Mother’s Day – need a hand?
Mother’s Day is just around the corner and if you haven’t arranged anything yet you better get a shift on. Everything gets booked up so flipping early and who wants to be in the doghouse for the next month (mini mudders are you listening?). Whether it’s Sunday lunch or afternoon tea I’ve pulled together a delicious bundle of ideas, across the whole of the county, that will get you back into your mother’s good books.
For pushing the boat out
Cotto in Cambridge has recently moved and has now taken up residence in its brand spanking new home at The Gonville Hotel overlooking Parker’s Piece. Hans Schweitzer, and his team, have earned a fabulous reputation – in 2015 Cotto was placed in the prestigious ‘Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants in the UK. With an impressive CV that includes a Michelin star at 29, the opening of the Michelin-starred Midsummer House and executive chef of the Sandy Lane hotel in Barbados, Hans clearly has a flair for culinary matters. If you’re a foodie and want to splash out on a very special dinner (it’s only open in the evenings) then this is up there amongst the top restaurants in Cambridge. You’ve probably guessed already that this one’s for the grown ups – start the evening with a cocktail in the bar at the hotel before heading on through to the purpose built glass restaurant.
Cotto, Gonville Pl, Cambridge CB1 1NA, cottocambridge.co.uk
For a family affair
The Orchard Tea Gardens is normally associated with hazy summer days, reclining deck chairs and a cream tea. There are some small tweaks happening at the gardens and this Mothering Sunday there’s an opportunity to be one of the first to eat in the full service restaurant that’s opening. Don’t panic, the self-service option will be there if you want to grab a deck chair in the orchard. This place has a unique feel that’s difficult to put your finger on – it’s rustic and traditional with the restaurant being in the old part of the pavilion building. If you’re into modern and contemporary then you’ll walk straight out but it has a tranquility and hint of a bygone era that is appealing. If you haven’t been to The Orchard before, the clues in the title – there’s heaps of space to boot the kids out to when they start giving you a migraine. Enjoy a walk through the Grantchester Meadows when you’re done with the food.
The Orchard Tea Garden, Grant Chester, Cambridge, CB3 9ND, theorchardteagarden.co.uk
For gastro food
The Blue Bell at Glinton is an idyllic village pub dating back to the 18th century; the village is just off the A15 north of Peterborough. The gastro pub is run by Head Chef Will Frankgate and his wife Kelly and offers a cosy, old-world interior with decked out gnarled oak beams and crackly log fires. The pub has a reputation for excellent food and the menu offers favourite dishes all with a little twist. There’s a kids menu as well and a good-sized garden outside so they can join in too.
The Blue Bell, 10 High St, Glinton, Peterborough PE6 7LS, thebluebellglinton.co.uk
For looking like a pub should
Searching for a picturesque thatched inn with a large garden for Sunday lunch this Mothering Sunday then the Three Horseshoes comes up trumps. It’s bang in the middle of Madingley village, not far from Cambridge, and on top of these attributes there’s a small, bustling bar and a pretty conservatory-restaurant overlooking the garden. The pub is back in the experienced hands of John and Julia Hoskins, who ran it for many years in the nineties. There’s a three course set Sunday lunch menu this Mothering Sunday and you can expect a great wine list to accompany it seeing as the current owners know a thing or two about wine – they own the The Old Bridge Wine Shop based over at Huntingdon.
The Three Horseshoes, High St, Madingley, Cambridge CB23 8AB, threehorseshoesmadingley.co.uk
For a touch of glamour
Ignore the rumours that Poets House Hotel and Restaurant has closed down – it’s very much alive and kicking and, despite a turbulent time last year, there’s a new owner and it’s all looking rather spiffingly good. A boutique hotel – it occupies a handsome trio of Grade-II listed Edwardian buildings in the centre of Ely. A new chef Daniel Perjesi joined last Nov, previously he was at The Crown in Woodbridge. Mr Muddy and I ate there earlier this week and were really impressed (review to follow on the blog) – innovative and reasonably priced food that doesn’t try too hard and a well-planned wine list all wrapped up in a contemporary setting. The bar (they call it The Study) is a large room with exposed brickwork and floor to ceiling glass – an ideal place to enjoy an aperitif. The dining room is not huge – there are a few tables left for Mother Sunday but you’ll need to get a shift on. There’s not much space if you’re toying with the idea of taking kids – this place works if your kids are a little older.
