Pub #3 in my attempt to visit every pub in Cambridge over the next year…
I’ve written previously about the history of the Eagle, so I’ll keep this brief. The Eagle is one of the oldest Cambridge pubs and probably the most famous owing to its associations with the discovery of DNA, and its RAF bar, the ceiling covered in the graffiti of World War II airmen who burned their names and squadron numbers onto it using cigarette lighters and candles. It’s packed when we visit, it always is, and we’re lucky that the people at the table we’re standing next to get up to leave as we’re looking around for a seat. For others it’s standing room only, but then some people do come here just to stand, take photos, especially of the aforementioned ceiling, then leave without even staying for a drink (I later stand and take a photo of the RAF bar for this post, looking like the very tourists I’m describing – perhaps they’re all blogging about it too).
In each room every table is full and seems to have or be waiting for food. The menu here reflects the need for fast service and rapid turnover – pies, fish and chips, burgers. Nevertheless, as I’m at the bar an agitated man pushes to the front and loudly asks “Just how long is the wait for food?”. “About 25 minutes sir” says a barman with an Italian accent, who’s pouring a round of drinks for a group at the bar. “Oh for goodness sake” huffs the customer, turns on his heels and storms off. The barman looks at me amused, “some people are crazy, no?!”.
The number of different beers on offer also reflects the high throughput – I count about 10 cask ales, albeit 7 of them from Greene King, along with the usual keg lagers – disappointingly the Brewdog Santa Paws has all gone so I settle for an Abbot Reserve.
It’s well decorated for Christmas, fairy lights and tinsel everywhere, and of course a Rocking Rudolph flashing pump clip. Despite the temperature outside failing to rise above zero degrees C, the outdoor seating under the patio heaters has plenty of customers too. As we leave, squeezing our way through the people stood in the doorway aiming cameras at the ceiling, I note that a particular upstairs window is indeed open, seeming to confirm the tale about the fire and associated ghost – it’s said that some children were unable to escape from the room during a fire a few hundred years ago, so it’s written into the lease that it should always remain open, with any attempts to close it having strange and unwelcome consequences. It must be true – a window wouldn’t be left open in weather this cold without good reason.
Greene King Abbot Ale, Abbot Reserve, Eagle DNA, Fireside, IPA, St Edmunds, Rocking Rudolph, Black Sheep Shearer, Cottage Memphis Belle, Sadlers Peaky Blinder.
Becks, Guinness, Hop House lager, Estrella, Peroni, San Miguel.