I’ve neglected the blog over the past 18 months or so with only a scant post on trendy pubs and dessert bars, so I felt it was about time to take a look at what’s changed in the restaurant scene and try and predict what this could mean for Peterborough foodies.
Let’s start off with those “eateries” we’ve lost, those that have bowed out amid pressure from others or maybe the city centre just wasn’t a good enough fit for them any more.
The not another pizza restaurant in Peterborough that opened up on Bridge Street never really made an impact and has since closed it’s doors and even the doorway itself which was home to rough-sleeper Valerie has now been boarded up.
Musa’s and Riva, Eye
What’s happening over in the village of Eye for them to lose not just one but two restaurants with both Musa’s Indian buffet and Riva Italian restaurant closing. Riva’s gone on to focus on the outdoor catering scene with their mobile pizza oven but thankfully the building has since reopened (more on that below).
Clarkes and Cafe Clarkes
Most surprising of all the closures has to be both Clarkes and Cafe Clarkes in quick succession. We knew Clarkes was due to close due to a move to their newly-refurbished premises just outside of Peterborough in the village of Folksworth but Cafe Clarkes closing was a bit of a shock, especially as it now leaves the Key Theatre without an anchor tenant and theatre-goers having to find sustenance elsewhere.
In all we’ve done pretty well not to lose too many restaurants but what about the new restaurants?
Starting at the top of the food chain is Prevost – Lee Clarke’s (formerly of Clarkes) new venture tucked away along Priestgate in the former Flyers Club building. A small, intimate restaurant, Lee has taken the opportunity to showcase his style of cooking with an exclusive tasting menu. Without a doubt Prevost has the best chance for a Michelin star in Peterborough city centre.
The Pizza Parlour and Music Cafe
It takes some “polpette” to open another pizza restaurant in Peterborough especially two doors down from possibly the city’s longest established pizza restaurant but that’s exactly what Peter Fierro and his team have done. I’ve had a few of their pizzas and I’d go as far as saying it’s now the best pizza restaurant in Peterborough!
Where other independent restaurants have stagnated they’ve clearly seen an opportunity and gone for it, combining great food with music, all accompanied by visible social media to quickly build up a loyal following which is something other restaurants forget.
Embe “to go”
Those that venture towards the City Market will no doubt have seen that Embe’s Nick is back and serving up his familiar afro-caribbean cuisine. Sadly the restaurant is gone for now but his pop-up stall has given a sense of purpose to the food offering at the market. Council officials take note – this is what we need to be encouraging more of in Peterborough. See what foodPark are doing in Cambridge and jump on that bandwagon!
Until now, fans of mainstream Caribbean cuisine have had to make the journey over to Leicester to Turtle Bay but now Peterborough is finally getting it’s own branch. Their menu and range of cocktails will bring a bit more interest to Peterborough’s night-time dining scene with added party atmosphere.
Middletons Steakhouse and Grill
I don’t know why it’s taken so long for restaurateurs to sit up and take notice that Peterborough doesn’t have a steak house. If memory serves, the last we had was an Argentinian steakhouse on Lincoln Rd and a rumour of a Brazilian on the corner of King St. Of all the tried-and-tested formulas, responsibly-sourced quality steak should have been done years ago but their loss is Middleton’s gain!? They’ve taken over and are currently refurbishing three adjacent units including the old tourist information unit opposite Argo Lounge, so it’s going to have a big presence. I’m expecting great things from this.
Ok, so it’s not a restaurant but a “casual bar”. I’ve yet to pop in but the feedback I’ve had has been very positive for both the atmosphere and the popular open-mic nights which will add some life to that end of Bridge St.
XOXO Steak House
Wait, a second steak house?!? As is tradition in Peterborough, you wait years for one niche restaurant and then
two three eight appear. Moo-ving into the old Sports Lounge on King St, what’s interesting about XOXO is their choice to only serve non-alcoholic drinks. I’m not sure it’s a wise decision but time will tell.
BBQ Nights @ Sundays
A slightly odd one, BBQ Nights is a part-time restaurant taking over the night shift from Sundays restaurant on Cumbergate. Everyone I’ve spoken to has loved the food there so the restaurant is doing something right, I just wish they’d make it a full-time menu.
