01 Apr Quirky places in Cambridge to drink and eat
It’s been a while, that I have been sharing the local food news here. We have been very busy over the last year and the team has been growing steadily. Some of the work I have passed on to one of the team members so I have more time to create exciting new tours and share news with you. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I write every month for Eastlife magazine so head over to their website or grab a magazine at one of the shops or restaurants to catch up on the latest news.
There have been quite a few changes in Cambridge recently and there is more in the pipeline. The best way to find out is to follow our Facebook page for the latest news and to download the link for the Free Map of Cambridge, which includes all our favourite foodie places in Cambridge. I update this on a regular basis so you will always have the latest food map of Cambridge at hand.
As you might know, we love to find quirky unusual places off the beaten track and include them at our Food Walking Tours. However, some are quite small and don’t have enough space to host our tours. Instead, I love to share them on our social media channels.
People often ask me what is your favourite restaurant and bar? My answer is always, this depends on my mood. One thing they all have in common is that they are away from the main drag. I know that is a wide term. Off the beaten track means for me not necessarily in the sticks, but a least obvious place to go so it even could be right in the city centre.
So where do I, or better where does the Cambridge Food Tour team like to hang out? Of course, there are many good places, but here are our favourite quirky places in Cambridge to drink and eat. They all serve food as you need some good nosh to soak up the alcohol!
Thirsty Chesterton Road
This wine bar is North of the river. Many people think it is a mile away from the city centre. If you walk along the river starting from the Quayside you’ll get there within 10 minutes. Well, if you don’t stop off feeding the ducks! They serve a good selection of Craft Beer and a good glass of wine. All carefully selected by Sam Owens, the owner himself. Correction! He does brew up bespoke beers with selected breweries for his venues too. And the food? From 6 pm every night, you can find a local food truck pulling up on the kerb. Check out their social media who will be serving up the grub that night.
Calverley’s Brewery & Tap Room
One of the favourites of our guests on our Food Walking Tours. This brewery brews up some fine beers at their brewery in Hooper Street. These craft beers are so popular that they now started bottling them too and you can spot them in local shops featuring a nice blue label. They are open on Thursday and Friday evening from 6 pm and Saturdays from 11 am to late. Local street food to pair the fantastic beers so you’ll be in for a treat! Check out their social media for the list of special beers and the traders. WEBSITE
The smallest cocktail bar in town is towards the end of Mill Road. Bar 196 has been a hidden gem for many years and serves up some mean cocktails from 5 till 11 pm. Sharing boards, pates, cheese and charcuterie to nibble on when you wash down the cocktails.
The Free Press Pub
One of our old time favourites has been taken over last year by the talented team of Megan, her brother Tom and Megan’s partner Sam, also known as Samuel Benjamin Harris. Over the last few months, they have made some changes but the character of this tiny pretty pub has not been touched. They introduced some new dishes and we love the look and the taste of it! One of their most popular snacks is the Scotch egg. In our opinion the best one in town. The Free Press Pub is tucked away in the back streets between Parkers Piece and Clarendon street and only a stone’s throw away from the Grafton Centre.
Walk along the river towards the East of Cambridge heading for Stourbridge common and you’ll find the Othersyde next to the Museum of Technology. This riverside watering hole is a multi-purpose house and garden, that used to be the residence of the chief engineer at the Cambridge Pumping Station, and is currently undergoing development. It will shortly include a riverside bar, a garden that will be used for a wide variety of arts events, and three brand new escape games, all built within the house, that will explore the future of technology through a fictional lens. Head over to their Facebook page to find out what is going on.
Thirsty Beer Garden at St. Giles Church
Just north of the river on Castle Hill, you can find the pop-up beer garden of Thirsty Cambridge. Open on Friday evening, Saturday and Sundays during the summer. A good selection of Craft beer and easy going wines will be served here alongside a rotating offering of street food traders. Check out their social media for opening times.
The courtyard at the Punter Pub
Tucked away between the Pub of the Punter and their barn, you can find a quirky courtyard terrace. There are only a few tables, but have no fear, the doors of the barn open during nice weather so you can still have that Alfresco experience. Food is served all day.
CWM bar in Cherry Hinton Road
My hangout when I am at this end of town with an excellent selection of wines, craft beers, sharing boards and on a regular basis street food too. Our favourite event is Tapas Sunday with Que Rico Tapas on the first Sunday of the month. Make sure you book a place to avoid disappointment.
What’s new in 2019?
Mill Road is known as the quirky street in Cambridge, where you can find a lot of interesting independent businesses, but King Street is doing a big catch up game at the moment. This street is almost ‘a bit out of sight’ from the touristy area. Tucked away behind Sidney Street, an area where you hardly will bump into tourists. King Street was once lined with pubs and the main event was the King Street Run, held every year. I will spare you the finer details, but the challenge was to drink a pint in every pub. I will leave it up to your imagination, why it was so difficult.
The latest two new additions are both here in King Street. Actually, they are not that new at all. Let’s first talk about the place, which has been stolen recently…
The Liquor Loft at Stolen
You might have noticed, that there have been changes at D’Arrys in King Street. Yes, indeed it has been ‘stolen’ and is now called ‘Stolen Cambridge’. At the back through the courtyard on the first floor, you can find a quirky loft, which many years ago was a brewery. Did you spot the stunning street art which almost covers the whole building? It has been created by the local artist Samuel Benjamin Harris. His funky artwork is not only at the outside of the building but featuring inside at many places too. Charlie, the owner, has sneaked in beer from their own Craft brewery, the Old Cannon, based in Bury St. Edmunds and to keep the Gin fans happy, they have now the largest Gin collection in Cambridge and list over 100 Gins. So it might take you a while to make a choice! And the tonic? To accomplish the Gin, they have a good choice of this too, including 1724 Tonic! As far as I am aware, the Liquor loft is the only bar in Cambridge serving this premium tonic.
So what about the food? Hand stretched sourdough pizzas with delicious toppings, grilled food and delicious salads. You can build your own so no fixed combinations. Don’t expect to see the traditional Italian pizza toppings here, but interesting ones with a twist. The offering will change on a regular basis and I can assure you they are delicious. All the dough is made on location so make sure you book a table to avoid disappointment as the sourdough has to prove for 72 hours. Still peckish at 10.30 pm? Not a problem at all; the kitchen is open till 11 pm.
Thirsty & Hungry
You might have guessed it. Yes, indeed another successful enterprise of Thirsty Cambridge by Sam Owens and his team. This tiny quirky wine bar used to be one of the most popular lunchtimes haunts in Cambridge, the Urban Shed, serving up fantastic food and excellent coffee. Good food is what Thirsty & Hungry aimed to do too, but Sam also wanted to make sure, that you could wash this down with an excellent rotating selection of wines and craft beer. How to make sure you have good food to match this? You ask one of the best chefs in town. Mark Poynton, the ex-Michelin star chef and his team, serve up some amazing food from tapioca crackers to toasted sandwiches, slow-cooked meat, vegetarian and seasonal creations. Not to forget a mean breakfast and fine coffee from The Barn in Berlin. Thirsty & Hungry is a charming tiny wine bar and terrace and is becoming one of our favourite watering holes in Cambridge already. It’s quirky, off the beaten track, good selection of wine and craft beer, delicious food and a nice quiet place to catch up with friends. What else do you need?
Have fun exploring these amazing places off the beaten track and keep an eye out on our social media as we will be adding more quirky places in Cambridge to drink and eat on a regular basis.