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A spontaneous trip (April 24th , 2016) to Cromer resulted in us finding this absolute gem of a pub, serving hands down the best Sunday Roast I've ever had. Set in picturesque parklands of Gunton Hall, where deer roam its nearly 1000 acres, you can't help but feel that you've stepped back in time when you arrive at the pebble dashed frontage of the Gunton Arms. Stepping through the doors that image is reinforced by the dark woods and seemingly traditional decor until you start noticing the unusual pieces of modern artwork dotted about; Tracy Emin "I said don't practice on me" neon over the door, Anthony Caro sculpture in the garden and Damien Hirst in the ladies loo. The explanation we later learned is that the pub is owned by art dealer Ivor Braka, a long time friend of chef Mark Hix who also trained the resident head chef Stuart Tattersall. It would seem that Stuart knows how to cook meat and do it well, be it venison cooked over an open fire in the Elk room or local chickens roasted and carved table side from the kitchen. Accompanying the roast was fresh local vegetables, potatoes cooked in goose fat and simply amazing roast garlic bread sauce. A sensational Sunday feast in a super setting. Faultless! (More photos)

 

Flitch of Bacon, is a gastropub with boutique rooms, housed in a renovated 16th Century Inn in Dunmow, Essex, owned by Daniel Clifford, chef patron of the 2 Michelin starred Midsummer House in Cambridge. With Daniel at the helm I knew that we weren't going to be getting simple pub grub, the menu is well thought out, making best use of local produce & the plates of food guest are presented with are not only delicious but beautifully presented. On this occasion my dining companion & I both chose the Sunday roast, one beef & one pork, the meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender with fantastic flavour, accompanied with perfectly cooked seasonal vegetables & fluffy Yorkshire ( FB photos ). To finish we chose the Pistachio Souffle with Dark Chocolate Sorbet, a dessert we'd enjoyed at Midsummer House & were curious if it would be as good .. it was amazing! The restaurant itself is relaxed with a fun, colourful décor. The front of house are attentive & friendly (they even brought extra gravy without prompting, big plus in my book!) In all I really can’t fault anything. Go, book now!

When Mark from Dingley Dell Pork & Martin from Direct Meats recommended Sunday lunch at The Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket I picked up the phone & booked straightaway. It was my first time at the ordinarily members only club, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Beautifully decorated, ornate yet welcoming. We were directed to the drawing room to enjoy a glass of champagne & peruse the lunch menu. Exceedingly civilised! Not a morsel of food had passed my lips & it was already one of my top ten lunches. I was utterly charmed by the Rooms Steward, Alan Medlock. We were invited through to the dining room, steeped in racing history, oil paintings adorning the walls & crystal chandeliers glinting in the sunlight. To start; red mullet for me, caramelised onion tart for my dining companion, both delicate & beautiful in taste & appearance. Stage set, the main course arrives. An enormous portion of roast Dingley Dell pork on a wooden carving board with crackling lollipops! When I spoke with Head Chef Tim Turner after the meal he said that the idea of offering diners a platter to carve themselves added an element of fun. It was something that he first thought up for weddings. A chef’s hat & apron would be hidden beneath a chair & that guest would have the task of serving, it was a way to break the ice & to get conversation going. Genius! Certainly there was a sense of theatre to the meal but more importantly it was backed up with oodles of flavour & quality cooking. Tim Turner is definitely a chef to watch, innovative & skilled. (FB album)

 

A glorious Sunday afternoon, the air was crisp, the skies were blue and the sun was shining. My companion and I strolled past Saint Paul's Cathedral into Bread Street looking for the rather hidden restaurant entrance. Once inside we were in awe of the cavernous warehouse style space. Impressed with the decor and the general buzz. This was "lazy loaf" Sunday so live jazz and general chatter meant quiet conversation wasn't the order of the day. We decided just to sit back and soak in the atmosphere. It turned out to be a relaxed dining experience and the service was excellent. I ordered the Sunday Roast; Goosnargh chicken with Yorkshire pudding, roasted potatoes, carrots, bone marrow and shallot gravy. Presentation was quite rustic but the taste was phenomenal. The chicken was moist and full of flavour, the gravy rich, the greens buttery and the Yorkshire pudding so light I would class it as a souffle. I really didn't have room but ordered dessert anyway; apple, blackberry and hazelnut crumble, smothered with vanilla custard. Again, amazing flavours, perfectly balanced. Crunchy, crumbly topping with soft sweet fruit underneath. Delicious!

