Simon’s uninspiring burger joints of Cambridgeshire (updated frequently)

I recently did a top ‘Top 5 burger joints in Cambridgeshire’ post which jogged my memory of some very unfortunate places I visited during my research.

This is part of our opinion page and it is exactly that…opinions. If you feel that any of the businesses on my list do not deserve to be here then remember that this is a community blog and anyone can contribute, so by all means make your own list with us and I’ll happily publish it. I have always taken the position of ‘consumers first’ and I don’t believe in blindly protecting a business when they are offering a substandard service. With that said, I actually quite like some of the restaurants on this list, I just don’t recommend their burgers.

6. Herbie’s – A14

I am rooting for Herbie’s, I really am! My son loves coming here for the milkshakes and the quirky retro American interior but they try so hard to be American they forget about physics.

Every burger is a sight to behold, loaded to the absolute brim with everything they can possibly fit inside, which makes it collapse and implode. The bun is the very foundation of the burger and holds it all together. If you scrimp on this then it’s like building a house on sand. After eating this, I was basically eating chilli by hand as the bun dissolved into nothing. This is burger 101.

5. Smokeworks – Station Road

What pisses me off about Smokeworks is that I actually love the place. Check out this review I did a while back.

There is so much to love about the venue, with some of the best (locally sourced) beers on tap, a very cool rock/metal interior decorating, a marvellous team who are incredibly hard working and attentive, and a lively Saturday night atmosphere which is seriously lacking in Cambridge…but that’s where it hits you!

This is a place which prides itself on doing top notch BBQ food and pours is heart and soul into everything but the food, which leads to a very ordinary and flavourless result. The food is slightly better than the other food on the list but what annoys me is that it is pretending to be high end so you end up even more disappointed.


4. Honest Burger – Cambridge

I mean…it’s ok. It shouldn’t cost £30+ for a burger, chips, and a few drinks though. C’mon, guys! It’s just a bun, mince, and a few potatoes. Aren’t chains supposed to offer better value or something?

3. Hartford Mill – Huntingdon/St Ives

For the record, Hartford Mill does a mean roast dinner and offers a wonderful value dining experience for families. With that said, don’t order the burger. You can expect the same price as a Hungry Horse but with less quality. The bun pretty much disintegrates in your hands and the meat is flavourless and full of gristle. It’s a shame too, as it looks the part.

2. The Robin Hood – Cherry Hinton

Fancy paying £12-15 for something you could do better at home? Come to The Robin Hood!

1. Grab A Burger – Ely

Do you want to be charged for a high end burger comparable to Steak & Honour but end up getting something you could have lazily made at Tesco? Grab A Burger is your best bet! This example was particularly depressing but even with a bit of tomato and greenery it is just an overly bland experience. Characterless.

My top 5 reasons why the Cambridge Foodies is the best!

Well, obviously I’m going to say that but the Cambridge Foodies is doing great! We have hit two massive milestones this past week with the Cambridge Foodies Facebook group hitting 6000 members and the blog now has 40,000 individual views!

Considering the group and blog have only been running for about a year now, that’s pretty good going! Not only has it caught up and overtaken many comparable (not rival) groups but is now catching up with some of the generalist juggernaut groups in Cambridgeshire sitting at 13-15k members, which have been going for many years.

Scrolling through a lot of these communities, I have come to the realisation that there are some very good reasons why we are flying high and growing at such a fast pace. Here are some of my thoughts.

Reason 1: We are a community, not a group.

Scrolling through many other Facebook groups based around Cambridgeshire, the places are dead. Lots of posts (mostly ads) which are left ignored with the occasional like and rare comment. It’s a ghost town. Scroll through the Cambridge Foodies sometime and see how lively it is!

A big thank you to everyone who makes the group what it is! This wouldn’t be the case without you!

Reason 2: We create our own content!

As you are likely already aware by reading this, we have our own blog. Now, whatever you think of my crude attempt to write a blog post, this is a blog which is updated frequently, with posts not only being created by myself and the admins but by members of the Cambridge Foodies community. This gives exclusive content which can only be found here and gives its members a reason to be here, and the best part is, anyone is welcome to contribute! We aren’t a pretentious Telegraph food critic telling you what to like, we are real people sharing our experiences. That’s all.

