Cambridge has long been crying out for a restaurant that offers good food at an affordable price, so all hail Alimentum.
The location itself won’t draw you in (no views to speak of, and it's on the wrong side of the railway bridge, around a ten-minute drive from the city's main attractions) but the statement décor and confidently executed cooking certainly will. The pan-European menu is sophisticated without being overwhelming, but head chef Mark Poynton isn’t afraid to innovate either – try the smoked eel and pork belly with sweet pickled cucumber and beetroot, or the slow roast sirloin “Bordelaise”, fricassee of snails and girolle and braised beef shin. Just make sure you make room for the exquisite granny smith fool with apple sorbet.
Unsurprising, then, that Alimentum continues to rack up the awards – from being included in Top Table’s top ten romantic restaurants in the UK to winning Independent Restaurant of 2009 at the RSPCA good business awards. All of which means you can wine and dine here with a clear conscience. (If the small talk runs out you might observe that all the wood in the restaurant interior was derived from sustainable sources, the meat is locally sourced and GM free, and even the used oils from the kitchen are collected to be converted into biofuels.)
Add a broad-ranging, largely European and generally affordable wine list (including wine served by the carafe), friendly but unobtrusive service and a range of incentives including Happy Mondays (three courses for £18.50), BYO Thursdays and the ever-popular Jazz club on Tuesdays, and Alimentum becomes a destination in itself.
152-154 Hills Road, Cambridge (+ 44 (0)1223 413000, restaurantalimentum.co.uk)