10/13/11 Update: The owners have announced the closing of the Cambridge House as of 10/15/11
This has been a popular, local bar for a long time that features a comfortable, English-style atmosphere and a huge selection of wine and beer. Hardwood floors, dark wood, and low lighting create an appealing pub ambiance with a lot of character. Typical bar food was always available but when you thought about dining out, Cambridge House would not come to mind.
Things are changing. The focus is now more on food, with a small and interesting menu, ever-changing, and based on locally-produced ingredients. The pool table and dart boards are still there as is the fireplace seating. There’s a new dividing wall to set the bar apart but everything else looks the same.
We took a high-backed, dark wood booth along the bar around five o’clock and were promptly served with a bottle of water and menus. Scanning the menu, we were impressed by the selections but quickly realized that it was not a full menu with appetizers and entrees.
Instead we were offered a mix of sides, small plates, and a few other dishes; we needed a few minutes to sort it all out. Most selections are nicely paired with an appropriate beer and wine offerings.
We started with pierogies filled with Michigan potatoes, shrimp, and bacon. Caramelized onions and a pea puree accompanied the dish. Shrimp and bacon flavors were light but we were okay with that. The potatoes were creamy, and when each bite was combined with the onions and puree, it was a mouth-watering treat.
Next up was the Michigan Comfort, a tender filet of beef served with roasted potatoes and crimini (or do you say cremini) mushrooms in a rich gravy. Exquisite flavor and presentation, the beef was beautifully medium rare.
The description of the Goulash was irresistible and it didn’t disappoint as our second selection. Beef, buffalo, and lamb were simmered in a tomato-date sauce and was served with gemelli pasta and Dancing Goat chevre, with a small side salad of peppers, tomatoes, and onion. The pasta was prepared perfectly, the meat flavors were distinct but compatible, the tomato and date sauce was subtle, and the chevre topped it off wonderfully for a very well-balanced and highly recommended dish.
As you can see by the photos, these are not huge servings but they were reasonable portions. There is still a huge alcohol menu (it’s still a bar after all) and you can’t stop by for lunch; they don’t open until 4:00 p.m. Service was exemplary.
We’re fans of Derby Station and Graydon’s Crossing and their owners also own Cambridge House. We’re not fans of unattributed quotes but will leave you with theirs: “To be without good food and good drink...is a paltry existence.”