Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Good places to eat in London and, er, Pampisford

Fellow fenlanders might like to try out the Chequers, in Pampisford: quite a nice walk from Sawston. They've revamped their menu, and it's pretty darn good. A had the sausage and mash, which was okay but lacked onions. I had a jacket potato with smoked bacon, mushrooms and gruyere. Just the right degree of ponciness, and they didn't skimp on the cheese. Excellent stuff. And a good range of beers. Much better than the Red Lion in Ickleton, where we went a week or two ago because it had been recommended: definitely over-poncified, and our home-made burgers were really quite nasty.

In London next to Farringdon tube, and nipped into a new place called St Germain. Turned out to be pretty packed, but they said they'd see what they could do. When I said apologetically that we also had a pushchair, they were all smiles. I was waiting a minute or two for the manager and three different members of staff came over to say he wouldn't be long... gosh. The manager himself managed not to make "You haven't booked?" sound like a snub, and was as helpful as a human being could be. We also saw that they have a set menu at two courses for £14, three for £17, which they do *all the time*. We will be back! (89-90 Turnmill Street, EC1M 5QU)

As we couldn't get a table there, though, we set off for Exmouth Market. Everywhere was either packed to bursting, or completely empty. Then at number 55 was a place that looked good. Again, super-friendly staff, pushchair no problem. In fact,this time the manager came over with a lime and a cork for Sasha to play with. And the guy at the next table spent ages talking to Sash. And the food was *fab*. The starters we chose were foie gras parfait, mmmmmm, which they recommended a glass of dessert wine with, and it was an especially gorgeous one. And scallops, which were cooked to perfection -- tricky, as they take less than a minute -- with fennel, which was beautiful. Main courses of beef something, lovely again, with polenta to die for (no idea how they made it so tasty), and a fantastic puree they said was parsley, though I don't usually like parsley and this was yummy. And a red wine risotto with goats' cheese and beetroot that was pure genius, and possibly the only time that a vegetarian option has actually competed with the carnivorous stuff. Puddings were a divinely squidgy chocolate pudding with marmalade ice cream, yum yum, and a very tasty cheese selection. All that, and every person in there -- customers and staff -- was lovely. Starters were £5-8, mains £8-14 or so. Do go: The Ambassador, 55 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL.

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