Yes, the full name of the oldest pub on the River Cam really is The Fort St George in England. Apparently it was named after another Fort St George – the original being the first British fortress in India. So, the “in England” bit is a useful reality check, in case you’ve forgotten which continent you’re in. We’ve all been there… Though usually on the way out of a pub, rather than on the way in.
Parts of the Grade II listed building date back to the 16th century, and it also benefits from an attractive location, on the edge of Midsummer Common, right next to the river. Originally, the pub was on an island, until the Cam was rerouted in the 1800s.
|View of the river and boathouses from The Fort St George|
The decor has changed over the years, and it’s less quirky these days. The number of rowing blades on the walls has plummeted, and the stuffed fish seems to have disappeared too… However, there were fairy lights aplenty outside when we visited, and a roaring open fire made the eating area cosy.
The staff were helpful and friendly, and the service prompt. The pub is owned by the brewery Greene King, which has a standard food menu. The starter and main courses were regular pub fare, but the size of the helpings varied. There was very little bread with the soup, and no potatoes with the lamb casserole, which cost £8.95. The breaded halloumi came with a lot of chips and a small salad garnish, but with hindsight a side salad or potion of vegetables would have made the meal more balanced. However, we did put in additional side order requests, mid-meal, and these arrived in double-quick time. In conclusion, I would say it’s worth asking exactly what’s included if the menu doesn’t make it clear, and budgeting extra for the side orders that may be required.
The food really came into its own at pudding time and the dark Belgian chocolate torte, oven-baked brioche bread and butter pudding and the hot Belgian chocolate fondant all went down very well indeed. Good-sized portions and, we felt, great value for money at £3.75 – £3.95 each.
In warmer weather, there’s some good outdoor seating, and lovely views on both sides of the building. This does mean that the pub really fills up over the summer though, and waiting times increase, so it’s worth arriving early.
|Outdoor seating, overlooking Midsummer Common on one side, and the river on the other|
For more information about the surrounding area, the Friends of Midsummer Common provide an interesting history.