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Midsummer House Cambridge


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David at Le Champignon serves the biggest scallops I've ever seen and they've always been perfectly cooked there. I wonder how he does his?

talent...

the scallops were about the same size - huge - which is why I was initially so excited when i saw they & why i was so crest fallen part way through

i kicked myself afterward for not complaining

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Well I've never worked in a commercial kitchen, so I suspect what I'm about to say is utter tosh. (a) Surely kitchens can have, say, 4-5 servings of scallops at a temperature of 10 degrees. These can be put back into the fridge if scallops are not selling well (the exact number can be based on past experience or if you are really scientific use time-series econometric techniques).

(b) Alternatively, take from cold fridge and put into tepid/warm water for 5 minutes.

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I don't work in a kitchen either but I'm guessing that taking scallops out of a fridge and getting them to 10 degrees and then putting them back in the firdge without cooking them is against health regulations. I'd also hazard a guess that the heat in most kitchens would mean that if the inside of the scallop was at 10 degrees then the outside would be higher - again another health hazard

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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When i cook larger scallops, i sear them in a hot pan as normal, but then i let them "rest" at the bottom of the grill to finish cooking.Only a minute, but it lets the heat get through to the center without overcooking.

edit, you really don't want to put scallop in water before you sear them, the water boils, the temp drops and it all goes tits up.

Edited by Basildog (log)
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I'm sure the chef at Midsummer does not need a lesson to cook scallops. Each time I had some they were perfectly cooked. Maybe it's the one off mistake which could happen anywhere. Who knows.

Did you tell them? What did they say? Or did you do like most customers who leave a restaurant with a big smile saying everything is wonderful and then criticise heavily?

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Well, whichever chef cooked Tony's scallops seems to need some refresher training! Tony posted above that he is kicking himself for not complaining. I'm sure the restaurant would have replaced the dish if he had, but it's nevertheless an unusual thing to happen in a 2 star where consistancy is key to winning and maintaining that rating.

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Well I've never worked in a commercial kitchen, so I suspect what I'm about to say is utter tosh. (a) Surely kitchens can have, say, 4-5 servings of scallops at a temperature of 10 degrees. These can be put back into the fridge if scallops are not selling well (the exact number can be based on past experience or if you are really scientific use time-series econometric techniques).

(b) Alternatively, take from cold fridge and put into tepid/warm water for 5 minutes

Yes, utter tosh!! Water, never

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generally you would think that as soon as the check comes on the scallops are taken out of the fridge and placed on a tray (sometimmes pre-seasoned tray), then the rest of the kitchen gets to work preparing the rest of the order, an amuse would be served normally at this level I would think which buys time for the kitchen, then when the pan is suitably hot enough, start cooking and as basildog says you can hold for a couple of minutes under the grill or even perhaps the oven, we colour on one side, then as we flip the scallop over then it goes under the grill to get the pan heat colouring the 2nd side whilst the grill works on the whole temp, (I use much smaller scallops than the michelin boys), then for the last 30-45 seconds finish with soft butter and lemon juice to impart great flavour and also add that final heat.

at the FD they use the huge scallpos and probe each one before serving it, keeping it gently on the edge of the range until perfect (one item they don't, or at least when I was there didn't, sous-vide)

this sounds like a severe dans la merde moment and tony was just unlucky. Please mention it next time though cos we are all human and are perfectly capable of buggering up even on a good day, if we are not told then we get no chance to correct and a mistake that early on in a meal put you on a bit of a witch hunt which magnified any further mastakes you may have forgiven, even if they are 2 star.

after all these years in a kitchen, I would have thought it would become 'just a job'

but not so, spending my time playing not working

www.e-senses.co.uk

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on reflection i think the dish had bigger problems than semi-cooked scallops. First & foremost - it was dry & dry food in a no no. The celeriac puree with truffles didn't act as a sauce, it was too stiff - also - the pairing of scallops & truffles didn’t really work - i thought it was a "lets use the most expensive ingredients" dish rather than what'll make this dish interesting, fun & satisfying. By comparison, those us fortunate to have make the pilgrimage to Cheltenham & tasted the pleasure of DEM’s scallops with pumpkin, squid & squid ink can’t help but have blown away by the harmonious composition in colour, texture and taste – these two dishes are a million miles apart.

