Up until relatively recently, the Elm Tree had been the pub that my friends and I visited if there were no seats in the Free Press. That is perhaps selling it short. It has always been a cut above your average town boozer but recently it has raised its game to the point that I now find myself choosing the Elm over its more distinguished neighbour. Both are fine pubs but the Elm is perhaps less aware of it and that is part of its charm.

The Elm is very much a real ale pub. There were 9 beers on when last I visited - a few of the Banks and Taylor staples together with a good selection of guests. I opted for a refreshing pint of Courage Best but not before I had asked for a sample of a few others. The bar staff always seem more than happy to accommodate my indecisiveness and service always comes with a smile and a decent recommendation from the current beer selection.

The décor in the pub is pleasingly simple and the rows of old beer bottles are a nice touch, even if a few of the labels are repeated a few too many times. For some reason the Halloween decorations were still up on my last visit (mid-November) but if you’ve gone to all the effort of putting them up then you might as well enjoy them for more than one night. My favourite bit of paraphernalia, however, is the calendar in the gents’ outlining significant births and deaths for each day of the year. It’s nice to come back from a call of nature laden with the knowledge that it is Rachmaninoffs birthday. It’s a useful conversation stimulant too!

All in all then, the Elm Tree is a decent pub. Good beer, friendly staff and a pleasant atmosphere. Best of all, it doesn’t serve food!

mALe
A friend recently informed me that his luck with the ladies was down to his twinkle, that undeniable yet unaccountable attractive quality that you either have or you don't. If this effect could be translated into pub terms, the Elm is one which really does have it. The decor is not particularly appealing and the dim lighting can give it a slight feel of a brothel but the bar staff are friendly and the clientele peculiar enough for the pub to hold a special place in everyone's heart.

As for the beer, there is a good range of ales in a well described menu, very helpful for those of us who only recently acquired the taste for what is traditionally seen as a drink of the older gent. Once seated there is no chance to get bored, as games and knick knacks abound, making this pub the perfect choice for a rainy Sunday afternoon. The lack of sport and TV screens is certainly a bonus in my eyes, this being the ideal place to escape from the world for a few hours, and relearn the art of good old fashioned conversation.

The Elm Tree is then a friendly pub with an old fashioned twist, one of my favourite places to drink in Cambridge. If only it served food!

FemALE