2014 Update: Every bit as good for the Roast Pork! (Pictured)

 

This weekend ( July 19th , 2015) I enjoyed a stunning Sunday lunch at The Long Melford Swan. It was one of those unplanned days out that proved to be an absolute gem of a day. The restaurant we’d intended to go to was closed for a private function, a quick flip through the AA guide led us to The Swan, a boutique restaurant with two rosettes. A short drive though the beautiful Suffolk countryside and we found ourselves in front of the unassuming entrance. Stepping through, the smells that assailed us were fabulous, friendly staff welcomed us in and had us quickly seated and presented with drinks and menu, the later was unnecessary as I was already drooling over our neighbours meals, a lovely couple who told us the “Roast Earl Stonham Wagyu Beef is devine. Start with the Dorset snails, garlic butter and fresh baked baguette and finish with the Poached gooseberries”, done and done! We also shared a seafood mixed grill and some petit fours with coffee. Superb meal, a ‘must try’ if you are in the area and if you’re not? make the trip you won’t regret it! (More photos on FB)

 

After two years away with the Chesnut Group, helping to establish The Packhourse Inn at Moulton and The Rupert Brooke at Granchester, Chef Chris Lee returned to The Bildeston Crown as owner and head chef. Having enjoyed his cooking at both restaurants we knew that the quality of the food would be high so set out to try lunch at The Bildeston Crown, a new venue for us (07/02/2016). I was totally charmed by the front of house, from the formal greeting at the reception to the the smiley waiter who saw us to our table, the welcome was warm and genuine, a reflection of the relaxed but elegant decor of the hotel itself. As we perused the menu a young man marched purposefully past with a heaped glass tray of sausage rolls. At my overly excited oooh he stopped and back stepped, leaned down and conspiratorially offered me the chance to pinch one off the top. It tasted delicious but more importantly it set a fun tone for the lunch. We enjoyed three courses; Smoked Haddock & hen's egg fishcake, chive cream & spinach to start. Roast shoulder of Suffolk Pork, perfectly cooked potatoes & Yorkshire with a nice selection of vegetable. Then finished with a sticky toffee pudding, caramel sauce & vanilla ice cream. In all a fabulous Sunday lunch.

 

I find it is a good measure of the meal to come when a restaurant serves bread that is still warm when it reaches the table. So when the waitress placed a selection of rolls before us that were almost too hot to pick up & yielded fragrant steam when cracked open, I knew we were in for a treat. Paul Foster has been the Head Chef at Tuddenham Mill for 3 years & despite this being his first time in this role Paul has already turned the heads of critics in the culinary world & gained many fans on Twitter. To start I had the warm duck’s egg & roast duck to follow, whereas my dining companion had salmon & the traditional roast beef & Yorkshire pudding. Simply executed dishes, made from fresh, locally sourced produce, with familiar flavours that had a bit of a twist. Like buckwheat ‘popcorn’ with my egg & a deep rich oxtail to accompany the roast beef. A 'rustic chic' dining experience, Tuddenham Mill restaurant is homed within a sympathetically refurbished historic watermill, offering an exceptional venue in the Suffolk countryside. A unique environment, fresh produce cooked by a team possessing a passion for food and wine. A very enjoyable Sunday lunch indeed! (2014 Update: Paul has moved on but the lunch is still awesome!)

