In celebration of the Ivy Brasserie opening in Cambridge, we chat to head chef Stuart Conibear, and share some delicious recipes from the menu
If there’s one new restaurant which has got the city talking over the last few months, it’s the Ivy Cambridge Brasserie, which opened its doors on Trinity Street last month. An extensive refurbishment has seen the building, once home to clothing store Jaeger, transformed into a gorgeous 160-cover restaurant, complete with stunning marble floors, sumptuous leather banquettes, a glittering onyx bar, and colourful artwork adorning the walls. It’s the first outpost in East Anglia for the rapidly expanding Ivy Collection, and is open all day from breakfast through to dinner.
Manning the stoves is head chef Stuart Conibear, who is no stranger to the brand. In fact, he first joined The Ivy back in 1996 when he took a job as sous chef at the original branch in London’s Covent Garden. “I worked there for four years and can honestly say it was the best career move I ever made,” he says. “The late 1990s were a prime time for the restaurant and it was a great opportunity for me. It was the place where I was introduced to brasserie-style cooking, which has absolutely shaped my career, and I am really excited to be working with The Ivy Collection.”
From there, he went on to work at a range of prestigious restaurants, including stints as head chef at top Michelin-starred hotels and – rather impressively – as personal chef to Prince Charles at Clarence House. Stuart also picked up a number of accolades, including the Elior Chef of The Year in 2013.
For the last eight years he’s lived and worked in Cambridge, and is keenly looking forward to bringing the world-famous Ivy brand to the city.
“I’m confident that we’ll be adding to the city’s already impressive food scene,” he says. “We’re very excited to have opened on Trinity Street, right in the heart of the city, and look forward to getting to know our local community and new neighbours.”
When it comes to his cooking philosophy, Stuart describes his style as belonging to the old school and having a commitment to quality, consistency and seasonal produce. His calling card is adding a spin to favourites in a way that redefines classic dishes, and this approach is very much evident in the Ivy Cambridge’s food offering. Combining modern British cuisine with some internationally inspired diversions, the menu features mouth-watering dishes such as chargrilled halloumi with Padron peppers, a warm crispy duck salad and The Ivy shepherd’s pie, with slow-braised lamb shoulder, beef and Wookey Hole cheddar potato mash.
“Our menus are all-encompassing, serving everything from breakfast, coffee and light bites to lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and weekend brunch,” says Stuart. “We also have a set menu option available Monday to Friday from 11.30am to 6.30pm, with two courses priced at £16.50 and three courses at £21. We’re open seven days a week from dawn until dusk, offering all-day dining for all occasions, whatever the time of day. Although reservations are encouraged, we ensure a number of tables are held back each day for walk-ins, ensuring passers-by can pop in for a coffee or quick bite to eat at their leisure.”
Apple and stilton salad serves 2
120g blue cheese sauce
8 pieces of endive leaves
70g 1cm chopped red endive
30g soaked golden raisins
20g 3mm angle-sliced celery
30g Pedro Ximenez dressing
10g caramelised crushed hazelnuts
40g 3mm sliced Granny Smith wedges
30g crumbled stilton
2g baby watercress
For the Blue Cheese sauce:
400g crumbled stilton
200g crème fraîche
200g sour cream
Weigh 400g of crumbled stilton into a bowl and add 200g of crème fraîche and 200g of sour cream. Blend until smooth.
For the Pedro Ximenez dressing:
8g Pedro Ximenez vinegar
22g olive oil
Pinch cracked black pepper
1 Place 70g of 1cm chopped red endive, 30g of soaked raisins and 20g of 3mm angle-sliced celery into a clean bowl. Dress with 30g of Pedro Ximenez dressing and gently mix to coat salad with dressing.
2 Spoon 60g of blue cheese sauce onto each plate and, using the back of a spoon, spread up and downwards. Place four prepped white endive leaves onto each plate, slightly overlapping, alternating direction of leaves. Spoon over the dressed salad mix. Add 15g of crumbled stilton per plate, ensuring the stilton is evenly spread over salad. Add 5g of chopped caramelised hazelnuts per plate and place five Granny Smith apple wedges onto the salad per plate.
3 Spread the apple wedges out so they cover all of the salad. Scatter over 1g of baby watercress and then drizzle a further 5g of tomato dressing around the salad, per plate.
Flourless chocolate cake serves 10
7 eggs (separated)
240g caster sugar
240g dark chocolate
80g cocoa powder
½ tsp sea salt
1 Whisk the egg yolks with 180g of sugar for 10 minutes until the mixture has tripled in volume. Gently melt the butter and chocolate, remove from the heat and mix in the cocoa powder.
2 Whisk the egg whites with 60g of sugar and the salt until soft peaks form. Fold the chocolate mix into
the yolks and then gently fold the whites, trying to keep as much volume as possible.
3 Pour the cake mix into a baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 150 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes.
The Ivy Shepherd's Pie serves 6
200g lean rib of beef mince
200g lean lamb mince
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
100g button mushrooms, brushed off and finely chopped
1 medium-sized carrot (approx. 100g), finely chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
3 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves removed and chopped
100ml (½ glass) red wine
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tin (200g) chopped tomatoes
300ml veal stock (you can buy veal stock from good quality supermarkets. If you can’t find it, you can use beef or chicken stock)
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp plain flour
Sunflower oil for frying
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
For the topping:
1kg King Edwards or Maris Piper (preferably)
50g unsalted butter
Salt & white pepper
1 Lightly oil both the lamb and beef mince. Heat a frying pan until smoking and cook the meat, mixing continuously, for about five minutes until the meat is a light brown colour. Pour off the excess liquid and put in a dish to one side until the rest of the ingredients are ready.
2 In the same pan, heat a little oil and gently sweat the shallots, thyme, button mushrooms and carrots for about eight minutes. Add the mince and mix in the tomato purée and cook for about five minutes; add the chopped tomatoes, red wine and reduce for about 10 minutes. Add flour and mix thoroughly. Add the Worcestershire sauce and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; add more Worcestershire sauce if required and then the oregano. Keep to one side.
3 Preheat the oven to 180°C / gas mark 4.
4 Peel and cut the potatoes into even-sized pieces. Cook in boiling salted water for around 15 minutes until soft; then drain and return to the pan over a gentle heat to remove any excess moisture. Using an old-fashioned masher or a potato ricer, thoroughly mash the potatoes and mix them with butter and season to taste.
To assemble and serve, put the meat mixture into an oven proof dish. Top with the mashed potato (you can pipe this if you have the time), put into the oven and bake for around 30 minutes. It should turn a nice golden colour.