In a nutshell
A 15-minute drive from Peterborough city centre, a new modern British-European restaurant, with a Polish persuasion, has opened in a former pub. Walk inside House of Feasts and you’ll find airy and bright, whitewashed walls with tables framed by large bay windows, and a subtle (if unexpected) forest cabin theme.
There’s a large outdoor canopy extension outside, with a barbecue kitchen outhouse, a five-foot roasting spit, children’s play area and a kitchen garden in-progress, too.
Polish ex-Noma chef Damian Wawrzyniak has spent years consulting for major restaurants such as 155 Bar & Kitchen and Salt’n’Pepper in London, before opening his first restaurant, House of Feasts, in June (2017).
The seasonal and locally focused menu changes daily, with a choice of five starters and mains, with the exception of Sunday, when there are four options, including a special from the spit.
Half a rare breed Dingley Dell hog, bred in Suffolk, was roasting away in the garden when we arrived and Damian was keen to point out that this was the only ingredient sourced outside the county on the menu that day. It had been slow-roasting for eight hours, after a 72-hour brining, to be served as one of the Sunday lunch options on pearl barley cooked slowly in pork fat.
The super smoky meat, cooked over wood and charcoal, was crisp and succulent, and we’re told that the other half of the animal was being cured, as we ate, for diners to come in the style of Parma ham.
Damian and his team butcher whole animals on site, make pickles, as well as breads, pierogi, dumplings and lamb-stuffed ushka, which accompanies a tart and cleansing beetroot soup with goat’s cheese crostini.
Ingredients are carefully selected on their taste, origin and ethics, plus with plans for a kitchen garden and a glasshouse on site, Damian eventually aims to be self-sufficient in vegetables and salads.
What’s the room/atmosphere like?
We visited on the first week of opening and it was full. The restaurant’s look and feel is down to Damian’s interior designer wife, Alicja.
There are several murals of forests on the ceiling, painted by a Northamptonshire artist, ferns hanging from the walls, naked copper lightbulbs of various sizes and framed pictures made, with reconditioned wood from previous pub fit out.
Menu must-orders and misfires
If you have the opportunity to go to House of Feasts, choose a Sunday as they are pretty special. We had a choice of the hog roasting away outside; British sirloin of beef with roasted Desiree potatoes marinated in thyme and garlic with meat jus; whole sea bass and a silky and buttery Polish potato specialty, Silesian dumplings. Portions are generous!
Be sure to also try the aged beef tartare: precise dice of raw beef, gherkins and sous-vide egg yolk were joined by pickled wild chanterelle mushrooms, crispy kale shards and sweet-and-sour rushes of flavour via red onions marinated in blackcurrant, on our visit.
Try the plum liquor, made on site, served with a fun version of biscuits and cheese (charcoal-grilled oscypek cheese (hot, squidgy, smoky ovals) served with cranberry jam). There are also ales regional to Peterborough, and a sufficient wine list of mostly new world bottles, none exceeding £30, alongside Polish, Czech and British beers.
What else did you like/dislike?
There wasn’t a lot of provision for vegetarians on the day we visited, but the staff and chefs are very accommodating to various requests, especially if made in advance.
House of Feasts is all about the love of good food. Refined but casual cookery, with interesting nods to head chef Damian’s Polish roots, it’s sure to become a favourite with Peterborough locals and beyond.
House of Feasts, 41 Crowland Road, Peterborough PE6 7TP
Words | Liz O’Keefe June 2017
Images | Alwa Design Studio