Food Places to eat

Scott’s All Day – more brunch on Mill Rd

If you wanted to make a glib joke about Mill Road and gentrification, it might go something like an anecdote about a beloved curry house closing, being replaced by an absurdly niche-concept wine bar, and finally ending up as an all-day brunch joint that thinks a heap of kale is a fry-up.

Yeah well, it’s 2019. Irony is dead, the arctic is on fire, and the kale brunch is delicious.

Of course it comes with smashed avocado.

Scott’s All Day sits on the old site of The Golden Curry (and latterly Ony’s), and the Scott in question is Scott Holden, formerly of Fitzbillies. There are some lovely photos of the refit on Tim Hayward’s Instagram, and it’s a background that gives a bit of confidence that this incarnation of the site will fare a little better.

We first caught them on day two of opening, then again two weeks later. And while it’s safe to say they’ve had some teething troubles (two people down for lunch service today, poor sods!) it’s pretty promising so far.

On our first visit I inhaled a genuinely excellent (and genuinely enormous) slow-roast pork sandwich, was delighted, and then got lunch envy when the next table were served a heap of fried kale and tomatoes with avocado toast.

Peak Roger? Maybe. But this time I ordered the kale and it did not disappoint.

It comes as it’s described. There’s gently cooked kale, retaining a bit of bite, fried with baby plum tomatoes and a heap of mushrooms. The avocado is creamy with a little citrus zing. If I were making this at home I’d add plenty of cracked black pepper and garlic, but then I’d probably say that about custard. It’s a good time, and absurdly filling.

The more traditional fry up takes the same approach: get some good produce and cook it simply. Meat from the butcher over the road, good sourdough. It works.

They’ve tweaked the portioning since our first visit, so the “small” brunch is now actually enough food, and a few items on the menu had changed too. So they’re clearly iterating on the offering.

On that, I’m curious about (but yet to try) the evening option. It’s brunch all day, and pizza in the evenings. They’ve got a decent bottle selection and beer from Calverley’s on tap, so I’m hoping it takes a bar-with-food angle over having a pop at restaurant. The cafe feel is really working for them at lunchtime, and I’d love to be able to have a few drinks and then some dinner.

I’d love it even more if there were something to baffle some of the sound, too. The interior is great but there are a lot of hard surfaces and it gets a little noisy. Some lovely exposed brickwork and an industrial feel that manages to undershoot overwrought. I like it, and throw cushions are bullshit. But the Cambridge Brunch Chatter (house prices, genomics, bicycles) does ricochet off the walls a bit.

I also have some concerns about the service, or maybe the workflow. We waited forty minutes after ordering and neither food nor drink had appeared. When I asked, they’d lost our drinks order and were mortified. Now, granted they were short handed, it’s week two, and the food arrived quickly after that, but it’s an unprepossessing first impression.

They also seem to be routinely selling out of their house baked beans before midday. A good Boston baked bean is a delight, and at least this time they remembered to actually tell us when we ordered.

They’re getting there. The menu is seeing tweaks and the staff are absolutely lovely. I really want them to succeed.

Overall my verdict is pretty positive, even if they do clearly need a bit more time to find a rhythm. And that pork sandwich. Seriously. A beautiful bit of slow-cooked pork, slightly crisp in places, heaped onto decent bread with a dollop of salsa verde for contrast and some nice and sharp pickled slaw. It’s a fine sandwich.

There are a few brunch options on Mill Rd: people tell me Urban Larder is good now, Cafe Blue Sage does great eggs and mezze options, Relevant is decent, Hot Numbers apparently sells food? I hear it’s even good? I think I had some flapjack there once, on the single occasion in the last five years I’ve been able to get a table. Scott’s All Day adds to your options. It’s just before the bridge. Go check it out while the road’s closed and it’s still nice.

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