is seating upstairs as well as it was quite busy and a grabbed one of the last seats on one of the bar tables before ordering a King’s Parade and a chicken and mushroom pie. There were lots interesting things on the menu including home smoked and cured meats/fish but I thought a pie would be a good dish to get an idea of their cooking.
The King’s Parade is an excellent bitter and one that actually deserves that name, really fully flavoured. I was just about to dig into my pie when Caroline found me and took me to her table. They had already had starters (“British Tapas”) which they had enjoyed so I tucked into my pie while they waited for their mains. My portion was a quarter of a bigger pie, rather thick with excellent, crunchy pastry. The filling consisted of large chunks of well cooked, i.e. still nicely moist meat and mushrooms, not as liquid as you often get which also helped keep the pastry crispy. There was also a pile of fluffy chips and a little copper pan with gravy. I only realised now that there was no veg or salad but I didn’t really miss it. I really liked it.
I’m looking forward to reading what Heidi thought of her excellent looking pork belly.
The second beer I had was the Misty River, a pale ale that wasn’t quite to my taste but I prefer a darker beer, anyway. Heidi didn’t fancy the bitter so it’s definitely a matter of taste.
I also wanted to try a dessert but there wasn’t that much exciting (chocolate/orange torte, “winter berry” Eton mess, and toffee pudding as well as ice creams and a cheese board with three or six cheeses). I’m not a fan of either orange with chocolate nor toffee so I picked the Eton mess which was not bad, not too sweet but with strawberries and blueberries it went a bit against their claim of using local and seasonal ingredients.
We agreed that the desserts needed some work but were rather happy with everything else. Considering it was rather busy indeed and their first day, I couldn’t really find fault with the service, either.

The Cambridge Brew House is going to serve food all day, from 12 noon to 9:30 in the evening which makes it ideal for both early and late-ish dinners, lunch or an afternoon snack. I am definitely looking forward to returning soon.

Oh, and they are still offering 50% off on food today (Thursday) so you really can’t go wrong.