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Free Press, Cambridge

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user reviews of the Free Press, Cambridge

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

I hadn't planned to pay a return visit to the Free Press yesterday afternoon. But I was hanging around in the area waiting for the Blue Moon (not listed on BITE) to open its doors and rejected the chance of a swift one in the Duke of Cambridge (formerly Bakers) just around the corner, as Abbot was the only choice. Whilst the Free Press is also a Greene King house and a much more comfortable one at that, the selection is much better here - Greene King IPA & Abbot, Morland Old Golden Hen, St Austell Tribute, Black Sheep Best Bitter, Timothy Taylor Landlord & Otter Amber. They also have Weston's Old Rosie cider. Sadly, I read an article in the local CAMRA magazine that Greene King have stopped producing their XX Mild on a regular basis. So, the pub no longer appears to have a dark beer.
blue_scrumpy - 27 Jan 2020 21:39
An Ancient pub which would be very good if the service was up to scratch but sadly they leave a soppy kid behind the bar who wants to be elsewhere doing something other than serve.Low rating.
slerpy - 7 Apr 2017 21:28
A lovely little backstreet boozer in Cambridge, that is a Greene King pub. There was nobody in when we arrived on a weekday afternoon. The pub has 3 small rooms. The snug is tiny. IPA, Abbot & XX Mild are the 3 regular GK beers. Guests were Hook Norton Grey Goose, Wimbledon Windmill Pale, Sadlers Peaky Blinder & Hadrian Border Tyneside Blonde. Old Rosie was the cider. We were soon joined by a couple of younger drinkers who were on the Sambuca! Tempting, but the mild sufficed for me on this occasion. Worth seeking out.
blue_scrumpy - 27 Jan 2017 19:36
Relaxing little pub. Old school, basic decor but clean with good choice of ales. Food superb and great value but thankfully is a side note to the beer.
Muzzy - 4 Sep 2016 11:47
Arrived yesterday lunchtime, seemed to be populated by loud rich student types. Beer was good but at London prices.
Aztecgoat - 26 Feb 2016 10:11
I arrived the other week at 5-30 pm.
As I walked in the five guys at the bar looked at me
with the " you are not a regular" look !

I had to say " excuse me please" twice
before they realised I wanted to get to the bar. !

After I got my London priced pint I went into the other bar
to get away from my new friends, and then I noticed that all the tables
had a sign marked Reserved from 6pm.

So I drank my pint and left at just after 6pm, when only one of the tables had
been occupied. So if its a private club, just put a notice on the front door.
I then went to the Elm Tree
.....which in hindsight is where I should have gone first
Leftinthepub44 - 23 Mar 2015 15:02
Remains a superb basic-looking Greene King house with well-off students and middle class the main custom. Food was exceptional but not cheap, the GK and O'Kelly beers were OK but lacked the quality of previous visits. Still a gem though and a bit overlooked on the Cambridge trail.
mtaylor40 - 20 May 2013 19:24
See John Bonser's entry of Aug 2009 for a full and accurate description. This was one of the pioneers in the revival of pubs in the 1970s and has maintained an extremely high standard for >30 years, with food quality holding up well too. Not a pub for the beer collector, maybe, but certainly one for those who value quality.
Arctium_lappa - 24 Feb 2013 20:17
cosy little place with a lot of life. wasn't disappointed.
benscaro - 15 Jan 2013 17:01
Finally dropped back in after a 6-year hiatus as part of a carefully-wrought stag do crawl that ensured the best of Cambridge boozery was fully-absorbed. The Press is still a classic pub; the city's equivalent to Oxford's Turf Tavern - arguably not as broad on beer selection but saying that not as spoiled. Greene King have happily kept their usual desire to wreck 'n' ruin for so-called progress in check here. Some guest ales are allowed, but amazingly, I opted for a GK beer - the rarely-seen XX Mild. And it was still on song.

Friendly and hearty - an excellent pub to call into on a cold winter's evening - this remains one of the best in town. If we hadn't had a restaurant booked, we would have stayed for another without question.

Keep on not changing...
TWG - 12 Dec 2012 17:54
Pleasant small street corner local. The St.Peters Bitter I had here was on top form - best pint of the day by a good measure.
anonymous - 24 Dec 2011 23:44
Very small pub with a dining area. Greene King but with guest ales. Most people had fish when i visited and the smell was lingering which is a bit off putting when you first walk in. Worth a visit
rpf1955 - 20 Nov 2011 17:50
A great pub. Beers from Green King, but not all is lost as it also has the excellent XX mild and a couple of guests (including St Peter's Ale recently). Also worth noting for the food; the menu is quite varied and unusual for pub grub (a bit of an Italian/Continental influence). The set menu on mon-thurs is extremely good value - three good-sized courses for 12, and all were delicious.

