‘Do you fancy going for a Polish?’ isn’t exactly a phrase you hear being uttered too often, but thanks to Ralph and his wife Ania, the proprietors of the Zebra pub on Maid's Causeway, you could be hearing it a lot more around Cambridge.
The Zebra, a gentle stroll from both the Grafton Centre and Midsummer Common, has recently had a menu makeover and now boasts Polish cuisine ranging from simple soups to interesting pasta combinations - many of which can also be served as a vegetarian option. This all sits alongside traditional English dishes, such as bangers and mash or filled jacket potato, and on top of that there’s a comprehensive pizza menu. So there really is something for everyone.
The pub is filling up nicely with both the young and old as we arrive for an early evening meal. The atmosphere is relaxed and the background music isn’t overly intrusive. The place is clean and neat and there are large and small tables to choose from. We’re keen to try the new generously-priced Polish food and it arrives promptly, courteously, and is both neatly plated and full of colour.
The zurek (potato and sausage soup) is hearty, slightly spicy and moreish and comes with a fresh baguette and butter. Our party also tries the goulash, the perogli (pretty pasta parcels filled with meat in a tomato sauce) and the golabki (meat and rice baked in cabbage parcels with a tomato sauce). All these main courses are accompanied with a salad replete with fruit and vegetables. The golabki filling is spicy and wholesome but the sauce rather overpowers the delicate cabbage. Of the three dishes the perogli was deemed the tastiest with a particular favourite being the excellent beetroot puree that accompanied it.
As we finished the proprietor popped back to check that everything was to our satisfaction and he was able to expand a little on how well the Polish menu was going down. Apparently, Monday to Thursday lunchtimes are the least busy but his staff are run off their feet in the evenings of Thursday to Saturday with both English and Polish clientele enjoying the food. When asked about where the idea for this bold new menu had come from, he replied, ‘Having got married in Poland and sampled many of their traditional dishes, my wife and I believe that the Cambridge residents will enjoy it’. With most of the main courses costing around a fiver, and the food a welcome deviation from the standard pub fayre, he may well be right.
Commissioned by Local Secrets online magazine...