I love the show ‘The Best Thing I Ever Ate’ on Food Network. It’s a fun game to play with the hubs and friends but because I have traveled (and lived in) a few different countries and various US States a fair bit, know good food and love seeking it out, answering this question about any food category can sometimes take a while.
At first I was nervous about making this statement but then I really thought long and hard about it and decided that as a whole experience, La Raza in Cambridge (England) has some of the best food I have ever eaten. Usually, when devouring your favourite food item, there comes a moment when the law of diminishing returns sets in and the pleasure lessens with each bite, OR you just get too full/sick to keep eating. This does not happen when we visit La Raza. What eventually happens is we have eaten, ordered seconds of almost everything and have already spent too much money and are forced to stop!
Ok, it is a tapas style restaurant so in fairness their dishes are on the small side to begin with BUT our bellies definitely don’t send any alert messages to our brains and I still involuntarily sink into my seat, throw my head back, close my eyes and say mmmm with each taste of shrimp, chorizo, bread, sauce, fig, mussel…you get the point.
My brother, the foodie extraordinaire, first took us here almost 6 years ago for my father’s 60th birthday celebration. Every restaurant I have visited since, particularly ones serving tapas, I have unfairly compared with La Raza and each and every one has been a disappointment. They were not bad restaurants, their food was very good. It just wasn’t as good as La Raza’s. I have not visited England once since this time WITHOUT going to La Raza (thanks to my bro). Just writing about this is so challenging, not only because I am salivating all over the keyboard making it difficult to type, but because I know I have to wait a very long time until I am next in England to be able to enjoy my favourite meal. Health-wise this is probably a good thing when I look at the menu items we inhaled during our last visit.
Baked figs with Monte Enebro goats cheese, drizzled with orange blossom honey
Fresh mussels steamed with white wine, herbs and cream
Tiger prawns cooked in garlic, chilli and sea salt butter
Pan fried lamb cutlets marinated with garlic and rosemary served with ciabatta fingers (let’s just mention here that I HATE HATE HATE lamb- another big Greek shameful secret – but I could not stop eating this dish at La Raza)
(Foreground) Baked mini chorizo dulce with morcilla de burgos (black pudding) served with ciabatta fingers. (Background) Pan-fried chicken livers with a sherry and cream sauce on country toast
In fact, it isn’t just the lamb that I would normally refuse, but I have never been able to eat liver or black pudding until I ate them here and fell in love…in love I tell you…with chicken livers! And it may not be the craziest or most creatively crafted menu I have ever seen (except perhaps for their cocktails…Bacon infused Old Fashioned anyone?) but each dish is made to outstanding perfection and it is, for that reason, unforgettable.
If you are ever even within a whiff of Cambridge, you should make it your mission to find La Raza downtown and stop for lunch, dinner or even a cocktail and a snack! Looking round Cambridge is great too which is fortunate because you can wonder for a few hours being a tourist and then pop back in to La Raza for a second meal! Really and truly it is THAT good!