* Prices may differ from that shown
The Rock, situated on Cherry Hinton Road in Cambridge is not the first place you'd expect a hairy-arsed Scotsman to adopt as his local. Either I've got a poor sense of direction or this must one helluva pub. Or, far more likely, I was working in Cambridge and staying just a couple of hundred metres along the road.
You can't miss The Rock. Maybe it's the standard English 'roadhouse-style' building, perhaps it's the pale yellow wash of the exterior walls, or even the banners proclaiming 'good food' and 'live music' which catch the eye. No matter, it's there in all it's magnificence with a sign saying 'The Rock'. What a giveaway.
The pub is most definitely split in two. The bar is sport themed, in particular football. In fact, if your not a fan of the beautiful game, the bar is probably not for you. TV screens are strategically placed all around the bar with a large projection screen on the back wall. Football tops and flags and pennants from a host of different teams are pinned on the walls and ceilings. By way of variety, there's a pool table and dartboards etc for the more active sports fans who frequent the bar.
Food is available in the bar, but most people choose to eat in the lounge. But more of that later.
As for drinks, the usual pis...keg beer is on offer. This includes: Carling, Fosters, Kronenbourg, Stella, John Smiths Smooth, Guinness, and some others that I can't remember. Real beer comes in the shape of Greene King IPA and Abbot with guest ales as well.
It's not surprising that they sell Greene King beer. It's a local(ish) brewery, but more importantly. the Rock is a 'Giant Plate' pub - a chain owned by Greene King.
The bar is, while not the roughest pub I've ever frequented (that honour goes to a dingy little howff in Maryhill), it could never be described as up-market. All the same, it's a friendly bar with both staff and regulars making a stranger feel very welcome.
One criticism, the gents were a little damp, and a little ripe. Obviously, I can't comment on the Ladies.
The Lounge is like a totally different pub. Not too strange as both bars have their own separate entrances (and exits, I suppose), not to mention the fact that they function completely separately. While the bar may be the place to go to watch the big match with your mates, the lounge concentrates far more on the food side of things. Ah the food. Remember that giant plate stuff? Well they really do mean giant plate. They have an extensive menu ranging from light snacks to gut-busting overkills which, while certainly padding out this review, is not going to be listed here.
For a look at the menu, check their website (http://www.pub-explorer.com/cambs/pub/rockcambridge.htm).
The do all manner of deals (again, these are listed on the website) which makes it a good value choice when eating out is not necessarily through choice - as in working away from home. The guy I was working with and myself took advantage of their '2-for-1' deals (looking at the website, this seems to have changed since I was last there in May. It's now 8B48 - two meals for £8 until 8pm).
Anyway, we were eating huge platefuls of pretty good grub for around £3-4 each. And when I say huge, I mean fecking ginormous. For example, a 12 inch diameter gammon steak (yes, I did measure it...don't ask what with) topped with 3 fried eggs, chips and all the trimmings for three and a half quid? Not bad. Of course, I didn't eat one of those myself, not my thing. But I did have a sirloin steak one night, and that was a cracker.
What I liked about the food was the fact that the staff were amenable to chopping and changing the side orders. As per usual, the steak came with the usual chips, mushrooms, onion rings etc. Again, not my thing. However, they were happy to change this to boiled new potatoes and salad.
Over the course of the 10 or so days I was in Cambridge, I ate in this pub quite a few times, and can honestly say I was never disappointed with the food. I had salmon one night which was a bit so-so, but nothing to complain about.
Don't get me wrong, it's not haute cuisine, but it IS good, honest pub grub and plenty of it...and competitively priced into the bargain.
Where this pub came up trumps for me though, was the Sunday roast. Possibly one of the best Sunday dinners I've had in a pub and again, huge portions on a 2-for-1 deal.
The Rock isn't the place to go for a quiet pint though. Apart from the football evenings in the bar, the lounge features live entertainment most nights. This ranges from quiz nights (yawn) through comedy, to jam sessions and live bands. And pretty decent bands they are too (at least the two I sawwere). They get quite a crowd for the bands and although busy, the lounge is big enough to swallow up 100 or so people quite easily so you don't have to be squeezed up against any of the 'rock-chicks' bopping away like mad...you don't have to, but it's fun just the same.
So, if you're down in Cambridge and you want to watch some fitba' or stuff your greedy little coupon, or even jump around to some good 'ol rock-n-roll, you know where to go. And the bonus is that it's not infested with those lovely student types that city centre pubs in Cambridge are plagued with.