I wish I was 22 again!

RESTAURANT 22 – 22 Chesterton Road, Cambridge, CB4 3AX

25/2/14

A friend suggested Restaurant 22 and I had been meaning to go there for a while and  low and behold I had a nice occasion to go…a belated birthday meal with a good friend – brilliant! :).  A table was booked for half seven a week before as I had been told that tables get booked fast!

Restaurant 22 is actually named after the number of the restaurant on the street (22 Chesterton Road) which is quite cute but I did not quite realise until I arrived that this restaurant is actually a converted terrace house. The front door of the restaurant opened into a small hallway with a line of clothes pegs on one side of the wall and a thick beige fabric curtain separating the hallway and the main dining hall (if I can call it that?) on the other – basically it was the space in the house where the lounge/dining room would be). In all honestly that was a bit odd!

The manager greeted us at the curtain, kindly took our coats and led us to our table. When we entered the dining hall I was still very surprised about how much the restaurant decor still looked like a converted house, unless that was the look they were going for…The decor comprised of beige walls, very low lighting, a big mirror and a dining room cabinet, which I think was the restaurant’s equivalent of a bar! The restaurant housed two floors, the bottom floor contained around 7 tables (so quite a small, cozy capacity and easy to see how this place would book up quickly).

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The atmosphere when we first walked in was very strange, it was the quietest restaurant I had ever been to – it reminded me somewhat of an awkward dinner party where the conversation had just died and you could hear a pin drop! I could hear other diners cutlery clinking against their plates, it was a bit disconcerting! I actually whispered/mouthed to my friend – ‘I’m not sure we can have a conversation because everyone will hear’! But funnily enough after we started to natter away the noise levels increased and the awkwardness disappeared!

We were handed the menu’s quite quickly after we sat down – the restaurant offers a 4 course menu for £35 and optional extras such as a fish course, side dishes and hot drinks. It changes the menu every month and adapts the recipes for seasonal vegetables and meat which I love! For starters I ordered marinated baby squid on a bed of rocket with a scattering of crushed almonds and grilled melon pieces. My friend ordered a pasta dish (a large ravioli, stuffed with spinach and feta on a bed of salad with a walnut sauce  – unfortunately I cannot give the exact description of the dish as their website has stopped working!)

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Before the starters arrived we were given a complementary shot of hot leek and potato soup and a basket of homemade bread (mixed spice, lemon and thyme and Guinness bread). Both tasted great and I was surprise was how tasty the Guinness bread was, for some reason I had imaged this bread to taste bitter so I was avoiding it but after a little persuasion I took a bite…I was convinced… it is great! It was sweet, moist and rich – lovely. 🙂 The starters arrived after about five to eight minutes after ordering. They looked and smelt amazing, we were both quite hungry (no surprise there!) so could not wait to taste the good looking food :). My squid was lovely; tender and well seasoned – getting a nice crunch of almonds with the rocket salad was delicious. The rocket salad was seasoned with balsamic vinegar and olive oil which was the perfect combination, the squid and melon also tasted really good together – a combination I had never tried (or thought of trying) before! If I had to say anything about it, I would have wanted a bit more sauce (because it was a-m-azing) or a bit more seasoning but this is me really nit picking. The pasta dish was also very, very good – a lovely, flavour-some and warming starter! I think it packed a lot more flavour than my starter – it had the perfect amount of seasoning, beautifully thin pasta and just the correct size. The inside of the pasta could also be tasted individually – which gave the dish an even more fresh kick. I would actually go as to far as saying the starters were comparable to Paramount (link here for Paramount review: https://khannablog.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/paramount/).

After the starter plates had been taken away we were quite surprised how long it did take for the second course to arrive, which was a raspberry sorbet. I am not usually a fan of sorbet, let alone something sweet after a starter but again…unsurprisingly I was proved wrong. It was great and a nice refreshing  beginning to the main course and cleaned my palette ready for the main courses! Bring it on!

For the main I ended up choosing grilled squash on flat bread with Gorgonzola cheese and a crunchy bean salad, my friend chose pan fried hake with vanilla potato mash and salad (yes vanilla mash)! We were quite excited to receive the next course but unfortunately had to wait over 20/25 minutes until it arrived, which is quite a long time between courses. It is was quite obvious that everything was being made to order, which I cannot complain about but..it just took a little too long to come out unfortunately.

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The food smelt and looked great when it eventually arrived. It looked appetizing, modern and colourful – YUM. The first few of bites of my dish were good, the combination of the cheese, salad, squash and the home made flat bread was exactly what the doctor ordered however after a few more mouthfuls I realised the squash was not cooked properly – it was still a little hard and crunchy (not the greatest taste or texture), the flat bread had also become hard quite quickly, which again..is not great to try and cut with a knife and fork, let alone eat (oh man!). I had to leave half of my dish in fact 😦 The dish was seasoned well, the bread when it arrived was soft and springy and the crunchy bean salad was perfect; it was just a shame about the squash cylinder :(.

My friend liked their dish a lot better but found the portion size a little on the wee side. The fish was perfectly cooked, flaky,well seasoned with a nicely cooked, crunchy skin – very moreish. The vanilla mash was creamy and did not taste sweet (which was what I expected) but had a nice vanilla fragrance to it! 🙂  We had ordered a small plate of sautéed potatoes as well which were incredible – buttery, well seasoned soft and melt in the mouth perfect floury potatoes!

Nearly done..I promise, I know this is a long post! For desert I ordered a dark chocolate and cardamom torte with cornel of mascarpone cheese. My friend ordered a raspberry cheesecake. We did not have to wait too long (probably ten minutes) for the deserts to arrive so we were happy as it actually gave us some time to digest the 3 courses before hand and rub our bellies to 1) apologise for the over eating and 2) prepare them for the final course!

Again the desert course smelt great – great dark chocolate smell (heaven – the fatty in me wanted to jump up and down)! The desert was amazing, it definitely hit the ‘chocolate’ spot!! You tasted the very rich dark chocolate first and then got a warm hit of the cardamon at the back of your throat – I have not tasted anything that has given me that sequential flavour burst before. It was rich, intense and spicy at the same time. The addition of the cheese toned down the warm spice which was nice at first whilst I was getting used to the flavour. So huge thumbs up from me for this desert! My friend also fell in love with their desert, they in fact stated it was the best cheesecake they had ever tasted! It was incredibly creamy and rich but I did not like the fruit jelly on top but they loved it! 🙂

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All in all the food was great (apart from the under cooked squash);the highlight of the night was most definitely the desert! I did initially think this restaurant would rival Paramount but I think it falls short just a little.  The only gripe I have about this restaurant is the decor and atmosphere, decor = bland and atmosphere was nonexistent when we arrived and a little awkward.

Verdict: I would definitely go again

Food was great, desert amazing, great value for money and something different – who cares about the decor and atmosphere when the food is good?

Food: 8/10

  • Ambience: awkward, very low lighting (not good for taking pictures – apologies for how dark they look) and a little odd
  • Decor: beige, bland and a little old people’s house feel about it (not really my thing!)
  • Service: good when we eventually got our food
  • Value for money: I would say most definitely! Good quality ingredients and 4 courses for £35 bargain!
  • Price: ££££

(4 courses x2, ginger beer, sautéed potatoes = £80 including £4 service charge).

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~ by khannablog on February 27, 2014.

2 Responses to “I wish I was 22 again!”

  1. Everything looks great! But omg, I’m so amazed at how small those portions are! 🙂

    Really great read and now I’m hungry.

  2. I think the plates were super big and considering there were 4 courses I was pretty (very very) stuffed!! xx

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