It’s all about local and sustainability.
In 2016, the City Pub Company transformed one of Cambridge’s most well-known cycle shops, Howe’s Cycle Shop, into a quirky eatery and pub. Cambridge residents had fond memories of this shop and were sad to see that it had to close, so what better way to celebrate Howe’s than to decorate it with bikes and other memorabilia?
The Old Bicycle Shop has been one of Cambridge’s popular places to hang out since its opening in May 2016. It is a great place to meet for a drink, cocktails, brunch and a bite to eat in the main restaurant, at the back on the terrace and in the cosy wood-panelled private dining room upstairs. Although most of the restaurant is dedicated to dining, there is a lovely space to have a drink at the entrance and outside in the front.
This quirky eatery has built up a name over the years as one of the places in Cambridge to go for brunch, plant-based, vegan and vegetarian food, but also for its excellent selection of meat and fish dishes.
With the launch of their Autumn menu, they decided it was about time to focus more on the local community and sourcing excellent products right on their doorstep to reduce their carbon footprint and do their bit for the planet!
Celebrating local products and independents is very important, and why shouldn’t we? The offering has changed a lot over the years. Local farmers now produce a range of excellent cheeses. There is no need to get them from abroad. The same applies to artisan bakers, butchers and fantastic locally-grown vegetables.
Here at the Old Bicycle Shop, you can enjoy fresh fruit & vegetables delivered every morning from Kale & Damson, delicious sourdough from Stir Bakery, Baron Bigod ( Brie style cheese) sourced from the Cambridge Cheese Company and cheese from the Norfolk farm of Mrs Tempelton are only a few to mention. The team is very proud of their suppliers, so please ask if you want to learn more about them.
I was delighted to join them in their private dining room last week to sample some of their new autumn menu dishes. The food was very tasty and not too heavy on sauces and dressing, so the star of the show was the main ingredient. That’s how it should be!
Although I don’t follow a plant-based diet, I love vegetables. The spiced roasted carrot & caramelised red onion tatin with vegan feta wasn’t just vegan but gluten-free too! You could have fooled me with the feta being vegan. It was delicious! This dish comes with a chicory, apple & walnut salad. The layers of flavours of this salad were spot on. I wouldn’t recommend having this dish all by yourself. It would be too much. Most of the food at the Old Bicycle Shop is perfect for sharing. A great way of dining out with friends or family.
We also sampled Carpaccio of beetroot, pumpkin ravioli with sage butter, roasted pumpkin, sauteed wild mushroom, crispy shallot and pumpkin seeds that evening. The Chicken and smoked ham hock terrine with pickled shitake mushrooms, caper berry & sauce gribiche was lovely and light, hot smoked Chalk Stream trout, beetroot salad, horseradish and rosemary cream, roasted plums with cinnamon and orange, almond sabayon and amaretti crumbs, Lemon cheesecake, blood orange curd, charred clementine and a selection of British cheeses which included Baron Bigod, Mrs Templeton cheeses ( a poacher and Binham Blue).
Checking out their new menu, the Tandem looked quite appealing: baked feta with chilli & agave syrup, tenderstem broccoli with crispy shallot, tomato & red pepper hummus, roasted miso aubergine, crudites, aioli, toasted sourdough and you can add chicken supreme, smoked salmon or king prawns.
And what about the wine? They always have had a good selection of wines, but they now prioritise that their selected wines are sustainable too, with the businesses’ having good practises in place.
In case you have not heard of chalk streams, here is a small note about them and why the Chalk Stream trout is so delicious. Some of the most beautiful rivers in England are ‘chalk streams’. Their pure and clear water from underground chalk aquifers and springs, flowing across flinty gravel beds, make them perfect sources of clean water. So you, the Chalk stream trout sourced from this is of excellent quality. Most of these streams can be found in England, but this chalk also runs from Sussex and Essex into Northern France’s wine regions. Hence, the area of Saffron Walden is excellent for producing sparkling wine.