Reason 3: We have very few ads!

Being a member of any other Cambridgeshire based groups, you will notice that many of them have gradually turned into advert dumps for businesses. These ads mostly get ignored, receiving next to no likes or engagements, and finding content on them has become a baffling ordeal. This doesn’t work for the business, the members, or the usability of the group.

This was nearly the case for the Cambridge Foodies, at its peak getting 12 ad requests a day. We tried to accommodate all these ads the best we could without turning the group into an unusable waste land through different ways but it ultimately became impossible. Since starting our subscription service, we have been able to limit the ads to 3 a week and help fund the running of the blog at the same time. This has helped the business really keen to engage with us and get noticed, reduced the amount of ads to wade through for our users, and makes the blog possible.

Reason 4: We are a family of communities.

It’s not just the Cambridge Foodies, yaknow! We have four different groups in total, which helps members dive into specific interests without getting lost in the largest group.

The Cambridge Curry Community has been going for a staggering 12 years and has been running for so long that it even has Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant owners in the group who you can engage with directly.

The Craft Beer In Cambridgeshire group is a mere 550 members but is incredibly active and full of beer chugging craft beer fantastics with an extensive knowledge of the hobby and local knowledge.

The often overlooked Cambridge Pubs group is also a place people can go to discuss pub culture without feeling out of place in a foodie group.

Reason 5: Our own voice in the media!

Yup, that’s right! We have our own place in Velvet Magazine. A local magazine which has a circulation of 40,000 people. When writing each article I will ask the group to contribute towards the article, often in the form of a top 5 post. We bring our community along with us at the Cambridge Foodies!

Thank you!

I hope you have enjoyed my little celebration of our success. With 2023 now up and running, let’s see what amazing things we can achieve together! Watch this space and don’t forget to get in touch if you want to contribute towards the blog!

Thanks for reading!

Simon’s top 5 port cask whiskies

I have been enjoying whisky for well over twenty years. When I first started drinking, it was a spirit which immediately stood out to me over the others, with its complex taste and proud history. I remember popping my first bottle vividly and immediately being hooked on the world of scotch. Like with most of us, it started with the usual supermarket brands, then, as time went by, I started to explore the ranges through independent retailers and websites.

A photo taken after I started to get more adventurous in the supermarket

There is so much depth to whisky. As an individual dives down the rabbit hole, the more they discover that there is an entire world of different types, ranging from regions, countries, age, histories, traditions, and casks. Over time, you naturally find the type which fits your pallet and reflects your style as a drinker. For me, a port wood Scotch has always been a favourite of mine.

The ruby colour given by a port cask on the right when compared to its regular equivalent.

Port cask whisky means that the whisky has been finished off in port barrels towards the end of its ageing process, which blends whisky and port together to give a superb marriage of flavour between the two. The port casks give the dram a deep ruby finish which really cannot be found anywhere else. It’s a great fireside drink which also compliments chocolate and other sweet snacks very well.

Without further ado, I would like to share my top 5 favourite pork cask whisky. If you feel I have missed any out then do not hesitate to get in touch!

5. Balvenie Port Wood Cask – 21 years – 40%

Apologies for the picture quality here. It’s an old photo.

You’d be wrong in assuming that a higher aged whisky automatically results in a better taste. The way to look at whisky, is that a distillery has an idea of a particular taste they wish to create and will do what it takes to most accurately replicate what they envisioned. If that just so happens to require 21 years then so be it! That generally suggests a better taste, as a distillery would not go to such trouble of waiting so long for nothing, but it is not a set rule.

The first thing you would assume looking at the Balvenie is that with 21 years of ageing under its belt, that the port should a robust port flavour, but unfortunately, the whisky is only aged in the port cask barrels for a couple of months out of those 21 years! This makes the port more subtle in the whisky than perhaps one would like but does make it an incredibly smooth dram.

There is no doubt that The Balvenie is a superb take of port cask whisky, as it was actually my first introduction into port casks. Nobody will drink this whisky and feel disappointed but it does come at a hefty £180. This is high end territory and for the price really needs to justify itself, which is where it falls down on my list.

