Back in Cambridge now, I was persuaded by a positive write-up in the local CAMRA newsletter to visit the Golden Hind for the first time in several years.
This is one of the large roadside pubs built by Tolly Cobbold in the 1930s, and for many years known only for its size and architectural interest. In recent years it has struggled to compete with similar cheap eateries (there’s a Hungry Horse nearby), and most custom seemed to be there to watch Sky Sports.
In theory, the pub has one of Cambridge’s largest catchment areas, with the mixed residential areas of Kings Hedges and Chesterton in walking distance, and thousands of professionals in the expanding Science Park close by. It’s also close to the guided bus stop, though I doubt anyone has ever used the bus to visit it.
Theory rarely works in practice though, and a few pensioners eating 2-for-1 meals over a coke can’t sustain a pub.
The beer was always OK, but never good or interesting enough to divert you from Mill Road or Mitcham’s Corner. I rarely saw cask being drunk there, and there were plenty of handpumps.
It’s just had a makeover under Spirit, and I was very impressed. The interior looked very attractive, the seating options were varied, and the Broadside was as good as I’ve had outside of Newton (NBSS 3.5). Topped up automatically, served with a smile, and in a proper glass, not those Adnams monstrosities.
The manager wants to make this the best Greene King pub in Cambridge (I know what you’re thinking). This was a good start, though I’d still opt for the Free Press or Grain Store at different ends of the spectrum. The rest of the beer range was typical GK guest (Cottage, Tydd Steam), which might not attract the CAMRA crawlers yet.
White tiling seems to go hand in hand with craft keg round here (e.g. the Grain Store), but here there was a reasonable range of bottles.
The downside (perhaps) is that the food offer has gone very slightly upmarket, and there was only a handful of diners this lunchtime. It quite appealed to me, albeit with a standard pub menu, but Wetherspoon club and 2-for-1 have changed OAP price expectations round here.
I applaud Greene King’s investment here, and in several other suburban pubs round here, though whether pleasant surroundings and good beer are sufficient remains to be seen.