Cambridge-based writer, thinker, psychologist and wandering minstrel
Published April 12th 2013
A steaming hot location for a lukewarm cafe
Agora at the Copper Kettle (normally referred to simply as 'The Copper Kettle') claims to be one of the oldest tearooms in Cambridge, and although the interior is generally quite modern and clean in style, it retains a few scattered black beams. The front of the shop faces West and is lined with large windows, which gives the café a light airy feel in the afternoons, though in summer when it is full I have seen the windows steam up and it can verge on being uncomfortably warm (choose one of the few outdoor seats if any are available). What is special about this place is its location on King's Parade in the heart of Cambridge, with views of King's College Chapel, one of the city's main tourist attractions.
However, this prime location means The Copper Kettle can rely on a steady stream of tourists come what may, and a guaranteed customer base doesn't always bode well for standards of service and food…
To deal with the food first: I have eaten here twice, once for breakfast and once for lunch, and on both occasions the food has been adequate to fairly good. I think the all-day breakfasts are reasonable value, and preferable to the lunch options. The menu also features scones with jam and cream which are large, light and fruity, and recommended with a pot of tea or coffee.
The service, however, is rather basic and functional. The staff will show you to a table and then return after a time to take your order, and they won't take ages but you may just be beginning to wonder where they are when they finally do reappear, especially if it's busy. And they do this whole 'welcoming' routine very much as a routine, with a simple formality to it and no hint of friendliness. From what I've heard from others, in person and online, my experience is typical.
So is the Copper Kettle worth a visit? Yes, if you fancy an average to good all day breakfast, or feel like watching the sun descend over the most beautiful building in Cambridge while tucking into a cream tea. No, if you want a good quality meal accompanied by a warm welcome – as far the service goes, this kettle's gone a bit cold.