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The Regal, St Andrews Street

Opening Day Review

7th September 1999

As with the rest of the J.D. Wetherspoon chain, it tries to have a good selection of real ales at relatively low prices and food is available all day. There's no piped music.


After two years of delays, on the day it was due to open (25th August 1999) notices appeared on the doors saying it would be opening on Tuesday 7th September. Apparently there have been architectural and engineering problems.

The Cambridge Evening News front page on Saturday 4th September had an uncritical write-up (mostly marketing puff) for The Regal, trumpeting it as the new largest-pub-in-the-UK (overtaking the Moon Under Water in Manchester) at 10,000 sq.ft. on two floors, costing 3M.

It duly opened and as of 3.45pm this reviewer found it about 20% full by seating capacity. There's a large main area with smaller areas above and below it at the rear, with access to Downing Place. The upstairs balcony, bar and outside patio are particularly recommended as seating areas. There's a small no-smoking area to the right near the St Andrew's Street entrance, next to the two games machines.

It's carpeted throughout, with upholstered chairs, potted plants, elegant ironwork, good ventilation, unobtrusive lighting and a feeling of spaciousness.

Beers

The only interesting (i.e. unusual hereabouts) beer was Caledonian Deuchars IPA (1.75, 3.8%). Others included Theakston's Best Bitter, Boddington's Bitter, Marston's Pedigree, Bass Bitter, Courage Directors, Sheps Spitfire and five or so other commonly-available beers. It was disappointing that they couldn't find room for a Mild anywhere - or a summer beer.

Apparently they make a claim to have a "full range of Cambridgeshire beers", yet the only one available was Oakham JHB. They missed out the other six breweries. Notices claim they welcome suggestions for guest beers so let's see what the make of this reviewer's query about where the missing beers were!

Both pints the reviewer had were short-measure (well under a pint).

Glasses of wine (as listed on the menu) vary from 1.75 to 2.50.

Food

The main menu has approximately 50 items. Some examples:

There's also a Curry Club operating Mondays-Thursdays 6-10pm which offers one of the following curries for 4.99 with a "choice" of Foster's fizz or Theakston's Worst Bitter: chicken balti, vegetable tandoori masala, chicken tikka masala, lamb rogan josh.

The menu indicates which items include nuts and which are suitable for vegetarians (there's no mention of vegans).

The tables are numbered, which must be essential for coping with food orders in a place this size, so note your number! Food is ordered from the bar and cutlery etc. collected from trays near the games machines (near the main entrance).

At this time of day a chilli-con-carne (with rice or chips - 4.75) took about 6 minutes to arrive. It was pleasant enough but mild.

So...

All-in-all it's a comfortable and relaxing place when not too busy - afternoons - and the bland, characterless, charmless All Bar One two doors down should be very worried.

IMK


Postscript

In the following few days reports from others agreed that The Regal has been well designed except that the total length of bars is far too small. Queues six or more deep with waits of twenty minutes are normal in the evenings, with queueing to get in.

The consensus is that beer prices are low for the City centre and the beer is well kept.

All reviewers so far have had short measure from the largely-novice bar staff - and often well under the 5% margin of error allowed by industry guidelines. Bar staff seem to be happy to top up upon request. It's a pity J.D. Wetherspoon abandoned their half-hearted lined glasses experiment some months ago - then everyone would have had full pints with room for the head.

On the first Friday night there were at least six police officers on duty outside the entrance and lots of people milling about on the pavement and road - the start of the all-too-familiar public order problems associated with drinking circuits.

After a month people are still queueing to get in and there have been plenty of public order problems, as predicted.


Cambridge & District CAMRA : Cambridge Drinking Circuit 1998-2001 : Pictures