The White Pheasant at Fordham has undergone a complete transformation, re-opening in August 2013 under new management & with a vibrant new menu created by Chef Patron Calvin Holland. It was my first visit, having been invited for a business lunch (for my non-foodie day job). I was expecting very ordinary pub fare so was taken aback when the landlady offered me the choice of ordering à la Carte or allowing their head chef to tailor a tasting menu for us. Intrigued I accepted the offer & was served 9 stunning dishes created from seasonal local produce & plated with finesse normally seen in Michelin starred kitchens. All the dishes were a pleasure to eat but of particular note was the ‘de-constructed rhubarb cheesecake’ ordinarily I cringe when I hear I’m getting a ‘de-constructed’ dish, usually finding it pretentious & not as good as the original. This happily proved the exception, beautifully light with delicate flavours that just hinted at the well-known dessert. I was not surprised to learn, when given a tour of the kitchen, that Calvin had trained under some of the best chefs in the country in multi-rosette & Michelin Star restaurants, including Cambridge’s own Midsummer house. Cosy restaurant, log fire popping, friendly front of house & exceptional food at a fair value, highly recommend!

The old Fountain pub on Regent Street has undergone a complete transformation into an elegant, yet relaxed, café, restaurant & bar, simply called NOVI. Spread over three floors NOVI serves artisan coffees, cakes & small plates of delicious morsels of food, made from local ingredients but inspired by cuisines from all across the globe. On a recent visit I got to sample just a few; Thai fishcakes, smoked wood pigeon, “Dingley dell” pork belly skewers & spiced corn cakes, all perfect accompaniments to their selection of botanical cocktails. From this weekend (23rd Aug 2015) they added a traditional roast to their lunch menu, my curiosity was peaked when they commented on my page, that they were confident it would be one of the “best in town”. After enjoying a near faultless roast of rare breed roast pork loin with all the trimmings I would have to say that their claim is well justified. It had everything you’d want from a traditional roast, tender meat, rich gravy, fluffy Yorkshire & crisp roast potatoes, but all done with a little extra finesse. The accompanying vegetables; turnip & swede mash, white onion purée, roasted heirloom carrots, braised red cabbage, fine beans & crispy kale, where all cooked to perfection with their flavours carefully balanced to compliment rather than clash. A first class plate of food!

 

Chef Michael Binnington tweeted that my ‘search for the best Sunday lunch was over’ as it is served at Baumann’s Brasserie. Fighting words, how could I resist checking it out? I left it a little too long as Michael has now moved up to take the head chef position at Greenwoods Hotel so it was Chef Ranfield doing the cooking that afternoon. The restaurant is located in Coggeshall, a picturesque market town in Essex & is housed within a 16th century half-timbered building. Stepping through doors (over a painting of proprietor Mark Baumann prostrate on the floor) we found ourselves in an eclectically decorated room, odd but quite charming, the waitress just chuckled as we gawped. Back to the food… lovely little smoked salmon ice cream cone canapés, hot garlic bread, mains of superb seared rib-eye with all the trimmings & for me a beautifully fresh plate of grilled fish, seasonal vegetables & desserts of after-eight cheesecake & a Baileys bread & butter pudding, petit fours & coffee, all for less than £40 each! Top class cooking, great value, couple with cheerful yet attentive service. Highly recommend.

 

Another cold wet afternoon (May 3rd, 2015) in the centre of Cambridge, noon was approaching, as tummies started to rumble thoughts turned to lunch. When my companions looked to me to pick I didn't hesitate, it had to be The Pint Shop, I'd just seen their tweet, joints of meat spit roasting over a charcoal fire; tender pork belly slow cooked over night, chicken & lamb served with market greens, roasties & Yorkshires, just thinking about it made me salivate! We'd gone to their soft opening (Nov 2013) for a Sunday lunch & whilst the food was good, there were a few hiccups with service however every visit since; the service & food have been faultless. It occurred to me that I really ought to move them up my top ten especially as this week's roast was everything I craved & won the approval of friends & family alike. So up 10 places, our number 6 for a traditional roast, the Pint Shop; an unpretentious pub serving top notch meat, cooked to perfection, a must for Sunday lunch (or Monday, Tuesday.. ) and if you have room they are pretty good at puddings too!

