Cambridge is a small town (although technically a city) in the East of England. Some would argue it's about as culturally diverse as a Newport Yacht Club, but that's not entirely true. Granted that in the town center there would seem to be an abundance of what I call WOPEMS (While, Oxbridge, privately-educted males) but go to Mill Lane and a few other hotspots and things are very different.
Firstly, there is a thriving Chinese community in Cambridge - and they have brought their yummy food with them. While Charlie Chan's on Regent St may have been caught with cockroaches in the kitchen, other establishments like Cook for You (off Norfolk St nr East Rd) and Junling Noodle Bar (next to the Corn Exchange opposite Jamie's "Italian") offer fantastic food at a very reasonable price. Cook For You does very good take-out and and makes the best spring rolls I've ever tasted (and I've spent a month in Hong Kong and China)
If you want something a bit different, there is an awesome little Vietnamese called Thanh Binh on Magdalene St. The flavours are brilliant and it's very well priced for what it is. For the cash strapped students among you, DoJo's on Mill St (near the Mill Pond by the University Centre) is a cheap and tasty source of speedy Japanese food (although don't think you're going to walk in and get sushi)
As for more western food, please please please don't go to places like Jamie's Italian. It's expensive and very low quality. The restaurants are a cash cow model of stack-'em high sell 'em cheap with the last part of the philosophy forgotten. They have too many customers, not enough staff and all the Italianess of a wienerschnitzel. If you must eat Italian I would venture out to Little Venice. It's a treck to Caxton (St Neots Rd) but worth the journey.
Coming next, what every tourist should see and do in Oxford and Cambridge.
Wednesday, 5 January 2011
Eating in Oxford
While England has a reputation for bad food, rain and terrible service (although not at Oxbridge Tours) I’ll hopefully convince you that there are at least some good places to eat in Oxford (Cambridge to follow)
Al Shami – This is in Jericho, a small part of Central Oxford out of the City Centre. Jericho is where many of the locals live and therefore has lower prices and better food. Al Shami is a Lebanese restaurant with fantastic food. A great place to relax, they do brilliant coffee and a wonderful plate of fresh local veg before a main of succulent flavorsome meat. Price is around £25 a head including a Lebanese beer and baklava.
Branca – Has a brilliant mid-week early dinner menu. A starter and main (or main and dessert) plus a glass of wine or beer for £10.45. They also give you a large bowl of delicious bread without charging – something which is quite hard to find these days. Book in advance though – it can get very busy in the summer.
Quod – A up-market restaurant attached to the 4* Old Bank Hotel on the High St in Oxford. Does a fantastic cream tea with warm crumbling scones, perfect raspberry jam and yummy clotted cream. A must for any afternoon out.
Grand Café – Just up the road from Quod, they also do a good cream tea (although not as good). They have the edge on ambience, décor and menu as well as the history of being the oldest coffee house in England. In the evening it turns into a swanky cocktail bar with a tempting selection of beverages and a long-happy hour. Well worth a visit.
Browns – Although part of a chain, the restaurant has a lot of character and service is usually very good. Browns do a fantastic fillet steak and have a lovely cocktail bar. It’s slightly pricey – around £35 a head for starter and main with soft drink – but worth it for a special occasion.
All places are linked so that you can read more. Cambridge to follow.
Sunday, 2 January 2011
Welcome to Oxbridge Tours first blog entry. I am Christopher Dobbing, CEO of Oxbridge Tours and a Third Year Politics undergraduate at Pembroke College Cambridge. Firstly, I should tell you about who we are and what we do.
We offer walking tours of Oxford and Cambridge for corporate groups, schools and tourists led by current students.
Oxbridge Tours was formed over Summer 2010 to help students pay for the cost of studying in the UK. We offer walking tours of Oxford and Cambridge led by current students who have been trained in the history of the City, but who also offer a lively and entertaining insight into student life. We hope to expand the model to other University Towns in the future.
So far our feedback has been great and we're very excited about the future.We're working many of the major hotels in Cambridge. Here's a few of our favourites:
Crowne Plaza Cambridge - A grand 4* Deluxe hotel in the heart of Cambridge. We have a special promotional rate of £122 B+B on offer to our clients. Contact us through www.OxbridgeTours.com for more information.
Hotel du Vin - A gorgeous 4* hotel with an incredible restaurant attached. Perfect for Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum.
Doubletree Hilton - The First Doubletree in Europe. It has a wonderful riverside location where you can watch the punts go by with a drink. Perfect for those long summer days.
Royal Hotel Cambridge - A charming hotel close to the city centre. Great for large groups.
Felix Hotel - A charming stately home a few minutes drive from the Centre of Cambridge. A sublimely relaxing home-from-home with a brilliant food menu and friendly, attentive staff.
All are great hotels, depending on what you're after. In this blog I'll be talking about what's on in Oxford and Cambridge as well as advice for what to see and do while you're here.
With 1,800 years of history between them, it can be quite overwhelming knowing where to start. My advice after you arrive in any new city is to to get lost wondering the streets and find some charming little cafe to enjoy a relaxing drink. Now you can sit back and absorb some of the culture.
In my next posts I will give advice on the must-see sites of Oxford and Cambridge.