(maybe we should rename the thread scallopgate)

Edited by Tony Higgins (log)
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First & foremost - it was dry & dry food in a no no.  The celeriac puree with truffles didn't act as a sauce, it was too stiff  - also - the pairing of scallops & truffles didn’t really work

Interesting coincidence. I went to Midsummer House tonight and had the scallops and beg to disagree with Tony. Absolutely no problem of cold inside. So maybe AlexW is right: Tony was just very unlucky. I did not feel the dish required sauce really, although I tend to be a ‘sauce person’ and often ask for more. Scallops were soft, warm and moist, and the celeriac purée smooth and light. As for the tastes, I think the truffle flavour in the purée was pretty clear (maybe a bit too strong to my taste) and apple jelly cubes tasted like fresh apple juice.

As for the combination truffle/scallop, it is a well tested one which I had at least at Ducasse, Passard, Darroze and Winkler! In fact I’ve just opened Ducasse’s Grand Livre de Cuisine and found no less than 9 recipes involving truffle (melano or alba) and scallops!

The alumettes of fresh granny smith apple together with the jelly brought that little acidity which nicely balanced the sweetness of the scallops.

By the way, there is a picture of the dish on the restaurant's website which you get by clicking on “The Menus” on the left menu but which is also directly accessible at: http://www.midsummerhouse.co.uk/images/content/plate3.jpg

Fabien

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By the way, there is a picture of the dish on the restaurant's website which you get by clicking on “The Menus” on the left menu but which is also directly accessible at: http://www.midsummerhouse.co.uk/images/content/plate3.jpg

Ah, that looks familiar, this is the starter I had a couple of months ago. I remember rather liking the striking crossing of the sauces on the plate rim.

I must admit that I didn't find it an entirely successful course. As you can see from the photograph, the scallop-to-accompaniment ratio is pretty high (particularly as the accompaniments are fairly insubstantial), and the scallops with which I was served were enormous.

They may have been warm in the middle when they arrived, but by the time I'd got through the first huge scallop and was tackling the second I don't think it was any more, because I remember cutting around the middle and leaving it. I don't think I'd have minded if the scallops had been sliced in half - to increase the ratio of caramelised surface to sticky inner - or if they had been more comprehensively accompanied, but with their size and the paucity of other substance on the plate, what starts as a quite pleasing dish risks turning into an overfacing trial-by-scallop.

With a single scallop (for me, preferably smaller or sliced in two) as a tasting menu course it would have been far more successful. The jelly cubes did indeed taste of apple juice, although I would have preferred a more powerful fat-duck-esque flavour 'hit' from them. The combination of various fresh and cooked forms of the ingredient (fresh julienned apple, 'cooked' apple juice reduction and then the jelly) is always a pleasing technique.

Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

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generally you would think that as soon as the check comes on the scallops are taken out of the fridge and placed on a tray (sometimmes pre-seasoned tray), then the rest of the kitchen gets to work preparing the rest of the order, an amuse would be served normally at this level I would think which buys time for the kitchen, then when the pan is suitably hot enough, start cooking and as basildog says you can hold for a couple of minutes under the grill or even perhaps the oven, we colour on one side, then as we flip the scallop over then it goes under the grill to get the pan heat colouring the 2nd side whilst the grill works on the whole temp, (I use much smaller scallops than the michelin boys), then for the last 30-45 seconds finish with soft butter and lemon juice to impart great flavour and also add that final heat.

at the FD they use the huge scallpos and probe each one before serving it, keeping it gently on the edge of the range until perfect (one item they don't, or at least when I was there didn't, sous-vide)

this sounds like a severe dans la merde moment and tony was just unlucky. Please mention it next time though cos we are all human and are perfectly capable of buggering up even on a good day, if we are not told then we get no chance to correct and a mistake that early on in a meal put you on a bit of a witch hunt which magnified any further mastakes you may have forgiven, even if they are 2 star.

Didn't the FD used to do a scallop and black truffle tower thingy back in 1999/2000 which was SV?

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From the website:

I think about food all the time, talk to my friend, family and colleagues constantly about food

A singular typo?

