What do you get when you couple a moving musical experience from a musical hero with a dull, overpriced meal in a tiny restaurant in a suffocatingly upper-middle class town? Read on if you think you can deal with the dizzying highs and tedious lows of my recent trip to Cambridge.
Oddly, my extensive travels had somehow never delivered me to the university city of Cambridge. I’ve visited Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, Brighton, Leicester and numerous other locales around the UK but this historic district had eluded me. I suppose I never had a good enough reason to go out of my way.
That all changed recently. One of my favourite musical performers decided to pencil in a show in Cambridge, so Josh and I squeezed into the car and spirited ourselves up the M11 to find out first hand what I had been missing.
Cambridge is visually appealing but it ends there. Sure, if your thing is a lot of privileged people with too much money walking in and out of overpriced stores you’ll have a fab time. I didn’t feel at home and the only restaurant in town with significant vegan options also failed to woo my chubby, queer heart.
The idea of Rainbow Cafe looked good in screen resolution. My pre-visit research led me to believe I would be partaking in a decent meal and I went into the experience believing I would be satisfied. How wrong can you be?
I’m not a FGV overly-concerned with size, but the expanse of the dining room was seriously lacking. Heck, even the alley leading to their front door was petite. The restaurant was literally a basement. At first I thought it quaint, but my goodwill waned as people waiting for my table sat above me on the staircase. It was tight.
My meal didn’t do anything to make me reconsider my first impressions. It was decidedly mediocre. The bread starter was OK. That’s it. Hot bread with oil and herbs is usually just OK, right? On the other hand, my main was a superbly-glorious train wreck of a meal for which I paid dearly.
If I pay approximately £10 for a dish, I want to at least feel compelled to finish eating it. Even with Josh and I sharing the vegan artichoke parcel, it couldn’t be eaten. Dull is the most suitable adjective. It contained red peppers, olives, artichoke heart, sun-dried tomato and vegan cheese encased in filo pastry. Those ingredients read nicely as I type them. In reality, it was laboured and uninspired as well as looking a hot mess plated up.
We left Rainbow Cafe with little cheer. It was left completely up to Lloyd Cole to save the trip and he didn’t fail in this daunting task.
I have had the pleasure of seeing Lloyd in concert on many occasions. The list of cities in which I have enjoyed his shows include London, Brisbane, Sydney, Los Angles, New York and some I have surely forgotten. The Cambridge performance was delivered in Lloyd’s impeccable style and I quickly forgot why I wasn’t in love with the city.
Go to Cambridge if you must. Eat in Rainbow Cafe if you must. I just hope Lloyd is on hand to make it all better with his bittersweet take on romance.
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