For the past few years the Cricketers has focussed more on food than beer, with part of the pub becoming the Luk Thai restaurant, but drinkers are still welcomed in the front bar. It’s the Thai food that’s the main draw here though, so real ales are sensibly limited to just a couple of offerings from Greene King, which at least ensures good throughput. Now, Cambridge has two pubs that specialise in Thai Food, and for me this is the better one chiefly because, unlike the other, the vegetarian curries here contain tofu (although you may have to request no fish sauce), and it’s made the effort to have the restaurant part look like a Thai restaurant. On this occasion I had cask GK East Coast IPA, and it was in good condition but I’m just as happy having the usual Staropramen with my meal.
I haven’t sat in the more pubby front bar for a number of years, but I used to visit often in the 90s to make use of the large pool table, since gone. Also gone is the lovely old pub sign, based on an illustration by Robert William Buss of a cricket match between All-Muggleton and Dingley Dellers, intended for Charles Dickens’s first novel, the Pickwick Papers. Before the current licensees took over, previous managers had given it a refurb and a name change (briefly renamed the First & Last) in 2011. During the refurb, I enquired what would happen to the sign and was told it would just be thrown away, so if I wanted it I could have it when it got taken down. A week or so later, noticing the sign was no longer hanging, I went to claim it. “It’s not here mate, either the builders nicked it or it got thrown in the skip”. Not untypical of the carelessness with which pub artefacts are treated during refurbs, especially Greene King pubs it seems.
But anyway, the current licensees aren’t to blame, and it has at least reverted to the Cricketers, with a sign showing a cricket match, this time from an oil painting by John Haskins – the pub is close to the once famous cricket ground on Parker’s Piece, and former landlords have included members of the famous Haywards cricketing family, three of whom played for England. They’ve also made much better use of the enclosed beer “garden” and added a Thai style pagoda. And the food’s good – did I mention the food?