7 Jan 2007


MES PARENTS have strong feelings about Graffiti, both 'unofficial application of graphics on publicly viewable surfaces' and also the couthly-minimalistic 'Graffiti' restaurant at Hotel Felix, a boutique Cambridge venue within the top UK 25 (Condé Nast).
Now they appear to like it. They didn't however when it opened a couple of years ago. It isn't cosy. Building costs were cut, meaning frivoloties like central heating were lost in lieu of the luxury of voluminous slate-walled, lipstick-red basined washrooms. A well-endowed nude stands station above the ormolu fireplace (real fire). Disturbingly its appendage seems too visible when trying to choose the wine.
I too had my reservations after once grinding my canines on a far from puffed-up soufflé which resembled freshly mixed (and well compacted) aggregate. But now they've come good, an edible relief for a major town learning to abate its hunger for decent restaurants...

After a classic Champagne Cocktail with a tied ribbon of orange peel and then a freshly baked mustard roll, savoury Tarte Tatin was helped along by a soft, initially white peppery, but ever changing '05 Albariño from the youthful Bodegas Valmiñor. This took over an hour to fully blossom, yielding gardenia, clementine and sunflower oil.
A trio of Red Mullet, Sea Bass and Cod followed. I'm in favour of such 'wildstyle' dishes which allow more tasteful sensations than an unskilful slab of something, sole purchase of which is to be filling.
Wild strawberry Panna Cotta was shiveringly successful with a quenching citrus sorbet. A '78 Calvados followed in a warmed glass, a practice I like, though certain connoisseurs would wince.
So pleased was I with the meal that I felt like tagging Graffiti, like an avante garde guestbook.