Midsummer House is a very lovely seemingly unassuming country cottage hiding one of the very best restaurants in the country behind its façade. Daniel Clifford is an amazing chef, well deserving of the 2 Michelin stars awarded to him. It was good to have food that was not too clever by half and dishes that tasted of the component ingredients. There are two set menus (no choices) a 5 course one served at lunch times only and an 8 course one which you can have for lunch or dinner. There are also vegetarian equivalents of these menus. We had the five course lunch, which with all the bits and morsels very generously given as amuse-bouche makes it more like a never ending one! Each bouchée of these appetisers, at least 5, was perfectly executed, and almost giving you a perfect sample of what was to come: tiny crispy cones of smoked fish mousse topped with a very light cream, tiny balls of angel hair onion clasps filled with delicately smoked ham, a tiny glass of vodka, celery and a mystery ingredient velouté taster, etc.
The first course was a lovely combination of the freshest crabmeat you could have, topped with paper thin slices of avocado and a coulis of sorrel, then a tortellini of scallops on an airbed of cauliflower, crème fraiche and foam, then a supreme of pigeon on a bed of spelt with its crispy leg wrapped in crispy wild garlic and mushrooms, Two deserts, one of “aerated pear on a purée of blueberries under a cupola of white chocolate, and the other a jelly of passion fruit around a mouse of yogurt topped with black chocolate finished the meal, then….after coffee, the lightest, crispiest, beignets we could dip in two sauces of praline and lemon….followed by an array of exquisite chocolate plus a little present of two chocolates in a tiny box to enjoy on the way out. At £47.50 (plus the “optional 12.5% service charge”) for this magnificent, tasty, lunch, it’s worth going a long way for. And the quality of the knowledgeable service was worth it, too.
However, whilst the lunch was a good rapport quality/prix, the prices of the beverages were pretty steep and I was particularly peeved by being charged another £5.50 for my second cup of my tiny ristretto coffee. Being lunchtime on a sunny spring day, we decided to plump for a rosé wine from Mas de Daumas Gassac which was refreshingly tasty and an excellent accompaniment to our diverse tasting meal. A good wine from one of the great domaines of the Languedoc and at £30 was probably one of the better value wines on the list. (Certainly one of the least expensive).
I wanted to have a word with the chef to congratulate him, but I was told that he had to rush off to solve a problem in the kitchen of his new gastropub, some 20 or 30 miles away. I hope that’s not going to stretch him too much – I have seen empire building in the past and it very often ends in tears. Hopefully this will not happen here and spoil this outstanding restaurant – the best for miles around.
Midsummer House: Midsummer Common, Cambridge CB4 1HA
Tel: 01223 369299
Value for money 12