Every previous visit to the Wrestlers has been primarily for the great Thai food (though no tofu in the veggie dishes sadly), and this time I was the only person not eating, and it is hard to resist when sitting enveloped in the aroma of lemongrass and spices. Nevertheless, it’s a pleasant pub to sit with a pint, and the Adnams Broadside I had was superb, as good as I’ve had it anywhere. This being a Charles Wells pub, it had the usual keg stout, dry-hopped lager and triple-hopped IPA, with cask Bombardier and Double Chocolate Stout (for which I should have stayed for a pint) plus guest beer Robinsons Pint of Thrones.
“Authentic homemade Thai food” is mentioned in a 1991 guide, along with a log fire, jukebox, and pool table. According to this comment, the Elm Tree was the first Cambridge pub to specialise in Thai food. “Tom Goode, an occasional barman, travelled to Thailand and returned with a wife, Petch. They worked at the Elm Tree and Petch provided Thai food for quite some time before Charles Wells showed unusual initiative and gave Tom the licence of The Wrestlers in Newmarket Road”. The 1994 Good Beer Guide also mentions the Thai food, describing it then as a “boisterous town pub with live music twice a week”, and a “notable collection of bottles”. It’s a much calmer place these days, clean and comfortable too, and I enjoyed relaxing with a pint.
The Wrestlers was rebuilt in the 1930s, one of the few pubs to have survived on this side of the city. The walk back into the centre, along the dismal Newmarket Road, passes a handful of pubs that have closed relatively recently; at one time, this road had more pubs and breweries than any other in Cambridge; now, just three pubs survive – the Wrestlers, the Corner House and the Burleigh Arms (not counting the bars at the new Travelodge and Premier Inn).
Even the underpass at the East Road/Elizabeth Way junction has a mural depicting scenes of the pop-up pubs at Stourbridge Fair, which took place nearby for hundreds of years until its demise in 1933. My guess is that the Wrestlers pub takes its name from the wrestling and boxing competitions that were a common feature of the Stourbridge and Midsummer Fairs; a Wrestlers Inn, reputed to be one of the finest buildings in the city, stood on Petty Cury in the town centre until it was demolished in 1885.