Julia O’Driscoll, The Word
The design and ambience of Parker’s Tavern, located on the hotel’s ground floor, is said to be inspired by the communal dining halls of Cambridge’s colleges. Parquet flooring, dark wood furniture and panelled walls adorned with a mish-mash of artwork have the feel of a past era. Happily my guest, a Cambridge alumni, could confirm that the menu topped her memories of Formal Hall dinners.
Like many restaurants competing to attract today’s foodie crowd, the self-described British brasserie plates up local, seasonal dishes. More unusually, it is the only restaurant I’ve ever visited where spaghetti bolognese feature on both the starter and main courses of the à la carte menu. Perhaps I’ve been eating in the wrong places…
Starters are appropriately sized, leaving a healthy amount of room for the main event. My nut brown buttered sole came with a heavy handful of samphire – just as this ingredient should be served, in my view. My guest devoured a perfectly pink sirloin steak. For dessert, ice-cream fans will enjoy the pick ‘n’ mix nature of the build-your-own sundae option. There’s continental classics like tarte tatin and Cambridge’s take on a crème brûlée, but the cheeseboard is all British.
Bartenders mix a select range of cocktails, and a well-judged drinks menu delivers the pleasant spectrum of old favourites and perhaps more surprising offers. The Saffron Grange Brut, produced just a matter of miles from the hotel, is highly recommended. Flip to the back page if you fancy a cigar.