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CAMBRIDGE — Finally. A bar, a real bar.

Often lost in the British pub culture — with its seemingly endless family-friendly options of so-so food and generic old-English ambience — is the bona fide watering hole. A place where friends meet for a cool one and shoot the breeze. A place that’s less about the fish and chips and more about the drink.

Well, look no further than the Flying Pig, my friends.

Don’t let the run-of-the-mill exterior fool you into thinking this is another corporate pub. Though it’s technically owned by one of the United Kingdom’s largest pub chains, Punch Taverns, "Mick the Pig" has been the proprietor for the past 20 years.

Mick, a novice pilot who resembles a pig (according to manager Justine Hatfield), named the place after himself, Hatfield said. She has managed the Hills Road haunt for Mick since 1996.

"The Flying Pig is quite a rare commodity nowadays," Hatfield said. "Especially since the smoking ban, so many pubs and bars have been redeveloped into wine bars and gastro food places. We’ve stayed true to the traditional English pub. It’s basically a good ol’ boozer."

With its fair share of swine swag, weathered posters of Cambridge events from years past and candles dripping from Jack Daniels bottles, the Pig, as it’s often called, is full of character and characters.

Slightly grungy and forthrightly funky, this little bar is big on charm. It’s eclectic, relaxed and attracts just the right amount of people — so it feels happening but not packed. The crowd ranges from chatty student types to 20-, 30- and 40-somethings who all seem to embrace the chill-out vibe this place embodies.

With a beer garden out back and a grassy knoll and picnic tables out front, grabbing a seat outside the pub when the weather permits is the ideal way to waste a few hours.

The Pig is such an institution that locals turned out in force in 2005 to help save it from developers, which have turned much of the neighborhood into a fortress of gentrified apartment buildings.

"It was the most amazing thing," Hatfield said of the 2,000 patrons who signed a petition that helped persuade the local council to save the property from being razed.

But keeping the developers at bay is still an on-going issue.

"We’ve got to continue convincing the council to support us and Punch (Taverns) not to sell," she said.

Although it looks like the Pig is safe for now, check it out soon, just in case.


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