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Empress, Cambridge

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user reviews of the Empress, Cambridge

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Another nice backstreet boozer in Cambridge. This one is famous for its pig in the back garden. I went out to see it. But I'm not sure it's still there. Whilst there's still an enclosure, the only animal in evidence was a friendly cat. The interior has a number of different drinking areas. But they were fairly dark. There is a prominent pool table. Ales were Buntingford Twitchell & Hurricane, Timothy Taylor Landlord, Oakham JHB & Purity Mad Goose. Cider was Old Rosie.
blue_scrumpy - 27 Apr 2015 20:41
First visit for a year or so. Last time I went for an Elgood's which was soupy but it was changed with apologies. Earlier this evening I had a buntingford aramis, single hop beer from a new hop so I stuck with it for half a pint before taking it back. It tasted like the malt was bad, in the same way it's very obvious when Adnams beers have been on a bit too long! Asked for a half of oakham JHB, not my favourite, but nevertheless reliable and very difficult to mess up (as someone who has looked after Oakham beers for over 5 years) and was asked to pay for it. It was so cloudy I could barely see my finger through the glass. Returned the beer and was not offered a refund when we said we were leaving. For a pub that publicise the fact that they were branch pub of the year 2010 they need to drastically improve the quality of the beer.

On a personal note, it's quite a friendly pub, we went there to play bar billiards and everyone was very nice. The slightly over-the-top Christmas decorations might offend epileptics but it's cosy. For this reason it's earned its one point out of out of ten.
oakhamsbeermonster - 19 Nov 2012 20:20
First visit for a year or so. Last time I went for an Elgood's which was soupy but it was changed with apologies. Earlier this evening I had a buntingford aramis, single hop beer from a new hop so I stuck with it for half a pint before taking it back. It tasted like the malt was bad, in the same way it's very obvious when Adnams beers have been on a bit too long! Asked for a half of oakham JHB, not my favourite, but nevertheless reliable and very difficult to mess up (as someone who has looked after Oakham beers for over 5 years) and was asked to pay for it. It was so cloudy I could barely see my finger through the glass. Returned the beer and was not offered a refund when we said we were leaving. For a pub that publicise the fact that they were branch pub of the year 2010 they need to drastically improve the quality of the beer.

On a personal note, it's quite a friendly pub, we went there to play bar billiards and everyone was very nice. The slightly over-the-top Christmas decorations might offend epileptics but it's cosy. For this reason it's earned its one point out of out of ten.
oakhamsbeermonster - 19 Nov 2012 20:20
Enterprising landlord, with 2 pubs. The Empress is big, rowdy, and rollicking good fun. Comedy nights, quizzes, and more. Don't expect craft type beers, or many CAMRA types, but for a fun night out, this should be considered.
BoppyBeeryBee - 29 Jul 2012 00:03
First visit for a long while, and it was not having a good night. Still the same lively mixed crowd, but the music was cranked right up and was blaring out in every room, making conversation difficult. Ordered a pint of what was supposed to be Woodforde's Wherry, but had to check again at the bar because it tasted very much like a ropy pint of GK IPA. Whatever it was, it wasn't Wherry as they claimed, and was borderline undrinkable. Left half of it and went somewhere better (the Geldart). The whole place, including some of the staff, looked a bit dog-eared and on the slide.
mafting - 29 Sep 2011 20:56
A very curious pub. Beer quality often very good but occasionally mediocre, beer range varies from Doom Bar/Pride/6X to some ocassional Cambridge micros, and range of customer varies by the hour. These are all good things, I think. Bestb of all, PEDIGREE made a comeback last month and was great - more please. Pizzas and sweets from the jar also good.
mtaylor40 - 23 May 2011 21:55
Heartofglass.

Not just football supporters, there was a few local idiots, non more so than the idiot wearing the vest!
Agree it was a shame as it spoilt a decent drink.
Good ale from local brewery, nothing the pub could have expected. I would expect in general a very decent boozer.
pwilkins - 11 Apr 2011 16:08
The Empress has established a good reputation as a friendly local where children are welcome and we as a family have been happy to take our children there. However, yesterday evening, the landlord was conspicuous by his absence. What should have been a nice evening in a pub ended literally in a bloodbath. One group of post-football tanked-up, chanting men created an horrific scene that neither I nor my family ever wish to experience again. Glasses, punches and abuse were thrown,chairs were hurled and people got hurt. Seriously hurt. That we escaped without injury was a miracle. The pub wall provide the only reasonable exit. I will never bring my family to the Empress again. One happy customer and their family lost in one fell (or should I say foul) swoop.Such a shame.
heartofglass - 10 Apr 2011 16:22
This was my local for years when I lived round the corner. Lovely pub. On my last visit hadn't changed at all. Plenty of choice ales (Woodforde's Wherry my favourite) and the same 3 bar layout - locals, students, middle-class mums. The latest comment (28/Dec) worries me - it was always a great pub full of nice people when I was a regular, which was most days...
mally_drinker - 6 Jan 2011 16:01
Six ales on - but all 'mainstream' (as in nothing out of the ordinary). Had a pint of Ringwood Bitter which weren't anything special, in fact pretty dour really. Pub was half populated by complete dickheads (and the staff too, seemed to be divided between being decent folk and complete twats). This place certainly ain't worth the trek out from town.
Snarling_Mallard - 28 Dec 2010 00:53
Very enterprising back-street pub, with very good beer and an all-round pleasant atmosphere. I miss the Pedigree under the old ownership; it was the best Pedi in the country. The Emperor is pretty good too.
mtaylor40 - 19 Nov 2010 22:42
Stopped in there for a couple the other week.

