karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
2013-10-26 04:29 pm
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A feasting at Fitzbillies

As Fitzbillies opened for dinner again after a summer break, they introduced a "feasting" menu (see bottom of the dinner menu), available to groups of four and above and consisting of a starter (from the current menu, and the whole group has to agree on one), a main which is usually a whole cut of roasted meat to be carved at the table or a "dish of birds" and a dessert (selection as with starter). When I read this, I immediately knew this would be good fun so after a few weeks of herding catsfriends, we had decided on a date and a menu.

Cured rabbit loin, celeriac/hazelnut remoulade
We started with cured rabbit loin and celeriac/hazelnut remoulade. The meat was superb, tender and flavourful, another example of Fitzbillies' excellent cured products. The crunchy remoulade went nicely with it.


Sweetcorn chowder, queenie scallop
A little extra course in the shape of an espresso cup of sweetcorn chowder with a roasted Queenie scallop was next. The chowder was fresh and subtle in sweetcorn flavour, the scallop cooked perfectly.


Dish of birds
The main event, Dish of Birds: A quail each and a half each of pheasant and poussin, all perfectly roasted with crisp skin and juicy flesh. Not in the photo are the sides: roast potatoes, dandelion leaves, carrots, bread sauce, cranberry sauce and an excellent gravy. This was as delicious as it looked and after we'd finished, everybody was groaning with full stomachs.


Pear and chocolate cake
The dessert, however, was still to come and it fit in, too, as the pear and chocolate cake was rather light.


All the courses were served on sharing platters.

It was a really fun evening and I highly recommend it for a family celebration or just a reason to bring friends together. With a few bottles of wine, coffee and service, this feasting came to 50 pounds a head.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
2012-01-28 10:51 am

[Dining] Dinner at Fitzbillies, 27/01/12

Yesterday evening I finally managed to go to Fitzbillies for dinner. This legendary cake shop and café was closed early last year but resurrected by Tim Hayward and his team later in the year. The Guardian has a good overview of the story. I'm almost ashamed to say that despite having lived in Cambridge for 16 years, I'd never been but I'm not a big fan of cakes and exceedingly sweet things (their house specialty is Chelsea Buns). However since they now also offer dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings, I had to go. The menu changes weekly and offers a selection of rustic dishes at for its location very reasonable prices.
Something most people have mentioned when talking about the refurbishment is the decor: off-white wood panelling and light blue tiles which make the place look more like a swimming pool than a café or restaurant but while I found it a little odd, I didn't mind it. The low, indirect lighting probably helped there. The downside to the low lighting was that it was hard to take decent photos.

Interior Quince Fizz


I started the evening with a glass of "Quince Fizz", quince puree topped up with sparkling wine. Tart and refreshing. Next up was a cup of crab bisque which was fantastic. Creamy, full of crab flavour with a nice little kick of chilli at the end. Tim Hayward tweeted: Christ, @Rosiebluebell s crab bisque tastes like a suspension of Higgs Bosons in liquid diamond... With unicorn stock. and that wasn't far off. :)

Starter: Smoked pigeon

My starter was smoked pigeon with blood orange, chicory and almonds, basically a salad. The pigeon meat was soft, the chicory crunchy but the citrus dressing - for my taste - just a little overpowering. It still worked and I enjoyed it.

Main: Braised Rabbit

For main I had braised rabbit, winter lettuce and mustard potatoes. This was a perfect dish for a dreary winter evening. The meat was still juicy, very flavourful and went well with the accompaniments. The gravy was outstanding, too and I used the rest of the homemade soda bread to mop it all up. With the first two courses I had a glass of nice Bordeaux.
Despite feeling quite stuffed I couldn't possibly leave this temple of sweetness without having dessert so I picked the Eve's pudding with pear:

Dessert: Eve's Pudding with pear

Baked in a large coffee mug, the cake topping was crispy and the hot pear filling soft with a hint of spice. Delicious.
So yes, if freshly cooked, rustic food is your thing, Fitzbillies is for you and a welcome alternative to the endless sea of chain restaurants in the centre of Cambridge. The only downside is that they currently are only open for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings. Booking a table in advance is also recommended as by the time I had arrived at dessert, the restaurant was fully seated and word that you can have a fab informal dinner with friendly service still needs to spread.
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