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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.