Another feature which lets it down is that at 40% it appears to be chill-filtered. This is where the whisky is filtered through a process to prevent clouding by bringing the dram to a very cold temperature (often below 0 degrees). A simple way of explaining why chill-filtered can be an issue for some drinkers, is that it can take out some of the nuances in the flavour in the same way an MP3 takes some details out of the sound quality of a song. Chill-filtered keeps the fundamental taste of a whiskey (and sometimes the negative effects will barely be noticeable at all) but many claim that it loses some of its character and edges which can give a whisky it’s character.

Chill-filtered can be forgiven with most whisky and it does not make a huge difference overall but for £180 this is something you should not be expecting. The Balvenie is as good as some of the others on my list but loses points for its cost to quality imbalance – with the price being nearly 4 times as much as some of the others on the list.

4. Penderyn Portwood – 46%

The Welsh entry on the list. Penderyn has always been one of the best supermarket whiskies available but it was only recently I learned they had a port cask version. Naturally, I bought this as quickly as possible after finding out and was pleasantly surprised by what it has to offer.

Surprisingly, this was going for a mere £40 on Amazon, of all places. Looking online, this is going on average for £50. It was also included in Prime for free next day delivery, so consider this the bargain of the bunch.

The Penderyn has a 46% cask strength with no chill-filtered processing. This is a rich and very deep whisky, which is exactly what you would expect from a port cask. Hints of dark chocolate and oak, creamy with honey and fruits. A perfect winter dram!

3. Arran Port Cask – 50%

Arran is a quality port cask whisky which offers no artificial colourings and also boasts to be a non chill-filtered whisky. What a great start!

At 50% you are heading almost towards cask strength and for £45-50 it is significantly better value than the Balvenie Port Cask. It comes in at 20% more than I paid for the Penderyn but for that extra tender I think it offers a more robust flavour. Especially considering that in most instances online, it’s actually the same price.

Arran port cask whisky can be harsh on the nose but has a good depth compared to some of the other port wood whisky. It is a great addition for anyone looking to introduce themselves to the port cask range which ticks all the boxes you would expect from a quality dram. I can really see myself drinking this with something sweet like chocolate by the fireplace…wholesome!

2. Dalmore Port Cask – 46.5%

Smoking is bad, m’kay?

The Dalmore Port Wood was very nearly in first place. I must have sat here for an hour trying to decide whether or not to include this at number one but after some long consideration, I decided that due to its £65 costs, it was just a little too expensive compared to its competitor at number 1.

This is probably my favourite whisky overall. This is obviously open to interpretation and down to personal taste but with hints of toffee, chocolate, coffee, and cherry, this is very much up my street. It also gives a rich creamy taste which, I feel, fits a port wood flavour oh so well.

This is a non chill-filtered whisky at 46.5%. It offers very little detail in terms of it’s process, so I an unable to tell you how long it has been in the port casks but all you need to know if that with a little splash of water and you are golden!

1. Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban – 14 years – 46%

The Glenmorangie – ‘The Quinta Ruban’, is (in my opinion) the ultimate port cask whisky. It offers the best value at a very fair £50, while still ticking all the boxes on what makes a great port cask whisky.

Getting its name from the wine estates of Portugal (Quinta) and the Gaelic word for ruby (Ruban), the Glenmorangie offers non chill-filtered whisky, aged for 14 years, and uses their famous tall stills for a deeper flavour.

Unlike with The Balvenie, which offers port cask ageing for a mere couple of months, the Quinta Ruban offers 10 years in American oak casks then a very generous 4 years in port casks. This gives it a more prevalent port flavour.

As if that was not enough, Glenmorangie are famous for their tall stills which stand at over 16 feet! What does this mean? It means a slower distillation and lots of vapours running back down the neck in a process – known as reflux. This shape also gives extra cooper contact which helps get rid of the heavy oil off-notes which can ruin the target flavour of the whisky. This removes unpleasant sulfur which can sour the overall taste.

The Quinta Ruban gives an orange, biscuit, and chocolate taste on the pallet which has a rich aftertaste. For £50, this is the ultimate port cask whisky and the perfect example of what port whisky should be.

The congestion charge will be the death of the Cambridge foodie scene.

