A strong statement, I know. Since I haven’t tried all the restaurants here, I guess I can’t really say that this one is the best restaurant in Cambridge, but I can tell you this: that is by far the best culinary experience I have had in a long time. And with my job as a blogger, believe me, I do eat in quite a lot of fancy places!
My friend Ece, whom I was visiting in Cambridge, took me to this fairly new place: Vanderlyle. She had reserved a table for two for that night weeks ago. Here, the daily-changing menu is set, so you don’t have to choose what you’ll eat (although they obviously take care of any allergies or intolerances). The menu is vegetarian and made almost all from locally sourced ingredients.
Believe me; even if you are a meat lover, you will fall in love with this place.
The first three courses were small appetizers.
The spring onion panisse (photo above), which is a fried chickpea flour cake, served with sour cream and chive, was a little delight melting in the mouth. And the bread and butter pudding which came next, with a parmesan custard & quince (photo below), was just as delicious.
The carrot top & lovage soup was an unexpected surprise; I did not even know the carrot greens could be used in the kitchen. By then, I was already having a wonderful time!
Then came the salad of salt baked kohlrabi (which is a kind of cabbage) & flourish vegetables; and what a salad! There was no less then 20 ingredients in it. It was beautiful for the eyes and delicious, but also healthy and full of flavors.
The chef-owners, Lawrence Butler and Alex Rushmer, work with local farmers and producers to get the freshest possible ingredients that are ethically and sustainably grown.
The first entrée was a saffron risotto, topped with a strawberry sofrito (a sauce made with strawberries that were cooked for 7 hours) and gremolata. The strawberry sauce was a bold choice and despite my surprise, it was working out very good with the al-dente risotto.
The portion was just right and I enjoyed every bite of it!
The next entrée was the wild mushrooms, charred lettuce, pea & broad been ragù, and morel butter pomme puree. Obviously you have to like mushrooms for this one!
Good for me, I just happen to love them, as well as charred lettuce. This course was particularly hearty and comforting.
Perhaps the most surprising course of the evening was the black olive mousse, with a tomato sorbet and an exquisite basil caramel. Those are three ingredients you would not expect to find in this form. It made quite a wow effect and it was definitely a success!
This is by far the best and most original trou normand (or palate cleanser) I have ever had.
For dessert, we had a vanilla cheesecake with malted chocolate and cherries. This de-constructed cheese cake was light as a feather (well at least, it felt like it), which is a good thing because by then, we were pretty much full.
If you worry that vegetarian food wont fill you up, you’ll be proven wrong! I’m glad I had enough space for the dessert because it was delicious, just as the rest of the meal was.
The only thing I was disappointed with that night was the alcoholic pairing, especially given the price. The first three course had no pairing, which means you spend a good 20-30 minutes with nothing to drink, unless you order something else.
The first drink, served with the salad, was a gin-based cocktail. I like the idea of a cocktail in a pairing, but I don’t like gin. The waitress kindly proposed another option for me (sparkling wine) so that worked out just fine.
The two following red wines and the sweet wine for dessert were interesting, but I was expecting more in terms of quantity. Next time, I would personally go with a bottle of wine.
This was a special occasion for me, as my friend Ece and I were celebrating 20 years of wonderful friendship!
Thank you to the Vanderlyle team for making our night so delicious and thank you to my friend Ece for taking me there; it was a great gastronomique experience! If you are lucky enough to book a table, you’ll definitely have something to look forward to!
Fixed price for a 7 or 8 courses menu : £55
Alcoholic pairing : £35
Mixed pairing : £30
Soft pairing : £25
38-40 Mill Road, Cambridge, UK
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