The Art of Eating and Drinking, Cambridge-style

Alex Hamill 4 November 2014

‘One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well’. Touché, Virginia. Fortunately for the Cambridge student, the art of dining well is very easy. Fresh and plentiful ingredients? Check. Buzzing café culture? Check. Restaurants a-plenty? Check. And don’t get me started on drink. Arrive hungry and thirsty: Cambridge is ready for you.

So lets start with the basics. For those of you who are not lured by college catering, you can of course buy your essentials at the Sidney Street Sainsbury’s. But ignore the Market at your peril. From freshly squeezed fruit juices to the juiciest tomatoes to wonderful cheeses and more, I applaud anyone who can fail to be tempted. And not just by the selection – prices are more competitive than the supermarket. Be sure to stop by Tom’s Cakes on a Sunday. Whilst your waistline and purse may regret it, the foodie within will be crying out for more.

Talking of cake, Cambridge’s café culture is a force to be reckoned with. For some of the best in Cambridge, take a visit to Afternoon Tease on King Street. This busy café also serves a mean lunch and brunch. If you like it then check out nearby Stickybeaks on Hobson’s Lane. But no Cambridge experience is complete without Fitzbillies. Whilst famed for its sticky Chelsea Buns, and rightly so, be sure to try their melted cheese sandwich. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Think gloriously gooey cheese, sandwiched between thick slices of hot bread. A tried and tested formula, it can’t be bettered. Continue the dairy hit at Aromi, one of the best Italian cafes you’ll find. Cannoli, gelato, biscotti: the choice is endless.

One cannot, unfortunately, survive on cake alone. Thankfully, you have plenty of other options. For insanely good pub grub, The Punter near Magdalene Bridge, is where it’s at: if you eat only one thing, make sure it’s their bangers and mash. Nearby St John’s Chop House should not be missed. If it’s meat you’re after then you are seriously spoilt for choice. From Cau to Smokeworks to the Pint Shop: you won’t leave any of these fine establishments hungry. Now, Cambridge may not be known for its fish but it should be if the quality and taste of Trinity Street’s Coast is anything to go by. From traditional battered fish to prawns to oysters, this restaurant is without fault.

But all this eating is thirsty work so be grateful that Cambridge is not without its watering holes. If it’s a cocktail you’re after, look no further than Market Passage’s Ta Bouche or The Vaults on Trinity Street. Be sure to try The Vaultini, a delicious mix of gin, apricot brandy, passion fruit and lemon juice shaken with a dash of apple juice. If you’re more into the pub scene then The Anchor is conveniently located on the return journey from Sidgwick. Or if you can’t wait that long then The Granta offers a wide range of traditional, local Cask Ales.

Whatever it is, Cambridge has got it: go forth and devour.