Probably a good idea to get here early, though. Between arriving and being served with our first drink around 6:30 pm, every table had filled up.
mafting - 7 Oct 2011 19:16
Visited on a rainy bank holiday in May. This is a smal and cozy yet freindly pub tucked away along a back lane near to the Grafton center. A good selection of ales at around 3 a pint. Not such a large selection of ales as some nearby but well worth a visit. Will be visiting again when in town
CambridgeBlue - 4 May 2010 12:49
Excellent pub that manages to be stylish as well as charmingly old fashioned. Liked the mulled cider over Christmas and I can't help but be drawn back again and again to a Greene King pub that serves the brewery's luscious XX Mild. If only more of their pubs would do the same. If the Press put Strong Suffolk on too I might never leave. Happy New Year guys.
realalemadness - 5 Jan 2010 19:17
An interesting place indeed. Whenever I go to this pub (sober) I'm not exactly keen on it, I'm not sure why but it just doesn't do it for me. However the next day, without fail, I have an absolutely stinking hangover, so they must be doing something right!
thaymouse - 3 Dec 2009 14:31
A good, traditional pub with a pretty good range of well-kept beers. It was also, this week, noticeably "child friendly", with several families bringing in their children for Sunday lunch. It's a far cry from "tourist Cambridge".
HenPen - 17 Nov 2009 22:02
Fine traditional back street pub in a residential side street between Parkers Piece and the Grafton Centre.

The low ceilings and simple, but traditional furnishings create a warm and cosy environment in the 2 smallish interconnecting rooms. There's a covered garden outside at the back and several seats on the pavement at the front.

Note in particular the well-known small snug with one table only and room comfortably for half a dozen people comfortably. I seem to recall that, on my previous visit, there was a framed certificate on the wall recording the maximum number of people ever squeezed into this room at one time, but I didn't see it this time round.

There's some interesting old photographs and framed newspaper cuttings on the pub walls, including a picture of the pub in Victorian times when it was owned by a brewery called Bailey Tebbutt.

The pub is popular for food and the stickers on the windows indicate that it seems to have appeared in most of the pub / food guides at one point or another. It's in the current CAMRA GBG for 2009.

It's a Greene King pub, but don't let that put you off. As other posters have pointed out, there's guest beers on as well. On my recent Tuesday evening visit, the standard range of Abbot, IPA and XX Mild were supplemented by Everards Tiger and Batemans XXXB, both guests being priced at 3.10p.The XX Mild is a pleasant malty dark mild. Unusually, oversize glasses are used here.

I'm afraid the earlier poster who described the pub as tourist free might have been lucky. On my visit, there were American and French visitors sharing this splendid hostelry with local students and real ale buffs.

Whilst this pub doesn't have the beer range of specialist real ale pubs close by, I think this pub is well worth seeking out, but note that it closes in the afternoon.


JohnBonser - 10 Aug 2009 12:20
Lovely back street local and serving an excellent pint of GK Mild. I make a point of coming here for the mild as it's so rare to find. Good mix of locals and cheery staff.
Sandman1 - 3 Aug 2009 16:33
Cracking pub and echo nmckenns' thoughts. Just wish i lived closer, aperfect local. 3 g.k ales and two non g.k guests. Oh and they serve their ale in oversized glasses so you get a full pint, all pubs should do that.
howardb - 24 Mar 2009 17:34
Best food pub in Cambridge - never any tourists, generally excellent.
billyjohn - 13 Feb 2009 00:17
In my view it's a toss up between the Free Press and the Live and Let Live for the title of best pub in Cambridge.

Greene King beers may not be to everyone's taste, but the Abbot here is excellent.

