A crop of exciting eateries and services are bringing new life to the Cambridge dining scene
Fragrant curries, burgers, gourmet kebabs and more are in store for diners at Vetomeato, a new plant-based eatery operating out of Ta Bouche in the city centre. Along with a range of ‘rebellious street food’ inspired by southeast Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines, there will be vegan drinks and sides, including kimchi fries, falafel popcorn and steamed greens with peanut sauce. Mains are priced at £7 each, or you can opt for a family sharing box, and seating is available both inside and outside within Ta Bouche’s revamped, socially distanced dining area.
“Our diners can travel via their taste buds!” says Vetomeato’s co-owner. “It’s no secret that some of the world’s most amazing food is found in nooks and crannies; served by vendors sizzling, steaming and grilling in alleyways, markets, and on pavements. Celebrating the best food from the ground – vegetables, herbs, spices – Vetomeato is bringing you far-flung flavours through inventive dishes and global classics that will excite and satisfy.”
Nanna Jude’s Bagels
Whether you fancy sinking your teeth into the finest paella this side of Valencia or warming your soul with a steaming bowl of Sri Lankan curry, there’s a world of flavours and cuisines to explore on Cambridge’s food scene. One thing we’ve never had? A seriously good bagel shop. But all that’s about to change with brand-new bakery and mobile food truck Nanna Jude’s, which will be launching in its bricks-and-mortar form at Cambridge train station within the next few weeks. You can expect salt beef bagels worthy of London’s Brick Lane from this outfit, which is on a mission to bring traditional kosher street food to Cambridge, with a modern twist.
Nanna Jude’s is on a mission to bring traditional kosher street food to Cambridge, with a modern twist
The eatery is the brainchild of Sam Partridge, who’s joined by his wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and close family friends, the Hiders. The Partridge family geography spans Bratislava, Vienna and London, which is where their mother, Judith, settled in the 1940s – the ‘Nanna Jude’ of the company’s name.
Alongside the classic salt beef (pictured right with a toasted bagel, salt beef, onion chutney and double-smoked cheese), the menu includes a ‘chicken schnitzel bagel’ composed of breadcrumbed chicken breast and lemon and chive mayo with rocket, as well as an assortment of cakes and drinks to try. Search Nanna Jude’s Bagels on Facebook for updates.
Nine months ago, Toby Savill and James Perry (pictured) were in the early stages of developing a food delivery app in London, with a view to testing it in Soho. Then Covid-19 happened and the brakes were slammed on – but with the pair finding themselves temporarily living in Cambridge, a new plan emerged. Foodstufff was born, quickly beginning its mission to give independent eateries a fairer deal in the delivery marketplace. The model gives restaurants and cafes 100% of the order money (taking only a nominal monthly sub fee of £30 – a figure in stark contrast to the 35% cut companies like Deliveroo can take per order), and delivering via eco-friendly bicycle.
Launching a new business during peak lockdown definitely came with its challenges, says Toby, but there’s no doubt that the climate was pretty much perfect for Foodstufff’s particular offering. “The urge at the moment to support independents has helped us,” he explains. “People love the independents in Cambridge, and don’t want them to go anywhere – we’ve been lucky to be a part of that. What we’ve learnt is that it’s definitely an educational piece, too, people don’t necessarily realise how much Deliveroo charges and how much that can damage small businesses.”
Uptake has been great so far, with twenty vendors signing up, including Cambridge favourites like Steak & Honour, Amélie, Scott’s All Day and Fitzbillies, and more being added every week. The goal is to focus on Cambridge, recruiting the city’s top traders into the Foodstufff family, before expanding to as many as five different locations by next summer – potentially offering more profitable, greener delivery method for eateries around the country. Watch this space!
Gog & Go
The Gog has demonstrated its ingenuity and innovative spirit repeatedly over the course of the Covid-19 crisis, first with its drive-through grocery shop and now with ‘Gog & Go’, a new takeaway service. Head chef Gary is back in the kitchens working his magic and whipping up seasonal salads, freshly made baguettes, hummus, crudites and more delicious light bites, all made with the best Gog ingredients and local produce. They’re perfect for lunch on the go, refuelling after a walk over the Gog Magog Hills or just as a little treat!
In an excellent piece of news for CB4 dwellers, the team behind The Linton Kitchen has just opened a cafe on Chesterton High Street. Sitting on the site of the Blue Moon Barbers, the cafe has been named Barbarella in honour of the building’s heritage, and still bears the original 1950s barbershop pole (though now it’s painted pink and gold!).