 

The Architect Pub, sister to The Alex Pub on Gwydir Street, is the newest addition to Cambridge's restaurant roster (2015).  I’d heard good things on social media and was very eager to try their self-titled EPIC Sunday Roast. Stepping though the doors I found myself in an airy space, smartly decorated in what I would call industrial chic, but I couldn’t concentrate on the styling of the room when incredible aromas from their spit roasts were enveloping me like a warm hug. The menu listed 3 roasts; chicken (their specialty), lamb (pictured) & pork belly, as there was only two of us I had to leave the pork for another day. The starters and dessert were both lovely but the mains, they were fabulous! Huge portions, loads of veg and quality meat all cooked to perfection and served with jugs of proper gravy. At £14.95 for two courses I think it is great value, add in the charming, friendly staff, good beers & coffee .. epic indeed!     

 

The Princess Victoria pub is a beautifully restored former Gin Palace (1829) conveniently located in Shepherd’s Bush, West London. Pushing through the heavy blue doors we were greeted by a cacophony of sound; the rustling from regulars leafing through the weekend newspapers at the bar, clink of glasses, hiss of the coffee machine, laughter from kids at a birthday celebration, all mixing in with a low hum of conversation from diners obviously enjoying their Sunday. While full, the pub didn’t feel over crowded thanks to its tasteful décor, size & high ceilings. Quickly seated & served, it wasn’t long before our starters appeared. I chose the Cornish crab & pink grapefruit salad, with apple & avocado, refreshing & delicately flavoured with the acidity of the fruit nicely offset by the buttery avocado. For the main I had roast pork belly (pictured) with, crackling & apple sauce which came with a nice selection of veg plus we ordered cauliflower cheese as a side. The chef really did credit to the quality Dingley Dell pork, so tender I could have eaten it with a spoon, bonus points for serving it on a plate! Thanks to the generous portions we were too full for dessert.

 

My fellow Sunday lunch-ers & I have been semi-regular visitors to The Packhorse Inn Moulton near Newmarket since it underwent a major refurbishment & rebranding back in October 2013. The restaurant is a collaborative venture between former banker & Moulton resident Philip Turner, restaurateur David Minchin and Chris Lee, a creative and innovative chef who is in charge of the menus for both The Packhorse & its sister restaurant The Rupert Brooke, Grantchester. Sunday lunch this week proved every bit as good as we’ve come to expect from this friendly corner of Newmarket. Local produce, cooked perfectly to be enjoyed in lovely surroundings. We opted for the roasts, 1 beef & 1 pork (pictured), both excellent. I had one minor niggle .. my pork was served on a board which meant I had to be careful how I tipped the rich gravy onto the food but I couldn't fault the meal itself, the pulled pork lollipop in particular was incredibly moorish (more photos on FB)!

It was long overdue but this weekend (Sunday 16th August 2015) I finally managed to get myself down to Seven Dials for Sunday lunch. The restaurant is part of the Hawksmoor group of steakhouses, loved by most of London and winner of Observer Food Monthly’s “Best Sunday Lunch” in the UK. The entrance is easy to overlook, tucked round the corner on Langley Street, between Covent Garden & Seven Dials in the old Watney-Combe brewery, but once located we found it to be a welcoming and cosy venue bustling with people enjoying their meals. There were many mouth-watering options on the menu but we really had to try their fanous ‘Roast Rump of Longhorn Beef served with duck fat roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, carrots, greens, roasted shallots & garlic and lashings of bone marrow & onion gravy’. Whilst on this occasion we found the roasted shallots & garlic to be nearly raw we couldn’t fault the star of the plate. The beef was beautifully tender and the Yorkshire was wonderfully fluffy and perfect for soaking up the truly delicious gravy. Considering the quality of the meat, size of the portion and central London location, we thought the £19.50 price good value. Can’t wait to go back and try the Lobster!

