Cambridge News

Tracy Cooper finds a quirky restaurant that really socks it to her for both food and fun

It’s not every day you’re greeted by a barman wearing an afro wig, or a chef wearing a feathered Indian warbonnet,

It’s also not every day the maitre d’ speaks to you using a sock on their hand as a puppet. And it’s certainly not every day you sit in a bathroom made almost entirely out of glass.

But these are just some of the weird and wonderful experiences you’ll have at The Missing Sock, Which recently opened at Stow-cum-Quy.

Just from visiting the restaurant’s website you get a feeling The Missing Sock has a certain je ne sais quoi. It’s personal – there are profiles of staff members (who all have a ‘sock’ personality) – welcoming, invites feedback – there’s an invitation to brainstorm on the restaurant’s summer menu – and more than a little quirky (you must check out the link to tMS humour).

Intrigued by what the site calls ‘interactive hospitality’, my partner and I got a group of friends together and headed a few minutes out of Cambridge city centre to what was the old Prince Albert pub.

You can’t miss the restaurant. Aside from the fact there’s a big red sock on the exterior, there’s also a big red bus outside, which has been transformed into a fully equipped bar with sound system and server.

But tonight we were inside, and after a drink in the bright and cheery bar area, we were ushered into the restaurant. On the way to the table we caught a glimpse of a room called the Wisdom Corner, with big comfy chairs and books. and a Humour Corner which, apparently, you enter at your own risk!

The restaurant is an open-to-the-kitchen space with curved tables that can be made into a variety of shapes. Ours was a rather grand circle that too up a fair chunk of the dining area.

Once seated, Socktasiic (the maitre d’) came around and, with the help of her sock-covered hand, learned everyone’s names at the table – and with a group of 12 that’s no mean feat.

These touches really distinguish The Missing Sock. The staff want to have a laugh with you and seem genuinely interested in meeting diners. It struck me as a bit like the theme song to 80s sitcom Cheers, Where everybody knows your name. There’s a definite vibe to the whole establishment that makes you want to have fun.

Starters ordered, we sat back and relaxed. And the first little surprise was a complimentary espresso-sized cup of the Malay Vegetable Soup, complete with a tiny toasted bread, in the shape of, you guessed a sock. Cute, and a very nice touch.

While service was a little on the slow side, we were told we were the first big group to visit the restaurant, and what came was definitely worth the wait.

My Pan-Steamed Mussels with fragrant Thai Herbs were beautiful, the Thai flavours all leaping out individually but harmoniously. And even better, the herbs come from a village in Thailand that’s sponsored by The Missing Sock, part of the firm’s sustainability mantra. My partner went for the Malay Vegetable Soup, which was rich and warming, but didn’t quite sock it to him in terms of spice.

For mains, I couldn’t go past the Filet Mignon, while my partner opted for the Whiskey Grilled Baby Back Ribs. At £19, there was a lot of anticipation on the filet mignon being perfect. Cooked exactly to order and a beautiful tender piece of meat, I wasn’t disappointed. And on a bed of baby potatoes and steamed vegetables with a mustard sauce it was a simple but satisfying dish. The ribs, in a barbecue sauce, got an equally hearty thumbs-up.

Just managing to fit in room for dessert, my partner ordered the Iced Mango Parfait while I tried the Oom Piet se Koek, an African dessert of sherry soaked biscuits and chocolate, a hint of the African flavour of some of the international menu and a harking to The Missing Sock’s heritage.

The subtly fruity parfait proved the perfect finish to the meal for my partner, but I wasn’t toe-tally soled on the Oom Piet se Koek. Next time I’d go for the Homemade Double Chocolate Ice Cream, which others round the table tried and raved about.

During the meal our waitress was attentive and helpful and always up for a laugh. The chef even came to the table to ask our opinion of the meals and how they could improve any of them. It’s an approach and an attitude you don’t come across every day… any day in fact.

With many special events on offer, such as the African fire pit, Chef’s Table and monthly Red Alert Nights, The Missing Sock has certainly come out of the drawer firing on all cylinders.

It’s darn well worth a look.