“We’d been looking for a potential second site, and a few opportunities had arisen over the years, but nothing I felt was right for us,” explains owner Gemma Whiting. “Last year, some friends approached me with a shop in east Chesterton: they’d bought the shop and flat space next door to their house. It seemed like the right fit. I was aiming to open late 2019, but planning issues and falling pregnant put that on hold! Topped off with the pandemic as we were about to start the refurb meant we had to pivot and think outside the box.”
Currently, you can pop in for delicious bakes and hot drinks, with brunches, lunches and grab-and-go picnic offerings arriving soon
Gemma headed in a new direction, teaming up with local florist and grower The Botanical Alchemist to open Barbarella as a pop-up takeaway and flower shop, “until Covid subsides and allows us to refurb and metamorphose into the cafe we intend to be!” Currently, you can pop in for delicious bakes and hot drinks, with brunches, lunches and grab-and-go picnic offerings arriving soon. Coffee comes from Hot Numbers and all sweet treats are sourced from Barbarella’s big sister The Linton Kitchen. There’s also a range of pantry items, including bread flour, jars of local honey, fresh Suffolk free-range eggs and Grain Culture bread and pastries.
“We’ve had great support so far and when the weather remembers to be sunny again there will be some 1m+ outdoor seating for people to watch the world go by from,” says Gemma. “I can’t wait for some normality to return so we can embed ourselves as a community hub in east Chesterton, just as we have done in Linton.”
Cambridge’s vegan dining options are expanding all the time, with the likes of Vegan Vice, Doppleganger and Wandering Yak all doing a roaring trade and demonstrating just how interesting (and delicious!) vegan food can be. The latest plant-based enterprise to join their ranks is Thrive, which occupies the three-storey building on the corner of Norfolk Street and East Road that used to house CB2.
The cafe and bistro, which opened its doors in July, is a passion project for a group of five friends who met through a love of vegan food and coffee. “We’ve got quite a wide mix of skills and backgrounds in business and hospitality, and we knew that we had a shared vision and wanted to create somewhere nice to connect with people over good food, where no animal products are used,” says Jeremy Peters, one of Thrive’s founders.
The cafe and bistro is a passion project for a group of five friends who met through a love of vegan food and coffee
“Two or three of us were regulars at CB2 for many years. It’s such a prominent location and there’s loads of space and it’s really flexible. But it’s also next to the Full Circle shop, which we’re big fans of – so we now have an opening between the two shops, and also with [vintage clothing store] Serpentine Swap, and we all share a similar ethos: we all want to reduce the impact on the environment.”
The team has given this beautiful 160-year-old building a complete overhaul, creating a fresh new look with the help of local creatives and craftspeople, plus much greenery from Darwin Nurseries. Along with three floors of cafe, there’s a basement room with a stage, an outdoor terrace, plus ‘The Hive’ – a bright and peaceful studio at the rear of the building which the owners envisage being used for yoga classes and meetings. Food-wise, you can expect a tempting assortment of vegan bakes, such as homemade jaffa cakes and white chocolate-marbled flapjacks, plus cold brews, kombucha and Hot Numbers coffee to drink, and a range of meals.
Expect a tempting assortment of vegan bakes, such as homemade Jaffa cakes and white chocolate-marbled flapjacks, plus cold brews, kombucha and Hot Numbers coffee to drink, and a range of meals
“The menu will change quite frequently, but right now, for example, we’ve got tofish and chips with minted mushy peas, which has been our bestseller so far. In fact, somebody said yesterday that we did the best chips this side of Wells-next-the-Sea harbour!” grins Jeremy. “It’s kind of very easy street food, so we’ve also got deep-fried oyster mushrooms with garlic and thyme sauce, and onion bhaji fries, that kind of thing, and we’ll almost always have a pasta dish on. All the ingredients come from local businesses, and that’s really important to us.”
There are also oodles of gluten-free options, and plans for a new brunch menu on the horizon, while longer term, Thrive has ambitions of becoming a hub of the community, hosting a variety of events and adapting its offering to best serve the people of Cambridge.
“This is a long game we’re playing,” concludes Jeremy. “The five owners have all put a lot of money and time and creativity into this, and we don’t expect a fast buck, but it’s all about delivering on the vision that we have: to create a place
for people to connect in. The response so far has been fantastic, and we want to keep evolving and responding to what people want.”