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The Cambria (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of The Cambria in Peckham & Camberwell, London

40 Kemerton Rd, Camberwell, Peckham & Camberwell, London, SE5 9AR
Cuisine: Modern International
Tel: 020 77373676 | Email to The Cambria | Transport: Brixton | Write review

The Cambria Review

Consider the gastropub, if you will. Ever since year zero (in 1991) British public houses have been slowly evolving from the dark ages of honest-to-God ‘pub grub’ into the shiny world of rocket salad, smokeless oxygen and French wording on menus. And aside from stubborn stalwarts like Wetherspoons, most venues managed to keep up with the demands of their baying public. But now once again, the times they are a-changing because a change is as good as a rest and time waits for no man. Or pub. Or cliche.

The gastropub has become the subject matter of a highly scientific experiment into finding the equilibrium in mankind’s psyche. Food no longer represents the pinnacle of achievement. Man want exotic flavour. Man want decadent decor. Man want sunshine. Man want entertainment. Where once man trod a satisfied path to his nearest gastropub, now his search has widened to encompass the ‘gustopub’.

The recently reincarnated Cambria is a phoenix from the flames and the new proprietors have spanked a wad of cash transforming it from the pub equivalent of a discarded betting slip into a million pound winning ticket. This is cosmetic surgery that would make even Joan Rivers raise an eyebrow. If she could actually move her eyebrows.

To get a picture of its inglorious former life, simply punch the postcode into Google Street View to see an image that pre-dates its rebirth. You can’t yet see the large red awnings, the outdoor seating, the dark chocolate interiors, the floral wallpaper, the flamboyant chandeliers, the padded red leather bar, the ornate mirrors, the oversized ornamentation, the green and flowered life that springs up throughout.

It would be fair to assume from the ostentatious aesthetics, the presented amusements, and the too-fashionable-to-be-straight shirts worn by the clientele, that The Cambria is what some might coin ‘gay friendly’. That is, of course, in addition to being straight friendly, dog friendly, kid friendly, laptop friendly and just plain friendly. It certainly has a wider custom catchment than its immediate vicinity but that doesn’t mean it feels like The Blue Oyster. Not every member of the gay community wants to look like the Pet Shop Boys. What they do want, however, is entertainment and here the evolution of The Cambria really comes into its own.

Many pubs tend to lay on a variety of karaoke kitsch to detract from their other woeful characteristics, but with The Cambria it’s just another reason to make it your second home. Or even your first. On a stage barely big enough to swing a newborn kitten, various diversions are laid on every night, each with its own comedic slant so that you can chortle your way through the quiz night, laugh your way through the cabaret night, and cackle your way through the comedy night. Plus, if you prefer the moodier side of this perishable existence, how many gastropubs do you know that can boast their very own jazz quartet? The Sunday afternoon chill session has suddenly spilled over into Monday evenings.

Another key feature to this multi-talented sanctum is its secluded rear sun garden, replete with functional foliage, split-level decking, and amusing ‘Jugs and Cocktails’ signage (which has puerile written all over it).

As for the fare, this is where The Cambria chooses not to follow in the footsteps of many gastro-turning-restaurant pubs of today. Chef Aimi has drawn from her former East Dulwich CV and thrown down a crossed-cultured offering that has ham, egg and chips rubbing shoulders with roast Catalan saddle of rabbit and Harissa potato cake. The jerk chicken with double-carb whammy of rice AND sweet potato might disappoint if you enjoy tearing yourself a new one, but will please the Korma types amongst us.

Much like local kebab houses, food presentation seems oddly inconsistent to the depiction found on the menu, albeit with words in this case. Plus, it’s never quite as hot as one might expect. Yet what it lacks in beauty it certainly makes up for in brawn. Ignore the starters, they’re basically just bar snacks, and instead call for the portion police. A crime against your waistline will be perpetrated once you order your mains because they are large enough to prompt actor Sam Neill into fleeing for his life. This could well be a measure to secure a sedate and sedentary audience; weigh them down enough and they can’t leave before the performances. It’s fun to laugh it off, either way. If your hunger is monster sized and the mains remarkably fail to fill you, then the desserts will definitely provide the elbow to shove you off the edge into a food coma abyss. The Finca Las Paredes Argentinean Malbec from the sister wine list should make the descent more pleasurable.

