Mrs P and I never wanted to go to Trinity. A couple of weeks ago we didn’t know it existed and that’s because a couple of weeks ago it didn’t. As we sat on the beach in Whitstable enjoying a drink and a native wild oyster or two (well I enjoyed the oysters, Mrs P threw up a little bit in her mouth at the thought of eating them) we decided to make the most of our anniversary with a spot of dinner, as is standard in the P household. We considered our choices; my man SuburbanGent loved The Beach at Bude but we wouldn’t get there in any sort of reasonable time frame and his other tips for a hotel get away such as The Grovesnor or CitizenM are all interesting but didn’t really pop my fizzle. I wanted something new, something fresh. I wanted Cambridge.
And why wouldn’t we? Being the daredevil couple of crazy adventurers that we are, we set off on the hundred mile trip towards our dinner destination, scrolling through possible venues on the way. You would have thought that Le Bab would have taught me a lesson about booking these sorts of things in advance, but apparently not because here we found ourselves on a Saturday night again, hungry and with the Burger King of last resort being the only certainty of the evening. So let the reservation lottery commence:
Tradizioni – Full
Aromi – Full
Don Pesquale – Full
Midsummer House (admittedly a long shot but still worth a chance, right?) – Full
This was not looking good.
Cambridge Chop House – Full
Fitzbillies – Full
Café Milano – Full
Varsity – Full but…
Had we heard of Varsity’s sister restaurant, Trinity? No we hadn’t. Did we want their number? Yes we did. Was there a table free for two people? There was only one way to find out…
Trinity is an odd choice of name for a restaurant situated in Trinity Street, just off Trinity Lane and directly opposite Trinity College but inside this very unassuming venue the class factor is increased by a factor of ‘yes’. The décor was lovely, the booths were new and unworn and even the bar stool tables held an informal difference to the expected norm. Trinity classy and genuine without being kitsch, in short it’s my kind of place.
We were welcomed warmly and sat looking back across the room, housing about ten tables and enjoyed a very pleasant anniversary prosecco. The classy design flourishes continued downstairs into what we affectionately nick-named ‘the love cave’ . Clearly they understood the unspoken rule that should be applied to both restaurants and life; upstairs for the romance, downstairs for the fun. Damn, these guys are good.
We started with some focaccia, oil and vinegar. The house baked bread is light, fluffy and if you ever needed a reason to deplore restaurants throwing a mass produced roll at you to ‘enjoy’, this is it. Having had my appetite for oysters well and truly whetted, I was convinced to try Trinity’s Jersey efforts. I have to say that raw, it didn’t cut the mustard against Whitstable’s finest but then, it wasn’t a fair fight. The Rockafeller on the other hand was a thing of beauty, the briny tang and the iron-rich spinach combined to give a shell full of fishy heaven. Give me a plate of these and I’m good to go – just look at it.
Starters were pigeon and scallops. The pigeon (with ham, charred pear and pearl barley) was cooked perfectly with a more blush than a vicars daughter, the crispy ham was great too and the pearl barley wasn’t as heavy as I had feared. The charred pear was present but just didn’t cut through, and left me wondering why the chef had gone to the effort of blow torching it in the first place. The scallops with black pudding soil, pea purée, crispy pork belly, mint foam was likewise impeccably prepared and presented. This is one pretty dish and Mrs P was more than happy to see it away but allow me a brief moment of reflection if you will: charred pear and black pudding soil. As you can imagine I spend a disproportionate amount of time watching cooking on TV. I understand the fashion and trend for new dishes and tastes but as of today, I am still struggling to make sense of burnt fruit and crumbled sausage. I’m sorry and I understand that I am in the minority here but why would calling anything edible dirt make it more appetising? Challenge me by all means, challenge me and I will attempt to rise to that challenge, but don’t think you’re fooling anyone by telling me that cauliflower rice is the future.
Nothing says main course to Mrs P more than lamb and this rack, potato fondant, carrot & brown butter purée, Swiss chard, red wine & rosemary jus combo was just the ticket. Mrs P left her swiss chard as she’s not a fan of the bitterness but otherwise the plate was wiped and the bones were picked clean. It’s safe to say that this scored highly.
My plate of braised octopus, saffron risotto, onion purée, steamed mussels, chervil foam and charred sweetcorn, reached an equally mountainous altitude because I am prepared to admit that I liked each and every mouthful. I’ll take an exception to the burnt veg because as everybody knows, bbq’d sweetcorn is one of life’s little secrets. If you can do it properly, and clearly someone at Trinity can, then whipping one of these bad boys out on a Saturday evening sun-burnt burger fest will get a top score again and again.
Puds next and Mrs P asked for the Amaretti and lemon cheesecake, orange jelly, honeycomb, lemon mascarpone for me while she chose the Panna cotta, caramelised apple, oat crumble for herself. My cheese cake was good if not amazing; the creamy, gel topped, crunchy bottomed slice was a great size and tasted as sweet and tart as promised. Perhaps the honeycomb could have been thicker but really it was missing a bit of ‘wow’. Mrs P’s panna cotta let the side down a little unfortunately because it was more a jelly than a panna cotta, the crumble didn’t do much either and the apple saucey bit at the bottom wasn’t big enough, or special enough to make any significant difference. In all fairness to Trinity, they noticed that we didn’t like it and removed it from the bill, big props guys.
So, should you go to Trinity and enjoy some Italiano hospitality? Of course you should, although considering how difficult we found it to get any table in the first place, the chances are that you’ll probably have to wait aaaaages for a table. If you find yourselves in Cambridge and in need of a decent dinner, then you better hope that you’ve booked ahead because by the time you’ve read this review, you can be damn sure that the word will have got out that Trinity is going somewhere, just as soon as they’ve sorted that panna cotta.