Meet the owners
Tantalise your tastebuds at Cambridge’s all day restaurant and bar Gastrono-me, with delectable dishes dreamt up by self-confessed flavour junkies Gemma and Mike Simmonite
How did the Gastrono-me story begin?
It started because my eldest daughter Tiger wanted a sleepover birthday party and asked for a crazy cake featuring all of her friends! So, I said okay, having never really baked a cake, even though I grew up in catering (my grandparents owned a hotel and restaurant which my parents later ran).
But I found I enjoyed baking and had a knack for it, so other parents began to ask me to make cakes, and I started baking for farmers markets, garden centres and coffee shops. I was so busy that my husband Mike joined me and we took a market stall in Bury St Edmunds, before opening our first premises, a deli and artisan bakery, on St John’s Street. People loved the food and wanted to eat in, so we made room for some tables and chairs. We introduced our lovely brunches and breakfasts inspired by Australia or America, so inventing dishes like our spicy hash and Pain Perdu dish and we’re still selling those things now! Eventually we became so busy we ran out of space. So, we launched Gastrono-me Bury in 2018 and then the Cambridge restaurant in March 2022.
What inspired the look and feel of the Cambridge restaurant?
We wanted to create the same vibe as in Bury but adapt it so we went for a gorgeous burnt orange colour palette, which marries with our signature blue. It has a nice daytime café vibe which blends through to the evening. We are thrilled with it, and there is a lot of us and our humour in there so we’ve got Hugh and Fry on the wall, David Bowie and a bit of Sylvia Plath, so little Cambridge nods.
Your menu fuses international flavours from Vietnam to Korea. How did you devise it?
I love to play with ingredients so I’ll find Tantalise your tastebuds at Cambridge’s all day restaurant and bar Gastrono-me, with delectable dishes dreamt up by self-confessed flavour junkies Gemma and Mike Simmonite original recipe and experiment with flavours to add my own twist. We’ve had Indian-inspired breakfasts like a Masala Scramble, and instead of an ordinary bagel we’ve created an egg wedge, which is a big wedge of egg souffle and cream. Our banana bread is inspired by those found in Australia, so ours is very pretty, full of fruit, and comes with a blackberry and orange compote and clotted cream. Basically, I want grown adults to take an excited intake of breath as a dish is brought past them!
The breakfast menu sounds divine! Talk us through the highlights?
The Pain Perdu is gorgeous; it’s a fruit and nut bread with cranberries and almonds, which gets soaked in a gorgeous custardy mixture before it is fried and served with berries. We also create a savoury Pain Perdu served with pulled pork and a bechamel sauce, which is completely decadent! Our pancake stacks are amazing, especially our Hangover Stack which has candied bacon interspersed, maple syrup and a fried egg plus a little bit of chilli. The shakshuka has a lovely tang to it and you can add chorizo or halloumi, and the avocado tartine is really nice too, with harissa, beautiful roasted veg, pomegranate seeds and pomegranate molasses for that extra pop.
What’s your top pick from the lunch and dessert menu?
Without a doubt it’s got to be the tacos and especially the Korean beef brisket tacos – people just love them! We’ve also got a great Korrito, which is a burrito with a Korean vibe, filled with fried rice, beef brisket and kimchi, served with sour cream and cheese; the flavours just pop!
Desserts-wise, out peanut butter brownie, which was a favourite on our market stall, is still as popular, as is our sticky toffee pudding and sundaes.
What sets Gastrono-me apart in the industry?
I think it’s the vibe – there are no rules and I want my team to bound up to customers with a big smile and say ‘come on in and join the party’. Everyone is welcome! The menus are friendly and the flavours balance beautifully in our dishes. Plus our meals are very generous because I want people to feel like they’ve had a virtual hug when they’ve eaten our food!
Gastrono-me is at 14-16 Bridge Street, Cambridge. Visit gastrono-me.co.uk
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