The Hole in the Wall in Little Wilbraham, formerly run by Masterchef runner-up Alex Rushmer, was left unused for two years, but it has now been taken over by Nilesh Misquitta and his family.
Mr Misquitta, who already owns the successful Elm Tree Inn near Wisbech, is a former chef on the QE2 as well as executive chef for prestigious establishments around England and the Middle East.
Villagers were given a taste of the new-look venue on Valentine’s night when it opened for a drinks evening, but Mr Misquitta only started serving food last Wednesday (February 27) and has been delighted with the response so far.
He said: “We are still new in the building but we have done around 60-70 covers, which is not bad with no advertising.
“The first time I came to see the place, I just fell in love with both it and the area. That was the first factor in deciding to come here. I just needed to work hard to bring it back to life. It is in a lovely area and it is a lovely building if you like something old, which I do.
“I have not gone for fine dining, I have just kept the menu simple to start with. It has been a success for me before. We are not taking big bookings just yet because the team is still being put together and everyone is still new in the kitchen.
“I love cooking and I love the business. I have been cooking for the last 23 years and have worked for Cunard, QE2, Sheraton hotels, Holiday Inns – it is what I love to do.
“I stayed with Cunard for six years, travelled around the world on cruises, and that’s where I picked up bits and bobs for the cuisine.
“I am not modern French or modern British, it is cuisine that I have learned and that I know.”
The Elm Tree Inn was a Good Food award winner in 2016 and 2017, and was shortlisted for Luxury Travel Awards last year.
Wilbraham resident John Bramwell, who attended the opening drinks evening on Valentine’s Day, added: “Nilesh and his wife Agnes have spent many weeks on the refurbishment of the interior, creating a very enjoyable and relaxing atmosphere, which is a very welcome addition to the village.
“We wish them every success with their venture.”