Tu Casa Tapas Cambridge

A little piece of Spain just landed in Mill Road with the recent opening of Tu Casa Tapas, a new independent tapas bar at the Parker’s Piece end of the street.

Tu Casa Tapas Cambridge

It’s owned by Roi Vaquero and Elia Polo who met here in Cambridge five years ago when Roi, who hails from Galicia, took a sabbatical from his job as a corporate lawyer and arrived in the city to improve his English.  He and Elia, who is Italian, noticed that there was no independent Spanish restaurant here and decided to set one up themselves.  It’s been a long journey as they gained experience in some of the city’s top restaurants and negotiated the vagaries of the Cambridge commercial property market but they put a team together along the way and ended up completely refurbishing an old charity shop.  They’ve created a welcoming space with a pared back aesthetic … whitewashed walls, dark wooden furniture, white crockery and plain terracotta dishes that really let the food be the star of the show.

Tu Casa Tapas meatballs

We went for lunch last weekend and ordered from the tapas menu.  Albondigas (beef and pork meatballs marinated in garlic, parsley and white wine tomato sauce) were aromatic in the piquant sauce.

We loved the generous plate of wafer thin hand carved Jamon Iberico de Bellota while the plump Croquetas de Boletus were a texture sensation with a crunchy outside and a soft, creamy mushroomy bechamel sauce inside.

Tu Casa Tapas roast peppersEscalivada con Pimiento (roasted red and green pepper with onion and aubergine, seasoned with cumin and olive oil) was sweet and smokey at the same time.

We managed to squeeze in one final dish, Ensalada de queso de Cabra, a roasted goats cheese on crisp lettuce, studded with walnuts, sultanas and cherry tomatoes and drizzled with a sweet, sticky honey and pomegranate dressing.

Next time we go, we’ll try the main courses which include paella, slow cooked meats and the favourite Huevos rotos (hand cut chips with fried eggs and chorizo).

From the small dessert menu, we ordered Arroz con leche (Valencian rice, cinnamon and skinned lemon served with dried apricot in rosewater) for Johnny and a slice of Tarta de Santiago, the wonderful almond cake which took me right back to a lovely family holiday we had in Galicia some years ago.

Tu Casa Tapas rice pudding

There’s a small wine menu from which I ordered a glass of Rueda which was a perfect light white wine for lunchtime.  Johnny enjoyed his glass of red wine, Ribera del Duero, and we couldn’t resist sharing a glass of sweet, raisiny Pedro Ximenez with our puddings.

Tu Casa Tapas fits really well into Mill Road with its cosmopolitan food scene.  If you’re looking for authentic, delicious Spanish cooking, you’ll find it here.

Facebook:  Tu Casa Tapas Restaurant

8 Mill Road, Cambridge CB1 2AD

Three favourite places to eat in Cambridge

Cambridge News recently asked me to contribute to a piece in which I, along with a couple of other bloggers, shared a few of my favourite places to eat in the city.  It was difficult to choose as there are so many I love and I had a tight word limit but here’s what I wrote!

The Locker Cafe King Street Cambridge
Image credit: John Hodges

The Locker Café in King Street is close to my heart (and not only because of their amazing Chocolate Guinness cake, which is my current obsession!).  It opened just as I started writing my blog at the end of last summer and was the subject of my first post.  Co-owned by father and son John and Adam Hodges, the café is light and spacious with a balcony for sunny days.  Ceramics made by John are in daily use while art on the walls is curated by Adam’s mother and there’s live music on Sunday afternoons.  The Locker is a favourite spot for brunch with my husband and I often interview for the blog here, over tea and cake.

www.thelockercafe.co.uk

The Copper Kettle Kings Parade Cambridge

The Copper Kettle on King’s Parade is one of Cambridge’s oldest restaurants and it has one of the best views too, overlooking the historic buildings of King’s College and its world famous chapel.  It’s open all day, serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and cakes but in the evening the menu switches to Mediterranean cuisine with fish and vegetarian options alongside grilled meat dishes and salads.  I like to meet friends here in the early evening to catch up on news over a glass or two of chilled white wine and a selection of delicious meze that we share as we chat.

www.thecopperkettle.weebly.com

Restaurant Twenty-Two Cambridge

Restaurant Twenty-Two on Chesterton Road has recently reopened with chef Sam Carter and partner Alexandra Olivier offering creative modern British food with a twist, using seasonal ingredients from local suppliers.  Their 7 Course Tasting Menu quite simply blew us away.  Sam creates delectable flavours and presents every dish so beautifully but it’s also the textures in each plate of his food which constantly surprise and excite.  Returning last weekend with family, we enjoyed the set lunch menu which is exceptional value at £20 for three courses.  Once again, Sam had our taste buds dancing until the very last bite.

www.restaurant22.co.uk

For the full version of this article, published in Cambridge News on 28 April 2018, and to see where my fellow bloggers like to eat, just click on the link below.

https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink-news/cambridge-food-bloggers-restaurant-reviews-14573223

Restaurant Twenty-Two Cambridge

Sam Carter and Alexandra Olivier are partners in life and business who’ve just realised a long held ambition to open a restaurant of their own.  Chef Sam is in charge of the kitchen while Alex takes care of front of house and they both bring many years of experience at leading dining establishments to their new venture.

