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breakfast, lunch, and dinners for a conference in Cambridge


amccomb
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Hello!

My husband is heading to a conference in Cambridge this week and he was hoping to get some recommendations for great places to eat. He likes anything - cheap, fancy, ethnic, traditional - and any price range.

Any recommendations near this area?

University of Cambridge

Downing Site, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EH

St Catharine's College

St Catharine's College, Trumpington Street, Cambridge. CB2 1RL

I'm sure bar or cocktail recommendations would also be appreciated!

Thanks so much!

Amanda

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  • 4 months later...

I see Cambridge threads haven't been updated for a while so let me indulge:

Midsummer House is great indeed and worthy of the detour.

An oft overlooked one is Alimentum. Take a cab if you must, otherwise walking there and back is part of the fun on a warm British winter day (an oxymoron, but who knows, you might get lucky). Ask the waiter for a Sazerac, the bartender rarely gets tough requests, which is a shame because he was I believe voted Best in the UK or similar in 2006. He knows his stuff. The food has been consistently satisfying, better than many a London 1* (Arbutus included), every time I went although my last visit was about a year ago. Set lunch for £15 is an absolute steal.

If you want your head blown off, go to a Chinese restaurant called Sesame next to a church, it looks like any other Chinese place with Chinese-British dishes (black bean chicken and other variations on sweet gloop with protein). When I was there last, they had just translated the "Chinese" menu, but it's still worth going with a Chinese person. Ask for the spicy cold noodles, and the Szechuan water-boiled fish, and Chinese-spicy please (i.e. with an inch of floating chillies). Sesame is the hangout of the Chinese Scholars Association (loosely translated) and basically serves as a canteen for the homesick Chinese student, but they usually dine downstairs. They also do pig's feet and cool things but I could never manage to eat these without a Chinese friend ordering them for me.

A nice takeaway, and another homesick Chinese student canteen, is on the corner of Lensfield Road and Regent Street, opposite the church. It's called Lan Hong House, has a wooden bench inside, and limited English. For £4 you can get an amazing fatty pork belly with or without aubergines (Hong Shao pork or sea-salted aubergines). It should reliably feed you and another person.

I keep hearing good things about Restaurant 22 but never set foot there.

I love the Maharadjah on Castle Hill for curries. Don't rate any other places, which seem designed more for students to get very drunk than for dining but then I rarely ate curry back in the days.

Another good takeaway is Manna Mexico. Those burritos... when I am back (which is rather rare these days) the first thing I do is get a pork burrito with guacamole and loads of cheese. So satisfying.

Coffee is hard to come by but a good place is a small cafe/Italian deli whose name escapes me on Regent's street. They use fresh roasted beans, albeit quite a strong roast, which in a former life, I used to be much more sticky about (a new workplace with free nespresso has rapidly dulled my coffee taste buds to oblivion, unfortunately). The food is pretty decent too although expensive by UK standards.

Other than that your best bet is to go for a chain. Zizzi's and Wagamama's are the safest.

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There's also a deli with a huge plastic cow in front near Emmanuel. This is awesome and strongly recommended if you want a cheap satisfying meal. The inside is a pastel version of McDonald's though so perhaps not the best dining experience.

If you can, go to Grad Hall at Trinity on a Friday night. It's my favourite of the bunch. Ask any graduate students who go to Trinity if they can invite you.

A good place to drink on a Friday night is Clare College MCR (again you will need an invitation from a friend) whose bar has something like 70 scotches going for £1 or £2 a shot (£2 for a shot of PC7! fabulous).

Another "local" secret, the butcher's pork and sage sausages from the market are the best I've ever tasted anywhere in the world, and I've eaten a lot of sausages (they are way better than Ginger Pig's). He also sells duck eggs, so here's your breakfast suggestion if you have access to a kitchen.

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I keep hearing good things about Restaurant 22 but never set foot there.

It's been a few years since I was at last in Cambridge, but I visited 22 Chesterton Road, which I think is the same as Restaurant 22, or has it changed hands? It was one of the better meals I had in Cambridge, and it had a very nice cozy atmosphere. The menu on their website looks like the sort of thing I remember.

I've usually stayed in the University Arms, which has a big English breakfast buffet, which may be unremarkable as English breakfasts go, but for Americans it's something of a novelty.

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Amazing that Cambridge offers up so little though, particularly in the mid-range dining arena. Oxford the same.

I'd guess it is because there is no demand. Students have cheap, readily available opportunities to eat in a formal setting in Hall/Formal/whatever you call it at the other place (at £5 for a 3 course meal with silver service + BYOB, it's hard to beat). There aren't enough foodies in the city to sustain more than a couple of places, which operate in part as "neighbourhood restaurant" for the rest of the pro crowd. 45 minutes gets you into London which has a wide, cheap (by continental standards) selection of Michelin-level cooking. And maybe few chef wants to move here when they can have the lifestyle and access to produce/talent/etc. of London. Thoughts?

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I would agree that Midsummer House is well worth a visit. They are well worthy of their 2 stars - although not knocking on the doors of three (a brave prediction the day before the 2011 announcement!). It is a lovely setting with good quality innovative (without being 'weird') cooking.

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