Gin in a Pint Shop
The end of exams calls for a celebration and what better time to try out the most recent addition to the Cambridge restaurant scene, The Pint Shop. I have often popped into this relatively new addition to the Cambridge restaurant scene for one of their amazingly diverse gin and tonics, from the more classically flavoured Junipero 49.3% 12 Botanicals, Strong Juniper to the exciting NB Gin 42% Grains of Paradise, Orris Root, Cassia Bark. (I am yet to find out what Grains of Paradise are…) I am also reliably informed that you can have the pint of the name there as well, although that’s not really my style. These Gin and Tonics are made even more exciting by the sophisticated presentation of a sliver of lemon peel, plenty of ice and juniper berries, Wetherspoons take notice.
So directly after spraying U4 with champagne as the final finalist, the staircase crowd plus extras headed down for lunch in plainly decorated back room of the shop, the back being the restaurant, the front the bar. One of the most appealing aspects for the students round the table was the set price lunch menu, 2 courses for £10, friendly to the student budget. We were immediately presented with hefty chunks of sourdough bread and slabs of butter gratefully received by the majority of the party who had missed breakfast due to their own exam celebrations the night before. (My only gripe was that the butter was unsalted, but it was nothing a little sea salt couldn’t fix).
The girl Muso, Phantom and I all started with the intriguing sounding spiced cauliflower fritters with yoghurt sauce. I was impressed. They were light, but less pungent than an onion bajii and went well with the neutral yoghurt sauce. However the classicist next to me made me immediately jealous, a roast cauliflower, Raddichio and walnut salad (cauliflower is clearly in season) which looked amazing and I was assured tasted as good. I later found out that this is a bit of a house speciality in various forms, missed a trick. Altogether the starters were basic but showcased their produce.
The main courses were pretty much along the same vein, basic but showcased seasonal produce. My mackerel with potato salad cannot, I’m afraid, be referred to as the best dish I ever had, but it was well seasoned and the mackerel melted in the mouth. Apparently those who had the pork were not so lucky. While the pork with roasted apple and mustard sauce was nice, the whole dish was severely let down by the rather odd large pickled fennel which was taking up most of the plate. Initially I thought that the girl Muso was exaggerating…but after tasting I can definitely say fennel is one of the few things that shouldn’t be pickled ever.
Of course the real winner was Leporello, who decided to treat himself off the set menu. His steak with fried egg and bone marrow looked impressive and judging by the empty bone and plate it was pretty damn good. His and U4’s meals were accompanied by the sort of food I would normally have after 3am post clubbing but turned out to be an inspired choice. The Pint Shop is the only place I know that can elevate the humble chips with curry sauce to a sophisticated side order for lunch.
All in all the Pint shop is a great place to go, but stick to the classic pub food, they do that best. Their cricket ball sized scotch eggs are next on my list, apparently they’re worth the trip to Cambridge.