Cambridge foodie, Gerla de Boer, shares her favourite restaurants for outdoor dining in Cambridge.
It has been the most awaited re-opening of the hospitality industry. After a long and cold winter, everybody was keen to get out of hibernation and meet up with friends and family. A year ago, we couldn’t have imagined that socialising would be so special.
Many businesses had to reinvent themselves. From one day to the other, a good online presence was essential, and unfortunately, some didn’t survive. Much to my surprise, some great new ventures have sprung up. I am even more pleased that they are all indie businesses.
For alfresco dining this summer in Cambridge; read my pick of places to eat out:
From the Sky
Six at the Varsity Hotel is one of the top venues in Cambridge to meet up and have a bite to eat. Sip cocktails or bubbly while you are soaking up the stunning views of Cambridge from this rooftop bar.
This pretty area of Cambridge, where the towpath along the river ends, is a popular location to meet up with friends for a picnic from Fitzbillies or a pint from the Mill Pond pub. It is now becoming even better. If you like it swanky, then you are in the right place. The Graduate Hotel is set to open during the summer of 2021, and with the stunning views of Mill Pond, this is definitely the place to meet up.
Do you like a bit of glam? Then the Gonville Hotel is the place to go! One of the top hotels in Cambridge has turned its lawn into a quintessentially English dining experience, featuring a lavishly decorated tent and using individually designed plates. On Friday and Saturday nights you’ll be graced with live jazz music.
Just on the outskirts of Cambridge, you’ll find Provenance in Whitlesford. Famous for cooking over a fire, this fantastic restaurant boasts a wonderful garden which they have turned into an alfresco experience.
Oyster Bar on the River
Cafe Foy has always been one of my favourite places in Cambridge for a drink and a bite to eat, but it has become even better. The Oyster Lab is popping up here during the summer every Friday and Saturday from 4pm. The variety of preparations is impressive. Booking is recommended as they sell out quickly.
Gin on the River
One of the most successful products of Cambridge has hit the river. Rutherford’s punting company has teamed up with the award-winning Cambridge Gin Company, and you now can sip gin on the exclusive Cambridge Gin Company punt.
Eastern Mediterranean Tapas
One of the most popular pubs in Cambridge has changed hands. Moaz, from Tel Aviv, is serving an array of Mediterranean tapas and oysters complemented with one of the best selections of wines at the Kingston Arms, just off Mill Road.
Craft Beer and Pizzas
The home of craft beer, the Pint Shop on Peas Hill, has turned up with Lylas; a pizzeria to complement their fantastic selection of craft beer. Just in case you weren’t aware, they stock one of the largest gin collections in Cambridge.
Under a Willow Tree
This charming and independent hideaway in Bourn offers a special alfresco dining experience. At the Willow Tree, sip drinks in a deck chair in their peaceful willow garden, dine under an awning on the terrace or book one of their posh dining pods, which was a big hit last year with Cambridge’s foodies.
At a Mill
Escape the crowds and head to the east of Cambridge. Meet up with friends or family at the Outside Inn at Quy Mill Hotel, which is set around an old mill. Enjoy pizzas and light snacks while you enjoy the tranquil setting.
For many years I hoped that the stunning setting of King’s Parade would introduce more terraces so you could enjoy the views of the colleges whilst you ate. The council has relaxed the rules to assist the businesses on this stretch of road. Let’s hope they will allow terraces in future too.
One of the most unique settings for alfresco dining is in the church garden of St.Bene’t’s. Tucked away behind the church, you can enjoy the fantastic sandwiches or bowls with slow-cooked meat from Bread & Meat. Vegetarian options are also available.
At a Museum
The OtherSyde is one of the funkiest restaurant gardens in Cambridge. Set in the city’s Old Pumping Station on the riverside in east Cambridge, it offers entertainment, Escape Games and a relaxed dining experience.
Just a stone’s throw away from the OtherSyde on the other side of the river, you’ll find the Green Dragon. Overlooking Stourbridge Common, it offers one of the best views of the River Cam. One of the oldest pubs in Cambridge, it is now the home of Stuff My Pitta offering excellent Turkish cuisine.
On the Commons
Set at the most popular common in Cambridge, Midsummer Common, the Fort St George pub offers both green and riverside views. There can’t be a more ‘typical’ Cambridge location with the cows grazing and the river lined with college boathouses.
At a Cookery School