Eating at the Pass: Vanderlyle Cambridge review
Fancy sitting at the pass? Try it at Vanderlyle in Cambridge and watch a passionate, professional and dedicated team at work from the best seats in the house. This is the first time we had chosen this option and would recommend it to anybody who is really interested in food. We had plenty of opportunity to ask lots of questions about the ingredients and watch the plates being created. We could also see the slick systems and the workings of the restaurant and kitchen. This was a real treat.
The drinks pairing:
Opting for a drinks pairing was another first for us. Vanderlyle offers a number of matching packages, each of which includes 4 drinks to accompany and enhance your enjoyment of each course. You can go fully alcoholic (£35), non-alcoholic (£25) or a mixture- two alcoholic and two non (£30). This range of choice gave us the push we needed to try a pairing- I went for the alcoholic flight and Mel went for the mix. If this isn’t your thing they also have an interesting and unusual wine list to choose from.
On to the wonderful food! We started off with a series of snacks, all delightful and each one providing contrasting tastes and textures. A small bowl of celeriac remoulade arrived with crisp zatar flat bread. Pile the remoulade on top of the flatbread and enjoy.
I have to confess my heart sank a little when I heard that the crumpet we had loved on our last visit was not on the menu (it will be back in the future). However, the slice of bread and butter pudding, topped with green tomato jam more than made up for the absent crumpet. The richness of the soft pudding was balanced with jam- an inspired combination. A tray of these and a crisp glass of white wine would make a rather splendid evening!
A dinky cup of fresh soup made with the abundance of fresh vibrant basil brought our snack selection to an end.
Next, a stunning salad of Cambridgeshire produce which contained 31 different ingredients. The fun comes in trying to identify all the flavours and matching them to list provided by the chefs. Even though this dish was packed with so many different flavours, it was expertly brought together with a fantastic dressing.
The Cambridge dry gin and tonic with basil and perilla syrup was a refreshing partner for the salad.
On to a stunning bowl of chowder served with a delicious cornbread. Flavoured with girolle’s, lapsang souchong and sweetcorn, this looked incredible but tasted even better. The South African chardonnay matched with the dish did a great job of cutting through the creamy chowder.
Celeriac baked slowly for hours in hay and cut into large wedges arrived next, served with sweet, fruity roscoff onion. Roasted kale brought crunch alongside a silky celeriac and pear purée. This smoky dish was paired with a fruity Syrah-Pinot Noir from Australia, or for the non-alcoholic option a smoked pear and celery tea. A really interesting combination of flavours.
Then, a refreshingly tart greengage semifreddo with a light peach granita.
Dessert is a stunner. Roasted white chocolate cremeux, served with a seasonal pumpkin curd and a lovely crumbly, expertly salty streussel. Seriously skilful cooking. Paired with a Hungarian Tokaji sweet wine, or a blackberry and peony liqueur.
Sitting at the pass watching Alex Rushmer and Lawrence Butler put together a series of exemplary dishes at Vanderlyle was a fantastic experience, as was eating the dishes! We loved the chance to see the preparation behind the dishes and the systems of a quality restaurant. Trying some new and exciting drink combinations also added to the enjoyment. We are already planning visit number 3.
Booking at Vanderlyle, Cambridge:
Book a table for Vanderlyle’s daily changing 5 course tasting menu for £55 via the Tock system (well in advance to get a table)- you will not be disappointed.
For our local Cambridgeshire restaurant recommendations, please click here.