Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Ladies who lunch in new dresses
Both D and I had snapped up new dresses in the sales. One dress contained purple and one was black with a smattering of black sequins. Hmmm, I wonder which belongs to whom? And really the only thing to do when armed with a new dress is go somewhere glamorous for lunch. Well, that’s not entirely true. D had planned a surprise lunch at a mystery location for today and it would seem rude flaunt our new dresses in magnificent surroundings. And I wasn’t disappointed!
The mystery location turned out the be The Tickell Arms just outside Cambridge and what a fabulous place it is. The outside of the Tickell Arms is painted quite a strong unusual blue and the interior is wonderfully dark, gothic and painted more of a kingfisher blue. It is very quiet, supremely atmospheric and feels like we have just stepped back in time. The Tickell Arms was famously presided by Squire Tickell who unfortunately is no longer with us but I think his infamous persona still lingers. We are seated by the fabulous Chippendale doors looking out on the conservatory and garden beyond. I can imagine this would be just the perfect place to linger on a Summer’s day. The interiors is all beautiful dark wood, some eclectic little teacups and a few candles. I can imagine that taking a few pictures may prove quite challenging in this distinctive gloom.
We are given a little cup of the tastiest spicy carrot soup and some stunning Parmesan bread which we find curiously addictive! I then tuck into a soothing flaked smoked haddock with poached egg, baby spinach and beurre blanc. D plumps for smoked wood pigeon with fresh figs and raspberry compote. And we are ’forced’ to tuck into a little more freshly baked Parmesan bread.
I’m then brought an impressive plate of pan fried venison steak with peppercorn sauce and pomme puree and D an eye-watering roasted rack of lamb with fresh rosemary, garlic fondant potatoes and vegetables. We ponder how MC would have swooned at such a rack of lamb be he had to go back to work today whilst the ladies who lunch, lunch!
The food at the Tickell Arms has done more than tickle our taste buds, it is seriously good. Clearly we were bowled over by the Parmesan bread. My smoked haddock is just so soft , comforting and delicious. The venison is really tasty with a little kick from the pepper sauce and the pomme puree is so unctuous and creamy and worthy of the mash hall of fame. And I get a few bits of vegetables, though I am not positive about asparagus in January, where has it come from?
D seems just as impressed with her wood pigeon and rack of lamb. We don’t really have any room left but are persuaded that a little of the perfect crème brulee with raspberries would be the ideal finishing touch to our ever so stunning meal. I have a utterly spectacular glass of Australian Magpie Estate “The Sack” Shiraz 2003 with my venison and an Australian Miranda “Raisened” Muscat 2003 to accompany the crème brulee.
It was right about the photographs, I don't use flash as I wish to preserve the original colour of my meal and it helps me be a little more discrete but the ambient lighting doesn't serve the stealth photographer well. So please forgive the slightly odd hues!
Thank you so much D, it was a truly wonderful surprise, a really fabulous meal and despite making me think of the amply armed orange Mr Tickle, the Tickell Arms deserves a magnificent three forks.