The Hunts Post was invited to try out Marco Pierre White’s new restaurant in Cambridge ... and one lucky reader can try it for themselves by winning can win a meal for two. HYWEL BARRETT reports from the new steakhouse.
Two months ago the menu at the Hilton Doubletree, in central Cambridge, was given a complete overhaul with Marco Pierre White turning the restaurant and bar into a steakhouse, serving simple and delicious British food.
The chefs and waiting staff were taken to the celebrity chef's flagship restaurant in Birmingham to learn the new menu from the man himself – a chef who has been awarded three Michelin stars.
Not only can you enjoy exquisite food in the hotel's restaurant, Mr Pierre White has put his twist on the afternoon tea and the bar menu, where you can sit in the garden overlooking the Mill Pond.
But enough of the scenery. Now to the food. The extensive menu, celebrating local, seasonal produce, includes a good range of starters such as a slow-roasted tomato soup, potted duck and smoked salmon, but the appeal of the baked Camembert and the crabcakes proved too strong.
The Camembert was accompanied with light crunchy flatbread sticks and a tart pickle, giving the dish a mixture of creamy, melt in your mouth cheese, with a crunch and a sweetness to cut through.
You can tell a lot of attention to detail has gone into the menu as with the crabcakes, which were by no means small, a lemon wedge was served in a muslin bag to avoid the tedium of pips dropping onto your food.
Fortunately there was a brief respite from food to sip a simple but fragrant Pinot Grigio and relax overlooking a quintessential Cambridge view of cyclists and punts passing in front of the restaurant's open windows.
For the main, there are four steaks available – a ribeye, sirloin, T-bone and a fillet – each served with 'real chips', onion rings and grilled tomato.
Surprisingly for a steak house, there are lots of other options if you don't want a cut of beef. A fish pie from Mr Pierre White's Wheeler's of St James's restaurant in London has been borrowed for the fish dishes, which also include a smoked haddock with poached egg and beurre blanc and sea bass with saffron, chorizo, lemon and chilli butter sauce.
There is also a roast rump of lamb served with dauphinoise potatoes, a lemon and rosemary free-range chicken with truffle chips, and rare breed pork sausage with mash and crispy onions.
Despite the enticing offers, we plump for a fillet steak with the addition of truffle butter and a Cheshire cheese crumble tart. Both dishes, with chips served in mini saucepans, were beautifully presented with the tart looking freshly made, and tasting even fresher.
If you go for a steak, ordering the truffle butter is a must as a suitable accompaniment. The chips are also definitely worth a mention, with a strong earthy flavour which shows only the best ingredients available have been used throughout the menu.
On to the dessert and again we were spoilt for choice with the summery Eton Mess or sherry trifle, a tempting sticky toffee pudding or a bitter chocolate mousse.
Despite more than our fair share of food so far, and as we were in Cambridge, we felt obliged to finish with Cambridge burnt cream and a board of Berkswell Ewes, Oxford Isis, Forest Blue and Arden Oak Smoked cheeses, topped off with a glass of Sandeman Port.
The extremely light burnt cream, which had a hint of citrus, was finished almost quickly as it came and the large portions of cheese worked well as a foursome.
Mr Pierre White, who will officially launch the restaurant in a few weeks, is aiming to make the eatery into one of the top venues of choice for food and service. At the moment, he's not far off.
Now it's your chance to win a three-course meal for two, with house wine, at Marco Pierre White's Steakhouse and Grill. Just tell us which famous Scottish chef Marco Pierre White trained. Email your answer to email@example.com, remembering to include your name, address, and contact number by the closing date of July 2. Prize must be claimed by November 30, 2014. The winner will be chosen at random. Please include the phrase “no contact” if you do not wish to receive information from The Hunts Post or parent company, Archant.