52 Trumpington St Cambridge, UK CB2 1RG
It was with excitement and trepidation that K and I finally arrived in Cambridge for our 6-week elective at the university’s teaching hospital. We’d rushed here from Brussels via London on the morning before our commencement and before we’d even unpacked our bags, took a bus into town to visit Fitzbillies – café, restaurant and home to the Chelsea bun.
Established in the 1920’s, Fitzbillies has had a long history of feeding the people of Cambridge. While it has undergone substantial development into a restaurant-type institution, much of its traditions are still being upheld, such as their decades-old recipes and cooking methods. Their famous Chelsea buns are loved not only by the town, but also internationally – they even offer delivery overseas!
While I enjoyed my iced coffee, I think K was expecting something a bit different to what he received, which was the equivalent of cold, watered down black coffee. We were definitely not in Melbourne anymore…
While presentation’s not their strong suit, the steak sandwich was actually quite delicious. The beef was cooked to pink perfection, its juices soaked up by the fresh ciabatta. Simple, yet very satisfying.
Those potatoes sounded great on the menu and tasted just as good – crispy and fluffy on the inside. However, I was a little disappointed with my sausage roll – while I loved that they were made to the same recipe as back in 1921, I wished the pastry was flakier and more buttery.
This moreish bun oozes English countryside charm – it’s rustic and homely and would be perfect with a nice cup of tea. Made from a yeast-enriched dough, it’s flavoured with cinnamon and currants and topped with a thick, sugary glaze. The result is a sticky and sweet bun that’s soft and fluffy on the inside but slightly crispy on the outside due to the caramelisation of the sugar. Personally, while it was nice, I found it to be too sweet and slightly sickening after a few bites – perhaps with the omission of the glaze it’d be more to my taste.
Fitzbillies was the perfect place to spend our first Sunday lunch in Cambridge and its long history makes it a favourite of locals and tourists alike. Our meal was lovely, and while the food itself wasn’t necessarily stellar, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of this humble little café. I’d strongly recommend a visit if you’re in Cambridge, even if it is just to try one of their Chelsea buns – it wasn’t my cup of tea but still a great experience to have!