The Graduate Lunch

TAKE ME OUT: Spend your parents’ money and celebrate your degree with The Tab’s restaurant guide.

aa gill alimentum ASK gastronomic graduation midsummer common nandos oak bistro Pizza Express sunday times Van of Death Van of Life

Goodbye student beans, hello parental mint!

All year long you’ve been hoarding ASK vouchers, constructing gravity-defying towers of five penny pieces to pay for your GBK 2for1, collecting Nando’s stamps and joining restaurant mailing lists in the hopes of saving some dollar. The drought is over. It’s Graduation – and that means parents, and Parental Dough, are in town, wanting to treat their darling Cambridge graduate offspring to a slap-up meal in one of Cambridge’s finest restaurants. But where to go now you’re not limited to Student Beans? The Tab sniffs out some gastronomic delights to rinse good old M and D, based on how well your exams went.


GEOFF HURST: Midsummer House
: Midsummer Common, Cambridge
Reservations: 01223 369299

Not for the unsophisticated palate; Midsummer House has two Michelin stars. Suffice to say, it’s pretty swish. Plus, the railings outside are the only original railings in Cambridge to survive the requisitioning of the War. Now is the time to whip out some snazzy facts to continue to bolster your academic prowess. Grannies love chat about the surrounding area, so do a quick google before you go, and arrive equipped with specifics to dazzle your proud auntie/dazed grandfather/tearful mother. Once inside, don’t bat so much as an eyelid when the pink grapefruit and champagne amuse bouche arrives, with a waiter appearing with a faintly ridiculous siphon to deliver it – this kind of thing happens all the time in Formal Hall. The aim is to look as sophisticated as possible, so order the Maple caramelised sweetbreads with Ox tongue and pistachio to start and the Kidney for main. Mega kudos for the Kidney, cooked in its own fat with snails. When your wine arrives, take a long, ponderous sniff before you taste. It’s something you are encouraged to do when on a swap.


From Cindies' Foam Party to foaming Ox tongue.


TREVOR NUNN: Alimentum
Location: 152-154 Hills road, Cambridge
Reservations:  01223 413000

Alimentum is regularly lauded as one of the best kitchens in the Cambridge area. Not hard considering that its immediate competition comprises a Travelodge and a multiplex. Still, despite this rather unfortunate location, the food is far more scrumptious than those Pizza Express Americans you’ve been wolfing down all term (too much oil, not enough salt). AA Gill, the formidable Sunday Times restaurant critic, gave it 3 out of 5 stars, which is pretty impressive, although his final comment was a rather backhanded compliment: “I regret that the evident gastronomic pleasure of Alimentum’s kitchen doesn’t compensate for the godawful Cromwellian misery of Cambridge.” This makes Alimentum the perfect place to celebrate the 2:1 that heralds the end of your godawful degree, then. Order the most expensive thing on the menu: Salt Marsh Lamb for starters and Sirloin of Beef for main, because unless you’ve got a cushy job at Goldman Sachs lined up for next year, the sweet taste of good quality meat will be altogether out of reach in three months’ time.


From The Baron of Beef to The Bavette of Beef.


Location: 6, Lensfield road
Reservations: 01223 323361

According to one head honcho at The Tab, the Oak Bistro is a little-known but “ideal” location for the parental Midas touch to fund a celebratory meal. The menu boasts all the usual suspects – pork belly, crispy duck, king prawns, goat’s cheese, and all those other pairs of words which herald a much-loved dish. The prices are reasonable, and its’ situation isn’t as hideously miserable as Alimentum. Make sure you order some Shetland Scallops as a starter, to prove your gastronomic habits have matured whilst studying at Cambridge, and munch away safe in the knowledge that this feast isn’t eating into your student loan.


Location: 10 Quayside, just down from Magdalene Bridge
Reservations: 01223 307030

The fact that this location for parental fleecing is primarily a bar means that drowning your sorrows is just that bit easier – the cocktails are particularly good here. The view is suitably luscious, looking out over the river and Magdalene, a view to cherish as you face up to the farce of your academic pretensions for the past three years. There is nothing particularly wild on the menu but the stuffed vine leaves are a good bet, and the venison has always been well-seasoned. If you got a Third then you’re coming here more for the alcohol than the food – but try the chips to soak up all that vodka. They are fat and wholesome. 


DAN QUAYLE: Van of Life
: Market Square
Reservations: 999

Why not take your parents to the Van of Life (or maybe with your certified ‘Fail’ you should be heading to Death) and relive that post-Cindies high with some deep-fried ‘shrooms? Flash your student card and you can save 10%. At least you’ve still got your savvy student wits about you, even if you fucked up your degree.