I can only echo IsAdnamsTheBest. Fenners and the Free Press - perfect.
nmckenn - 18 Dec 2008 21:50
A two roomed traditional pub on the corner. Another GK pub but one of the better one's. Five hand pumps; IPA, Abbott, XX Mild, Tanners Jack and genuine guest of Brains Reverend James. The pub has a strict no mobile phone policy so be warned. This was a swift half as time was getting on and we still wanted to visit a few more.
Love_good_ale - 2 Jul 2008 23:09
Pleasant and busy (on the Friday evening I visited) little pub. Mainly GK beers but included a GK Mild and Rev. James as a guest.
Rod_Hariga - 1 Jul 2008 20:53
A day watching cricket at Fenner's followed by a few superb pints of ale and good conversation in this truly outstanding pub - what more can life offer?
IsAdnamsTheBest - 13 Jun 2008 15:59
Forgot to say....beer served in oversized glasses with half/pint lines on...and the liquid was above the line!....a first in my experience....wonderful!
JohnWilkinson - 8 Mar 2008 18:36
Excellent pint of GK XX mild and Old Hooky (bright and fruity). Staff extremely friendly and helpful, told us where the 'snug' was where seating was available (rest of pub comfortably busy @ 18:30 on a Friday evening). A proper pub! Cheery conversations from a good mix of people.
JohnWilkinson - 8 Mar 2008 13:56
A no-smoking pub for at least fifteen years prior to the 1930's German legislation being re-enacted in July. However, even as a smoker this was well worth a visit. Excellent food and very cosy decor. Off the beaten track but well worth seeking out. Beer range limited, but the surround does compensate
BruceReed - 27 Dec 2007 19:00
Pleasant friendly and well preserved traditional old town pub. We sat in the small snug area behind what I believe was once called a "snob screen"? Fairly bland ale selection, ie GK but they did have XX Mild which is new to me. A nice touch on leaving the staff gave us a boxed pint glass each. Another very enjoyable Cambridge town centre boozer.
Maldenman - 4 Nov 2007 15:34
A lesson in what a decent pub should be - the first non-smoking pub I'd ever been in (and that was over 10 years ago), no fruit machine or pool table, no pointless piped music.

Conversation, good beer and a bit of atmos.

Revisited a few months ago after an absence of several years and was very relieved to find nothing had changed.

Damn near perfect.
boozerbill - 14 May 2007 08:50
Cambridge is blessed with many fine pubs and outwardly this, although quiet on our visit, is another. However, the beer range is very bland and not particularly well kept on this visit, tasting somwhat tired and no offer to change it. It looks great and feels like a proper pub, but the real disapointment is the beer.
imdownthepub - 11 Apr 2007 09:27
One of the better pubs I have visited and one I would back to without a flicker of doubt. No smoke, good beer and good food. Three out of three for me. Oh, and the staff are good too.
jackthelad - 10 Dec 2006 14:55
I think its one of the best pubs I`ve visited, and I`ve visisted a few I can tell you. The management are first class (apart from the dodgy scouser) he's a bit wrong and does look a bit like McCartney is his youth!!! On the upside, the beer is fantastic and the food is unbelievably wholesome and delicious. Having no music and fruit machines is a bonus, as is the no smoking/no mobile rule - theres always the garden. Probably not everyones cup of tea but no chavs, asbo's or dvd sellers, so for me that's a bonus.
trusty_whu - 5 Dec 2006 17:16
This pub offers a very civilised, traditional and downright comfortable experience. The Free Press is clearly favoured by the rich variety of dignified locals, and Bohemian students, some of which still wear bowler hats and black ties in place of rugby shirts.
The atmosphere is pro-conversation, and creates a marvellously mellow setting to enjoy a few of their excellently-kept ales. Yes, even the Greene King beers were superb; the Mild was especially pleasing. They also had 1 guest not from the ever-burgeoning "imported" GK portfolio; on this occasion it was Brain's Rev James which was extremely good.
The food looked rather special too, but alas having had a large breakfast I was not quite ready to tackle it on my last visit!
I should also say that the young lady who served us was both efficient and friendly to strangers and regulars.
The sort of pub one can go into on one's own without any fear of appearing out of place or strange, with a good book or a newspaper, and while away a couple of hours.
TWG - 7 Nov 2006 13:45
People go to certain pubs time and time again because they feel comfortable there. Some people like pubs where oxygen is replaced by smoke, some people like a pub for its live music and so on. All i know is the Free Press is very busy often so it must be doing somehing right. Back to the Free Press, it's had a little spruce up inside and it has kept its beauty. Yes the ales are always great even though its mostly greene king and the food is fantastic, must reccomend the penne arrabiatta bit of a kick just like it should be. Best in Cambridge by a country mile but you will probably disagree but dont worry a pub in king street is not that far behind!
anonymous - 2 Jul 2006 16:21
My comments may have been a little harsh! Whilst it isn't my favourite pub in the 'bridge, I do appreciate that it is the sort of place that appeals to many. And I haven't been able to fault the beer which is, I think we'll all agree, the most important thing in any pub. No offence meant.
LordRadlington - 17 Jun 2006 14:21
I'm with Mr Tilley on this one - I loved this pub to bits when I went to Cambridge, perhaps, your Lordship, you're the one out of kilter here ?
JohnBonser - 16 Jun 2006 16:34
That would depend upon what kind of atmosphere you prefer, Mr Tilley. Why not try Auntie's Tea Shop next time?
LordRadlington - 16 Jun 2006 16:29
In a 4 day pub tour of Cambridge, the Free Press was the friendliest, smartest, and most comfortable pub visited. No mobiles/no smoking make for a better atmosphere, and the upmarket families and literate locals are a welcome bunch. Barkeep exceptionally pleasant, and all the Green King is well kept. Highest marks.
EustaceTilley - 3 May 2006 13:01
I'm on the side of the landlord when it comes to the smoke and mobile phone policy, so I like this place a lot.

