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5116 1

Midsummer House Restaurant

AA Notable Wine List 2017-18
AA rating

About this rating

Restaurants are awarded from 1 to 5 Rosettes for culinary excellence. One Rosette restaurants are highly recommended in a local area and five Rosettes have reached the pinnacle of culinary excellence at a world class level.

Read more about AA ratings and awards

Minutely considered modern cooking by the river

AA Inspector

At a glance

Vegetarian menu
Private dining
Wines by the glass
Wheelchair access
Service charge
Credit cards accepted

First-timers may be struck by the relative simplicity of Midsummer House. It's no grand mansion, but a modestly proportioned Victorian dwelling overlooking the Common, snug behind its garden wall, with a conservatory extension built out on the left-hand side. It sits beside the river on what is still common grazing land, so one mustn't be at all alarmed to see the odd herd of cows plodding peaceably by just outside, with the more expected sight of university rowing teams gliding past behind them on the Cam. Daniel Clifford took the place on just under twenty years ago, with the intention of making it one of the city's – and indeed county's – destination restaurants, an aspiration that has been not just realised but impressively sustained over the years. The dining-room is done in relaxing charcoal tones, with smart napery, crystal light fittings, and a picture window giving on to the kitchen. In recent times, the format has been simplified, the previous range of menus now refined to an eight-course core offering, with vegetarian alternative, and a further five-course option at lunch. Clifford's dishes are minutely considered, with nothing extraneous or superfluous, each one displaying evidence of the intense culinary thought that has gone into it. It's cooking that is of course responsive to the seasons, but also has great imaginative energy, and never looks less than striking. The various elements are brought together in inspired counterpoint, as when a pairing of red mullet and octopus is given its extra dimension with 3-D accompaniments of fennel and orange, or when the widely favoured combination of beetroot and horseradish brings a new angle to a serving of roasted Anjou pigeon, which comes with a pastilla of its confit leg. Perhaps the true measure of confidence is to make an ostensibly run-of-the-mill proposition into something revelatory, so asparagus season might see an opening plate of bright green spears under flawless hollandaise with a little burnt onion for sweetness, while spelt risotto of morels and wild garlic is a masterclass in earthy pungency, and texturally unimpeachable too. The optional cheese course is worth considering, as a glance at the royally laden trolley will confirm, and the pair of desserts to follow might begin with the famous aerated pear with blueberry and white chocolate, and go on to a dramatic face-off of passionfruit and dark chocolate, with a creamy yogurt sorbet holding the line. A wine cellar approaching a thousand listings should furnish something for everyone.

Opening hours

  • Closed: 2 weeks at Christmas and New Year
  • Days closed: Sunday to Monday
  • Closed for lunch: Tuesday
  • Lunch served from: 12
  • Lunch served until: 1.30
  • Dinner served from: 7
  • Dinner served until: 9


  • Chef(s): Daniel Clifford

Food and drink

  • Cuisine style: Modern British
  • Vegetarian menu
  • Wines over £30: 945
  • Wines by the glass: 17

Price guide

  • Service charge
  • Credit cards accepted


  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Assist dogs welcome


  • Seats: 45
  • Private dining available
  • Private dining seats: 16
  • Off-site parking available: On street

Additional information

  • Seats: 45
  • Private dining available
  • Private dining seats: 16

Getting here

Park in Pretoria Road, then walk across footbridge. Restaurant on left

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