After a seven-year stint at Daniel Clifford's Midsummer House, in 2008 Poynton took his first Head Chef position just up the road at Restaurant Alimentum, and took over the business (with the help of investors) in early 2010. Alimentum currently holds three AA rosettes, a Michelin star and 6/10 in the Good Food Guide - adding to Cambridgeshire's portfolio of fine restaurants.
Quite formal in appearance – modern design elements brush up against dark interiors, impressively traditional touches like ironwork and a grand piano, and comfortable banquettes – Alimentum is a stone’s throw from the cloistered city centre. There’s a nod towards the continuing fashion for provenance – wherever an ingredient is renowned for being superb, the menu will make note of this.
Central ingredients are deconstructed and broken down into their component parts in many instances – chicken terrine might come with chicken wings and a truffled egg yolk, for example. However, in many instances you’ll also find ‘wild card’ accoutrements (pork belly with the langoustine, scallops being accompanied by pig head and black pudding), which add flavour and texture.
Poynton typically applies global cooking techniques to seasonal British produce - achieving complexity of both flavour and texture – he says he likes ‘taking techniques from all over in helping to introduce different levels of flavour and textures into dishes’. What’s more, he’s serious about the effect that his business has on the ecosystems it relies on, and it’s not just PR – he’s won an RSPCA Good Business Award for his attention to animal welfare, down to ethical foie gras and exclusively sustainable meat and fish.
As is often the case for chefs of his calibre, Poynton prefers to cook seasonally - adjusting his menu as new produce becomes available. Influenced by such restaurants as Copenhagen’s NOMA, Poynton occasionally puts foraged goods like wild plums and crab apples on his plates, too.
His interest in ethical cuisine doesn’t compromise his top-shelf cooking, though, and it doesn’t mean he’s above a little theatre: one signature dessert features hickory smoke wafting around a jar, atop a smoked milk mousse.