7 September 2013

Midsummer House

Midsummer House, set on the picturesque Midsummer Green on the edge of the River Cam in Cambridge, is the 2 star restaurant of the very talented Daniel Clifford. We had to park on the other side of the river and cross a footbridge to get to the restaurant and ended up parking just near the house my mother was brought up in. The main room is the conservatory of Midsummer House, with a walled garden surrounding it, a light and airy environment. There is a choice of lunch, a 7 course Taste of Market menu and an 8 course Taste of Summer House menu, we went for the vegetarian and standard version of the Taste of Summer menu.

Canapes were brought out whilst deciding on the menu's, a puree of tomato and vodka, essentially a slightly thicker bloody mary, fresh and flavourful, some fabulous cheese gougeres and an incredible pomme souffle filled with sour cream. I immediately knew we were in for a good meal, these were canapes of the highest order.

The amuse bouche was a light mousse of peas, with tomato underneath, and for me, prawns too. The mousse was incredibly light, more or less a foam, with an exceptionally deep pea flavour, with a some nice tomato and some really excellent prawns.

The next course started table side, with the waiter spooning dried mushrooms and herbs into a cafetiere and adding mushroom stock, this was left to infuse on the table. The dishes arrived a few minutes later, for my wife some plump mushroom tortellini accompanied by some girolles and herbs, the consomme from the cafetiere was then poured on. The tortellini and consomme were really good, with a huge depth of flavour, about as good a pasta as to be found anywhere. For me, a bowl with Cornish crab, mayonnaise and a sweet corn ice cream.  The crab was really nice, fresh and flavoursome and I absolutely adored the sweet corn ice cream, a flavour I'm used to from my days in the Far East, but here refined and perfected like no other I'd had before.

The next course involved a little bit of theatre, a table inset with one of those Green Big Egg, a fancy ceramic barbecue, was wheeled over, and 2 plates set, one of the chefs then came out and removed a whole roasted beetroot, and explained a little of the concept of the dish and how it was roasted for over 2 hours that morning in one of the Green Eggs. The beetroot were sliced in half and a semi-sphere scooped out and added to the plate, which also included sheeps curd, horseradish, beetroot puree and hazelnuts. The beetroot was superb, wonderfully flavoured, the curd, horseradish and other accompaniments partnered it perfectly.

The fish course was roasted stone bass, with razor clams, cucumber, wasabi and sorrel, with a  grating of lime zest at the table.  The cooking of the fish was spot on, with a gorgeous crisp skin, and I also loved the razor clams, cucumber and wasabi an excellent match for this fish. What stood out was the scents and flavour added by the grating of the lime at the table, elevating the entire dish to stratospheric heights. My wife's dish was a confit stuffed tomato. with courgettes and subtly spiced vegetables in a crispy sandwich.

Our main courses were again of very high quality, for me duck, cherries, sweet potato puree, hazelnuts and a tamarind gravy, with 2 crispy green leaves and a side dish of croustillant of confit duck on a bed of hazelnuts. The duck was superb and the gravy a shiny, unctuous, lip-smacking delight of a sauce, absolutely world class. I never found out what the leaves, were, but can confirm they were delicious. The croustillant contained a hidden surprise, a whole cherry! The juicy cherry and rich confit duck was a match made in heaven, top stuff.  My wife's main was a pithivier of vegetables, with a side of vegetables, puree and sauce soubise. This was excellent pastry work, and essentially as perfect a pasty as you will get.

Pre-dessert was a lemon posset, with blueberries and lemon espuma. Lovely flavours here, and the blueberries were really something, I believe they had been frozen in liquid nitrogen then smashed, and were a lovely delight hidden within the excellently flavoured posset and foam, both sweet and tart. Dessert itself was a wonderful dish of strawberries, creme fraiche ice cream, an elderflower mousse in a cannelloni of strawberry, little cubes of shortbread, jellies and strawberry juices poured at the table.  Every element was executed perfectly, and as good as summer treat as can be. A lovely finish to the meal.

We took coffee upstairs in a small lounge area with an external balcony, although a tad warm, I'm not sure why the radiators were on in the middle of a long August heatwave. The petit fours were different, warm sweet pastries laid out on a tray with 2 dips, one caramel and one of Calvados cream.  The pastries were again top quality, incredibly light and crisp, and perfect for the dips, my favourite being the Calvados cream, awesome flavours there. Finally, a large wooden box loaded with chocolates was brought up and we chose 5 each. As with the rest of the meal, these were delicious, especially the lovage and bay leaf chocolates, 2 flavours I've not had the pleasure of trying before.

The bill came to about 230, and included 2 glasses of champagne, soft drinks for me and 2 glasses of white for my wife.

We loved Midsummer House, with its gorgeous riverside setting, world class service and as good as food as we've had anywhere. Every aspect, from the ingredients to the execution was of the highest order, and there were some real stand out dishes. I can't wait to return.

Canapes.


English peas, tomato and prawns.

Mushroom Tortellini.

Cornish crab, brown crab mayonnaise, sweet corn.

Beetroot cooked on open coals, sheep's curd and horseradish.


Roast wild stone bass, razor clams, cucumber, wasabi, sorrel.

Stuffed confit tomato, courgette and basil.

Slow roast duck, English cherries, sweet potato and tamarind, hazelnuts.


Pithivier, seasonal vegetables, sauce soubise.

Lemon posset, blueberries, lemon espuma.

Cambridgeshire strawberries, elderflower, creme fraiche, Scottish shortbread.

Pastries, dips.

Chocolates.

You can spot that from the strawberries onwards I realised the filters on camera were wrong.

Midsummer House

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