Reys, Cambridge – rotisserie chicken

Reynard is a trickster figure, a Loki-ish fox dude from Medieval picaresque. “Renard”  is the French word for fox. Foxes are of course iconically partial to a spot of chicken, and Reys is a rotisserie chicken restaurant that’s gone in hard on the impish vulpine branding. All orange and jaunty furnishings, the chairs have foxtail stripes. That’s certainly cuter than blood and feathers in the henhouse.

Reys, Cambridge - downstairsThey sell roast chicken. It tastes like good roast chicken, and it doesn’t cost too much.

Everything else is just a little peculiar. There’s this slight Korean edge running through the menu that doesn’t quite sit with the Ikea farmhouse ambience, never really explained. The starters are cursory. But the chicken is fine. It just all doesn’t quite make sense.

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Guerrilla Kitchen at Cambridge Food Park

“Pop-ups” and street food are big news at the moment, and like any food fashion, some of it’s the grossly overrated shibboleth of the beard-stroking poseurs, and some of it’s genuinely fantastic. Cambridge Food Park is happily by and large composed of the latter. It’s a kind of meta pop-up, a pop-up of pop-ups, if you will. If you won’t, it’s a rotating selection of local food vans and vendors, serving lunch on Thursdays and Fridays.

I nipped down for lunch today, and had some fantastic char siu bao from Guerrilla Kitchen.

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These were freshly-steamed, and served with a simple selection of fillings: pork belly, chicken, tofu, or tongue.

I opted for pork belly and chicken, and I need to go back for the other two. The chicken had some spice to it, and was served with edamame beans and peanuts, plus a sprinkle of shredded leaves and spring onions.

FoodPark (1)The pork belly was gently flavoured with the char siu marinade, then cooked super tender with gooey skin, and finished on a hot griddle for a rich sticky finish. The cucumber is a nice fresh contrast. The buns themselves are soft and ever so slightly sweet. I’m not a bao connoisseur, but they make great fast food, and these seem to be well-executed and very tasty indeed.

It’s good, and if you’re looking for lunch you should definitely nip down to Food Park. It’s a rotating selection, and you can sign up for a newsletter or follow them on Twitter for notifications of which food vendors will be there when. Steak and Honour is a regular, as is Fired Up Pizza.

Other offerings include fancy hot dogs, Afro-Caribbean, cupcakes, coffee, and of course the splendid Inder’s Kitchen.

There’s some seating, though not masses, but it frees up pretty quickly. Some of the vans can have a bit of a queue, so you may need to be patient if it’s busy, but I didn’t see anybody waiting all that long. No, it’s a pretty slick setup, and a really good use of what’s basically a vacant lot on a construction site.

It’s just a pity there’s nowhere to get a glass of wine or a beer. Someone should add that.

SmokeWorks, Cambridge

As Cambridge slowly gives up even pretending not to be a London suburb, the accretion of restaurants you might actually want to eat in goes hand in hand with the complete inability to afford houses you might actually want to live in. A mixed bag, to put it mildly. But when I heard that we were getting a BBQ joint in that Bodeans/Pitt Cue style, I was excited.

The horrifyingly distorted economics of my hometown are somewhat beyond the scope of a paean to pulled pork. You could mutter darkly about gentrification or something, but in the centre of Cambridge that’s taking the piss. Plus, I suspect the tears shed for the demise of the Eraina actually fall more from nostalgia for greasy 1970s moussaka than any understanding of how food is meant to work.

No, the vaguely-Greek-if-you-squint trip around the Med in a deep fat fryer has been replaced with SmokeWorks, and I could not be happier about it.

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(There’s a great set of photos here from the opening night, by Karohemd)

The food, of course, is the important part. And the short version is: it’s great.

Let’s get a bit more detailed.

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