Our Cambridge Foodie, Gerla de Boer, is back! She’s spilling the bean on what is is like to eat out in Cambridge post lockdown. Everything you need to know about the Cambridge food scene, including vegan restaurants, a new bakery and pop up cafe.
It was a beautiful morning on 18 January, blue sky and pretty hot. A day I never forgot for many reasons. I arrived in Singapore for my 3 and half week holiday; re-visiting Singapore after 27 years and travelling through Malaysia. It was also the day that the news started to spread about COVID-19. Singapore captured me this time with its incredible variety of food, the people and its open green spaces!
Little did I know that my life was going to change in a way I could never have imagined. Only when the Chinese New Year celebrations started to kick off a week into our holiday, we realised this wasn’t going away. Many other people realised it too. Face masks and hand gels were sold out everywhere.
Arriving back in Cambridge three weeks later, we were surprised about the relaxed approach. Restaurants in China town in Singapore were empty around 9 February, but in England everything seemed to be pretty normal.
On 26 March, the UK went into lockdown, which had a devastating effect on many businesses, but there were successes too. Some business owners decided to change their business model, and almost overnight, it became a huge success. Independents started home deliveries, chefs prepped date night meals, working at home, cycling and al fresco dining has become the new thing, but nobody knows what the future will hold. For the next foreseeable future, we will have to adapt the way we live and eat out.
New restaurants in Cambridge
Positive things are happening to as new businesses open their doors. I am over the moon as I thought I only could share with you the sad losses on the Cambridge food scene. During lockdown Mark Poynton, previously Restaurant Alimentum, and Gemma Whiting, the Linton Kitchen, opened doors to new ventures.
Mark took over the Ancient Shepherd’s in Fen Ditton, and Gemma opened Barbarella Cafe in Easter Chesterton, which is a shared pop-up cafe with the Botanica Alchemist. After the revamp, The Ancient Shepherd will open from 20 August for sit down meals. Barbarella Cafe will operate as a deli and cafe once the storm of the pandemic has calmed down.
Vegan restaurants in Cambridge
A lot is happening on the plant side eateries of Cambridge. The street food inspired VetoMeato launched their pop-up restaurant at Tabouche in July, which serves global classics with far flung flavours that will excite and satisfy.
Thrive has been busy converting the well-know CB1 cafe in Norfolk Street since last year. This beautiful and friendly place opened in June and aims to connect over plant-based meals, cakes, coffee and drinks.
Stem and Glory have been busy bees, they’re not only moving from King Street to a new location, behind We Work in Station Road, but launching a range of ready meals, recipe kits and branded products such as drinks and cheese.
Where to eat in Cambridge
Malloy’s Craft Butchery opened last year in August. It soon became one of the places to buy premium quality meat and Waygu. The lockdown period has seen its sales soar, and owner Micky has cooked up some exciting ideas. At the time of writing, he is hosting his first tasting menu at the Green Dragon Pub in East Chesterton with head chef Gavin Firth taking care of the delicious food! On 20 August he will start his residency here on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening.
Before lockdown, Andrew from Dulcedo announced that he would be moving to Edington. If you haven’t heard of him yet, Andrew is the master pâtissier in Cambridge and one of the favourite stops on my food walking tours. He is also opening a bakery at 190 Mill Road too! The name is a bit of a giveaway, Eclipse Bakery, is going to be a bit less floaty as Dulcedo, edgy even. They are hoping to open in September. On offer will be delicious homemade bread, enriched pastries, a selection of dessert and deli products from local suppliers.
During the lockdown, I was fortunate to trial some excellent new products. Prepped Food sent me restaurant-inspired meals and Oreno classic Japanese Kushiyaki. Moz from Oreno took his inspiration from his travels in Japan and a lifelong love of cooking. He will be adding more products to his range and will be out and about in his van serving Cambridge.
Prepped Food Company is the brainchild of Simon and Steve, who hatched the idea during their travels to Asia. Always on the run and no time to cook, they decided it was time to create excellent meals for the London commuters. They launched the company in January 2020 operating from Audley End Station. Not long after, they had to adapt their business module due to COVID-19. The focus shifted to the consumer market, and their place at Audley End station is temporarily closed. Their tasty food is prepared by Emma, who has worked for some big names such as Angela Hartnett and Gordon Ramsey.
Let’s finish with dessert! Our king of the gelato has opened his second shop. You can find Jack Gelato in All Saints Passage now too. A new kid on the block is Saintly Foods and is another plant-based enterprise. They offer a range of delicious deep-frozen desserts created in Cambridge by Vanessa and inspired by the best of British puds containing no additives, preservatives, soy or palm oil, and using natural ingredients.
Stay safe and support the independents. They need you now more than ever!