The Old Fire Engine House – Ely

It’s rare to find a genuinely quirky restaurant; all too often it’s contrived quirkiness in the name of up selling but I’ve got a gem for you. If you’re after true quirky, you need to visit The Old Fire Engine House in Ely, Cambridge. I say I found it but actually my mum’s been going for years and only recently shared it with the family when P and I visited over bank holiday.

The restaurant is in an 18th Century farmhouse and still very much has that feel about it. There’s a sitting room upstairs where you can relax, you walk through the kitchen to get to the tables and there’s even a bathtub in the bathroom! Before we sat down to eat we had a glass of wine in the beautiful garden which also overlooks the cathedral.
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After taking in the menu (which is hand written daily) we were shown to our table, as I mentioned you walk through the kitchen to get to it. For starters P and I both had the Chicken Liver and Brandy Pate (£6.50). Perhaps not the prettiest of pictures but tastes just like homemade pate should; a rich irony flavour with a good kick of brandy.
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For main course I went for the Pigeon & Bacon Casserole (£17); I was pretty surprised when a full pigeon turned up at the table! It was a bit tricky to eat but worth the effort; slow cooked until the flavours were deep & intense. The gamey taste worked perfectly with the bacon. Not a new combo of flavours but classic for a reason. It was served with a crispy on the outside but fluffy inside baked potato and an array of veg.
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P went for the Roast Leg of Lamb with Fresh Herb Stuffing (£17). Again nothing new about the flavours, but it was like the best roast dinner you could ever hope to make.
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Then something happened which my mum had told me about but was still quite a novelty; they came round and asked if we wanted seconds. I don’t think I’ve even heard of another restaurant doing that let alone been to one that does. I politely declined (though I was curious to whether they’d bring me a whole pigeon again) but my dad & P took up the offer. Sure enough our waitress brought round a couple of bowls with extra lamb and potatoes in for them.

Surprisingly P still had room for pudding (and I never say no to dessert) so we ordered the Meringue with Fruit & Cream (£6.80) along with Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream (£7.80). P said it was the best meringue he’d ever tasted (quite the compliment as he’s very fussy about them) and the home made ice cream was sensational.
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If you’re after somewhere that’s a bit fancy and refined then The Old Fire Engine House is probably not going to fit that bill. But if you want somewhere that is like going to a friend’s house for dinner then you should definitely pay The Old Fire Engine House a visit, as it just so happens that the friend is also a fantastic cook.

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