The Green Man, Thriplow
This community-owned village pub 8 miles south of Cambridge has it all with its own micro farm, a dizzying array of craft ales and - oh joy! - a free taxi service at the end of the night.
There aren’t many things to complain about when it comes to the British country pub except the rural location that inevitably means someone has to be the designated driver. The poor soul in the party looks wistfully on as their fellow diners work their way through the wine list.
But thankfully this isn’t a regular scene at The Green Man, a charming 18th century community-owned pub, overlooking the triangular green in Thriplow, a sprawling village seven miles south of Cambridge. To ensure you have a good time (and spend uninhibitedly no doubt on their extensive gin and ale selection), this crafty community, who purchased the pub in 2013, have come up with the idea of offering punters a free lift home to surrounding villages in their branded 4×4. Genius!
We headed there on a sunny Saturday for lunch with a toddler in tow so regretfully declined the service, but did find much to enjoy, from the tapas menu to the buzzing atmosphere – this is clearly a community success story.
This is a pub that manages to cater for all. There were plenty of children and families rubbing shoulders quite happily with couples and post-walk, muddy-wellied dog walkers curled up by the fire on the bar side of the building. Every table in our corner of the pub had kids (on reflection maybe they do that on purpose!) and we were sat next to a shabby-chic dresser, lined with vintage Ladybird children’s books. The flickering fire, twinkling fairy lights and dried hops hanging from the beams all makes for a cosy and welcoming atmosphere.
The staff have a sense of humour – each reserved table has a Scrabble panel with your name in a witty format – “Dan and the usual suspects”, “Reid and pals”. When the weather is warmer there’s a well-maintained garden out the back or picnic benches on the green out front. A basket of blankets is provided for those English days when it really isn’t quite warm enough to eat al fresco.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Local and seasonal are the buzzwords that The Green Man lives by when it comes to their daily-changing menu. Fish comes from the day’s catch in Newhaven or Suffolk and Norfolk; the meat is from the Berkshire pigs and Wagyu cattle reared by the pub owners themselves in the village; and local game birds make their way onto the menu when in season. In keeping with the relaxed vibe there’s also a tapas-style sharing menu. We say “style” as there’s nothing remotely Spanish about the food – think vegetable samosas, liver sausage with red onion marmalade and Tandoori chicken skewers.
We started with a sharing board of chargrilled pitta, hummus, paprika and mixed seeds and sweet potato fries. It lasted for all of three minutes before we asked for more pitta to wipe up the final smears of hummus, which is far too good to waste.
Next up was a rump steak burger, cooked pink in the middle, a rare (!) treat for my husband who has suffered, not in silence, through a multitude of overcooked pub burgers. Our friend ordered the pan-fried fillet of Skrei cod, with herb crusted new potatoes. I blinked and it was gone, despite it being a large portion.
I went to town with the tapas menu – secretly delighted that none of my fellow diners were also eating off it, so I didn’t have to share my halloumi salad or hand-cut chips. For kids, smaller portions of each dish are offered and the tapas picks are naturally perfect for any pint-sized pub goers.
With no room for pudding we made a mental note to come back for a dessert-only gorging session to try the baked toffee apple cheesecake and blueberry frangipane.
OUT & ABOUT
A lot of people head here after a morning geeking out over the aircraft at nearby IWM Duxford Air Museum. The time to really get a feel for what The Green Man is all about is during the annual Thriplow Daffodil Festival every March (another hugely successful community collaboration – there must be something these villagers can’t do, surely?).
For one weekend the village bursts into life with thousands of daffodil displays, craft and food stalls and country pursuits. The Green Man is at the heart of proceedings – the kitchen staff venture out onto the green to set up their popular Pork Shack.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: A celebration. With the drive home service and cheerful staff it lends itself to a good old-fashioned knees-up.
Not for: Those who need the certainty getting served. It’s a bijou space with only a handful of tables, so best to book ahead rather than risk a drop-in.
The damage: Starters are from £6 – £9 and mains from £15 – £25. The tapas menu starts at £3 and you need 3-4 dishes per person as a main. Puddings cost £6 or £8 for the cheese selection.
The Green Man, 2 Lower Street, Thriplow, SG8 7RJ. Tel: 01763 208855