Beer was well kept , had a nice pint of Ringwood & Bombardier.

Sadly the pig(s) were not in residence at the time of my visit but would def return again were I in the area.
Dr_Funk - 14 Sep 2010 13:50
The pigs (and hares) are certainly an attraction.

But two things detracted from this pub:
The heavy smell of sweat in the common room.
The east-facing garden. (Beer-in-the-sunny-evening, but no sun?)

Staff were friendly though.

gnomeza - 17 May 2010 12:50
This is an excellent place: VERY well kept beers and ciders in a wide range, together with top-notch food. Plus, it is the only pub I have ever encountered with three pet miniature pigs (one of which has the run of the place indoors). They are really cute. (It did, however, put me off having ham for lunch; pity as it looked extremely good.) I will try to stop back here again without any hesitation. 8/10
HenPen - 6 Apr 2010 20:06
Surprisingly off radar on previous Cambridge trips, but we were pointed in its direction by a friendly local post match, and a worthy inclusion it was. Enter through a door marked "Jug and Bottle" to a small traditional bar, beyond which the pub extends to a rear games area with two dartboards and two pool tables then back round again completing the circuit with a comfortable lounge area. Still a traditional back street local, very friendly, we were straight into conversation with a group of locals. A large selection of board games seemed to be popular. I didn't record all the beers, I believe there were 7 pumps including a cider, but I recall Milton Dionysus, Thwaites Original, Marston's Pedigree and TT Landlord. There may have been an Adnams offering plus another more unusual one which had just gone off. The Empress' location makes it a good addition to a local crawl involving The C Blue, Kingston and Live and Let Live.
Maldenman - 27 Apr 2009 09:30
New landlord is doing a sterling job in filling Dave's mighty boots. This is still a brilliant locals pub with a great mix of clientele (old men with red noses to freshers), a good juke box (not too intrusive), good well-kept beer (usually 4-5 real ales, including local breweries), and nice staff. It's also quite big, ramling through 3 rooms which all have a different feel, so you cna always get a table yet it's still cosy. Also a large beer garden.
mafting - 11 Sep 2008 20:22
NO PEDIGREEE !! No Pedigree @ the Empress = end of an era. However, still Cambridge's most convincing local; good quality Landlord in a standard real ale range, and a very cosy pub.
mtaylor40 - 12 Feb 2008 20:54
The most annoying pool table in Cambridge! You can win by leaving the white in "the right place" every shot where it's a bugger to get to because of a pillar. Between that and Dave the grumpy ("Come earlier and bring more money!") landlord I have a real affection for this place. The beer is very good, and they notably have some strong cider (Old Rosie), some Adnam's beers, and of course the popular Timmy Taylor's Landlord. Also of (pub) cultural significance, Des has a face to behold (he usually sits underneath the (award winning) photograph of him).

The beer garden is unashamedly "somewhere to drink outside", and frequently gets packed in the summer (as in fact does the whole pub).

The crowd in here is a mixed bag, ranging from old sods to students, but because of the floorplan they can all largely stay separate. Jukebox is an interesting mix of eighties and earlier with the occasional Radiohead and Blur to keep us in the 21st century, and the dartboard is very well used (note that you can hire darts from behind the bar for a nominal donation to charity).

You should give this place a try if in the area. And look out for the rickety bench.

A couple of quick corrections - they don't sell chocolate any more- they took the cabinet down and it didn't come back; And I dunno about the food - it's never done any hot or cold food for as long as I've been going in, only crisps / snacks.
anonymous - 14 Dec 2006 11:04
good pub games (darts/pool). range of beers (tho' landlord not too great when i was there). a good over-the-bridge pub
colinqueen - 24 May 2006 01:13
A top notch back street local, serving good beer and attracting a really wide mix of people from all walks of life. Garden, pool table, three different bars with different flavours, lots of varied good beer, what more do you want?
dodgy - 17 Apr 2006 21:20
My 'local' when I go 'home to the stix'. A great pub that serves a great pint. Food not bad either. Worth a visit if you are passing
pubcider - 10 Nov 2005 19:33
Visit lunchtimes to see a true drinking mans pub at its best, (surprisingly) busy with students when visited at night. Great beers and a wide choice of chocolate
mtaylor40 - 25 Sep 2005 01:07
Haven't been back since sat down next to Rev Hammer (God in modern, hardnose, folk, now works with the Levellers). Decent pub as I remember, must go back.
Rad - 15 Sep 2005 23:57
Great pub. Diverse range of good beer. TT Landlord, Woodfordes Wherry, Adnams Broadside etc.
Lots of places to sit. Beer garden. Darts. Pool. Good jukebox. Nooks and crannies Victorian, not done up so atmostpheric, but not shabby either. Mixed punters, students, locals, old and younger. Friendly.
A bit of a hidden gem.
Cat1 - 12 May 2005 13:52

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