Restaurant Twenty-Two sign

Restaurant Twenty-Two windowThey’ve spent the past couple of months refurbishing this twenty two cover restaurant in Chesterton Road into a sophisticated and restful space, decorated in tones of grey with flickering tea lights and simple flowers on each table.  Upstairs, there’s a cosy private dining room which seats fourteen people.  Sam and his team serve a seven and a five course tasting menu, alongside an a la carte option and there’s a set lunch menu too.

My husband, Johnny, and I were lucky enough to bag a table for the restaurant’s soft opening at which they served their 7 Course Tasting Menu.  It wasn’t long before I decided that this is a great way to eat … no indecisive scanning of menus, no food envy, just people bringing you plate after plate of fabulous food!  Sam’s style is creative modern British food with a twist, using seasonal ingredients from local suppliers.  But it’s not just the flavours that Sam creates (always delectable) or the presentation of his dishes (always immaculate, as you can see from the photos through this post), it’s also the textures in each plate of his food which constantly surprise and excite.

Every course was wonderful but highlight dishes for me included

….  blow torched mackerel, the rich, oily fish perfectly paired with tangy buttermilk, wafer thin disks of stripey pickled beetroot, dotted with dill oil

Restaurant Twenty-Two mackerel

….  a meltingly tender piece of braised lamb shoulder, almost like a confit, with sheep’s yoghurt, velvety carrot puree, tiny cubes of punchy mint jelly, topped with crispy carrot

Restaurant Twenty-Two lamb

….  rich, sweet, malty Guinness bread served with light whipped Guinness butter

Restaurant Twenty-Two Guinness bread

….  the bright flavours of the palate cleansing pre-dessert, a lime and yoghurt panna cotta topped with a Yorkshire rhubarb jelly, hibiscus and refreshing cucumber sorbet

Restaurant Twenty-Two pre dessert

Sommelier Dan Smith is creating a really interesting wine list full of unusual finds.  Johnny decided to go with Dan’s recommendations for the wine flight matched to the menu and was happy to discover new pairings, including

….  Dafni, a dry herbaceous white wine from Crete, with the mackerel

….  Tio Diego, a deep amber, bone dry amontillado sherry with the lamb

….  Le Barral, Rivesaltes Ambre, a sweet fortified wine from the South of France which was an excellent match for the chocolate, peanut and salted caramel dessert.

By the end of the evening, we were feeling pretty full (understatement!) but we squeezed in a Hot Numbers coffee for him and a green tea from The Kandula Tea Company for me, along with homemade whisky truffles and smooth vanilla fudge dotted with a sharp lemon sauce … Sam had our taste buds dancing until the very last bite.

Restaurant Twenty-Two petits fours

As we tottered home, we agreed that we’re extremely lucky to have such exciting and superb cooking happening pretty much on our doorstep.  Sam, Alex and their team have all the enthusiasm, skill and passion to make a huge success of Restaurant Twenty-Two and I have no doubt they will do just that.  I only hope we can still get a table once the word gets out!

http://www.restaurant22.co.uk

22 Chesterton Road, Cambridge CB4 3AX

Sam and Alex kindly invited me to join them at their opening party.  The following evening, we ate and drank at Restaurant Twenty-Two at our own expense.

The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

The start of my day was somewhat more glamorous than usual today … The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie kindly invited me to a bloggers’ breakfast.  This was exciting on two counts.  Firstly, I’ve been watching the restaurant take shape and looking forward to stepping inside on opening day and tasting their food.  And secondly, it was lovely to meet some other local bloggers (blogging at your kitchen table being quite a solitary pursuit!).

Ivy frontage

The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie is a really chic addition to the city’s restaurant scene.  It’s bright and colourful with emerald green, mustard yellow and burnt orange velvet furnishings complementing the vivid wall to wall artwork.  With its art deco style lighting and beautiful plants and flowers, this feels like a place to linger.

Ivy seating colours

Ivy entrance

And you can linger as The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie offers dining through the day from breakfast to dinner, serving British food including Ivy classics like their famous Shepherd’s Pie.  Or you can just come for a drink, maybe enjoy a cocktail, at the well stocked bar where the white jacketed bartenders and acres of sparkling glassware amp up the wow factor.

Ivy bartender

So, what did we eat?  Well, our menu offered delectable pastries alongside freshly pressed juices and I enjoyed a pot of really good Darjeeling tea.

Ivy pastries

Then on to Eggs Royale with smoked salmon and two perfectly poached hen’s eggs on a toasted English muffin with a creamy yet tangy hollandaise sauce.  Other dishes at my table included avocado, roast plum tomatoes and poached eggs on toasted granary bread with a sesame dressing and a stack of hot buttermilk pancakes with berries, yoghurt, lemon balm and a warm strawberry sauce.  The presentation of each dish was impeccable as was the discreet yet efficient service.

Ivy eggs

There’s also The Boat Room, a really beautiful private dining room downstairs which would be the perfect space for a private party or corporate event.  This room seats sixteen people on one long table or holds forty guests for a stand up reception and has its own seasonal menus for lunch and dinner with breakfast and canape menus too.

Ivy private room

When you’re planning to visit, it would be wise to book a table in advance as I reckon this place will be very popular indeed but they do hold a number of tables each day for people who don’t have reservations.  For myself, I’m looking forward already to returning with friends and family who, I’m sure, will enjoy The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie’s vibe as much as I do.

http://www.theivycambridgebrasserie.com

16 Trinity Street, Cambridge CB2 1TB