Poets House Hotel and Restaurant, 40 St Mary’s St, Ely CB7 4EY, poetshouse.uk.com
For a sunday roast
The Plough at Coton is only 3 miles from Cambridge but seems much further away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The pub’s had a change of management recently and with that came bit of a facelift – it’s all looking younger, fresher and less wrinkly. It’s all about the roast on Sundays so if you’re after perfect Yorkshire puddings and pork crackling, without the washing up, then look no further.
The Plough, 2 High St, Coton, Cambridge CB23 7PL, theploughcoton.co.uk
Afternoon tea is a moment of frivolous indulgence; an antidote to the daily grind – so if you’re thinking of entering the magical world of doll sized cakes, crustless sarnies and load bearing scone – here are some dainty suggestions in and around the county.
For the wow factor
Anything that looks this good is just my cup of tea. The Tamburlaine only opened a few weeks ago – this brand spanking new hotel in Cambridge is located in the fast-developing area of the city centre dubbed the ‘railway station quarter’. Experience afternoon tea in the hotel’s colonial-inspired Garden Room. Brimming with greenery, luxurious silk velvet sofas, and alluring Victorian wallpaper – you’ll loose yourself in this jungle. The Garden Room also sports its own private terrace area – perfect for lounging around if the weather plays ball.
The Tamburlaine, 27-29 Station Rd, Cambridge CB12FB, thetamburlaine.co.uk
For a riverside view
The DoubleTree by Hilton in the centre of Cambridge doesn’t look massively exciting from the front but bear with… Inside the décor is your kind of normal formal hotel style – Jonathan Adler isn’t going to get the shakes but it’s smartly done. The USP at this place is the amazing view of the River Cam – you’re right on the river – you could dip your toes in the water if you so desired. If the weather’s looking good it’s a perfect spot for catching a few spring rays in the sheltered garden whilst punt-watching. Afternoon tea is always beautifully presented and there’s heaps of space both inside and out – no-one seems to get too precious about kids, so the pressure’s off there. On a practical note there’s ample parking – in a traffic-chocked city that’s a winner in my book.
The DoubleTree Hilton, Granta Place, Mill Ln, Cambridge CB2 1RT, doubletree3.hilton.com
For the Cambridge skyline
Six, the top floor restaurant at The Varsity Hotel in Cambridges is a popular haunt if you’re after a la-di-da London type setting without the hassle of a train journey. This sixth floor restaurant has stunning panoramic views over the rooftops of Cambridge and with a contemporary interior it’s all rather lush. This is for teenagers upwards – you won’t find arts and crafts here so if you want some adult time then sit back and enjoy the view.
Six, The Varsity Hotel & Spa, Thompsons Ln, Cambridge CB5 8AQ, sixcambridge.co.uk
For the gardens
Peckover House, a National Trust property, is a secret gem – an oasis hidden away in the fenland market town of Wisbech. This classic Georgian merchants town house comes with a beautiful two acre garden including an Orangery, summerhouses, croquet lawn, herbaceous borders and more than 60 varieties of rose (not that they’ll be out yet). After an amble around the garden they’re serving Mother’s Day afternoon tea in the restored thatched Reed Barn Tearoom. Like everything on Mothering Sunday you’ll need to book ahead.
Peckover House, N Brink, Wisbech PE13 1JR, nationaltrust.org.uk
For being a handsome brute
The Old Bridge, Huntingdon, is a handsome, ivy-clad, 18th century townhouse hotel. It sits on the banks of the River Ouse, but also on the edge of the town centre and it’s a popular destination for both the local community and visitors to the area. Fancy a glass of something – the boutique hotel has a wine shop with 24 wines open to taste – just leave me here!. Not what you’d normally find in a hotel but a logical add-on to a hotel-restaurant when the owner, John Hoskins, is a ‘Master of Wine’. A great spot for some afternoon tea and if you feel the need to work off some of those scones there’s a lovely walk along the River Ouse, part of the Ouse Valley Way.
The Old Bridge Hotel, 1 High Street, Huntingdon PE29 3TQ, huntsbridge.com
For the non-traditional afternoon tea
I love to throw a wild card into the mix now and then and if you’re not keen on a sugar-heavy afternoon (*cough*, me neither) then a Japan-inspired alternative could come as a welcome change. It does involve a trip to London but if you’re looking for something different, afternoon tea at Ichi Sushi and Sashimi Bar, tucked off the lobby of the Park Plaza, could offer an alternative. The focus is on seafood rather than sandwiches and gooey cakes, there’s sparkling sake rather than champagne and a huge choice of teas. All this is served by a kimono-clad waitress – I’m beginning to think who needs scones?!
Ichi Sushi & Sashimi Bar, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London, SE1 7UT ichisushi.co.uk