Fancett's Bistro

Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

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Sometimes a restaurant captures ‘neighbourhood’ so completely that its name could define the type. So it is at Holly Minns’ and Dan Fancett’s bistro on Mill Road, Cambridge’s off-centre hub of all things indie. Dan’s classical-rooted cooking doesn’t fuss with fashion or fad. This friendly little 24-seat restaurant is a place simply to eat well and be looked after well. A spring menu sees the mild flavour of hand-dived scallops and razor clams bolstered by ‘nduja and the fresh crunch of draped agretti in an appetite-pricking starter. Be warned: seconds of the excellent house-made focaccia maybe required, for this sauce isn’t one to waste. Spring also sees local asparagus as a starter with truffled chopped egg mayo, or as a main lined up neatly alongside pearly discs of sweet roasted monkfish, or fillets of John Dory. The spears are topped with a puck of seaweed and lemon butter that melts richly into crushed Jersey Royal potatoes – it's a delight. In an ‘enjoy them while you can’ approach, Jersey Royals pop up alongside tender lamb with young turnips and carrots, and give substance to a velouté with home-smoked trout and dill crème fraîche. A savarin is a proper pudding, the yeasted cake laden luxuriously with rum and sweet syrup, and raisins are drunkenly fat with the same, but coconut sorbet pulls everything back from the edge of over-sweet. Chocolate fiends will spoon up every last bit of a dark chocolate fondant with malted milk ice cream. So-called ‘fancy’ wines are chalked on a board, or choose from a restrained list that opens at a reasonable £25 with an organic Verdejo from central Spain. And long live the £29 three-course ‘du jour’ menu (with choices) – a cracking lunchtime offer if you're in the area.