ALE Spring 2002 No. 305

Pub News - Cambridge

20 Years On

Congratulations to Mario Castiglione and family at the Maypole (Portugal Place) for notching up 20 years there. Mario made a brave career change back then to move from the bar of the Garden House Hotel to a Tolly Cobbold tenancy but it's been a great success. The food, the cocktails, the well-kept beer and the friendliness help make it unique. (At the time of writing, the beers are Courage Directors, Adnams Bitter and Charles Wells Bombardier.)

The historic city centre has no other family-run pubs (managerships predominate) - one has to go a little further out to the likes of King Street to find other traditional pubs.

End of an Era

Bev Gilkes, Cambridge's longest-serving landlord, retired at the end of February from the Rose and Crown (Newmarket Road, Greene King). We wish him well for the future.

However GK may develop ideas about wrecking the pub, perhaps to go for the student market. It's a classic example of a 1930s estate pub, essentially the same design as the Portland Arms (Mitchams Corner). It's still divided into Public and Lounge bars, for instance. There have been many changes since it was built but it still deserves preservation rather than destruction. At the time of writing it is trying to attract the punters by advertising Greene King IPA and Foster's at 1.75 a pint, which is bound to have a detrimental effect on the treade of other GK pubs in the area (e.g. the Bird In Hand and the Zebra).

The Spread Eagle

Landlord Dave (formerly of the Baron of Beef) has seven ales on handpump, three of them under 2.00 a pint. There are three regulars (including Boddingtons and the ubiquitous Greene King IPA) and four guests; on a recent visit these included Shepherd Neame Spitfire, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Fullers London Pride.

Pure hype?

Cambridge's latest youth-oriented bar on the drinking circuit opened in December: Pure on Regent Street, in the former Pierre Victoire restaurant premises. It got a glowing review in Cambridge's weekly youth-oriented listings magazine, AdHoc, as being full of high-tech and trendy features such as plasma screens showing DVDs, a DJ Booth and a bike park sponsored by Grolsch. A key feature is the 20% discount for students. Apparently it's proud of being the first stockist in East Anglia for the new ice-chilled lager Arc from the Coors Brewing Company (formerly Bass). The Cambridge Pub Company also runs a similar bar in the Ely Cloisters shopping centre.

Some weeks later AdHoc reviewed Pure in its "Eating & Drinking" section without mentioning beer. There were similar omissions in its recent reviews such as the Prince Regent, the Mitre and the Slug and Lettuce (see below). A sign of the times?

News round-up

The Live & Let Live (Mawson Road) held another successful beer festival at the beginning of March, including beers from Vale, Humpty Dumpty, Mauldons, Cottage, Wood, Hook Norton, Wolf, Springhead and Iceni breweries.

Jean and Sacha, the Aussie couple at the Haymakers in Chesterton Road, are leaving, having only arrived in April 2001. In their capable hands there was always something going on at this welcoming community local: quiz on a Monday, darts Tuesday and Wednesday, pool on a Thursdays and live music on the Friday and Saturday. The pub has had a lot of problems in recent years with entertainments licencing.

The Carpenters Arms on Victoria Road has been attractively refurbished in traditional style. An opening has been created between the bars to give the interior a U-shape; the new wainscotting in the former lounge is especially good. Real ales on a recent visit were Flowers IPA and Charles Bells Bombardier.

[Slug & Lettuce] As expected, the short-lived Parisa cafe-bar in Green Street is now rebranded as a Slug and Lettuce youth-oriented bar.

McMullens are still dragging their feet over the conversion of the old Arts Cinema. An application for an entertainment licence went in earlier this year and at Easter hoardings around the site at long last went up. The ground floor will be a bar and the first floor will be for gigs.

The Portland Arms is developing a sideline of Internet bars under the NetBars brand. Having set up the Public bar with Internet access in 2000, there's now an Internet cafe in the new Shopping Forum development in Jesus Lane.


All information is believed correct at time of going to press. If our spies have got anything wrong, please contact the editor, who will be happy to print a correction.


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