Freshers’ Info: Grab A Pint
ANNA SHEINMAN offers five of the best watering holes for when the college bar gets too depressing/full of people you don’t want to feign interest in any longer.
Cambridge may have just been voted the worst shopping in the UK, but drinking it does very, very well. With a watering hole per every 1000 of the population, there’s a pub for every occasion. Here are some of our favourites:
A great pub for … watching the footy: The Avery
Leafy green surroundings, and all the football you could want: The Avery
This converted factory on Parker’s Piece shows all major sporting events on its slightly gratuitous array of big screen TVs in the pool hall upstairs. There’s a decent selection of ales, the burgers are not quite gourmet as they boast, but not bad, and there are those all important behind-the-bar mini TVs so you don’t miss the action whilst buying the next round. Downstairs there are comfy sofas, another bar and, just for giggles, a few more TVs. Expect a crowd for big Premiership matches.
Where to find it: Regent Street, opposite Downing.
Best bit: Taking your beer out onto Parker’s Piece in the summer when you remember how incredibly long cricket matches are.
Cost of a pint: A Carlsberg is £2.40.
A great pub for … the Cambridge Experience: The Eagle
The ceiling of The Eagle
The Eagle, arguably Cambridge’s most famous pub, has a whole lot of history. It is famously the pub where Watson and Crick interrupted a patron’s lunch in 1953 to announce they had discovered DNA. Inside you’ll find the RAF bar, so named because it is covered in graffiti from WWII by RAF and a large number of United States Airforce service men who used to go there for a drink to steady their nerves before taking to the skies. What you might not know is that a few hundred years ago it used to host travelling theatre troupes, including Shakespeare’s very own troupe ‘The King’s Men’ who gave one of the first ever performances of Hamlet there, and it is rumoured that Shakespeare himself may have played the ghost of Old Hamlet. On a more prosaic note, it’s a Greene King Pub and the food is totally passable standard pub food fare, but what we really go for is the atmosphere. It’s cosy in winter, has a cute little terrace in summer, and it is very damn central.
The Eagle is smoker-friendly too: a pretty beer garden complete with heaters
Where to find it: Right by Corpus Christi in the centre of town, on Bene’t Street.
Best bit: Feeling very, very Cambridgey.
Cost of a pint: A Fosters is £3.
A great pub for … getting really trashed: The Regal, aka Spoons
It’s big, it’s cheap, and there will be a fight. Yes, it’s Weatherspoons. I don’t really feel the need to explain it because it is exactly the same as the one in your home town. Suffice to say that if you get totally trashed and swear a lot, you’ll fit right in with the locals.
Just like the one in your town, then
Where to find it: Regent Street, the Emmanuel end rather than the Downing end.
Best bit: Redeeming features are hard to come by. How about… if you’re there it means you’re not working? Or erm… if you go to Emma or Downing it’s really near? I tried.
Cost of a pint: £2.49 for that yummy Carlsberg.
A great pub for … a first date: The Snug
Haven’t heard of it? My point exactly. There are few bigger mood killers when trying to chat up that cutie from your dissection class/ massage society/ insert cringeworthy meeting place here, than an awkward conversation with your college Grandma and/or ex who is sitting at the next table. Thus heading a little out of town and away from prying eyes and the majority of the student population is definitely worth your while. Here enters The Snug. True to name it is very cosy. Great cocktails, an excellent burger menu, and being a little bit original will score you points on that old favourite game of ‘will I eventually persuade them to sleep with me’. Good luck kids.
Where to find it: 67 Lensfield Road, opposite the University Counselling Service
Take your date to The Snug during Happiness Hour and there might well be a happy ending
Best bit: Live music on a Tuesday night is often actually quite good, and a welcome distraction if you find out that despite seeming charming in Fez the night before, you have nothing to say to the person sitting next to you.
Cost of a pint: Don’t ask. Scrummy cocktails from £6.45.
A great pub for … a pub lunch: The Free Press
The Free Press used to house a printing press for a newspaper that was, you guessed it, free. Fortunately for us it only lasted one issue, and the building now houses slightly uncomfortable wooden benches, a lot of good ale and some great food. I’m normally suspicious when there’s bit of everything on the menu, with pasta, pigeon, salads, bruschetta, chilli and curry to name a few, but it’s all yummy, and helpful if you’ve got fussy eaters amongst you. I’d say go for the specials, the chef decides them himself, and they tend to be full of fresh, in season, locally sourced produce for the food snobs amongst us. You can spend a fiver on a big sandwich, or go for hearty main meal for £7-8. Unfussy, decently priced pub food, and a mandatory gentle walk back into down to digest makes this place a winner.
Where to find it: Therein lies the rub. It’s pretty difficult to find. It’s on Prospect Row, round the corner from The Cricketers, but otherwise there are no obvious landmarks. I say look it up on Google, or take a friend who has GPS on their phone.
Negotiate some backstreets and you might just find The Free Press
Best bit: The soup of the day and guest ales mean you can keep coming back and always have something new to try.
Cost of a pint: An XX Mild will set you back £2.80
And a few others that deserved a mention:
– The Maypole: Great selection of beers, and puts up a big screen projector for big sports events. Right by the ADC so rivals the ADC bar as thesp haven. Located at 20 Portugal Place, en route to Jesus Green.
– The Ford St George: Picturesque little place on Midsummer Common facing on to the river, great for sitting outside when it’s sunny.
– Browns: Not technically a pub, but currently doing cocktails for £3.95 Sunday to Wednesday, so worth a mention. 23 Trumpington Street, Cambridge.
– The Cricketers: Another big sports pub, with two circuits for the TVs in case of scheduling clashes and a projector for big events when it gets pretty busy. 18 Melbourne Place, near Parker’s Piece.
All prices were correct at the time of going to press.