 

The Pheasant at Keyston is a quaint thatched inn set in a lovely village just 12 miles west of Huntington. I'd visited the inn back in 2010 shortly after then owners, Taffeta and Jay Scrimshaw, took the title of 'best British restaurant' in Gordon Ramsey's 'The F Word' challenge. Indeed the food was fabulous, fast forward to today (22nd March 2015), The Pheasant is now owned and operated by Chef Simon Cadge and his partner Gerda Koedijk but is still highly regarded having won the award for Cambridgeshire Dining Pub of the Year 2014 and listed in the Good Pub Guide & Bib Gourmand. So our expectations for the lunch was high. My friend had the 'Roast Aberdeenshire beef (pictured) with roast potatoes, savoy cabbage, Yorkshire pudding, horseradish sauce and gravy' whilst I chose the 'Roast leg of Cornish lamb with roast potatoes, leek fondue, confit garlic, mint sauce and gravy' both proved to be excellent. To finish we shared a treacle tart that was nothing like the sickly sweet concoctions I remember from school days, instead this had a light texture & deep rich flavour nicely contrasting with the homemade vanilla ice-cream. In all a very enjoyable lunch; relaxed friendly service, a lovely setting with good quality produce skillfully prepared. Well worth a visit.

 

For Fathers' Day I decided to keep it traditional and treated my Dad to a Sunday Roast at Paddocks House in Newmarket. I have enjoyed the hospitality of this gorgeous boutique hotel before, having been invited to their 'meet the neighbours opening event' [my write up here] and at later dates for their afternoon tea. However, this was my first experience of their Sunday lunch. We were greeted by George Telford the charismatic House Butler who thoroughly charmed my father, presenting him with a Fathers' Day card and a small gift, little touches that make visiting Paddocks such a lovely experience. The meal began with a warm breads served with a starter of smoked salmon followed by a delicious plate of roast lamb for the main. Sides of duck fat roast potatoes, yorkshires, buttery cabbage and roast carrots rounded off the very full plate along with a jug of rich gravy. To finish my Dad enjoyed one of his favourite desserts, sticky toffee pudding. The Paddocks House version was more elegant than Gran's, accompanied with toffee ice cream and topped with a white chocolate crumb. A super Sunday lunch!

 

I have been to The King William IV at Heydon on several occasions, so this is a return visit and not a new find. Whilst I have always enjoyed the food - which is what kept me going back - I found the decor oppressive and the meal rather rushed. I was pleasantly surprised this Sunday to find that the walls had been brightened up and some of the eclectic jumble of farm curios that previously occupied ceiling, wall, and every inch of shelf space, had been thinned out. It is a lovely 16th Century Inn, possessing a great deal of charm, that has only been enhanced by the work done. Moving on to the food. I was in the mood for a traditional Sunday lunch this week, opting for one of their self titled 'dishes of distinction' a slow cooked pressed belly of pork on a rosti potato, apple compote, crisp crackling with Aspall cider jus. It was accompanied by a good selection of perfectly cooked seasonal vegetables and I pilfered a roast potato and yorkshire from my dining companion, who had traditionally served roast lamb. Pork and apple is always a good combination of flavors and the chef managed to balance them beautifully in this dish. The meat was tender and moist and a joy to eat. The portions have always been generous here, and it was no exception this week, but there seems to be a greater delicacy in the kitchen and attention to detail in the presentation, emphasized by the sensational Summer pudding, with white chocolate and homemade ice cream, that arrived for dessert.

