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“What a revelation to find this gastronomic oasis in Cambridge”; Daniel Clifford’s Victorian villa – “fantastically located” on Midsummer Common, by the Cam – is nowadays one of the survey’s top 5 most commented-on destinations outside London and, with the help of his team and continual investment in the property, it “radiates classy self-confidence”. “An updating of the dining room with an open-plan kitchen has led to a far more relaxed atmosphere”, there’s “an upstairs bar overlooking the river”, and the option to “end with coffee and petit fours in the walled garden” when the weather’s fine. “Superb” staff deliver “a wonderful array” of “spectacular” dishes (plus “well-chosen wine pairings”) “with just the right degree of theatre”, and you choose from a series of “innovative tasting menus, with a choice as to the number of courses”. No prize for guessing the catch! – even fans can choke on the “London prices in the provinces”.
“An ideal location next to the River Cam adjacent to Midsummer Common” provides a glorious setting for this fine Victorian riverside villa, where “Daniel Clifford is pushing on to new levels” – reporters rated it No. 2 in our Top-100 UK Restaurants this year, and some would argue that Michelin should bestow it that third star. “The level of detail is second-to-none” and the “spectacular and surprising food combinations” create “complex” and “exciting” dishes, delivered by “attentive but un-cloying” staff. Even many fans though feel it’s “too expensive”.
Daniel Clifford’s “sheer innovation” has won a gigantic reputation for this “slightly formal” Cam-side destination, and the results are “terrific”; “ask your bank manager before you open the wine list” though, as the prices are “crazy”.
“Awesome”, “adventurous”, “truly wonderful” – fans find Daniel Clifford’s Cam-side restaurant is a destination “on which it would be hard to improve”; there’s no denying, however, that there’s a small minority of punters for whom the style of the place will just never ‘click’.
Midsummer House Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Mark Abbott deserves more recognition than he gets. Of the three times now that we have dined at Midsummer Daniel Clifford has twice not been in the kitchen, and yet both times our meal has been impeccable. We believe that a head chef has to be capable of matching the performance of the chef patron/executive chef so that the absence of the latter does not affect the quality of what is served to the diners. But for us this should imply that the paying customer should be made aware of who is heading up the kitchen and more exposure given to the chef in charge. There is a relaxed elegance about the dining room and the confident front-of-house staff, headed by an experienced gallic duo with a surprisingly English sense of humour, echo this feeling. Exemplary canapÃ©s ranging from sour cream with apple, through beetroot tuile with goatâ€™s cheese and apple, the familiar ham hock with crispy onion and piccalilli, to a cornet of smoked eel with a background touch of lemon, led us into a new tweak for the Bloody Mary pre-amuse-bouche, this time in gel form with celeriac and celery salt making a cheeky early palate cleanser. The amuse-bouche proper was an admirably well-balanced Cornish crab and ginger mix supported by frozen lime and coriander, which was the prelude to the main theatre of the evening in the form of an imposing spherical cooking sphere with open coals inside baking a whole celeriac which was wheeled to the table, the baked black celeriac extracted with a flourish and a large scoopful whisked onto the plates. This actually left a fair amount behind, but it was clearly not wasted as we received four more variations on the theme with pickled, burnt, caramelised and roasted celeriac making up a full palette of textures and flavours for the one vegetable, all of them supported by a lovely hazelnut hollandaise. Not content with that, the kitchen then produced a celeriac mousse to accompany Orkney scallops but this was completely different with a judicious sprinkling of truffle and some Granny Smith twiglets. The sautÃ©ed foie gras was perfect with its soul mate gingerbread crumble, a beautifully balanced orange gel, pear, and chicory in a gingerbread half tube. The full meatiness of the roasted monkfish was skilfully brought out by a super red wine reduction and the violet artichoke mousse. The lamb dish was made up of a terrific roast rack infused with basil and with proper crispy fat and moreish confit of smoked shoulder accompanied by fresh peas, broad beans and tomatoes and a quite wonderful, almost old-fashioned gravy. Two desserts followed, stunning aerated pear crisp with blueberry powder and a white chocolate bomb, and an equally impressive yoghurt sorbet with passion fruit jelly, chocolate cream and crispy topping. All this and we still had room for substantial petits fours comprising sugared fried beignets with a caramelised apple sauce as a dip, and assorted pastries. Mention should also be made of the quality of the wine flight which contained some very classy bottles. Definitely a fine-dining experience worthy of the very top rating."