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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Didn't the FD used to do a scallop and black truffle tower thingy back in 1999/2000 which was SV?

quite possibly, wasn't aware of their menu contents back there. howeve when I staged there in January 2003, scallop was marinated then fried traditionally, and probed to a core of 50C then served immediately.

could be totally different there now, I haven't been over there for a good few months now.

after all these years in a kitchen, I would have thought it would become 'just a job'

but not so, spending my time playing not working

www.e-senses.co.uk

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  • 6 months later...

Excellent meal at Midsummer House, in Cambridge. The restaurant recently received its second Michelin star, and it deserves it. Pretty room, professional and friendly service, beautifully presented -- and delicious -- food. A very good wine list which I initially thought well-priced, and then I remembered that the prices were listed in pounds and not dollars.

Amuse: pink grapefruit and champagne foam, very tart.

Second amuse: pea soup with prawns, seaweed, and seawater jellée. Delicious.

Four first courses:

Papilotte of pigeon, with fig puree, a cabbage roll, truffle jus, shaved black truffle. The cabbage roll was a slice of black truffle around fois gras marinated in Armignac around chicken and mushroom duxelles around Savoy cabbage. Amazingly delicious.

Pork belly and ham hock ravioli, sweet corn puree, sun dried tomatoes, sauteed pineapple, pineapple, caramel, and pineapple coulis. It was amazing the way the tomatoes set off the rest of this dish.

Smoked eel salad with crispy pigs trotter, raw foie gras, Braeburn apple puree, and wild cress. Very good.

Seared scallops with cerleriac and truffle puree, granny smith, apple caramel, and apple jellée. Also delicious.

Three main courses:

Beef filet, shallot marmalade, celeriac puree, foie gras bonbon, and port essence. Delicious.

Pork cooked in hay, English asparagus, sauteed morels, purred broccoli, sorrel, and baby leeks. This was a light and tasty dish. The hay taste was subtle, and only apparent if you ate the pork alone.

Lamb end with mushroom couscous, tomato confit, broccoli puree, and lamb juice. Dish of the night.

There were fish options on the menu, but no one at the table ordered them.

Cheese course: too many to mention.

First dessert: sort of cheese cake, only more liquidy. Cheese foam, graham cracker dust, strawberry pieces, and some strawberry soup in a hollowed-out strawberry half. Very good.

Dessert:

Passion fruit and mango delice, spearmint ice cream, tea jelly, lavender honey, crystallized mint.

Biscuit glacé of peanut, banana sorbet, chocolate sauce, banana marshmallows.

Cannelloni of apricot, strawberry sorbet, fraise des bois, crystallized mint.

Organic lemon tart, lemon jelly, lemon sorbet, lemon meringue, lemon soup.

Roasted pineapple, coconut mousse, pineapple sorbet, pineapple jelly.

Apple tart tatin, garlic and bay leaf foam, vanilla ice cream.

We ordered three courses each, and got two extras from the kitchen. I couldn't tell if they do that for everyone, or if we were being treated special because we ordered nice wines and appreciated the food. In any case, we certainly did appreciate the food.

Wines (more for reference than anything else):

04 Pierre Gaillard St. Joseph

04 Domaine Viret "Le Coulee d'Or" Cotes du Rhone

02 Eric Saurel "Clos Montirius" Vacqueyras

I already said that the plates were beautiful, but it's worth saying again. Definitely the best restaurant in Cambridge.

Bruce

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Excellent meal at Midsummer House, in Cambridge.  The restaurant recently received its second Michelin star, and it deserves it.  Pretty room, professional and friendly service, beautifully presented -- and delicious -- food.

I concur with all of this; the above meal (which I had the pleasure of sharing) was thoroughly enjoyable! This was the first time I'd been to Midsummer House in several years, having been put off previously be an attitude that smacked of feeling they were doing you a favour by letting you eat there. I was delighted to find that there was none of that this time. The staff were friendly, accommodating and very knowledgeable. My previous experience had left me thinking that Midsummer House had the best food in Cambridge without wanting to return. This trip changed my mind; Midsummer House is the best restaurant in Cambridge, and I'll be back!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Had an excellent dinner at MSH last night. Very nice indeed.

Talking to Daniel Clifford, the Chef, he tells me that, like most of the industry, they are recruiting for both kitchen and front of house positions. These are permanent positions, not short term stages. If you want to join the team doing serious cooking at a Michelin 2* send your CV to reservations@midsummerhouse.co.uk.