 

As the car passed though the wrought iron gates of Estate I couldn’t help but be impressed. A long sweeping drive curves round to reveal the grand facade of the Grade I-listed mansion & hotel. It was like watching the curtain rise to a period drama, evoking memories of days past, grand houses & aristocratic families. As we stepped though the entrance, fire places large enough to stand in flanked us, whilst gorgeous paintings & tapestries adorned the walls. However, the imposing grandeur of Luton Hoo belies the friendly reception that greeted us. The front of house was professional & courteous yet gave the impression of being dear friends eager to welcome us home. Built by the Earl of Bute, Luton Hoo was bought at the end of the 19th century by Sir Julius Wernher, for whom the restaurant is named. The dining room boasts marble panel work, rich tapestries & crystal chandeliers, all setting the scene for a quintessentially English traditional Sunday lunch. The sense of theatre continued with the silver dome laden trolleys, wheeled by chefs bedecked in their best whites. A rolled ribeye of Casterbridge beef was carved tableside and served with Yorkshire pudding, duck fat roasted potatoes, seasonal buttered vegetables & roast pan juices. The food was good, the service flawless & the setting truly magnificent.

 

This was my first visit to the newly opened (Sept 2103) The King’s Head at Dullingham, though I have been to its sister restaurant The Crown & Punchbowl in Horningsea numerous times. Both restaurants are part of the Crown Catering Company. Driving up to the pub, first impressions were good; nice frontage, plenty of parking. I was less impressed when I stepped through the door into a plume of smoke and ash coming from the freshly lit fireplace, either green wood or a blocked chimney was causing some problems for the front of house team, making the restaurant and everything in it smell like a bonfire. A poor start to the visit but my day recovered quickly when the plates of food started coming out of the kitchen. Fortunately they lived up to the enthusiastic recommendation from a friend that lived nearby. This time my dining companion had the roast beef with all the trimmings followed by the white chocolate cheese cake. Whilst I had the seared fillet of cod, saffron potatoes, spinach, tomato, pea & broad bean broth followed by spiced apple crumble (pictured). Upper end of the price scale for a gastro pub but worth it as we both thoroughly enjoyed our lunch. Dishes were made from locally sourced produce that were well-seasoned and skillfully prepared. Teething problems not withstanding, will definitely be returning for another Sunday lunch.

 

This was my first visit to The Eight Bells at Saffron Walden since I started the blog. I'm happy to report that the Sunday lunch is every bit as enjoyable as I remember. For my main I chose the Slow roasted Dingley Dell Pork Belly which was accompanied by a huge selection of autumn vegetables and crispy roast potatoes, all crowned by a fluffy Yorkshire pudding. To finish I had the rather unusual sounding Toffee Apple Sponge served with Ginger Custard & Granny Smith Sorbet, I wasn't sure about the combination on paper but the dish (served cold) worked well and was a lovely end to my meal. My friend started with the roast beef and finished with the Summer Berry Eton Mess, not very pretty but apparently delicious. ( £19.50 for 2 courses)

I was headed for the Royal Geographic Society to hear Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield speak and wanted to find somewhere nearby for Sunday lunch. One of my friends found ‘The Queen's Arms, Kensington’ online and booked us it. It turned out to be a lovely pub tucked out of sight down a Mews. The waitress that met us was very friendly and got us situated quickly. We all craved a Sunday roast so went for the half Shropshire chicken with parsley & thyme butter. A huge plate arrived crammed with; moist chicken, fluffy Yorkshires, crisp roasties, plenty of vegetables and proper gravy along with a side order of cauliflower cheese, exactly what we needed to fortify us after on a dreary cold and wet day, the epitome of comfort food!

