It's no exaggeration to say that the pub has been transformed. The atmosphere is lively and welcoming, and there's always something going on. Monday nights feature a very popular quiz, Tuesday is steak night (8oz jobs with trimmings for £4.50), Wednesday had bottles at £1.50, Thursday sees a pool contest, Friday is karaoke and, by the time you read this, Saturday will have live music. On Sunday there's a roast lunch and a pool knockout at tea-time.
Real ale sales, which had been virtually non-existent, have mushroomed. On my visit in mid January three pumps were serving Greene King IPA, Adnams Bitter and Shepherd Neame Spitfire. A fourth pump was about to be installed and others are likely to follow. The Earl is owned by Punch Taverns, who offer tenants a fair selection of cask beers and, as it's an ex-Bass pub, the right to a guest beer of the licensee's choice remains. Other drinks are also given attention; the wine list is expanding all the time, as is the selection of malt whiskies.
Food is served every day and the menu includes recipes from Malaysia, Indonesia and the West Indies - Adam, who is chef as well as cellarman, is a well-travelled chap (Ana, the licensee, looks after the front of house). There are plans to use the function room as a restaurant in due course; it already caters for a salsa dance club. As well as upgrading this room, the patio are which separates it from the pub building will be tidied up and put into full use.
For Adam and Ana the two keywords have been "quality" and "fun" - the fact that trade has more than doubled since their arrival tells its own tale. Apart from the always-excellent Empress, there's previously been little reason for the real ale fan to go "over the bridge", but no longer. Give the Earl a whirl!
[There's an update in Pub News - Cambridge.]