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Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
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Dinner At Tu Casa Tapas Restaurant In Cambridge

Published On Friday 21 Jun 2024 by Sticky Beak
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The Man Bird was due to be heading down to Cambridge with his day job, so I very cheekily cadged a lift in the jalopy, eager to see if my old stomping ground was as great as I fondly remembered. We passed my former work-place, Addenbrookes Hospital, as we headed back to the hotel after His Nibs had done his meeting, and then it was a case of freshening up before heading out to dinner.

Our original plan had been to revisit Chili’s (we’d had many fun evenings there) but, sadly, it was long-gone; turns out a lot of things have changed since I’ve left the city! Instead, we found a wonderful Tapas restaurant, called Tu Casa and booked a table. After having been driving for a few hours, it was nice to stretch our legs and walk from the hotel over to Mill Street (CB1) to Tu Casa, and we were greeted warmly as we walked through the door. I estimated that there is seating for approx. 50 folks, and there were already plenty of diners tucking in.

We sat down at the dark wood table and ordered some water, a glass of Rioja for me (£6.50), and a pint of Estrella for Him (£6.50). We had a quick discussion about the menu options, deciding to have a trio of Tapas as starters and a Chicken Paella for our main course. Whilst we waited for food to arrive, I took in the décor a little more. Wall shelves, made from recycled pallet boards, were filled with knick-knacks and there were prints on the walls. Wood flooring and warm-toned pendant lights gave a wonderfully relaxed, rustic vibe to Tu Casa, where the focus is on enjoying good company and equally delicious food.

First to arrive was a large platter of charred Padron Peppers (£8.75), lightly glistening with Olive Oil and sprinkled with flakes of sea-salt. His Nibs and I both love these minxes; and with their blackened, blistered skins that reveal super-soft, sweet flesh underneath, what’s not to love? I think there’s only been one occasion where we encountered a rogue ‘hot one’; other than that, we’ve always had the milder, sweeter pimientos.

His Nibs loves Calamari (£9.95), so as soon as he’d spotted that on the menu it was given that this would be winging its way over to us! As with the Padron’s, there was a very generous portion to enjoy, and we wasted no time in getting stuck in. A light dusting of Paprika flour provided a gossamer-fine coating that turned crispy when fried, and you just got a hint of the spice in your mouth. Chef had skillfully cooked the seafood, and the rings were moist and soft to the bite. All the accompaniment needed here was the superbly robust Aioli and a wedge of fresh Lemon to squeeze over as/if required; sometimes less is more, no?

Soon after the other two, our final Tapas dish arrived:  Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Red Peppers and Tu Casa’s Homemade Gravy (£9.95). I have to say, this looked jolly impressive and was certainly a larger piece of Pork than either of us had been expecting – not that this was a bad thing! The dark, rich gravy was punctuated with shreds of softened Red Pepper and this in itself was impressively flavoursome; so much so that I dived straight in with a slice of the bread provided, dunking in and scooping it up into my mouth. Just as marvelous was the super-tender Pork; this was mild and creamy and just a total joy to savour.

When we’d first placed our Paella order, the lovely young lady who was serving us advised that there would be a 20 minute wait for it to cook. This didn’t bother us in the slightest, and it turned out that we needed a little bit of breathing space for the three Tapas dishes to digest – we hadn’t been expecting them to be so satiating! Now, I don’t know about you, but my favourite bit of Paella is the socarrat; you know, that bit of sticky rice on the bottom of the pan – it just tastes so good! And, really, is it even a proper Paella if there’s no socarrat?! Thankfully, there was some to enjoy here…as well as the rest of the dish, which consisted of large
chunks of Chicken breast, Aubergine, Broccoli, Green Beans, and Peas. Everything was cooked perfectly and the flavours melded together in a symphony of mouth-watering marvellousness.

As is the usual case, our gluttony got the better of us and we ordered dessert: Crema Catalana – Crème Brulee, Vanilla and Crystalised Sugar (£5.95) for The Man, and Tarta De La Abuela – Grandma’s Custard, Chocolate and Biscuit Cake (also £5.95) for me.

The Crema Catalana was wonderfully silky and rich, with a gorgeously rounded Vanilla hint to it; it was a little runnier than French Crème Brulee’s though. His Nibs grinned as he thwacked the deep sugar top, and its smoky, burnt note partnered the crème excellently; a great conclusion to The Mans’ meal. No less superb was my multi-layered treasure with its swirling flavours of vanilla and cocoa. This was surprisingly firm textured cake, but it yielded easily to the dessert fork; no irritating crumbling or flaking to deal with, which allowed me to concentrate on the task of tasting all its elements fully.

Throughout our meal, our servers had checked that we were having a wonderful time, and it was lovely to see that all the tables were occupied as the evening had worn on. I would definitely advise booking ahead if you want to dine at Tu Casa; a couple of walk-ins were turned away, and this was on a mid-week evening, so I would imagine it’ll be even busier at weekends!

Hot Wings very happily awarded to this Cambridge restaurant. Next time we’re in this neck-of-the-wood, we’ll certainly be returning! Tu Casa is open every day of the week: Mon-Thurs 6-10.30pm, Fri-Sat 5-11pm, and Sunday 6-10pm. For table reservations call 01223 563357. You can also visit the Facebook page Tu Casa Tapas Restaurant and hit the tableagent.com button to book a table.

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