The Midsummer House story is a memorable tale of commitment and passionDaniel Clifford
Midsummer House is a Victorian villa built beside the banks of the River Cam and on Midsummer Common in the historic University City of Cambridge. We are built on common land which still operates grazing land laws all year so you will often see cows grazing off the land and coming up to our front door to say hello.
Midsummer House has been home to many over the years including time as a private home, a breeding home for dogs, lodgings for the Public House next door and finally a restaurant.
In the 1980’s it was purchased and started its life as a small restaurant owned by Chris Kelly who was the familiar face of the Food and Drink TV programme.
In 1998 the restaurant was taken over by Daniel Clifford with one dream, to turn it into Cambridgeshire’s best restaurant.
In 1999 the restaurant was flooded and then again in 2000 where the banks of the River Cam completely destroyed the wine cellar and the ground floor of the restaurant. It was devastating but for Midsummer House this was a turning point.
The restaurant was reopened after a lengthy refurbishment with two staff in the kitchen and two staff in the restaurant and now we have a team of around 20.
The River Cam plays a large part in the Restaurant’s history and today the stretch of river outside Midsummer House is used heavily for the College and University rowing clubs and is a hive of activity for our guests to soak up as they enjoy drinks in our upstairs bar area.
The iconic apple trees in our kitchen garden also have history with Daniel and the restaurant as they are featured on our signature dish, scallop, truffle and apple and have been on his menu from opening which is used all year round. We have two varieties of trees, a Bramley but also an older heritage apple called Blenheim Orange which complement each other perfectly.
Over Daniel’s time at Midsummer House the building has been developed and nurtured in many areas but at the same time he has tried to keep the style sympathetic to the buildings history. The kitchen, bakery and wine cellar have all been extended and refurbished and a conservatory made up of three separate open plan sections is home to the main dining room and along with the original old house building homes our 15 tables.
Over the years the style of food has developed but the techniques and passion to provide our guests with a unique experience have remained the same. Daniel’s menu and style of food focuses on the most seasonal produce and his dishes are developed to make the taste as natural as possible.
The restaurant was awarded its first Michelin Star in 2002 followed by the second in 2005. We have five AA Rosettes and currently have 8/10 in the Waitrose Good Food Guide. We are also proud to announce that we have also been awarded 12th best UK restaurant in the Waitrose Good Food Guide 2014.
Midsummer House prides itself on staff development with some brilliant chefs passing through the kitchen during the years and progressing to gain their own Michelin stars including Mark Poynton, Tim Allen, Lawrence Yates and Matt Gillan.
Today Daniel runs a kitchen team of around 10 chefs and 10 front of house staff along with office support.
Born in Canterbury, Kent in 1973, Daniel spent the first 12 years of his career training in some of the best restaurants in the UK and France. His time with Jean Bardet in France, whom Daniel cites as his biggest influence, Simon Gueller at Rascasse and Marco Pierre White at The Box Tree, have all contributed to Daniel’s development into one of the Countries most respected chefs.
Daniel’s menu and style of food focuses on the most seasonal produce and his dishes are developed to make the taste as natural as possible.
“Midsummer House is a restaurant but feels more like home. I have a great team working with me but they feel more like family. I have never wanted the restaurant to be just one person’s vision, which is why I value the team’s feedback and input to keep improving”
Daniel’s passions outside of work revolve strongly around family life with his partner and five daughters. He is a keen carp angler which fills the rest of his time.