Excellent value lunchtime food can be obtained at the White Horse Foxton. From Tuesday to Sunday, there is a choice of 10 dishes all at just £3.25 - and for £5 you can add a pudding. Cask beers here are Adnams Bitter and Fullers London Pride.
Apologies to John Drage who was landlord of the Waggon and Horses Linton from 1998 to 2007. In our article last time we remarked on the lack of enthusiasm which previous regimes had had for real ale. This was certainly not the case whilst John was there, as proven by the fact that he held the Cask Marque award for his last seven years at the pub. The problems set in when he left which saw no less than five licensees take charge before Jim Borland came to the rescue recently. John now has the Chestnut Tree West Wratting where, as previously mentioned in ALE, he has doubled real ale sales in little over a year.
Welcome to Cassie and Tristan, new managers of the Boathouse on Chesterton Road Cambridge. Previously in Manchester they took over in late May and an early act was to double the number of handpumps from three to six. These dispense Greene King IPA, Old Speckled Hen and Abbot plus changing guest and seasonal ales. A Cask Marque award for quality has already been achieved. Cassie told us that they aim to make the Boathouse very much a community pub and also to make more use of the upstairs function room. Sunday night is quiz night whilst food is available every session, with many regular offers e.g. curry and a drink on Thursday from £7.49, two portions of fish and chips on Friday for £9.99. Cassie isn't concerned by the Tivoli opening next door as it's a different kind of operation and, indeed, should help bring people into the area.
A pub returning from the dead is a major cause for celebration and such is the case with the Black Bull Sawston. Business partners Dean and Austin reopened it on 19 June; it's their first pub though they have been involved in running Longstanton Sports and Social Club. The building itself dates from 1687 and the interior retains some fine historical features, notably the huge inglenook fireplace in the main, well-beamed bar. This has been tastefully decorated in shades of cream, caramel and brown with the bar counter refurbed and new panelling installed. When we called, work was still under way in the restaurant but it will have opened by now. For the time being the previous Chinese food operation will continue though this may change in a more English direction. Outside you can now find a decked patio and children's play area whilst views to open country have been opened up. The Black Bull is free of tie on its real ales so the two cask beers will change all the time - Adnams Explorer and Titanic Anchor on our visit.
Whilst in Sawston we caught up with our old chum Steve Bridges at the Greyhound and quizzed him on why the pub continually appears on the Enterprise "available to let" list. Steve explained that he and his better half aren't in any particular rush to move on but if (and only if) the right offer came along they'd take the opportunity to head off Spain-wards. In the meantime sound pints of Woodforde's Wherry, Fullers London Pride and Greene King IPA are yours for the drinking.
Waterbeach residents are up in arms against Greene King, owners of the White Horse in the village. Jools Lemin who has run the pub for the last five years says she can't afford the rent now being demanded by the brewery. Jools has done a great job at the pub, opening as a cafe in the morning, hosting a children's holiday club and supporting various local good causes. A Friends of the White Horse action group is petitioning Greene King to sort out a deal but at the time we went to press the position was unresolved. Greene King have already advertised the tenancy on their web site.
Punch Taverns have spent £33,000 on a "makeover" for the Boot, Histon. When we called it certainly looked very smart though there are no obvious structural changes (not that they were needed, especially to the delightful front bar). Real ales are Greene King IPA and Woodforde's Wherry plus a guest (Woodforde's Norfolk Nog on our visit).
The Jolly Millers Cottenham has a mini-Beer festival from 14 to 17 October (or when the beer runs out). The regulars here are Adnams Broadside, Everards Tiger and Woodforde's Wherry, the sample of the last when we popped in being as good as it gets. In the same village, the freehold of the Chequers has been sold though it was still closed at the time of writing.
Reports reach us of improved quality and choice at the Earl of Beaconsfield, Mill Road, Cambridge with Adnams Bitter and Explorer as regulars plus a guest from the Punch Finest list.
The Five Bells, Cherry Hinton, closed for a while, is now up for sale at £350,000, ominously advertised as "alternative use opportunity".
Also up for grabs, from Greene King, are the tenancies of the Blue Lion Hardwick, Five Bells Burwell, Plough Great Shelford, White Swan Conington and the aforementioned White Horse Waterbeach. Punch have just the Bun Shop Cambridge on their list with Enterprise still inviting offers for the Brewery Tap Waterbeach and Greyhound Sawston. Christies have been trying to sell both the King William IV Heydon and Plough Shepreth for some time now. Finally, two more available tenancies - the Admiral Vernon Over (Charles Wells) and Plough Duxford (Everards).
Our "pubs available" list in the last ALE included the Queen Edith Cambridge. Landlord Paul tells us he's now signed a further 5 year agreement with Punch and is continuing his programme of improvements at the pub - a new menu has just come on stream and the foyer area has been redecorated. The Queen Edith remains the only local outlet for Tetley Mild with Greene King IPA as the other permanent along with two changing guests.