Bill’s restaurant has been in Peterborough now for a couple of years and is now a firm favourite amongst diners with the varied menu ensuring that no two visits need be the same. I’m surprised I’ve not reviewed Bill’s in full by now as I’ve eaten there myself on a couple of occasions. Maybe I need to pay them another visit soon…
The last Peterborough restaurant with un soupçon de français was Jim’s Bistro so it’s great to see French cuisine making a return. For all the chain restaurant naysayers, Cote are one of those that know their onions and do it well. Definitely a destination for a smart, casual meal.
Rejoice!? Top of just about everyone’s “what restaurant chain would you give your right arm for” list was Wagamama’s and finally last year our voices were heard and Wagamama’s opened up. It’s the usual Wagamama experience of energetic service, scribbling on placemats and food coming out at random times but you overlook that when tucking into a bowl of ramen or their ever-popular Chicken Katsu Curry.
With Riva leaving it’s Eye restaurant, building owner Paolo Bianchi wasted no time in moving in Hampton’s favourite Italian restaurant Mattoni, with their familiar menu that includes pizza and pasta. Does it qualify as another pizza restaurant in Peterborough?? Possibly but as it’s replacing an outgoing pizzeria I’ll let this one slip.
Mattoni have built up a strong reputation for their restaurant tucked away on the Hampton housing estate and I’m sure those local to Eye will extend the same loyalty to their newest Italian restaurant.
A chain I’ve not visited for several years, Bella Pasta had all but slipped off my food radar (yes, it’s a thing!) so I was surprised when I heard they were opening a branch in Hampton. The menu at Bella Pasta is extensive with classics in each of the categories so it’s clear to see how they’ve remained popular in other parts of the country for so long. They’re pitched very much as a family friendly restaurant which should appeal to anyone with a young family. I’ll just leave this here: another pizza restaurant in Peterborough.
Former Clarkes building
Clearly this isn’t the actual name of the restaurant but brewery Charles Wells have yet to announce the name of their “Pizza, Pots and Pints concept” that will move in now that Clarkes have left the building. Time will tell how well received the restaurant is and certainly the photos of their other restaurants suggest it will be very on-trend, ticking boxes for “wood-fired” and “artisan” pizza. I’ve almost given up on thinking another pizza restaurant in Peterborough is a bad thing as clearly people feel there’s demand, and who am I to say no to pizza?!
The Fox at Folksworth
Whilst we’re on the subject of Clarkes, if you were paying attention earlier you’d remember I said they had moved from Peterborough to Folksworth, taking over the derelict former Fox pub. Since they got the keys the Clarkes team have been pretty much rebuilding the restaurant, adding in new dining rooms, giving everywhere a few coats of paint and it’s certainly shaping up to become Peterborough’s next destination restaurant. For those living that side of Peterborough, especially in Folksworth and neighbouring villages the saving of the Fox will be very welcome.
No, I’ve not quite lost the plot but I thought that a (at best) cafe dedicated to doughnuts/donuts deserved a mention. With a drive-through, you don’t even need to leave your car to purchase your Original Glazed treats. Yes they do sell coffee, shakes and other non-donut items but stop kidding yourself, you’re there to buy a dozen all for yourself. We see you parked up opposite the gym with custard filling all over your face…
So what’s next?
With such a sudden influx of new dining establishments you’d be forgiven for thinking that’s Peterborough’s lot but I think there’s still room for more.
Clearly we’ll see another pizza restaurant in Peterborough but with closures and a halt on new openings it’s unlikely to be Jamie’s Italian for the time being. With Queensgate getting a spruce up and a new cinema in the city centre we’ll hopefully see a new Chinese/pan-Asian restaurant. Korean would be nice but Japanese cuisine seemed a hard enough sell for Peterborough and I’m not sure if we’re quite there yet.
We’re still lacking a decent Mexican restaurant in the city centre, if anywhere in Peterborough. Chiquito started off well but I feel lost their way a couple of years ago. I’m not sure if they’ve reined in the Tex-Mex menu items since.
Chimichanga left me disappointed the two times I went there and admittedly this was several years ago now but I still don’t know anyone that goes there. If you do, leave me a comment below! Mexican restaurant food need not be complicated and if done right it should be lucrative for restaurateurs so hopefully if not an independent, we’ll see a chain in Peterborough. With Tortilla, Chilango and Wahaca opening outside of London could these soon be serving us tacos?