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Another previously unreported newspaper outlet is The Bath, Bene't Street, Cambridge. This has been sold by Laurel to Greene King though, at the time of writing, the real ale range had changed only slightly - Greene King IPA had been added but Adnams Bitter, GK Morlands Old Speckled Hen and Hook Norton Old Hookey remained.
In the same deal, Greene King bought The Anchor on Silver Street. They quickly closed it for a refurb, and it now looks spick and span though not significantly altered. The whole upstairs (which features perhaps the best views from a pub window in Cambridge) is now no-smoking. Like The Bath, it isn't badged as a Greene King pub and the current choice of real ales - Greene King IPA, Draught Bass, Flowers Original and Wadworth 6X - is mostly non-GK, for now at least.
The Mitre in Bridge Street has been pleasantly refurbished. The former cafe/bar look in the front bar has given way to a more traditional feel while the middle section has a new carpet and an additional entrance to the back bar. This retains its stone flagging and has padded bench seating along the back wall; half of this area is now the only part where smoking is allowed. Six real ales on offer - Taylors Landlord, Draught Bass, Black Sheep Bitter, Adnams Bitter, Hook Norton Old Hookey and Wadworth 6X. Food served 12-7 with changing daily specials; the home-battered fish and chips (?5.50) looked a good plateful.
On King Street the St Radegund has replaced Guinness permanently by the delicious Nero porter from Milton Brewery. The other beers on offer are Shepherd Neame Spitfire, Fullers London Pride, Milton Habit and there's a fifth handpump, perhaps for guest beers. [See the next page, Thumbs Up To Nero.]
We mentioned in the last ALE that the range of cask beers at The Portland Arms Cambridge had been reduced. However, now that Steve and Hayley have got their feet under the table, the selection is back up to five. This includes - big fanfare - the wonderful Greene King XX Mild; IPA, Abbot and two guests complete the line up. A new and extensive menu has been introduced with main dishes very good value at between £3.95 and £4.95. The exterior of the pub also looks very smart after its paint job.
At the start of March, The Spread Eagle on Lensfield Road reopened as The Snug, promoting itself as "Cambridge's first no-smoking lounge-bar" and the "latest addition to Cambridge's fast-growing bar scene". On a quick look inside, the actual bar seems much the same, though now with a solitary handpump (serving Draught Bass, which had changed to Fullers London Pride by the next week). Perhaps it should also promote itself as the world's largest snug? Home-cooked food from around the world is available all day.
The Kingston Arms in Kingston Street Cambridge is deservedly hugely popular for its fantastic range of real ales (mostly from micros) and its brilliant food - which has made simply getting through the door a problem at times. Now the garden/patio area is available as extra drinking space even in cold weather thanks to a clever system of giant parasols and outdoor heaters.
The "golden triangle" of Mill Road area pubs did well in the March Local Secrets awards:
Nearby the White Swan (Kingston Street/Mill Road corner) changed hands recently and early reports suggest it's a bit more food-oriented now. Just over the railway bridge, the Earl of Beaconsfield is temporarily closed after a fire.
The planning application to turn the former Divinity School in St John's Street into a trendy restaurant-bar (described in ALE 315) was rejected.
The Rupert Brooke Grantchester closed in mid-March for a refurbishment and reopens around late April/early May. Licensees Simon and Gayl assure customers "the character of the pub will not change".
Technically in Harston, but actually serving the community of Little Gransden, The Wheatsheaf on the A603 is currently closed for renovations. Rumour has it that it will be more restaurant than pub when it reopens.
New licensees at The Fox Burwell, Bob and Louise Taylor, have big plans for improvements at this free house. They have already introduced choice steaks and Mexican food and plan to develop an interesting range of real ales, including guest beers from micro-brewers. More next time when we've had chance to pay them a visit.
The Dog & Duck in Linton reached the finals of The Publican's Catering Pub of the Year after overcoming a variety of problems in recent years. The 50-seater restaurant serves gastropub-style food.
The George, Babraham, is due to open in April, having had a major reconstruction following the fire last year. Plans published in the Cambridge Evening News said it will include a restaurant seating more than 100 diners.