It may lack atmosphere but with regular live music sets it may surprise you.
From the outside the Portland Arms looks like your average traditional pub, and it doesn’t really go against your expectations inside, but it’s not as battered as you make think.
A comfy lounge area in front of the bar is decked out in old-fashioned dark red sofas, chunky wooden tables and a classic fireplace to add to the cosy look.
Antique bits and bobs cover the walls, including pictures and photographs to hint at a time gone by, which is sometimes what the Portland feels like – dated and old.
However, for a residential local, it possesses a certain charm and warmth that seems to make a pleasant watering hole for the men of the area, plus music fans when there are live bands playing.
The soft darkness and worn round the edges look of this pub lends itself to creating the perfect casual drinking place. This is a place where people don’t care what they look like or who they’re with or how much they drink, they can just keep themselves to themselves.
On quiet nights, this is basically how it goes, with small groups of men creating a groove in their seats as they slowly mull over their pints after a long day.
On live music nights however, the local fans of the particular band that night, be they young or old, come to support, and music fans can enjoy watching a modern band in a old-fashioned venue which evokes a relaxed, friendly vibe.
They also host the Portland Comedy Club, which has seen acts like Zoe Lyons.
For regular folk who aren’t too clued-up on the Cambridge music scene, the list of bands playing at the Portland Arms will go straight over your head. They offer a good mix of up and coming bands playing anything from indie, punk, pop electro and some playing an interesting hybrid of them all.
If you enjoy watching unsigned bands who are hungry to impress and are still having the time of their lives playing to small, intimate audiences then the Portland’s acts are worth seeing.
The Food and Drink
The drinks fit the bill at the Portland Arms, with ales such as Ossett Brewery, Abbot and Greene King IPA on tap for £2.90 a pint, plus lagers like Kronenbourg, Guinness and Strongbow.
The wine list is limited but offers cheap wine for £11 that is still drinkable.
Food is aimed at the student market, with a selection of pizzas for around £6.50, homemade burgers for £5.75, plus sharers and tapas for £1.70 each or three for £4.50.
Main courses include chicken and bacon caesar salad for £5, or an all-day breakfast for £5.50 or chilli con carne for £5.
The Last Word
A pub that may not be suited to all tastes, but it has an interesting music line-up and a cosy vibe that pleases at least some of Cambridge’s pub goers.