My friends & I made an impromptu visit to The Gilbert Scott following an afternoon spent at Future Cinema’s 'Ghostbusters Live' at the Troxy. I mention this as it explained our rather scruffy attire, lateness & lack of reservation. Despite all of this we were welcomed enthusiastically. Later, in response to my Tweet, @Thegilbertscott commented that they encourage guests to be “whatever you feel like, when you feel like” an ethos that seemed to permeate. Looking around the truly magnificent surroundings I saw an eclectic mix of formal & casual diners. Some dressed up guests celebrating a birthday, a mum & two kids enjoying a post shopping snack & others like us, tucking into the weekend roast, a three course lunch (£27). It was a pleasurably relaxed dining experience despite the grandeur of the setting. On this occasion we all elected to have the grilled corn-fed chicken with bread sauce for our mains. The chicken was superb, piping hot, beautifully moist & the favours complimented by the iron rich watercress garnish & obviously scratch made gravy. A minor niggle that knocked off a mark or two; the dish of seasonal vegetables, which I thought was a single serving, was to share between three & the roasties were on the hard side. However I could not find fault with the setting, bar, service or main components of the dish & eagerly anticipate a planned return when I fully expect to be adding them to my top pick for a traditional Sunday Lunch.

 

The Hole in the Wall Pub at Little Wilbraham in Cambridgeshire. A picturesque 16th century restaurant and free house run by Masterchef 2010 finalist Alex Rushmer. The pub was voted "Observer Food Monthly Awards 2012 Best Sunday Lunch in the East runners up" and recently gained a coveted second AA Rosette. Not our first visit, in fact HITW is the birth place of The Best Sunday Lunch blog, as this site was the product of a discussion over one of the HITW Sunday Roasts. On this occasion I'd chosen the roast loin of Blythburg pork which was accompanied by a rich apple sauce, cauliflower cheese, wonderfully crisp roasties and a generous amount of cider & mustard sauce instead of the usual gravy. I found the plate of food I was presented with to be homely, hearty fare and perfectly enjoyable. What shines though are the desserts. I had their sinfully decadent sticky toffee bread and butter pudding and my dining companion went for their famous fresh (warm) doughnuts, with chocolate & kirsch cherry dipping sauce and home made vanilla ice-cream. Not my number one but definitely in the top 10.

 

An unexpected, yet delightfully hearty and joyous Sunday Lunch at La Pergola, a restaurant based in The Wheatsheaf Pub in Harlton, Cambridge. I’d driven passed many times and heard friends rave about authentic pizzas cooked in their wood burning clay oven but for whatever reason never stopped to eat until I was invited to a birthday celebration this weekend. The restaurant is run by Giulio De Simone and his family. Originally from Sorrento in Southern Italy they serve quality authentic Italian food in a relaxed and friendly environment. The dining room is large and on this occasion filled with boisterous groups of all ages having a great time. Indeed the atmosphere was convivial and it seemed like I was visiting a friend’s home for lunch (if said friend lived in Tuscany with lots of cousins and a Mama that was a superb cook). Much of the menu is homemade including the bread, sausages and the sauces used in the pasta dishes. There’s an allotment that adjoins the restaurant providing many of the vegetables, herbs and salad produce used in the kitchen plus a brood of hens to provide free range eggs! The presentation maybe rustic but the portions are generous, well cooked with heaps of flavour, great taste and at <£13 for two courses, great value too.

 

Tucked away in the Cambridgeshire fens, The Merry Monk is a true gem. It started life as three cottages in the 17th Century and from there became The Red Lion Public House until 1992 when it was renamed The Merry Monk.

Greeted by a roaring log fire during the (long) winter months the Merry Monk exudes a casual and inviting atmosphere. The highlight for me is the traditional Sunday roast, cooked to perfection by their team of chefs. On this occasion I had the roast Dingley Dell pork loin with Yorkshire pudding, sage and pine nut stuffing, roast potatoes, with a crispy crackling curl and apple Sauce. Beautifully presented and heaps of flavour.

They describe the food they serve as being "the sort that you really want to eat, tempting but familiar with a slight twist". The Merry Monk is a convivial restaurant with local seasonal food that welcomes the local community and visitors alike. An informal, comfortable and stylish atmosphere, whilst everything on offer is always of the highest quality and standard.

