Chestnut opens new pub with 'wow factor' glass dining room

The team at The Carpenters Arms Great Wilbraham

The team at The Carpenters Arms - Credit: Chestnut

Chestnut, the hospitality group behind destinations such as The Packhorse at Moulton, The Black Lion in Long Melford, and The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds, has just added another string to its bow – opening The Carpenters Arms in Great Wilbraham. 

Just 15 minutes from Newmarket, and seven miles east of Cambridge, the 250-year-old inn has undergone extensive renovation, while (in Chestnut fashion) ensuring the character and story of the building remain. 

A “wow factor”  glazed extension forms a focal point at the pub, softened by original fireplaces and exposed beams through the rest of the space, and with guests able to see the hustle and bustle of food service thanks to an open kitchen. 

Chestnut

The new glazed extension at The Carpenters Arms - Credit: Chestnut

Four bedrooms (three ‘good’ and one ‘best’) are available too. 

Heading up the kitchen, and raring to go, is head chef Seb Mansfield. Born and bred in Cambridge, Seb has worked in and around the city for 22 years, at boutique hotels and independent restaurants. Most recently, he was executive head chef at Cambridge’s Corpus Christi College for seven years. 

Seb is looking forward to building on his launch menu, networking with as many suppliers from the area as possible. “We’re using Cambridge asparagus from a small farm, our fish is from Wyken near Ely, we’re using Tosier chocolate, and the majority of our dairy is from Fen Farm in Bungay. Their raw butter, cream and mascarpone are excellent. 

“We’re focusing on using rare breed meats as well. At the moment we’re getting in whole Bluefaced Leicester lamb, breaking them down ourselves, and using as much as we can of the animal.” 

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Something Seb’s truly passionate about is ‘real cooking’. That is...cooking from scratch. Butchering whole animals, making stock from the bones. Working with whole fish on the bone and, again, using the offcuts for sauces and stocks. “Why buy in powdered stock when you can make it yourself?” 

A dish at The Carpenters Arms Great Wilbraham

A dish at The Carpenters Arms - Credit: Chestnut

“Our GM loves shooting and foraging, so any game we have will be locally shot and of the highest order too.” Seb adds that the general manager keeps ducks and has his own hive, so duck eggs and the pub’s own honey could feature on menus in the future. 

He also can’t wait to break ground on the pub’s vegetable plots and herb gardens, which will add a fresh new dimension to The Carpenters’ food offering. 

So, what’s on the menu? 

“First and foremost it’s a public house, so the food has to be accessible to all, and it has to be seasonal. At this time of year you’ll find asparagus, spring lamb, spring chickens. We’ll always have a burger and a good steak – we've got a lovely chargrill we want to use as much as possible –and there’s fish and chips. 

“I want the food to be refined but also quite relaxed, and clean – not over-complicated and fussy. You’re not going to find 10 different items on a plate, or foams and gels. If we have a lemon tart on the menu, it will just be a well-made lemon tart. You don’t need anything else. 

“I’m all about doing slightly less with ingredients. Treating them with respect. The provenance, the supplier, the person who’s reared the animal or grown the vegetables you’re using – you want what they’ve given you to shine.” 

Lemon tart at The Carpenters Arms Great Wilbraham

Lemon tart at The Carpenters Arms - Credit: Chestnut

Seb can’t pick out a favourite from the menu. “Everything is food I would like to eat if I was to come into a property like this. I’m pleased with what we’ve created and I hope our customers will be too.” 

Philip Turner, founder of Chestnut, adds: “The Carpenters Arms is a hidden gem. Great Wilbraham is a vibrant village and the pub is perfectly situated for the growing local community, businesses lunches and overnight accommodation; catch-ups with friends or for those who are simply spending the day exploring the historic city of Cambridge. The transformation has really breathed new life into the property and marks an exciting chapter for the team who are full of energy and looking forward to showing off the building to guests new and old.” 

Find out more at carpentersarmswilbraham.co.uk 

The Carpenters Arms menu includes 

Chicken liver parfait with toasted brioche and red onion marmalade 

Cromer crab tartlet with crème fraiche and garden salad 

Cambridge asparagus with pine nut and charcoal mayonnaise 

Chargrilled Bluefaced Leicester lamb with ratatouille and black olives 

Roast Suffolk chicken Waldorf for two 

Tosier chocolate torte with Fen Farm mascarpone 

Strawberries and Bungay cream