Cambridge has always been the beating heart of the Cambridgeshire foodie scene, by offering disproportionately high numbers of excellent restaurants and food vans for its population and area.

This has been slowly changing over the years, with Cambridge already losing dominance to surrounding villages and towns, as businesses move out of the city. This is mostly driven by sky high property prices, business rates, and unnecessarily painful access into the city for the 5/6 of the people in Cambridgeshire.

Half of the top Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants are now outside of the city, more and more diverse restaurants are popping up in the surrounding towns, excellent craft beer establishments popping up in St Neots, St Ives, Ely, Harston, and Linton. Food vans are also now able to take their cuisine out of the city into hubs like Cambourne and Northstowe. Why bother having to jump through the hoops, waste half your day, and fork out for unreliable and expensive public transport just for a sandwich? Especially with the likes of Amazon and other online retailers chipping away at any reason to go into the city for shopping too.

The balance is already tipping away from Cambridge, with the only thing keeping a lot of restaurants open in the city is the high amount of people traffic, but with the news that a congestion charge is now on the table looking to charge people £5 to drive within the Cambridge city limits, could we finally see people unwilling to battle through Cambridge to eat and drink?

The proposed congestion charge zone

People I have spoken to are almost entirely against the congestion charge (usually people who aren’t lucky enough to live in the city). I am hearing people not just refusing to pay the congestion charge on financial ground but a moral one too. The proposed public transport upgrades to help mitigate the congestion charge immediately falls flat for anyone who isn’t close to the city, with proposed bus routes still looking like they will take up to an hour to get into the city and some requiring changes between. It’s just not a realistic thing to expect people to do. It’s going to be quicker, easier, and with significantly more dignity to pop between the numerous surrounding towns for dinner rather than battling into a city which is trying to push them away.

Can you imagine getting into Cambridge from Chatteris?

With demand soon to be falling thanks to the congestion charge and a half arsed attempt to introduce a cop out bus service, I predict that the future of good food and drink will move even further away from the city and into the surrounding villages and towns as demand drops significantly.

In a way, the congestion charge might actually make life easier for real people. It’s just a shame so many businesses will suffer because of it.

What do you think?

Why Ely gets it right.

Ely is known for many things; its stunning cathedral, the beautiful fenland countryside, and its copious amounts of tea rooms. It isn’t, however, well known for being a foodie hub, especially after the damning Muscle Food magazine piece citing Ely as one of the worst foodie hot spots in the country last year. 

Ely Market has been looking to change all that with its Foodie Friday events, by trying to push more food vans into the market over the weekend. This is aimed to give consumers a reason to come to the high street rather than sitting at home and shopping online. Shopping in Ely is now a day out, an experience, and entirely hassle free. 

The city planners really know what they are doing when it comes to the high street in Ely. While Cambridge is looking to alienate 500,000 of the 650,000 Cambridgeshire residents with a congestion charges and still enforcing extortionate parking charges, Ely is still offering free parking and a food market experience which has ever changing cuisine from all over the world.  People can pop in, stroll around with the family (without feeling like they are being charged by the hour,) and embrace the historic beauty of the city while sampling ever changing food vans. 

For example, I was able to try Tibetan style food from Tibet Flavour while doing my Christmas shopping recently. This is a food unavailable anywhere else in Cambridgeshire. Next week, it could be something entirely different. I guess I will have to come in to find out!

The best thing about food vans is the lack of a mark up. During these hard times of inflation, every penny counts. Without having to run an entire restaurant food vans are able to pass on the savings to the customer or put it back into the ingredients. This means you can have an affordable snack with top quality ingredients, such as Scotties Hot Scotch Egg’s, Al Chile, or Mrs Lekka without breaking the bank.

Every time you pop into Ely, you are faced with the potential of something new. It is not the same restaurants over and over again. Even when you have very good restaurants on the high street, can get tedious, and does not have the lame lure as a market of ever changing food vans serving food from all over the world. 

It is not just food vans either. They have marvellous Italian bakeries, stalls selling fresh produce, hot sauces, and a ‘cheese and pie man’ I have lovingly dubbed “the most dangerous man in Ely”.  All from local producers and small independent businesses. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find any chain restaurants in Ely without having to visit a painfully dull Pizza Express. This is the way it should be, a place where small independent businesses run rife, rather than having to hunt them down or find them tucked away.

