The Gonville Hotel – Cambridge

‘Advert – We were invited by the team at The Gonville Hotel to join their event for the purpose of the review. On this occasion we were not asked to pay to attend the event but no conditions were given on attending. Everything written is accurate and our unbiased opinion’ For more information on our policy, click here.

The Gonville Hotel has been a family favourite for years. We’ve had weddings here, afternoon tea, and dinners. In my opinion, it is a place which always gets everything right, yet I barely notice a mention on the Cambridge Foodies. Maybe it’s because it’s a hotel and most of the guests are from out of town or maybe my experiences differ from others but either way, I have always been a big fan myself. Imagine my delight when I was invited to try The Gonville’s debut ‘Supper Club’ menu, held at their new Terrace Restaurant.

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The ‘Supper Club’ is a new fine dining experience, offering a 7 course meal by head chef Jamie De Cruz, who trained under the acclaimed Master Chef, Hans Schweitzer. With this in mind, expectations were high, especially since the set menu was at the £85pp mark. For fine dining, this is a reasonable price but the real question is whether they can justify it. So many places charge the big bucks but often fail to deliver.

First of all, let’s get the gritty stuff out of the way. If you are a guest at The Gonville Hotel, parking is free. This includes a healthy amount of disabled parking too. For those of you who live in Cambridge this is unlikely to be a big deal but for the rest of us, this has already saved us time and money. Just show them your receipt and you are good!

I haven’t been to The Gonville in a while but ‘The Terrace’ restaurant is a fairly new addition to the hotel. Everything is modern but still managed to keep things looking traditional. This gives off a warm and familiar atmosphere to match the fine dining experience. Visually, the venue is stunning but it is also very spacious. Dining in ‘The University Arms Hotel’ you will notice that they try to cram as many tables in as possible leaving you about half a foot between tables. It is good to see The Gonville is not falling into this trap and putting comfort over turnover.

The staff are incredibly formal and professional while still managing to be warm and welcoming at the same time. They offered to take our coats and appeared out of nowhere when our drinks were empty. They would join in with conversation without over imposing. The balance of formality and warmth was perfect.

Being called ‘The Terrace’, you would expect a good view of Parkers Piece…and The Gonville didn’t disappoint! By offering a view from their large floor to ceiling glass windows, you are able to get a great view of the beautiful city of Cambridge going about its business, while you sit back and relax with attractive surroundings inside and out.

As you can see, there is outside seating, making this a great place to have a few drinks in the up and coming summer months. The Gonville has also been known to have live music out the front, so keep an eye out for future events. 

There is an extensive wine menu as well as a good selection of beers. Being a big fan of Czech beer, I went for a Staropramen which I was delighted to see served in a proper glass. A pint came to £6.

The first course was ‘amuse-bouche’ – a small mousse-based savoury appetiser. This was done with mushrooms, which is something I can be funny with but all doubt was whisked away when the delicate flavour hit my pallet. The piece was beautifully presented on a bed of grain and garnished with beetroot leaves.

The second part in our seven course journey was the ‘local sourdough bread and wild garlic butter’. The bread was served warm in a wicker basket and the butter on a brick slate. The butter did not look big enough for both of us at first sight but it was adequate for us both in the end. The butter was absolutely delicious with a soft complex flavour of garlic which did not overpower the pallet. The way the butter spread over the bread was absolutely perfect.

Our third course was the ‘poached white asparagus, slow cooked duck egg butrolled in leek ash, truffle hollandaise and chives’. This, for me, was one of the highlights of the evening. Up until now. I don’t think I have ever tried a ducks egg but I could tell that it was prepared perfectly when I put my fork into it. Watching the yolk burst open was a sight to behold and was worthy of a photo in itself.

Taking some of the leek and dipping it in the duck egg mixed into the truffle sauce gave a diverse and vivid party of flavours in my mouth, which I had no experienced in a long time. You could tell that the team had worked hard to carefully tinker this recipe to achieve a variety of experiences in a single bite. This is where your money was going and I challenge anyone who has tried it to tell me that it was not worth it.

Number four was the ‘pan roasted turbot and scallop, braised spring onions coated in chicken crumb, sea vegetables, watercress, and a chicken and creme fraiche sauce’. The Scallop had a slight sear to the outside offering a mild caramelisation, which created a delicious contrast to the succulent and juicy body. The turbot was crispy and golden brown on the skin while the flesh was meaty, tender, and juicy. Combined with the scallop. this delicious plate was both flavourful and texturally pleasing, with a subtle sweetness and a satisfying meatiness. This was all before the creme fraiche sauce added a creamy texture which topped off the dish. 

This remarkable looking delight was another highlight of the evening. The ‘chocolate and peanut delice with a caramelised banana, ice cream, peanut sable, cocoa puree and banana truffle’ was quite simply a decadent and indulgent dessert that was also visually stunning and delicious.

The chocolate and peanut delice had a rich, crunchy texture, and a deep chocolate flavour, with a hint of peanut that enhanced the overall richness of the dish. The ice cream was very smooth and paired perfectly with the chocolate and peanut delice.

Overall, this was the perfect indulgence to rubber stamp the top of a rich and complex tapestry of dishes which served before it. 

And finally, the ‘Petits Four’. We were presented with a rather striking wooden box which contained two macarons and chocolates. As you would expect, these were superb. The macrons were crispy and melted at the same time. A perfect light end to a real journey of diverse and complex dishes. We were offered a choice of coffee and tea, which we politely declined. At this point both my guest and I had been thoroughly spoiled. 

We sat at the table trying to be mean, thinking hard about picking faults because the evening had been perfect. Frankly, we couldn’t think of a thing. The ‘Supper Club’ is fine dining at its best and though some of you reading may think that it may be out of their price range, it was an experience which delivered in every aspect. You are paying for quality, and quality you get.

I want to think the team at the Gonville Hotel for a wonderful evening. 


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