52-42 Regent St, Cambridge, England. parkerstavern.com
From two floors up. My mum and I were staying at the University Arms Hotel - a historic Cambridge hotel that reopened in August 2018 after an £80 million four-year rebuild and renovation - and so we only had to tear ourselves away from our beautiful suite and head down in the lift. My Cambridge-based friend Amy joined us.
We chose here because… Not only was it the easiest option for us as we were hotel guests, but the restaurant had also come highly recommended by Amy. It's become a popular place for Cambridge locals, too - a true destination dining spot for those in the know.
Our first impression was… There was a gentle bustle in the room, with tables of international and local diners. One large group were celebrating a birthday before heading out on the town. The restaurant has been designed to resemble a dining hall from one of Cambridge University's colleges. The walls were laden with artworks, and there were large windows looking out to Parker's Piece - 25 acres of green space in the middle of Cambridge, which is widely regarded as the place the rules of soccer were created.
We started with…
Parker's cured salmon, served with wild herb and caper salad; tempura new season courgettes, with honey, cider vinegar and black pepper; and fish cakes with chopped egg, parsley, capers and lemon butter sauce. The menu is strongly influenced by classic British dishes, but they're given a contemporary twist, and made with mostly local produce.
The highlight was… my honey and thyme slow-roasted Norfolk duck, served with bitter greens and silky creamed potatoes - the definition of comfort food. Rich and filling. Mum had the Classic British Beef Spaghetti Bolognese, and was glad she took the waiter's advice to go for the small portion - this was still huge, and she struggled to finish it all. It, too, was excellent.
I'd confidently say you'll be happy with anything you choose on the menu. The Chef Director is Tristan Welch, who trained under Gary Rhodes and worked at Le Gavroche under Michel Roux Jr, before moving to Paris to work at triple Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant L'Arpege. You're in good hands.
Dessert was… a British cheese selection, which for £8 was excellent value - so much cheese, and all of it mouthwateringly delicious. Mum and Amy went for sorbets - the waiter gave them an order sheet where they selected flavour, number of scoops, toppings and sauces. A lovely end to a wonderful meal.
The bill… $138 for three people — three courses for each person, and a bottle of wine.
Make a date...
From September 30, Welch is launching a monthly Monday night supper club called "Rubbish Cooks", where for£20 per head, guests can enjoy a three-course meal made entirely from what is usually regarded as food waste. The cost of the meal covers service as well as a charitable donation to Jimmy's Night Shelter, a local Cambridge-based charity close to Tristan's heart. Pre-book via email - email@example.com.
- Stephanie Holmes