I was taken out for a rather nice dinner last week. The Willow Tree gastropub in Bourn is about twenty minutes from central Cambridge. It's one of those places that you'd find quite hard to just randomly stumble across, and I'd never heard of it before. However lots of other people obviously had as it was pretty packed out for a week night in the countryside. The pub has a really lovely shabby chic look inside, and a highly impressive specials board (see below).
The menu is a combination of some pub classics such as burgers and fish and chips with more restaurant-style dishes. The main menu is pretty big in itself, and with specials for each course there also seemed to be an emphasis placed on local and seasonal ingredients.
I kicked off with a starter of fresh crab and smoked salmon mille feuille with a chard and radish salsa. This was a perfect light summer starter, which had very generous amounts of flavourful crab and salmon. The Male Companion Person (MCP) went for a bresaola and mozzarella salad, one of the specials, which was also declared delicious.
For my main course I reverted back to pub-style and went for fish and chips, while the MCP stuck with the more 'gastro' pan-fried sea bass and spring vegetables. My haddock came in a light batter, which could have been a little crisper, but was still very tasty. The chips were somewhat on the giant side (really not sure if I approve of the trend towards brick-sized chips) but again were cooked very well. And I really liked the pea puree, which retained the natural sweetness of the peas. The sea bass disappeared very rapidly, and was still being talked about several days later.
I was unfortunately far too full to sample a pudding but did manage a cafe mocha. This was also notable for how nice it was, made with proper coffee rather than from a sachet. Also of note was my glass of Cabernet Sauvignon Spanish rosé wine. This was beautifully fruity, and though it may have been a little sweet for some, it was perfect for me.
So all in all, with the lovely surroundings, prompt and attentive but not over the top service, and delicious food, there was very little not to like about The Willow Tree. I think it was reasonably priced for the quality of food it offered, and though the MCP paid on this occasion you can get an idea of prices from the menu. So props to the MCP for discovering this gastropub, and I am very much looking forward to a return visit!
The Willow Tree
Cambridge CB23 3SQ