 

My last visit to The Tickell Arms in Whittleford was for a wedding reception some 8 years ago. I’m not really sure why it has been so long, I drive past it twice a week. When a friend suggested going for Sunday lunch I thought why not? I did a quick look on Trip Advisor and found the reviews to be mixed, that’s not a deal breaker as my favourite restaurant doesn’t have uniformly good reviews but it did make me a little wary. I needn’t have worried; my dining companion and I stepped out of the blustery Cambridgeshire afternoon to be greeted by the smiling visage of General Manager Eric Mbarani who had a waiter lead us to our table in their conservatory, a nicely decorated, light and comfortable room. My only grumble is that with hard floors, and little by way of soft furnishings to dull the sound, it soon became too noisy to converse. Fortunately my Sunday Roast had arrived at this point and talking gave way to eating. A hearty plate full of roast lamb, crisp potatoes, nice selection of veg, plus a creamy cauliflower cheese, crowned with a monster sized Yorkshire pudding. To follow I had the carrot cake, which was a pleasant revelation, served hot, very light and with a pineapple puree that nicely balanced the sweetness with a bit of acid. A very enjoyable meal, well-cooked, unpretentious local fare from Head Chef Garry Hewitt paired with attentive service in a family friendly pub. (Part of Cambcuisine group.)

 

I've been to the Green Man Pub at Grantchester before. At the time I was looking for a dog friendly pub so that I could enjoy Sunday lunch with friends that had just added a puppy to their family and didn't want to leave her at home. We enjoyed the meal and indeed it is a very pet friendly place with lovely walks along the river to the back of the beer garden. However the food wasn't spectacular. Fast forward 2013, new chef (Stephen), new menu, same family friendly setting. It was the beer festival so a nice selection of beers were available in the marquee outside & live music too. It was a sunny day so we opted to eat in the garden to soak up the last of the Summer. We both ordered the Sunday Roast on this occasion. Sean the manager brought out some cute mini-flower pots blooming with fresh breads & herb butter whilst we waited for our mains. Good start! Heaped plates arrived nearly overflowing with chicken, roast potatoes, apricot stuffing, greens, swede, topped with a fluffy yorkshire and ladles of rich jus. Proper pub food!

 

Ahead of its UK return on 13th April 2015, Sky Atlantic brought ‘Game of Thrones®: The Exhibition’ exclusively to Sky Backstage at The O2. Lucky enough to get a guest invite I found myself spending Sunday lunch touring the Seven Kingdoms & battling dragons. I even got the opportunity to ascend the Wall as part of The Oculus Rift-powered 4D virtual reality experience, great fun but hard work, emerging victorious we decided we needed to reward ourselves with some serious protein. Fortuitously, high-end Argentinian steak brands Gaucho had an outpost directly opposite Sky studios so off we trooped. A recent addition to their menu was the Gaucho Sunday lunch described as a ‘British roast with an Argentine twist’, decision made then. I would have preferred a plate so that I could pour the lovely rich gravy over the food rather than cut & dunk but I couldn’t fault what was on the board, fluffy Yorkshire, nice selection of veg & the star of the show, perfectly cooked, tender rib-eye steak, a Sunday lunch fit for a King.   

 

The first Sunday in December (2013) coincided with Cambridge’s annual Winter Wordfest. Our choice of Sunday lunch venue needed to be within an easy walk of the city centre since I was attending several different literary events, at different locations and times. I decided to go for ‘The Cambridge Chop House’, conveniently overlooking King’s Parade. The restaurant is one of four owned by Cambscuisine group (rounding out the roster are ‘The Cock’, ‘St John’s Chop House’ & ‘The Tickell Arms’). Whilst I’d enjoyed meals at the Chop House before, this was my first Sunday lunch. On this occasion I chose the roast pork, a heaped plate arrived with a portion of nicely flavoured pork loin, a good quantity of vegetables, roast potatoes and apple sauce to accompany it. To follow I had the chocolate bread and butter pudding with marmalade crust and custard. Both courses were what I’d call hearty fare, enjoyable if not artfully plated. The service was quick yet courteous, comfortable surroundings, convenient location and reasonably priced. A good city centre option for Cambridge.