On Friday night Andrew and I decided on the spur of the moment to go for a meal at Cambridge’s (allegedly) first gastro-pub, The Punter (né Sino Tap, né The Rope and Twine, né The Town and Gown). Unlike previous name changes, which were accompanied by a lick of paint and a quick dust down, this latest refurb cost a bit more than a trolleyload at B&Q; the entire pub has been gutted.
Whereas previously the bar sat in the middle of two separate seating areas, it now lives where the old fireplace was, with one large seating area. The toilets have moved, the kitchen is now out in the old back bar (unused since the T&G era), and the former dancefloor is now a proper dining room, alongside a wood-panelled function room.
The transformation is amazing and extremely well done, if not entirely wheelchair-friendly (it’s a listed building and several hundred years old, there’s only so much you’re allowed to do). This was apparently a controversial redevelopment, but I reckon someone visiting the pub for the first time wouldn’t realise how much has changed.
On arrival Andrew and I looked around, retrieved our jaws from the floor, checked that the 10%-off voucher that came through my door the other day was still valid, and bought some drinks. We found a table off to the right, in a relatively unchanged area, and reminisced about the olden days.
To eat, Andrew chose the duck with bean cassoulet (verdict: excellent) and I tried the garden pea risotto (unusual, fine, no complaints). None of yer generic pub grub here. For dessert Andrew had the tart, I the spotted dick, and we made all the jokes ourselves thank you very much. My only complaint would be that the beer was on the turn. No, not that kind of turn.
Avaragado’s rating: two runner beans