Great minds… head to the pub! It is no coincidence that a city renowned for its historic colleges, technological innovation, espionage and wartime derring-do should have great, atmospheric pubs perfect for hatching plans. Here are ten of the best, all within a 20-minute walk of University Arms.
1. Pint Shop
Set in an 1830s building that was once home to the novelist EM Forster, Pint Shop opened in 2013 opposite the Cambridge Arts Theatre and next door to the Corn Exchange music and arts venue, making it perfect for pre- and post-theatre meals as well as fine beers, wine and spirits. The menu is pub-grub reimagined, so paprika pork-belly kebabs in coal-baked flatbread sit alongside celeriac schnitzel and vegan and real burgers and fries.
2. The Eagle
The second-oldest pub in Cambridge, The Eagle opened in 1667 as a coaching inn and has seen most things over the centuries, including RAF servicemen using candles, lighters and lipstick to graffiti their names all over its ceiling during the Second World War, and scientists Francis Crick and James Watson using it as an unofficial office and joyously announcing to the regulars that they had discovered “the secret of life” – the structure of DNA – in 1953.
3. The Mill
Set in a 19th-century mill on the banks of the River Cam, this award-winning pub-restaurant can be enjoyed inside and out. It offers real ales and pub classics (juicy burgers, fish & chips, doorstop sandwiches and Sunday roasts) as well as a selection of vinyl records to play with.
4. The Town and Gown
A pub and theatre, this is the spot to chow down on British pub grub before enjoying cabaret, musicals, touring fringe as well as home-grown productions for a night to remember.
5. The Brew House
A pub and microbrewery, head here to witness and sample the brewing process or choose from an ever-evolving list of local and international craft beers. All this alongside British pub grub and American diner classics on the moreish menu. Conversation optional!
6. The Live and Let Live
A true, old-fashioned local pub with no mod cons, no website, a notoriously grumpy former landlord, and one of the best and longest rum lists in the region, The Live and Let Live reopened with new management in March this year and is retaining the modest furniture, wood panelling and “breweriana” that are so conducive to good chats with friends, eased along by real ales and ciders.
7. Salisbury Arms
With its rough-hewn industrial-style interior and a cheery beer garden outside, Salisbury Arms is perfect for enjoying Brewpoint beers with a side of artisanal pizza, flatbreads, loaded nachos or “naughty nibbles”.
8. Fort St. George
This waterside pub has a beer garden overlooking the River Cam at the back, where you can enjoy its menu of pub classics, Sunday roasts, pies and toasties, as well as a long list of wines, spirits, cocktails, gins and beers.
9. The Cambridge Blue
Grab a table inside or in the garden of this award-winning pub, which serves 14 real ales, 12 keg beers, 7 real ciders and a multitude of Belgian beers, as well as having one of the largest whisky collections in the city. The kitchen is run by Gorilla & Lamb, which serves up such finger-licking fare as buttermilk fried chicken and sloppy “smash” burgers.
10. The Punter
Set in an old coaching inn, with all the nooks and crannies and head-scraping ceilings that come with the territory, The Punter is big on charm and a cosy, “lived-in and loved” atmosphere. It’s just two minutes from the Quayside and is neighbour to Kettle’s Yard gallery and the Cambridge Folk Museum. After such cultural pursuits, head here to recover your animal spirits with ales, fine wines and a brasserie-style menu.