Fine dining with Mark in Fen Ditton and Norwich
Mark Poynton is a well-known Cambridge chef. In 2020, he decided to launch his own restaurant, MJP @ The Shepherds, at Fen Ditton, near Cambridge. It was a challenging start, being the first year of the pandemic.
Inspired by his travels around some of the best restaurants and amazing markets over the last 28 years, Mark’s food is his own style, but definitely influenced by his mentors 2* Michelin Daniel Clifford and the amazing Paul Kitchen of 21212 and Juniper, who also held a Michelin star, but has recently passed away. You could describe his style as French Classics.
The menu at the Ancient Shepherds is quite relaxed. It has been created to allow you to enjoy as much or as little as you wish. Fish, plant and meat plates can all be small, large or for sharing, which my husband and I tend to do. You can even create your own tasting menu. The decision is completely up to you!
Fancy trying something new? Go for the Chef’s tasting menu. The team will put together a menu of Chef’s favourite dishes available at that time. If you like your wine, go for the flight of wine! It will certainly be a dining experience to remember.
Mark Poynton at Caistor Hall
In February 2023, Mark opened his stunning fine dining restaurant at Caistor Hall on the outskirts of Norwich. The venue was taken over in 2021 by Nick Mills, Chris Busby and Sian de Waal. They have big plans for Caistor Hall, aiming to become the pearl of Norfollk, adding more rooms and incorporating an exclusive spa, restaurants, a cafe and a deli.
John Brasted founded Brasted’s in 1984, which was originally a 22-cover restaurant, in St Andrews Hill, Norwich. It gained three AA rosettes and expanded into outside catering. In 1999, Mr. Brasted and Nick Mills, managing director, created Brasted’s Barns in Framingham Pigot.
Focus on local produce
The focus of Mark Poynton’s restaurant here is working with local produce. There is such an excellent abundance of local products and producers in the area that he decided that these should be some of the main stars of his creations. Bungay butter from Fen Farm Dairy and Binham Blue cheese from Mrs. Temple are only two to mention. Throughout the menus they have created, you will see local suppliers and produce across the seasons while also using the best produce from around the world to give you the best meal they can.
About the restaurant
We finally had the time to visit MJP at Caistor Hall a few weeks ago, and it was, as expected, an amazing experience. It’s definitely one of Norfolk’s top fine dining experiences. Don’t worry about driving back to Cambridge, as you can stay in one of the comfortable rooms at Caistor Hall. Mark’s restaurant here is open from Wednesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner. At lunchtime, you can opt for either the 5 or 9 courses and for dinner, it is the full 9 courses at dinner.
Suggestion for a city and country break
Are you looking to get away for a few days and want to avoid the big crowds? Instead of a long weekend, I highly recommend a midweek to Cambridge and Norwich rather than a weekend break.
Start with two nights at Caistor Hall and dine at Mark’s restaurant here on the second night, followed by one or two nights at MJP at the Ancient Shepherds, which is located in the quaint village of Fen Ditton only a stone’s throw away from Cambridge.
Enjoy one of the oldest university cities in the world, followed by a delicious dinner at Mark Poynton’s restaurant here. After breakfast, take a stroll through the countryside the next day and tuck into a comforting Sunday Roast at MJP at the Ancient Shepherds before you head home, or you might want to stay another night here.
Upcoming events at MJP at the Ancient Shepherds
Over the years, Mark Poynton has become well-known for his excellent wine dinners. I have attended most of them. Any excuse for a good glass of wine and delicious food!
For this Autumn, Mark Poynton has secured Ed Kieth from Hallgarten Wines for 2 wine dinners at MJP at the Ancient Shepherds this autumn. They will showcase wines from specific vineyards or areas and match them with 5 courses of delicious food to match them. Bookings will be 1st come as usual and confirmed upon payment.
Please note: They have limited spaces left for both Dinners. Don’t miss out and book now.
27 October Rioja Alta Wine Dinner
The famous wine of Rioja Alta on Friday, 27 October, with a 6.30pm arrival for a 7pm start. It will give you a chance to purchase a pre-dinner cocktail from Polly and Mike, which I highly recommend, as Polly is an excellent Mixologist!
17 November Taste of Rhone Valley Wine Dinner
Taste of Rhone Valley wines on Friday, 17 November, also with a 6.30pm arrival for a 7pm start. It will give you a chance to purchase a pre-dinner cocktail from Polly and Mike, which I highly recommend, as Polly is an excellent Mixologist!
The boring bit – Terms & Conditions
Due to their limited space, they may put dining parties together to maximise the table, so please bear this in mind when booking.
Both wine dinners are £125 p.p.
Bookings by emailing here stating how many places you would like and any passing on your dietary requirements for the evening. Unfortunately, we will not be able to cater for dairy-free or vegan diets at these events.