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Cambridge group - 15th July @ The Oak Bistro (now full)

So thought I might start a new topic on this one.
It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while.
I’ve conducted some research on this. Most restaurants support the idea of BYO for a corkage fee of between £10 and £25 commensurate with the poshness of the restaurant.
Not sure if interest would be from people coming into Cambridge by train or cycle or walking, but there are a few possibilities closeish to the station.
Perhaps we could start by seeing how many people are interested in principle?

Reply with “Quite Interested” or “Very Interested” depending on how keen you are to attend something. Likely won’t be until after July 19th for Covid reasons.

Also, if you could give some idea of where you’d be travelling from and how, that would help with venue location options.

Any suggestions of venues or themes also welcome.

Very interested, live in a village about 10 miles out.

Just need to think about bottle I would bring…

Usually there would be a theme, although often I find that a theme of “free for all” works well, particularly with a bit of fine-tuning. Actually, as an inaugural event, one might choose “signature wine” - which might make it easy (certainly does for me!)

How would you get there?

Train or taxi

Very interested train from Norwich

It’s possible we might be interested, as we like to see friends there from time to time, and it is ages since we were there last, for obvious reasons. Put me and Gunn down as “quite interested”.

Best decide venue without considering us, as how (and indeed if) we get there would depend on a number of factors.

What’s a “signature wine”? A personal affordable favourite? If so, that sounds like a good idea to me.

Possibly me too dependant on work etc

Potentially yes; I have the extra leg north from Norwich to contend with and not a lot of public transport options in the late evening. A more local / central Norfolk group would be better with maybe only an occasional foray into Forrun Paarts…


We would be interested. We would walk :slight_smile:

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Not wanting to hijack the thread but maybe we could have a Norwich / Norfolk area one?

I am happy with either Norwich or Cambridge and will go with majority view

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Go for it in Norwich! These events needn’t be exclusive….

But do create your own topic!


Yep sorry wasn’t trying to steal the thread and will try and make it to the Cambridge one (circumstances permitting) for sure :slight_smile:

@thewinelake - have you contacted anywhere in Cambridge to enquire about corkage? Going purely on places to eat within walking distance of the station, I might suggest one of the following.

  • La Maison Du Steak
  • Oak Bistro
  • Loch Fyne
  • The Peking (slightly left field, as Chinese food)

Any other ideas?

I will ask a chum of mine who lives in Cambridge with whom I did D3
May take a day or two but will hopefully come back with some suggestions.

LMDS is £10/bottle

I have sent a message to my chum and awaiting his response. In meantime, I had a quick look on the net at the 4 places. I would be more than happy with LMDS, second choice OB . I am not mad on Chinese food… Loch Fyne a bit ubiquitous.

I went to LMDS last week for a recce, and it’s definitely on my shortlist.
The food was OK - not quite as good at steak as I’d hoped, strangely enough (I think they may be economising on the meat to keep prices down, which makes sense). However, it was definitely “good enough” .
Glasses were awful - and warm! So definitely a case for BYO glasses.
The service left a bit to be desired (charming but slow), but I think that can be addressed.
The biggest issue is they like to to do a quick turnaround (i.e. 2 hours). Coupled with the slow service, this makes things a bit tricky. The answer, I believe, is to liaise with Franck (the boss) to make a special arrangement - which may involve additional expense for us to be able to be there from 7 to 10 - perhaps to order food in advance, and maybe (this is a tricky one) to request things like jugs of water and ice. We may also need a bit more table space, which if we’re up-front about it, should be fine.
I don’t really like making restaurants work in ways they’re not familiar with in order to suit our unusual requirements, so that’s why they’re not a shoo-in. When we were there, the bill was miscalculated (in our favour!) but after we corrected it, it was a very reasonable £46/head. I think we’d be looking at £50-£60 if everyone had dessert and a posh steak (rather than bavette). so it’s very good value (as well as being a great location).

However, the website for Oak Bistro worries me a little. There’s a slight sense of “no riff-raff” that makes me think the whole place might be a bit of a 70’s throw-back. That is almost certainly entirely unfair, as I’ve not actually tried it yet. Has anyone been?

One of the safest bets, but probably most expensive, would be Gonville Hotel. I think they’re quite progressive in their thinking (Tesla Destination Charger, anyone?!) and they could even do a private room. Again, I’ve not tried it, and I suspect we’d be paying closer to £100/head all-in.

Another option might be Al Pomodoro, an Italian near the junction. I’ve not been there yet either, but the menu looks promising. Whether they’d be on for corkage or not, I don’t know, but they do seem very friendly and accomodating. My experience with some of the mediterranean type restauarants (especially Greek, for some reason) is that it can be hard to convince them that us BYOing is not a complaint about their wine list!

Another option is Millworks. A bit of a schlep from the station (but far superior to Smokeworks, which is far closer). I like them and thei’re very up for BYO - a bit more per bottle than LMDS, but they do have better glasses!

So there’s my current view. I’m happy to give LMDS a go if that’s a popular option and maybe try the other venues at other times.

FWIW I’ve been to Oak Bistro (with Robert actually) and liked it. Certainly don’t remember any “attitude”.

I don’t think the Gonville has much of a reputation for food, but I vaguely remember I ate there with a (business) visitor who was staying there, and was pleasantly surprised. But that would have been the late 80s!

If the Peking is anything like it was before it moved, it is excellent. But if we go there, the theme cannot be “signature wine”. Unless Robert wants to bring HIS signature wine for everyone :wink:

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Steve, that’s great to know. When was this?