Right outside King’s College is The Cambridge Chop House, an independent institution that owns something like four other gastronomic destinations around the Cambridgeshire area. Thanks to its close proximity to city center and its occupation of that sweet spot between a “nice” night out and not being too “fancy,” it’s a pretty popular destination. Thankfully, the food is pretty good too.
I’ve gone there twice now in the last couple of months – once with the guy and then again with my parents – and on both occasions there was a lot to enjoy and not as much to poo poo.
So since there’s so little negative, I’ll get it out of the way first. My biggest quibble: a lot of the plating and presentation didn’t do the food justice.
Well, even if it had been presented properly, I’m not sure what would’ve done this appetizer plate justice. It was basically two scotch quail eggs, two crab croquettes (the big, fried spheres) and then, confusingly, some smoked salmon, some duck, and some turkey just… there.
The quail eggs and potato croquettes I have nothing against – here they are bitten into:
But the rest of the stuff felt like someone had run to Sainsbury’s, picked the meat section at random and then haphazardly threw it onto a plate. It didn’t help that the sauces – a minty water and a fruit-like chutney – had been positioned in a way so that you weren’t quite sure what was supposed to be dipped in what.
So don’t get that if you go. Do, however, get these:
The Veal Barnsley with mashed potatoes and carrots. Barnsley apparently refers to the cut of the meat – it’s a slice off the topside.
Roasted Pheasant Breast with root vegetable bake. This is one of those dishes that really could’ve been plated nicer, but overall tasted good enough for you to forgive it.
The meat on both was great, but what really struck me was how awesome the sides were. That root vegetable bake could’ve been a meal on its own and I am totally one day going to try my hand at that carrot mash.
From the second visit:
Ham Hock Salad with Treacle Dressing
Roasted Beetroot and Goat Cheese Salad
One thing I noticed is that they seem to like to have way too much of the unhealthy element of the salad mixed in there. I have nothing against ham hock, but there was too much of it for the leaves to balance out the salt. With the Roast Beet and Goat Cheese Salad, I was overwhelmed by all the goat cheese. In fact, there was enough left on my plate by the end to probably dump on another salad… and I LOVE cheese.
Still, the mains shone again.
Roast Duck Leg with Mash & Greens
Fish of the Day: which I believe was Gilt-head Bream.
I want to note here – while the regular menu can get a little pricey (with mains ranging from £12 up to £26), their pre-theater menu ends at a decent hour (7pm!) and is way cheaper. Two courses for the cost of their cheapest main cheaper! Well, you know what they say… Early bird gets the discount!
Moving on… Finally, the desserts were quite good as well – very homey and British. Check out this fruit crumble:
If you happen to have people visiting, this is about a good a choice as any to treat them to a nice Cambridge meal. Bonus point: it’s located right next to The Eagle, the pub made famous by two drinkers who had a Eureka moment there and then figured out we are all made of DNA.
The Cambridge Chop House // Corner of Benet Street and King’s Parade, Cambridge, CB2 1SJ // telephone: 01223 359506