Midsummer House is a two Michelin star restaurant in Cambridge which is owned by head chef Daniel Clifford (whom you might know from BBC’s Great British Menu). We first experienced Daniel’s food at the Cube by Electrolux pop-up on the Southbank and loved it, so we were really excited to finally be visiting his restaurant.
Situated right by the river, it was a really beautiful setting; the building, complete with conservatory and garden, looked like somebody’s house not a restaurant. Inside was equally stunning; we were seated facing a window into the kitchen meaning we could see all the action yet in an elegant and calm manner. It’s got to be one of the prettiest dining rooms I’ve been in.
The free stuff, or amuse bouche, was plentiful and almost never ending. A Bloody Mary mousse with celery sorbet, crispy cod skin with mackerel tartare, duck liver cannelloni with damson, lime and sour cream in a chive crisp, truffle eclair; all were as beautiful as the surroundings. An impressive amount of food considering we’d not even ordered.
After all that excitement, the bread was a little….ordinary. I’d hoped for something really lavish and elegant but this wedge of brown bread was so big it could have been used as a doorstop.
We opted for the five course tasting menu priced at Â£55 per person. Our first course, which was actually described by our waitress as another amuse bouche, was ‘Cornish crab, Italian tomato, sea herbs, crab butter’. It only took a couple of mouthfuls to finish, but those were two mouthfuls of pure joy. Light, delicate and fresh; it was a total taste of Summer.
Next was a ravioli filled with quail and a soft poached quail’s egg which burst its gooey yolk perfectly when cut open. Our waitress poured a garlic leaf veloutÃ© over the whole thing which was a delicious finishing touch. This was an elegant yet totally comforting plate of food.
Our final savoury course was ‘wagyu beef, braised oxtail, spinach purÃ©e, creamed potato, braising juices’ which was a tad disappointing. The wagyu beef was not only on the wrong side of luke warm, but it was actually really chewy. The two little potatoes, one covered in a creamy sauce, were undercooked and difficult to cut through. The best thing about the dish was the oxtail which was really rich and tender.
Putting things firmly back on track was a really pretty desert; ‘Yorkshire rhubarb, hickory wood ice cream, sorrel’. If that wasn’t good enough, the waiter then grated over some frozen cookie dough, which was a really unusual but brilliant touch.
Our final dessert was ‘poached banana, chocolate cremeux, caramelised brioche, chocolate and yoghurt sorbet’. The banana had been stuffed with the chocolate which was really impressive; God knows how they managed that. The overall flavours were totally delicious but it would have been nice if the brioche was served warm – it would have made the dish much more comforting.
If all that food wasn’t enough, some diamond shaped, flat donuts with an accompanying calvados cream and apple purÃ©e were brought to the table. The tangy purÃ©e was made from apples grown in the garden which was a nice touch. As you can imagine, these sugary treats were delightful.
A final push in the diabetes direction was a selection of homemade chocolates (we were even given some to take home in a little box too). Passion fruit, mint, raspberry, Walnut Whip, Baileys truffle; they were all incredible.
Our lunch at Midsummer House wasn’t quite as faultless as we were expecting but it was seriously impressive nevertheless. The time and effort put into making all the little extras meant we couldn’t fail to be impressed. Lunch, followed by a walk into Cambridge city centre is such a lovely day out – you really must go.