Pubs that are plonked right in the middle of nowhere, down a dead end alley, just beyond a dodgy railway bridge, set at an unassuming crossroads often do little to promote the prefix in ‘community’ but The Cambria has certainly brought it back. If you find you are unable to enjoy the garden of tranquility, the staff of cheeriness, or the hilarity of entertainment, the King’s College Hospital is just a few minutes away. Get down there and check yourself into A&E because there’s something clearly wrong with you. However, if the voices in your head are telling you it’s high time to camp it up, just make sure your appetite is as big as a very, very big tent. more

Customer Reviews for The Cambria

Average (based on 9 votes): 9 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of The Cambria.

“There's no chance of stumbling across this great gastropub by accident, it's literally in the middle of nowhere. Along with the Sun & Doves, this is one of the best pubs in Camberwell. Brilliant beer garden, fabulous bohemian decor, ENORMOUS feed portions, and an array of rib-tickling entertainment. I'll definitely go back with some mates.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Leigh, Tooting (11 years 7 months 23 days ago)

“Fantastic bar in the middle of an otherwise unremarkable area. Great selection of food and drink, friendly staff and a very funny comedy show on the night we visited. I wish this was my local!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Aaron, London (11 years 8 months 1 days ago)

“Well done you guys in the Cambria, at last we have something very special right on our doorstep. I have visited the Cambria twice in the last last week, once on monday to see the jazz and have dinner. The music was something else and the food just could not have been better or more interesting. See you again soon 10 out of 10.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
BRAD, LONDON (12 years 7 months 24 days ago)

Show all user reviews for The Cambria

“What a find a great little place food A1 staff A1 the look of the place A1.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
david, london (12 years 8 months ago)

“What a transformation, this has gone from being a tired old duck to a beautiful swan in under a month. The place has really changed the area, wonderful food, excellent drinks, keen and professional staff, the whole place is kicking... Jazz night on mondays are a must, if quiz night is anything like that it will be a great atmosphere..”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
ROB , LONDON (12 years 8 months 6 days ago)

“Fantastic new venue just what was needed. Great atmosphere. Delicious food. Cool music and crowd.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Brij, London (12 years 8 months 9 days ago)

“Thank the lord, The Cambria has new owners and we now have a beautifully transformed local pub! Until this week, the food was absolutely awful and the atmosphere was depressing with TV screens and neon lights on every corner.... now we have a funky atmosphere, live jazz and a Sunday roast that left us feeling very happy indeed…”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
lola, london (12 years 8 months 10 days ago)

“Excellent quiz night on thursday - just come from a really great night out..”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Keith Heywood, London (14 years 3 months 23 days ago)

“Terrible awful place. Food naf, karaoke style singer beyond horrible. A nice pub, ruined by people who have no concept of a nice local.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Bob, London (14 years 6 months 19 days ago)

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A daily changing menu using quality fresh products that the owners hand pick and purchase from smithfields and new covent garden markets. Truly international cuisuine of a very high quality at reasonable prices.

Updated 07/05/2009


A full bar menu with only quality and premium products. Cask ales, premium lagers and a great cocktail list. Also a very interesting wine list sourced from several wine merchants and represeting many nations and a wine to accompany every meal.

Updated 07/05/2009

Additional Information

Special offers, discounts and deals at The Cambria

Monday night is The Dinner and Jazz night. Live Jazz and any main course with a glass of wine, a premium beer or a soft drink for only £10

Updated 07/05/2009

Events and other great things going on at The Cambria

A range of fantastic nights, including quiz, cabaret and comedy.

Updated 07/05/2009

The Cambria Hire Details

We cater for private parties and can offer an area of the pub or the whole venue. We cater for weddings, birthday's, wakes or any occasion that requires a beautiful space or garden.

Updated 07/05/2009

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Venue ID: 2796

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