Industrial chic meets great food and beer in a ‘Tom and Jerry Shop'
EATING & DRINKING | 07/3/2018
Way back in December 2012 I received an email from an Essex-based mate: ‘Can you suggest a pub in central Cambo that ticks all the right boxes?’ Naturally I steered him well away from the city centre and sent through a selection of outlying gems. The embarrassing truth was that there were no pubs that ticked any of the right boxes.
How times change, sometimes for the better. In November 2013, two weeks after the launch of the second edition of ‘Independent Cambridge’ Pint Shop opened for beerage and a tasty lot more. Hold the front page! We sneaked them into our book, just.
Fast forward to a cold winter’s day in 2017 and I am in ‘central Cambo’ and very much enjoying a summery-flavoured Golden Pale by Northern Monk and tucking into an amazingly meaty sausage roll and runny-yolked scotch egg. Looking around the bar I can see that pub entrepreneurs Richard Holmes and Benny Peverelli have done a great job with this ex-office building. No mean feat considering the restrictions they must have faced given its Grade II listed status.
Muted grey walls, grainy bare wood and Japlac black surface-mounted conduits and lighting seem just right for an evening of quaffing with friends or a family lunch in one of the stylish dining rooms. There is a quirky approach to their visual brand, pictures by local artists hang on the walls and their website and press ads depict Punch-style characters. Drawing their inspiration from the 1830 ‘Beer Act’ which allowed anyone who paid a small fee to brew beer and sell it in their homes, Richard and Benny have created a modern version of the 19th Century ‘Tom and Jerry Shop’. Amusingly enough, until then, beer was too expensive for ordinary folk. They had to make do with gin. It’s a funny old world.
Pint Shop feels like a little bit of London dropped into Cambridge, not surprising given that the owners met there whilst cutting their teeth working for big brands in the trade. They have taken a risk, as all the best independents do, and stuck to their guns, getting the detail just right. The meat is cooked over charcoal and the menu range is small and focussed on quality. The pricing strategy is one of value for money in the proper sense, they are clearly targetting customers happy to pay for what is on offer. Not much to attract The Regal crowd here.
Along with Bread & Meat, Jack’s Gelato and Aromi in Bene’t Street and Steak & Honour just along the way in Wheeler Street, this part of Cambridge is turning into an independent food and drink haven. It fair warms the cockles of our indie hearts.
There is a Pint Shop in Oxford too, proof that if indies understand their market and deliver on their promise then they can build successful enterprises. And now I know where to point friends if they want a box-ticking pub in ‘Oxfo’.
Pint Shop, 10 Peas Hill, Cambridge CB2 3PN