Other contact details are on the web page http://www.midsummerhouse.co.uk/html/recruitment.htm

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  • 1 month later...

Dinner at Midsummer House on Friday night, four of us from work finally went as we have been trying to go for a long time. The restaurant backs on to the River Cam in a really lovely setting, it is a converted house that has been added on to with two conservatories, an extended kitchen and an upstairs bar.

We arrived and were taken upstairs to the bar, we ordered a bottle of pink champagne and were given some nice green olives to share.

After ordering we were taken downstairs to our table in one of the conservatories and offered some very nice bread, white or brown sourdough with a good chewy dark crust. We ordered the rabbit, the eel, the raviolo and the cannelloni to start and the bass, the lamb, the pigeon and the turbot for main course. I had the eel and the turbot.

The first amuse arrived, a small glass of pink grapefruit and champagne foam which i thought was ok. I guess it was there as a palate cleanser but i would have preferred it later on in the meal.

The next amuse was much better for me, a warm pea veloute with langoustine jelly, pea shoots and king prawns within it. The soup itself was very average and had a strong taste of potato but with the sweetness of the various garnishes inside it it was absolutely delicious (particularly the warm squares of jelly)

Next came the starter, i had the eel which was a collection of nice ingedients that for me competed against each other rather enhanced each other. There were five small rectangles of pig's trotter that had been breaded and fried, five curls of cured foie gras, apple puree, leaves, and seared smoked eel. The eel and the trotter were far too strong for each other, these two ingredients eaten seperately with the rest of the garnish were lovely but were too much together and made the foie gras taste underseasoned and dull. In order to curl the marinated liver it had to be served very cold and so had little flavour until it warmed up anyway. We all tried each others dishes and agreed that all of them had some fantastic ingredients, flavours or techniques on the plate but in all cases just too much together. They were like a collection of items rather than a complete 'dish' with everything working together. Particularly average was the poached rabbit being served fridge cold and particularly delicious was the foie gras mousse on the cannelloni dish.

Next up was the main course, i had the turbot which was perfectly cooked if a little bland and had a lovely flavour of toasted nuts that slightly overpowered the rest of the dish. The vanilla was not to be seen, apparently it is served at the table and they must have forgot, the squash puree was excellent but the asparagus beignets tasted of a dirty fryer and very little of asparagus. The seared scallops were excellent and the tiny amount of braised lettuce lovely too. The best main coure in terms of flavour was easily the lamb and by the same measure the bass was by far the worst.

Pre dessert was a fantastic strawberry cheesecake, in my opinion the pink grapefruit foam would have served better here but in terms of taste the cheesecake was perfect. It was actually biscuit crumbs topped with strawberry sorbet and a cheesecake foam served along side strawberry sauce and strawberry jelly. Very nice indeed.

Desserts ranged from very good to very poor, i took the fondant which was excellent. A perfect chocolate fondant, the lovely flavour of walnuts and coffee and the sweet flavour of the amaretto jelly. It didnt need the dates, they were not poached and didnt have a great flavour. The rest of the desserts were ok but the delice was particularly bad. The delice being very rubbery and the mint ice cream being far too strong and palate numbing (like chewing gum).

Petit fours were a selection of homemade chocolates, the highlights being mint and cherry the low light being white chocolate and curry. Coffee was fantastic and served with the deep fried Botreaux, apricot coulis and vanilla anglais (to dip in to)

With 1 bottle of champagne, 2 bottles of red wine and 2 glasses of dessert wine the total bill for four was £456.

Service was good (our friend is a chef de rang) but the food was just a let down. We had built our expectations up a bit but it is a 2* restaurant and i think expectations should be high. It is undoubtedly the worst 2* meal i have had and i have had many 1* or lower meals that were much better. It didnt even come close to The Square, Pied a Terre, Gavroche or Champignon Sauvage. As i have said elements were really good, but overall the food seemed showy and arrogant, as my mum would say "fur coat and no knickers"

Menu

Rabbit

Poached Rabbit, Sauteed Langoustine, Purple Carrots

Tarragon Jelly, Nasturtium Leaves

Smoked Eel

Salad of Smoked Eel, Crispy Pigs Trotter, Cured Foie Gras, Braeburn Puree, Wild Cress, Pissenlit

