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Alex Smith, CPL’s occasional man-about-town (our description, not his) reviews a handful of not-to-miss places in our great city
Food and drink in Cambridge. Where to start? Our wonderful home is full of amazing experiences and culinary delights – as well as some damn fine food trucks. Below are a handful of stand-out places to enjoy while summer is still with us – do you have any more to add?
Mill Road pubs
The back-to-back Victorian terraces off Mill Road are blessed with a large number of thriving pubs with The Cambridge Blue, Live & Let Live and Six Bells holding legendary status among students and locals alike.
What sets these backstreet pubs apart is their relaxed atmosphere and commitment to quality beer. We’re in real-ale CAMRA territory here and there are dozens of brews to try from the region – I have a soft spot for Woodforde’s signature Wherry bitter (all the way from East Norfolk).
Calverley’s Brewery & Tap Room
One essential stop off for any beer lover visiting Mill Road is Calverley Brewery on Hooper Street. The Calverley Brothers started brewing in 2013 and three years later opened a taproom on the site of the brewery. It’s set in an old brick Victorian building with a great courtyard and resident food trucks. If you’re after an atmospheric industrial setting, with a whiff of 90s Berlin, this is the place.
Calverley’s pale ale appears as a drinks pairing for one of the courses on the taster menu at the currently vegetarian Vanderyle restaurant. The flavours that chefs Alex Rushmer and Lawrence Butler manage to extract from their ingredients are astounding.
I think I counted correctly, but there were 13 courses on our vegetarian taster menu, all offering delicious combinations of flavour. My favourite was the roasted aubergine, sesame and miso bagna càuda, which made me think that giving up meat may not be so hard after all.
This is the pair’s second restaurant after The Hole in the Wall, which closed in 2017 to local dismay, after six successful years. Book now as the Vanderlyle is only open four days a week and is very popular.
Off Hills Road
When it comes to food and drink options, Hills Road has always tended to lag behind Mill Road somewhat. But in recent years it has had some great additions, including the latest outpost of Cambridge favourite Smokeworks. Parents should check out the latest vegetable-focused children’s menus – admirable in a restaurant known for its barbecue food.
Hills Road has also attracted a spate of new independent bakeries recently. The one with the lengthiest morning queues is the French bakery Maison Clement. The pastries taste like nothing else in Cambridge, with bread so good my kids rate it higher than Haribo.
Further towards the city centre on Regent Street, DoppleGanger waves the vegan flag, with its imaginative take on the traditional burger menu. It's only been open since January 2019 but has been attracting rave reviews for its imaginative plant-based platters, and not just among the converted. “I hated vegans until about two minutes ago, but that was bloody delicious,” says one recent reviewer.
No foodie blog in Cambridge would be complete without a nod to some of the great food trucks in the city. Check out Guerrilla Kitchen’s bao buns, Azahar’s Spanish bocatas (baguettes) and the irrepressible Steak & Honour – all touring around Cambridge, including some of the business parks.
Want more foodie inspiration? Check out a comprehensive list of 100 food and drink tips for Cambridge here from Vanderlyle owner and former Masterchef finalist Alex Rushmer. Or do get in touch, if you would like us to show you around!