The next time you want a day out or are thinking of doing some Christmas shopping, take a look at the Ely Market website and come pay the city a visit. Park up for free, try something new from the food vans, visit our award winning tea rooms, take a leisurely walk along the river, pop by Draymon’s Son or 3@3  for a craft beer or mulled wine, then visit the stunning Ely cathedral. No muss, no fuss! 

For more information, check out the Ely Market website


Why Muscle Food’s swipe at Ely’s foodie scene doesn’t make sense.

You may have recently read a piece on Cambridge Live about Muscle Food’s research into the cities across the UK ranked on their foodie scene.

This study ranked Ely as the third from bottom out of 69 cities across the United Kingdom, which has led to numerous people scratching their heads as to why?

Ely has an abundance of tea rooms, a thriving market, a diverse choice of restaurants for its size, and a very good cost of living when compared to other cities, so what’s the deal?

After digging through the study and looking into their metrics it starts to raise alarm bells immediately. It’s also only applicable to a small proportion of the population and judges the foodie scene on some very unusual measurements.

Here is a list of things I found reading the study.

Uber Eats?

Two of the metrics used to measure the study are the usage of Uber Eats.

Are Muscle Food’s sponsored by Uber or something? Who cares!

Not only are there other delivery companies out there but not having everything within the click of a button is no bad thing. Part of the passion of being a foodie is stumbling unexpectedly across a hidden gem. Some of the best restaurants are run by older generations who have been running their business the same way for generations and feel no need or urge to connect up to the app.

This may be important for youngsters but for a majority of people this is meaningless.

The purpose of the study.

Muscle Food is a fitness publication. Its perspective is to judge cities based on its healthy restaurants…which it claims Ely has only one.

Unless you are one of the 1 in 10 people in the UK who only eat healthy food exclusively then this is a pretty pointless statistic. If you are in the 90% of the population who range from never eating healthy to mostly eating healthy then you are still going to be able to indulge in some of Ely ‘s wonderful cuisine.

Now you could argue that being a health food website, what do you expect? But their study is called “The UK’s best cities for foodies in 2022” with no mention of healthy eating in the title. How many people have read the Cambridge Live article (which makes little effort to highlight this other than briefly mentioning healthy eating as one of their metrics) thinking this is a damnation of the Ely’s foodie scene as a whole?

Fact is, healthy diets are about balance and moderation. A restaurant can serve both “healthy” and “unhealthy” food without being considered a healthy restaurant. What you choose to eat is down to you as an individual.

The Old Fire Engine House, Sushi & Salad, and The Cutters Inn aren’t “health food restaurants” but have healthy food on their menu. Yet in the study they count Ely as only having one without specifying which restaurant that is. 🤷‍♂️

The data is wrong.

You can forgive a Nottingham based company for doing an article on a city in the fens without visiting. We can hardly expect them to travel across the country investigating every place in the UK for the sake of an article but it has become abundantly clear that the data being used is either out of date or quite simply wrong.

One of Ely’s strengths is its wide selection of tea rooms from Julia’s Tea Room, to The Almonry, to Peacocks (which has been repeatedly voted one of the best tea rooms in the county). Yet, for some reason the data shows that Ely only has 5. Please, Ely is pretty much a city of tea rooms and coffee shops!

Also, there seems to be a strange phenomenon in Ely at the moment where all the restaurants have suddenly decided to stop serving desserts? As you can see, Ely gets marked down as a 0 for this category. It seems strange for a health food publication to use desserts as any form of metric in judging a foodie scene too.

Looking further at the chart above, apparently we don’t have any bakeries either. I’ll let Grain Culture and Barker’s Bakery know that they don’t exist.

Counting at the top of my head we have Boswell’s, Tom’s cakes, Lemon Tree Deli cafe, Grain Culture, and Market Kitchen which all offer baked goods such as bread, cakes, and rolls. That’s 5 alone without counting specialist cake stores like Hand Crafted Cupcakes.

Population balance

Did you know that Ely doesn’t have a population of 9 million? Me either! Any study worth its salt does not compare a city the size of London with the city of Ely which hovers around 18,000.

