Cambridge, England -- any reasonable food?
I'm visiting Cambridge, England for several months and would really appreciate any recommendations for food shops or restaurants here. So far I've been quite disappointed with the overall quality of the food (can't go to London so often...) Admittedly living in Paris for a year before this has made the change, from a culinary perspective, difficult.
Many people recommended Brown's, which I found reasonable but not in any way outstanding. The only really lovely place I've found so far is the Cambridge Cheese Company, on All Saint's Passage -- but there's only so much cheese and specialty soup I can eat.
Argh. I just wrote a huge comment about Alimentum, a new restaurant on Hills Road, and the "Link to a place" thing ate it. I don't have the energy to type it all out again now, so I'll just say that it's well worth a visit, and give links to my Flickr photoset — http://www.flickr.com/photos/kake_pugh/sets/72157601305173803/ — and the Open Guide to Cambridge review — http://cambridge.openguides.org/wiki/...
I lived in Cambridge for several years and just returned from a long visit. It's not a town for a person who enjoys fine dining, but here are a few suggestions. The Three Horseshoes in Madingley (next village out) is superb, as fine a meal as you'll have anywhere in East Anglia. And expensive. Anatolia on Bridge St (or Magdalene -- don't know where the name changes) is good sit-down Turkish. Also near the water is La Mimosa, right at the edge of Jesus Green, for good Italian. Loch Fyne across the street from the Fitzwilliam has outstanding seafood (at a price).
For a more modest expenditure of cash, The Castle has a really good menu of gastropub food -- the gourmet sandwiches are great. It's even better than it was when we lived here a couple of years ago. Across the street, the County Arms has reasonably good food -- sandwiches, chops, chili, nachos, burgers. Magnolia in Rose Crescent has cheap, fairly good Middle Eastern. One of the pubs off Mill Road is a vegetarian place that was great -- wish I could recall which one. Tommy Tucker on Chesterton Road is the town's best chippie. Le Gros Franc (I'm sure I've butchered the spelling) on the high street out by the turning for the rail station is just fantastic. They bake a tray of real crocque monsieur, with bechamel and everything, each day. If you get there at 11 a.m., you can get it hot from the oven.
Michaelhouse, the converted church across from Gonville and Caius, has really great cafe food -- it is run by the Digby Trout organization, which runs the catering at Kensington Palace, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Ashmolean and more.
The Yumee on Victoria Road has very good Chinese food -- unusually so for a neighborhood takeout place. It may have changed hands since I last ate there, though, so caveat emptor.
There's a terrific and inexpensive Pakistani place at the scary spaghetti junction of Victoria, Milton and Chesterton Roads. We ordered a lot from there. Super fresh, homemade sauces. Starts with an N, like Nizrah, Nirha, Nirluz. Sorry I can't recall.
God luck, and enjoy your stay! My heart is still in Cambridge after all these years!
Recently moved to Cambridge from Montreal, Canada, and am feeling more than a little chowishly homesick. What I wouldn't give for decent sushi... However, this isn't to say that a decent place can't be found to eat in Cambridge, if one looks hard enough. Such places may be few and far between, and often pricy, but they exist.
Peking House on Burleigh St. is probably my favourite place to eat out in town so far. Notably, the spicing, unlike too many other places in this city (and country, for that matter...) is not diluted for Western tastes. Yes, it's expensive - my favourite haunt back home could give me a similar meal for less than half the price - but given the dreck that passes for Chinese food here, it was such a relief to find it that I can't really complain, and have been back many times.
I've also eaten well at some of the Mill Road-area pubs. The Kingston Arms, Cambridge Blue, and Live and Let Live are all CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) haunts for good reason. All have a variety of excellent cask ales, as one would expect, but are good places to eat, too. Live and Let Live has a smallish menu of traditional pub fare, and does a very nice Sunday roast. Cambridge Blue has a larger menu that includes very well done standards, in addition to rotating specials. The Kingston Arms, however, has the best pub menu I have come across thus far... it's a little pricier to eat there than at most pubs, but is entirely worth it. Book in advance, as it is deservedly popular.
Finally, a recent find: A few weeks ago, a place calle Manna Mexico opened on Regent Street. The owner lived here as a student, and decided to move back to Cambridge to fill a niche, that of affordable Mexican food. They also sell tacos, quesidillas, nachos, and salads, but the real star are their Mission-style burritos - something I simply never imagined finding in Cambridge. No, they aren't as good as what you'd find in San Francisco (the rice, in particular, isn't exactly right, and there's no carnitas option!), but they're pretty damn good, and much appreciated.
Apologies for the run-on post. Would love to hear about anyone else's finds. In particular, I've tried a number of Indian places, but haven't found a good one yet - mostly just bland curries made from the same spice mix. There's got to be a good one here, somewhere... Any suggestions?
I see the OP is out of date but still-- if you are visiting faculty/postdoc, certain colleges are worth getting an invite to high table. Kings I'm most impressed with--it has some incredible food and an astute wine committee. This is really only a plausible strategy if you work closely with a faculty member, though. Barring that, Fitzbillies' on the road near king's (trumpington?) is worth trying.
On the whole, though, Cambridge is really chow hell (amongst other things inappropriate here...)
Depressing to say but it's a heck of alot of rubbish. Browns blows. I can't imagine why anyone recommends this other than it's not as bad as any of the others. But it's not good.
At the upper end there's always Midsummers House, which can be inspired but it pricey. Just outside Cambridge both Three Horseshoes (Maddingley) and Crown & Punchbowl (Horningsea) are good.
In town, it's just so hard to think of anything that merits a second visit. The depressing thing is that after a film Nandos and Pizza Express feel like decent options.
Sorry to be a downer.
I've been studying in Cambridge for a year and a half, and I haven't found anything great to eat here. Trattoria Pasta Fresca on Mill Road has some very good pastas but atrocious service--I've waited more than an hour for an entree on some occasions. It seems to depend on whether there is a large party in the upstairs part of the restaurant, which is difficult to ascertain as you walk in. But takeaway (take-out) service is reliable and fast.
Somehow I've managed to miss the Cambridge Cheese Company, but now I'm eager to try it out. Thanks for the tip!
Other than that, I would recommend saving your pounds to go back to Paris for a weekend and eat yourself silly there.
We've just moved to Cambridge. Our search for good food has so far unearthed The Noodle Bar on Mill Road, (which is a great street to visit in itself,with loads of supermarkets selling foods and spices from all over the world); CB2 on Norfolk Street, a cafe in the daytime and a restaurant and sometimes a music/theatre venue in the evenings. Al Casbah in Mill Road does decent Algerian food. All of these places are reasonably priced and good for vegetarians and meateaters alike. A good website for happenings in Cambridge is www.localsecrets.com