If you’re a Cambridge local, you’ll know to avoid King’s Parade during the peak tourist season for fear of being flattened by a rogue bicycle or summer school of children. The ambiguously pedestrianised route is regularly teeming with weekend visitors shuffling around the city’s oldest colleges, finding themselves in the usual, jam-packed restaurants for dinner. But we set out to find substance beneath the sightseeing and popped by The Cambridge Chop House, situated between the Corpus Clock and King’s College Chapel.
Owned by local business CambsCuisine, the restaurant has long been commended for its position in the heart of the city and its people-watching potential. We were seated on a leather banquette right beside the window, which offered a fantastic view of the King's College Chapel's architectural grandeur opposite. Low-hanging lamps illuminated the eatery's antique mirror bar, which was adorned with some beautifully macabre twists that put the ‘chop’ in ‘chophouse’, including a fully dressed spine displayed above.
Downstairs was an atmospheric, candlelit cellar with larger tables and alcove-like booths that promised an intimate dining experience. I will boldly claim that it had ‘dark academia’ vibes, but maybe that’s just the scholarly air of the city. Or the fact that they played Blackadder in the bathrooms. Whether above or below street level, The Cambridge Chop House's interiors felt cosy, moody and wholly compatible with the British summertime we were experiencing outside (chucking it down in July, classic).
We started by knocking back a cocktail each, as we were both pleasantly surprised by the inventive choices. The lemon and mint martini (£10.50) was as sharp and refreshing as it said on the tin, while the rhubarb and custard (£10) provided the hoped-for sweetshop fizz without spoiling our dinners. Speaking of... first came the rolled lamb breast (£9.40) stuffed with zesty artichokes and dressed in a minty pea purée. It came stunningly presented, garnished using pink slices of pickled onion, while the layers of lamb had been slowly and expertly braised. The crispy cod cheeks (£10.50) lived up to their name, served on a generous heap of tartare sauce without losing their crunchy edge.
Next up, I ordered the 8oz fillet steak with fries (£38) and, as requested, it arrived perfectly medium rare and well-seasoned. As one of the smaller cuts available, the fillet was densely packed with flavour but still tender, elevated by the occasional rush of some peppercorn sauce (£2.50). Then came the mighty 21oz T-bone steak with chunky chips (£55), the ‘British native breed cut of the day’, and red wine sauce (£2.50). It was big, boldly rare and just bloody enough, plus more decadent than the fillet due to its buttery marbling, eliciting an anxious ‘wow’ from both of us as it reached the table.
While we're not experts or butchers (what’s the equivalent of a steak sommelier?), we both thoroughly enjoyed these meaty bites, owing to a 28-day minimum ageing process and the eatery's knowledgeable team. Our waiter also guided us through the extensive wine list, uniquely focused on the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. He suggested a carafe of pinot noir (£25.25), which was a light and fragrant accompaniment. To finish, we couldn’t resist sharing a raspberry and chocolate tart (£8.50); sharp and sweet, it came served with an indulgent spoonful of vanilla cream.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Despite its touristy location, The Cambridge Chop House’s self-proclaimed ‘no-nonsense’ approach makes for a warm dependability and hearty substance. Visit if you fancy watching the chaos of King’s Parade while carving into a hunk of expertly sealed certainty or exploring the atmospheric cellars below on an intimate date night. For two recent graduates with big appetites, this was the quintessential Cambridge experience we’d been missing.
💰 The damage: £172 plus service charge.
📍 The location: 1 King's Parade, CB2 1SJ.
👌 Perfect for: No-nonsense steak and substantial British cuisine.
⭐ Need to know: They also whip up Sunday roasts with all the trimmings.
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