Bar Sleuth: Leave your worries at The Elm Tree
Stars and Stripes March 29, 2006
CAMBRIDGE — Plucking an acoustic bass, Jon Halton jams with fellow jazz musicians in a small but lively pub called The Elm Tree.
It’s only Monday night, but the vibrant music helps pubgoers — tapping their feet to the beat — forget that the weekend is a long way away.
About 40 people, sitting at candlelit tables or standing next to the musicians, are crammed into the pub to enjoy the performance. It’s business as usual for The Elm Tree, which hosts live jazz Sunday, Monday, and at times a few other days of the week. There is no cover charge.
Taking a break from serving pints of beer, Steve Davis, co-owner of The Elm Tree, said the cozy English pub’s trademark is its music.
“We’re a village pub in the middle of a city,” he said. “Our live entertainment brings us to a higher standard.”
Davis and his partner, Polly Griffith, took over the pub, which previously had connections in the local jazz scene, last December. They have continued the jazz tradition and routinely advertise upcoming performances in local newspapers.
Nestled in a residential area near the Grafton Centre in Cambridge’s city centre, The Elm Tree can be difficult to find. You can brag to friends once you find the place, which is across the street from another pub, The Cricketers.
Parking can be hard to come by. One possibility is the Grafton and Queen Anne Terrace parking garages that are close by.
Upon entering the pub, you come within a few feet of a live performance, if there is one, on a makeshift stage to your right. Straight ahead, a bartender serves drinks at a small bar with English ales, Red Stripe, Kirin Ichiban and other beers on tap. Bottles of spirits dominate the back of the bar. Wine is also available.
On this Monday night, I relaxed with a pint of Red Stripe and soaked up the jazz. Following a two-hour set, the tired musicians called it a night and packed up their equipment. Next week, they’ll be back for more.
As always, if you drink, do so responsibly. Don’t drink and drive.
The Elm Tree
Location: Orchard Street, Cambridge, CB1 1JT. Heading southwest along East Road (on the eastern side of city centre), take a right on Parkside, then the third right on Clarendon Street to Orchard Street. The pub is between Orchard and Elm Streets.
Food: No pub grub.
Drink: Good selection of draft beer, including English ales, Red Stripe and Kirin Ichiban. Spirit and wine choices are available as well.
Ambience: The pub is known for its ongoing live jazz. The cozy pub can get packed during live performances.
Service: The bartenders are quick to serve your poison.