Quick Take: The Cambridge Public House combines cocktail knowledge with freshly made upscale British pub grub for a cool, new kind of communal gathering space in Paris.
Gasp!? What’s that you say? “A new cocktail bar review on the blog? Finally!?” It’s true, I’ve been preoccupied by pairing cheese and cocktails with Chez Loulou and busy with my new countryside fixer upper project. But I’m very happy to get back to 52 Martinis business-as-usual with a bar review. And I’m even happier to report that the Cambridge Public House was the perfect place to get my cocktail groove back.
The Cambridge Public House, British pub and cocktail bar, opened in January of this year with a mission to combine “the relaxed and friendly ambience of a pub with the service and knowledge of a cocktail bar.” The trio of friends behind the capital’s new gastropub is Hyacinthe Lescoet, Greg Inder and Maël Jego. Beverage Director, Hyacinthe previously worked at well-respected food and drinks venues Les Grands Verres and Mary Celeste and has brought his skills and training to this project with gusto.
The seasonally changing cocktail menu focuses on fresh ingredients and includes ten house creations (13 Euros), a more experimental Drink of the Week and a threesome of mocktails (8 Euros). Options include a range of base spirits with a little something for everyone (gin, vodka, mezcal, sake, etc, etc.) It’s a nicely conceived menu with fun names (Paloma’s Got a Baby), brief but useful descriptions (“Fresh – Fruit – Summery”) and list of ingredients.
Drinks are nicely balanced and of a variety that I believe will please the Parisian drinking population. There is definitely alcohol in them and the recipes are not conceived to disguise its flavour, but they also don’t hit you over the head with stiff booze. There is something both solid but light about them. Basically, they are nicely balanced and creative. Don’t fret if you want to go off menu and order a classic. We also ordered a Sidecar and a Martini made with Breton gin H2B and both passed muster.
Drinks presentation is simple in a good way. Even their Pimm’s 2.0 comes naked. And while I might be used to a salad of fruit and veg in the usual Pimm’s cup, I also appreciate the simple elegance of this one, as well as a lack of waste from throwing the inevitably uneaten produce in the bin when the drink is done.
The rest of the drinks menu is worth exploration as well. There are some good beers on tap (I’d love to see this aspect of the beverage programme expand even more to include the growing number of local artisinal brews and further reinforce the Franco-Anglo melange of this venue). Coffee comes from the popular Brulerie de Belleville. For a cuppa with a French twist, three teas are available from Le Parti du The (you couldn’t do a pub without a spot o’ tea!) The wine choices are small but bold with bottles from near (Burgundy) and far (Czech Republic) They also have a bottle of Swiss white, which I have a little thing for. Prices by the glass are a reasonable 6 Euros.
But this public house brings more than just beverages. The food menu is what I would call gastropub-light. There are really tasty options, but it’s a small enough offering to be manageable and also convince you that they aren’t sacrificing quality for quantity. The meat pie and mashed potatoes or sausage roll are just the thing if you’re seeking something “oh so British.” Otherwise, graze on tasty toasted almonds or salty olives. It was all very good, but the hummus was my personal favorite. On the night of my visit, I was catching up with four other friends, so the five of us settled easily into the lower chairs and tables in front of the open windows to share starters before tucking into more substantial dishes. There is bar seating and lots of regular tables. Both the menu and the floor set up make this a very flexible drinking and dining option that can work for anything from a solo drink to a full meal with friends and everything in between. Bonus: They serve food seven days a week without interruption between their hours of 3pm and 1am.
The decor is modern British pub green and wood. But interior designer Damin Carreres has given it a lighter feel than what you might imagine when you think typical English pub. Maybe it’s the white ceilings. Or maybe it’s the ceiling fans and palm plants. Or maybe it’s just the large windows that open to the street and let in lots of air and light, so it works well in warm summer months, too. In any case, it’s a physically welcoming and fun space that supports their intent to create a location where people can come together and share experiences. In further support of the communally fun aspect are the pub trivia books on hand for your entertainment. I’m pretty sure I won any trivia matches played with those books at our table (fortunately I’m also pretty sure none of my friends read this blog so they won’t dispute that either.)
While it might be a confluence of two different cultures, this isn’t just a random assemblage of bits and pieces. The food and drink on offer gives the impression that the team behind this venue are making very intentional and personal gastronomic and culinary choices. Rather than going for the easiest, cheapest or most common options, they seem to be sincerely trying to create a communal space in which to share their appreciation of quality food and drink with personality.
The Cambridge Public House is a breath of fresh air in Paris. You can book a table directly on their website. And, I suggest you do so soon.
The Cambridge Public House
8 rue de Poitou