I felt quite smug with tickets for a Sunday matinee show and pre-theatre lunch booked at - where else - Cafe Clarkes at Peterborough’s Key Theatre.
Admittedly, the fact that the show was a couple of miles away at the Cresset was an oversight, but it didn’t detract from what was a surprisingly good Sunday lunch.
It is a great venue - down by the river and with acres of glass so you can watch the world go by.
I love the interior - particularly the John Clare poem ( I think it is called Autumn) which stands out on one wall -and it remains a relaxed dining venue offering a modern twist to familiar British dishes - and a couple of draught beers.
Naturally, the menu was based around Sunday roast, but there were alternatives with five starter and main course options.
The smoked Lincolnshire Poacher croquets were a delight. The distinct mature, smokey taste of the melted cheese was dominant, but the breadcrumb coating had a nice crunch and lovely just-fried taste.
Together with the sugar-sweet red onion chutney it was very enjoyable indeed.
My one gripe: it came on a slate - which may have made it a more attractive dish but meant my salad spilled over the table every time I touched it.
The chilled gazpacho soup was thick and moreish- nicely garnished with basil oil and herbed croutons.
Donna followed that with the roasted sirloin of Lincolnshire Red beef - effectively a steak and served medium rare. The meat had a super roasted taste - which the fat simply adds to - and the Yorkshire pudding was big and crispy round the edges.
I wasn’t bowled over by the roast potatoes but the beans and sprouting broccoli was nicely done and the gravy rich and meaty.
Properly done, slow cooked pork belly is meat heaven... and this was right on the money.
A big, thick slice, it was beautifully soft and moist with a combination of flavours on every loaded forkful - more so partnered with the sweet apple puree. The herby crushed potatoes were decent and the veg went down well too.
Two enjoyable courses for £16, great service and a lovely setting made for a memorable lunch, even if we did have to drive across town for our theatre performance.
Venue: Cafe Clarkes, Key Theatre, The Embankment, Peterborough 01733 561465 www.cafeclarkes.co.uk
From the menu:
Chilled gazpacho soup with herb croutons and a basil oil.
Chicken liver parfait with home-made chutney and melba toast.
Lincolnshire Poacher croquettes with a red onion and grape chutney(v).
Deviled whitebait with a lemon and parsley mayo.
Cafe Clarkes crayfish with a homemade seafood sauce.
Roasted Sirloin of Lincolonshire red beef .
Chicken kiev with roasted new new potatoes with creamy mushroom sauce.
Slow cooked pork belly, whole grain crushed potatoes and apple puree .
Cafe Clarkes traditional fish and chips, crushed peas tartare sauce (gf).
Local Oundle farm asparagus and pea risitto with tender shoots (v).
Warm chocolate brownie with vanilla bean ice cream.
Lutton farm rasberry cheesecake with a rasberry and vanilla ripple.
Lutton farm berry Eton Mess (gs) .
Selection of ice cream or sorbets.
Two course £16, three courses £20.