It's let down by its selection of beer a little - the Greene King family of ales gets a bit tiresome in the city of Cambridge, but otherwise a great place.
AshingdonMan - 2 Jan 2006 12:24
Perfect if you are, or aspire to be, a non-smoking, non-mobile-phone-using, corduroy-wearing off-duty copper. Or Rory McGrath. Having said that, good beer and good food.
lord_radlington - 14 Dec 2005 14:12
Thank god the no mobiles policy is still in place (as it is at the Blue and many other excellent pubs). It's a very small pub, so what's so hard about going in the garden, or outside the door, if you want to use a phone? Nothing.

Not sure I want to be drinking with people who are so lazy/petty/selfish that they are not prepared to make such a tiny effort. As 'rad' says, they can go elsewhere anyway.
mym - 22 Sep 2005 11:27
Not as friendly as it should be (lecturing students who take drinks outside etc), and beer not as wonderful as in the past, but still an essential stop on a Cambridge crawl I think
mtaylor40 - 21 Sep 2005 21:01
Last time I went there they had a no mobile phone policy. Whilst the concept of horrible ringtones going off all the time is bad, the idea that you should ban people from talking to who they wanted to because you disapproved of how they did it, put me right off. It's a kind of anti-tekkie snooty crap that should die. So I haven't been back since. Their beer and service can be wonderful, but if they still think they should determine people's lifestyle, bye.
Rad - 15 Sep 2005 23:54
A traditional feel (tourist free) with high quality beers and a smoke-free environment. If it wasn't for the high prices and lack of space (to be fair it's most cosey than cramped) it would be perfect.
BenFairbairn - 3 Aug 2005 23:26
Nice pub tucked away so tourists can't find it. Traditional, non-smoking, good food, good beer.
rah - 2 Jun 2005 13:46
It's a good place, they keep the beer well, home-cooked food, and it's friendly. No smoking. I apologise profusely for the fact I gave this place an undeserved bad review in my old pub guide!
Mike - 2 Nov 2004 17:54
Glad to hear that the water charging issue has been resolved. The bar manager at this pub wrote me a very rude email about it, calling me all sorts of names - obviously he didn't realise that I still have this pub in my top three pubs in Cambridge...
mym - 31 Oct 2004 18:56
Just to clarify about the charging of water in the free press, I was there the every night for a whole week and they never asked me to pay for water once. I travel all over the world and this has to be the best bar in the world. The staff and management were so welcoming, beer was amazing and as for the food, what a treat to taste delightful food. Bravo Free Press. A must for any pub goer. 11/10
Peter Blakely - 28 Oct 2004 10:00
When I stuck my head round the door I was unable to see a beer that I hadn't already had previously that week. As there were probably a thousand extant English beers that I'd not had, this was a disappointment.

So I left, and got a new beer in the Tram Depot instead.

However, on the whole a cozy and better-than-average pub, if you like traditional pubs.
Phil - 2 Sep 2004 17:31
Small, can be cramped. Beer is usually ok but the management seems to have gone downhill over the last couple of years. For example, they have just put a note up saying that if you are having their food, have not bought a drink, and want tap water, then you have to pay 50p to cover 'labour and ice costs'. Which is pretty shameful really.
mym - 15 Jun 2004 10:26
Small, smoke-free, limited range of beers, but well kept. Very warm and cosy in the winter.
Mark - 10 Jun 2004 17:20

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