Connoisseur Chronicles Logo PNG

Connoisseur Chronicles

Alex

Food blogger based in Cambridge, UK. Passionate about trying out recipes from all over the world, tasting drinks of all sorts and dining out in England and beyond. Read More

Dine at home: Restaurant Twenty-Two

Back in September 2020, anticipating tougher restrictions coming, I made sure to pay my Cambridge favourite Restaurant Twenty-Two a visit – my last in-person dining experience for a while. I am very glad that it was an excellent one! Four months later, Sam Carter, Alex Olivier and their team are launching a dinner box to recreate their fabulous seven-course meal at home. 

How it works

Box Contents Restaurant 22 at Home

The Twenty-Two at Home menu is changing weekly, with orders opening on Thursday evenings and usually selling out within minutes. Boxes must be picked up from the restaurant in a Covid-safe manner at the pre-booked time slot on Friday or Saturday of the week after booking. Priced at £45 per person, it is a great value for what you get: Seven courses made from high-quality ingredients, carefully packed and labelled, with easy to follow cooking instructions. Most courses only require reheating in the oven or saucepan, while the fresh meat and fish need to be pan-fried – the most difficult parts are demonstrated in a video accessed via QR code. If you fancy an extra treat, you can go for matching wines paired by Sommelier Alfie Scott and delivered to your doorstep by local wine merchants Thorne Wines the day before the dinner.

 

How it tastes

Having been to Restaurant Twenty-Two three times, I was pleased to see that they stick to their menu structure (snacks, bread, amuse-bouche, starter, main, dessert and petit four) and cooking style, which might best be described as ‘Modern British Cuisine’ with refreshing international touches here and there. Tried and tested flavour combinations often come with a special twist and different textures are playfully combined in every single course.

 

Snacks: Lancashire Bomb Cheese Gougère & Gloucester Old Spot Pig’s Head Croquette with Sauce Gribiche

Cheese Gougère and Pig's Head Croquette Restaurant 22 at Home

What a comforting, yet appetizing start: The richness of the crispy pig’s head is cut through by the acidic sauce gribiche, an elevated mayonnaise with cornichons, capers, pieces of boiled eggs and herbs. Piping the cheese cream into the choux pastry of the second snack was nearly as satisfying as munching on them – craving for more!

Bread: Calverley’s Stout & Treacle Bread with Chicken Fat Butter and Chicken Skin

Stout and Treacle Bread with Chicken Fat Butter Restaurant 22 at Home

Restaurant Twenty Two’s bread and butter creations always amaze me. The sticky-sweet and slightly bitter bread is made with stout from the local Calverley’s Brewery. Eaten with the savoury chicken fat butter and crispy chicken skin bits, this should be the definition of umami.

Amuse Bouche: Celeriac Velouté with Truffle Crème Fraiche and Sourdough Croutons

Celeriac Velouté Restaurant 22 at Home

Eating involves enjoying AND learning for me, so I am not ashamed to confess that I had to google ‘velouté’: a French (I guessed that) thick sauce made from roux and a light stock. The Twenty-Two version is combined with celeriac, a truffle crème fraiche and croutons, which all comes together to a true palate pleaser – or amuse-bouche, to stick to French.

Starter: Hand dived Orkney Scallop with Radish & Ginger Salad, Wild Rice and Satay Sauce

Scallop with Red Cabbage and Ginger Salad, Wild Rice and Satay Sauce

A perfectly cooked scallop – which it was, thanks to the team’s detailed instructions and video tutorials – can shine in preparations of all sorts, but I have never had it in a Southeast Asian set-up. It was a brilliant combination of textures and flavours: a rich and spicy satay sauce, a fresh and crispy salad (red cabbage and carrot rather than radish?), and a mix of roasted peanuts and puffed rice went surprisingly well with the delicate seafood.

Main: 50 Day Aged Retired Dairy Cow (Rib Eye & Braised Short Rib) with Pomme Purée, Carrot, Kale and Red Wine Jus

Dairy cow with Pomme Purée, Kale, Carrots and Red Wine Jus Restaurant 22 at Home

The main turned out to be a rather classical plate of food – but miles away from a humble Sunday roast. Using retired dairy cows seems to be en vogue at the moment and makes total sense in terms of sustainability. It can be on the chewy side, but this quality meat from Malloy’s Craft Butchery was not. Coming as a raw steak, which needs to be fried and oven-baked, and as a prepared braised short rib, the beef was clearly the star of this plate, with a delicious red wine jus, a buttery potato puree, and kale and carrots in supporting roles.

Dessert: Dark Chocolate Crémeux with Malted Milk, Salt Caramel and Passion Fruit

Dark Chocolate Crémeux with Passion Fruit Restaurant 22 at Home

Dark chocolate and fruit? Some hate it, some love it. I belong to the latter ones: When fruity acidity meets creamy chocolate, there is nothing else I need. Maybe layers of malted milk, salt caramel and chocolate crumble if it is as good as here! The elegant reusable plastic cups are waiting for their next puds.

Petit Four: Clementine and Bay Leaf Truffle

Clementine and Bay Leaf Truffle Coffee Restaurant 22 at Home

Fulfilling my love of chocolate and fruit once more, the clementine and bay leaf truffles, served with a cup of coffee, were a wonderful way to finish the meal. It was a first for me, but could we make bay leaf the next trend ingredient in sweet stuff after Miso paste, please?

Wine Pairing

Wine Pairing Restaurant 22 at Home

Having the option of a wine pairing makes the whole dining experience even more enjoyable. Every week, sommelier Alfie Scott selects a trio of matching wines that can be complemented by an aperitif if desired. Orders and deliveries are done via local wine merchants Thorne Wines, with detailed tasting notes being sent via email.

For the aperitif, I went for the Ayala Brut Majeur NV Champagne which I had not tried before. It delivers all the crispiness and citrus notes you can expect from a glass of champagne – a great companion for the snacks and amuse bouche.

The Vondeling, babiana, Voor-Paardeberg, South Africa, 2017, with its deep yellow colour, tree fruit aromas and medium-full body is a wonderful choice to stand against and to elevate the strong flavours of peanut and chilli in the scallop starter. I had this at Restaurant Twenty-Two before – good to know where to get my future supply.

Being a fan of Rhône reds, I was intrigued to see how the classic GSM blend (Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre) shines in Roussillon, 200 miles further south. The Res Fortes, Rouge, Côtes du Roussillon, France, 2015 turned out to be my favourite of the night! On the palate, I had intense red berries, black fruits and cherries supported by subtle tannins. Great with the beef course, but to be honest – happy to have this on any other occasion. I must try other wines from this producer when placing my next order.

The De Bortoli, Deen Vat Series, Botrytis Semillon, Riviera Autralia, 2017 delivers the classic dessert wine flavours known from Sauternes – at a much more attractive price! Aromas of caramel and passion fruit in the dessert are reflected in the wine: exotic and dried fruits, caramel and citrusy notes are prominent.

Conclusion

While the quality of the dishes and flavour combinations are as impeccable as ever, no home kit can ever replace the wonderful service and intimate ambience that make a restaurant visit so special and unique. Still, the way the Restaurant Twenty-Two boxes are put together, the sense for detail and the smile upon collection convey the positive spirit of the restaurant and the team behind it – a wonderful example of a small restaurant smoothly adapting to the difficult circumstances we are facing.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on pinterest

2 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Your Fork Lee Westcott Trout Asparagus Hollandaise

Dine at Home: Your Fork

Your Fork aims to deliver the ultimate night in with a great dinner as the star of the evening. I tried Lee Westcott’s five-course menu.

Read More