London will naturally dominate any foodie scene in the world, let alone the country when judged as a whole, so it’s unfair to compare without some sort of balance.

Should we be measuring cities as a whole when the best dessert could be 45 minutes on the tube from the best main course? It seems pretty unlikely that this is going to have any relevance in real world practicality, whereas Ely has everything within walking distance (in stunning historic surroundings, may I add?).

Judging a city per sample of 10,000 would be a fairer way of measuring it. With London being 9,000,000 and Ely 18,000 that makes London 500 times the size. Let’s see the results when we cater for that adjustment?


Studies like this are well and good when you are comparing large cities of a similar size (despite some strange metrics and unreliable data) but the fundamental issue is that the way it’s measured is disproportionately promoting the big and wealthy cities at the cost of smaller communities.

Ely has one of the best tea rooms in the country, a market with a superb Italian bakery, Brazilian food, and Hong Kong fusion. Not to mention one of the best sushi joints in the county, a Jamaican restaurant, The Old Fire Engine House (which speaks for itself), and an up and coming South American restaurant opening on the river front. We also have a microbrewery, the Ely gin company, and several locations to buy craft beer.

Ely may not be perfect but it punched well above its weight. I encourage the team at Muscle Food to visit our beautiful city and try our foodie scene for themselves!

7 Curry Houses I really miss in Cambridge.

I’ve been eating a lot of curry in Cambridgeshire over the past 20 years. Here are some of my favourite Indians which are no longer with us but I really really miss!

Curry Garden – Regent Street

It’s been 12 years since our last visit to Curry Garden. Remembered for its vivid green sign lighting up Regent Street and it’s brightly coloured interior walls. Curry Garden always did a blinding hot curry like nowhere else, which was always welcome on a Saturday night!

RIP old friend!

Cafe Naz (The Cambridge Curry Centre) – Castle Street.

Cafe Naz was a superb Indian restaurant which gave a taste of Brick Lane in Cambridge but has unfortunately (and shamefully) been replaced by a generic noodle bar (Update: This has now been turned into Nameste Village).

They used to offer a fantastic buffet for £6.95 on Sundays, which my friends and I used to visit for a late breakfast after a heavy night out. The best thing about Cafe Naz was its sleek modern interior and huge size. Perfect for large events such as my friend stag do. So many contrasting memories of fun parties and painful mornings healing with curry.

Goodbye and farewell!

Maharajah – Castle Street

The Maharajah was famously known in the Cambridge Curry Community as the rudest Indian in Cambridge. They would have a go at you if you didn’t leave a tip, rush you out the door once the bill was paid, and I even had a waiter break down and cry while serving me…but my word, what amazing food!

The Maharajah had a stylish vivid interior with charming outfits for their waiters, which were reminiscent of Captain Scarlet. This all added to the unique experience of the Maharajah which you couldn’t find anywhere else.

Being next door to Cafe Naz…it was nearly impossible to choose between them!

Update: The Maharajah had since been reopened. Check our review here.

Kohinoor – Mill Road

Speaking of stunning interiors, I accept that The Maharajah’s interior was not everyone’s taste but nobody could dispute the beauty of the Kohinoor on Mill Road.

The Kohinoor was not only a stunning place to be but it was great value, offering bargain deals plastered across the window. This was perfect back when I was a poor student but still had that curry craving. They also had a selection of 3 Indian beers on draft too which was unheard of!

A little known fact is The Cambridge Curry Community had their first ever event here 12 years ago!

Make sure to check out one of our old reviews here!

The Slap Up Tandoori – Waterbeach

I used to live around the corner from The Slap Up Tandoori when it was in my early 20’s. My friend and I used to swing by so often we even managed to go twice in one day!

The place looked depressing from the front and…quite frankly, looked depressing on the inside too, but they always managed to do a good spread! It was one of the last Indians I remember which could do a blinding hot vindaloo. They just don’t do em like they used to!

Golden Curry – Mill Road

The Golden Curry was one of the big 4 of Mill Road. It was never brilliant for it’s food but offered a wonderful atmosphere thanks to its fish tanks and large windows to people watch as you dined in.

We even managed to have our 23rd Cambridge Curry Community event back in 2016!

