Friday, August 9, 2013

The Clarendon Arms, Cambridge

Lawrence Dixon, long time landlord of the Champion of the Thames, took over The Clarendon Arms a few months ago.

His first act was to get rid of the TVs, piped music and fruit machines that had blighted it for years, and to redecorate. The pub is hugely improved as a result.

His second has been the bizarre and unorthodox move of offering good pub food at reasonable prices. He said to me "Everywhere I go people get obvious things wrong, and it drives me up the wall. I just want to do a traditional pub well". I could feel a michelin star coming on as we spoke. Lawrence and all his staff obviously really really care about their new pub.

The food in the Clarendon is absolutely exceptional! You would be pleased to find a restaurant this good, and yet the menu is traditional orthodox English cooking, and the prices perfectly normal for a city centre pub.

I'd particularly recommend the Scotch Eggs, one of the cheapest things on the board. They're like nothing I've ever tasted before. The platonic ideal to which all scotch eggs aspire.

The beer is standard Greene King, but very well kept, as it always was at the Champion. I think I'm not alone in thinking that Greene King's ubiquitous IPA is actually a very good drink when it's been looked after. It's just terribly hard to find a pub where they know how to keep it well.

The Clarendon also does the superb Greene King mild, which is a rarity these days and quite difficult to find. It's a reminder of why the old traditional real ale brewer Greene King that I remember from my student days grew into today's behemoth that everyone loves to hate.

Well done Lawrence and good luck!

P.S. There's also a wifi connection. A proper one, not this "_Cloud" rubbish that infests most pubs now. I think that's an example of Lawrence's attention to detail. It must have been very tempting to go with Greene King's standard arrangement.

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