Ravioli

Ravioli of Pork Belly and Ham Hock, Sweet Corn Puree, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Sauteed Pineapple

Native Lobster

Roast English Lobster, Wild Leaf Salad, Mango Puree, Orange, Basil, Liquorice

Scallop

Seared Hand Dived Scallop, Celeriac and Truffle Puree, Granny Smiths, Apple Caramel

Fennel Gazpacho

Fennel Soup, Yogurt Sorbet, Baby Cucumber, Yogurt Mousse, Fennel Salad, Green Tea

Cannelloni

Cannelloni of Red Pepper, Foie Gras Mousse, Marinated Green Beans, Jamaican Pepper

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Main Courses from the Sea

Turbot

Braised Turbot with Peanuts and Pistachios, Wilted Cos Lettuce, Fresh Asparagus, Squash Puree, Essence of Vanilla

Sea Bass

Sea Bass Poached in Chilli, Sea Lettuce, Red Pepper Puree, Sauteed Apple, Lime Gel

John Dory

Fennel Roasted John Dory, Tomato Risotto, Crispy Bacon, Sauteed Squid, Sauce Nero

Main Courses from the Land

Best End of Lamb

Best End of Suffolk Lamb, Confit Shoulder, Broccoli Puree, Sauteed Girolles, Confit Tomatoes, Jus d'Agneau

Veal Kidney

Kidney cooked in is own Fat, Parsley Snails, Soubise of Onions, Young Spinach, Garlic Puree, Essence of Veal

Beef

Slow-Roast Fillet of Beef, Shallot Marmalade, Celeriac Puree, Bonbon of Foie Gras, Essence of Port (£7 Supplement)

Pigeon

Poached and Grilled Anjou Squab Pigeon, Pastilla of Cherries, Sweet Potato Puree, Spinach and Pistachios, Chocolate Jelly, Sauce Valrhona

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cheese

Farm House Cheeses

British and French Unpasteurised Artisanal Cheeses (Also available as an extra course, £17.50)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Desserts, Cold

Delice

Passion Fruit and Mango Delice, Spearmint Ice Cream, Mint Tea Jelly, Lavender Honey, Crystallised Mint

Lemon and Ginger

Lemon and Ginger Parfait, White Chocolate, Lemon Panacotta, Crystallised Ginger, Lemon Sorbet

Peanut

Biscuit Glacé of Caramelised Peanut, Banana Sorbet, Chocolate Sauce, Banana Marshmallows

Coconut

Coconut Mousse, Kalamansi Lime Jelly, Dark Chocolate, Coconut Sorbet

Apple

Garden Apple Parfait, Vanilla Mousse, Green Apple Sorbet, Cinnamon Ice Cream

Desserts, Hot

Pear

Pear Tart Tatin, Garlic and Bay Leaf Foam, Vanilla Ice Cream

(For two Persons)

Fondant

Coffee and Chocolate Fondant, Walnut Puree, Walnut Ice Cream, Poached Dates, Amaretto Jelly

Coffee

Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Tea & Infusions Botreaux, Homemade Chocolates £5

The quest for perfection will lead you to role models that will last you for life (Nico Ladenis)

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There still seems to be the same split between quite classical dishes and the more adventerous combinations that i saw three years ago - as if they haven't made up their minds whether to go fully down the "progressive" route. The raviolo dish sounds horrible - how did taste?

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There still seems to be the same split between quite classical dishes and the more adventerous combinations that i saw three years ago - as if they haven't made up their minds whether to go fully down the "progressive" route. The raviolo dish sounds horrible - how did taste?

Actually not as bad as it sounds, it didnt need the pinapple (i hate it anyway) and it didint need the sweetcorn ice cream (not listed on the menu). As the raviolo had been cooked and then sliced it went cold very quickly and obviously the ice cream really helped make it all taste cold. The raviolo itself was had a nice flavour, just badly concieved in my opinion.

The quest for perfection will lead you to role models that will last you for life (Nico Ladenis)

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  • 1 year later...

I went there in January, and it was well up to standard, but I may be biased.

There was a new oyster, guiness and black currant starter that was both witty and excellent, and a new riff on the confit chicken legs and truffle foam pie...

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  • 2 weeks later...
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