You’ll never be forgotten Golden Curry!

India House – Newnham

India House was always one of my favourites. They were one of those places where you would visit after a year and they would still remember you and what you had the last time.

The food was excellent, the service was prompt, and it was also located on the beautiful Mill Pond.

After a fire it was never able to recover and finally closed its doors for good. Goodbye my friend! The memories won’t be forgotten

What do you think of my list? I know there are many of you out there who are older than I am who will be able to remember significantly older restaurants I’ve missed on my list. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if I have missed any gems!

Is Castle Street the new Mill Road? (2014)

There was a time when anyone wanting to try a good Indian restaurant in Cambridge would simply get pointed in the direction of Mill Road.
And rightly so!
The road, thanks to its diverse culture, numerous independent restaurants, and its many many Indians was a no-brainer. It was absolutely crammed with decent places to eat. From the top of my head there were at least six Indians to choose from, the most notable being The Golden Curry, Kohinoor, and the Curry Queen. Three well established Indians which have been around for a very long time. They are the kind of places which always offer a great experience and a decent curry.

Sadly though, times have changed and those six have now dwindled.

The Royal Standard down the other end of Mill Road was eventually turned into an Indian restaurant. I managed to visit the place three or four times in the brief time it was open but sadly it closed down soon after, which was a damn shame because I considered it the best place down Mill Road to eat.
Then there was Chutney Joe’s, which is better known as the old Locomotive pub. This place too has since shut – Though if you had ever been there, you’d understand why! The food was appalling and wont be missed by me, though it did offer something different.
There was also an Indian restaurant which opened for a short while which has now been turned into a fried chicken establishment. It was the first place in town to let you bring in your own drinks. Sadly when I went in there the place hadn’t put up a sign up on the door so its name has completely escaped me. This too was a reasonably decent place to eat. This was open for only a year before it closed and often saved you a fortune every time you went in there because you were bringing in supermarket drinks instead of paying for it at restaurant prices.
So after three closures we have been left with the three rocks of Indian food down Mill Road. Golden Curry, Kohinoor, and Curry Queen.
It’s a real shame, and though there are still many other fine places to eat down Mill Road, it has lost that important part of its identity with HALF of the Indians closing within the past couple of years.
Are there any other similar streets which could compare to Mill Road?
One which springs to mind for me is Castle Street.
Home to Cafe Naz, a recently reviewed Indian which was visited by The Cambridge Curry Crew only the other week. The sister restaurant to Cafe Naz of Brick Lane and also known as The Cambridge Curry Center blew us all away with its modern look, great atmosphere and delicious food. It’s now up there as one of the highest rated Indians in Cambridgeshire on our Curry Crew poll!

I still keep thinking about Daniels chicken tikka at Cafe Naz.

We also have the Maharajah. A more traditional Indian restaurant which is well known for doing incredibly delicious and spicy curries. The place has a great atmosphere and is handsomely decorated. This one again easily gets in my top 10 (heck, top 5) in the city.
There is also Cocum, a restaurant which specialises in Southern Indian and more traditional Indian dishes. A place I have failed to try yet but too has had nothing but praise and decent reviews consistently.

You are next, Cocum!

So we have three places on Castle Street which are well established and incredibly high quality, they also offer great diversity with a traditional, a modern and a specialist style, compared to Mill Road’s three traditional Indians. I know currently if I was to recommend a place to go for a decent curry right now it would be Castle Street. Naturally you don’t get the ethnic feel from Castle Street as you would from Mill Road which might be part of Mill Roads appeal with shisha cafes, Chinese supermarkets and Turkish kabab houses, but the quality of Castle Street is far superior if you are just looking for a good Indian restaurant.
There is a glimmer of hope for Mill Road however, as Prana has recently opened into a small restaurant on Mill Road.
Could this be its saving grace?
I haven’t had the pleasure to try it yet but it would have to be something special to compete with the likes of Castle Street. It would knock the total Indians on Mill Road to chose from back up to four and they would all be within eyesight of each other.
The place boasts 50 seats inside and huge aspirations to become “the most celebrated Indian in all of Cambridge” – Well, according to their website anyway!

It will have to be something special for me to compete with the giants of Castle Street, so we will have to watch this space.