"The last time we dined here, some three years ago, a Michelin VIP was sitting two tables away, and the chewy beef that was the least convincing element in the meal and was instrumental in our not returning before now was clearly also experienced by her companion. Daniel Clifford kept his two stars, though, and currently keeps getting rave reviews, so it seemed reasonable to give it another chance, and here we go with another rave review! Everything about this visit showed just what some arrivistes need to learn; the welcome was warm, the dining room perfect in all respects, the table very suitably situated with a view of the kitchen, and the staff (mostly French) the epitome of properly schooled, relaxed, engaging and knowledgeable personnel. Once again chef was not in the kitchen, but in this case, just as we have noted in some other top-class restaurants, it did not appear to make the slightest difference to the superior quality of the cooking. The ten course tasting menu no longer exists and has been replaced by a more manageable eight course version, which happily also means a smaller wine flight, and my wife, for the first time in our memories, was permitted to have half measures, a matter for congratulation to Midsummer and an indication of the classy self-confidence this restaurant radiates. The champagne trolley gave us the wherewithal to properly enjoy our excellent canapÃ©s of cream cheese balls, smoky beetroot with goatâ€™s cheese and crispy ham hock and piccalilli. A sort of pre-amuse bouche comprising Bloody Mary foam and celeriac sorbet was one of the best ever and really started the palate working. The amuse bouche proper was a dish where the beauty of the appearance, especially the arrangement of the avocado on the plate, matched the lovely taste combination of the crab, the sorrel granita and the avocado. This was succeeded by a dish which was a piece of restrained but effective theatre with super new English asparagus wrapped in foil perfectly cooked in beurre noisette on a heated stone at the table and suitably backed up with burnt onions, mushrooms, and fresh green and pickled asparagus in deep-fried potato with clever cubes of aerated sauce hollandaise; this was a triumph. The next course was a balancing act of Granny Smith jelly, celeriac cooked with truffle to give a whole new taste experience, sautÃ©ed scallop, the sweetness of which was beautifully contrasted against a love apple caramel blob and apple batons; another winner. The surprise combinations kept on coming with the super sautÃ©ed duck liver with tangerine jelly and gingerbread crumbs prettified by a salad of red chicory and little pear discs and a further occasion to murmur with pleasure. Brill has become a restaurant staple, but the presentation, the perfect fish and the amazing flavours of the razor clams, the stupendous squid ink cake, the cuttlefish and, in particular, the battered samphire left us asking for more. No room for that, though, as we moved on to some splendid, although admittedly French, pigeon with just the right level of gaminess and sprinkled with a sort of puffed wheat crunch, the crispy leg absolutely sensational, and the balance achieved with the morels and the wild garlic a demonstration of high cooking skills. The intriguing pre-dessert was a clever coalescence of blueberries, chocolate and aerated pear with fresh blueberries inside, and this set us up perfectly for our final treat, delicious passion fruit jelly with yoghurt sorbet, and chocolate biscuit and passion fruit meringue as the texture and taste contrast. Our impression was that the style had changed for the better for this was a super experience and we have no hesitation in eating our words and saying that, for us, this was three star category fine dining."
Midsummer Common, Cambridge, CB4 1HA
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lunch noon - 1.30 pm, dinner 7 pm - 9.30 pm
Last orders: Mon closed, Tue - Sat 9.30 pm, Sun closed