Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Cambridge House

Not to be confused with the Cambridge Brewing Company, The Cambridge House is located at 357 Salmon Brook St. (Rt. 10) in Granby. It's on the left, directly off the main street about a mile or two past Granby center when coming from the south. Slow down or you'll drive right past it.

The Cambridge House opened a few years ago after a rather protracted waiting period (at one time I remembered the reasons, but I've since cleared that space in my brain for other useless information). After waiting expectantly for something, it's common to be let down. To every CT beer lover's delight, CBH lived up to the hype. They began with a modest, but very solid selection including an outstanding IPA (Abijah Rowe), a GABF gold-winning Kรถlsch (Copper Hill), a solid ESB (Old Mill Pond), and a wonderfully authentic Hefeweizen. Since then, they've added a bunch of choices that they circulate into the rotation seasonally and at the whim of the brewer (Stephen Schmidt). Some of my favorites include Porter's Porter, Three Steve Stout, Alt-45, and Newgate Mild. The mild was a favorite of mine because it was appropriately low in ABV so I could drink more of them in a session without getting drunk. Plus, you just can't find good examples of the style on this side of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, I haven't seen it in a long, long time and I fear it won't be back. The one knock I used to give them about the beer is that they were so popular they often ran out of their beer. It was particularly frustrating to drive 35 minutes to see that they only have 5 of their beers on tap and two of them are out. To satisfy thirsty patrons they added a very nice selection of guest taps including a few devoted to Thomas Hooker and a few to Berkshire Brewing. Nice to see them supporting the locals. They've since upgraded capacity and I haven't experienced these problems during my last few visits.

The building itself has a number of different areas to sit in. The entrance to the restaurant is actually located in what appears to be the back of the building as you look at it from the street. Walking up to the entrance from the parking lot you pass across a large outdoor deck, a fine option for the warmer months. As you enter, the bar area is to your left, the host station is in the lobby area, and the restaurant proper is upstairs. I've actually never even been up the stairs, it's usually closed when we're there. This isn't a problem if you want to sit and eat because there's a nice separate seating area past the bar area. It's secluded enough from the bar that you feel like you're in a restaurant, yet it can still get rather loud when the bar fills up. The bar area itself has typically tall tables surrounding the horseshoe shaped bar. There are a smattering of TVs around the room so feel free to go there to catch the game.

The food menu is typical brewpub fare with a number of twists and unique flourishes. Generally speaking it's very good, but we have been disappointed on occasion. I certainly wouldn't come here if food is the priority, but if you're coming for the beer you can definitely score a meal that will satisfy. You can't go wrong with the fish and chips. The service is generally fine. I've never eaten in the formal dining area, so I can't comment from that aspect. It's easier in the bar seating area because the servers are never very far away.

This is one of my favorite brewpubs in CT, behind only Willimantic (that I haven't been to in 10 months). The beer is always fresh and tasty and I love the atmosphere in the bar area. Plus, it doesn't hurt to be located in Granby, one of the prettiest places in CT. I'm actually hoping to move there in the near future!

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