Mention the Copper Kettle to old Cambridge stalwarts and it'll bring back memories of a traditional tea shop beloved of all ages- but getting rather tatty and unloved in its old age. Since 2006, however, it's taken on a new lease of life as 'Agora @ The Copper Kettle', café by day and Mediterranean restaurant by night, run by the same owners as the successful Efe's on King Street.
the Copper Kettle occupies enviable real estate opposite King's College gate on King's Parade - one of the best locations in Cambridge for passing trade. On entering, there are a number of choices of places to sit, including the cosy 'Turkish lounge' at the back, which on our visit was used by a lively group of foreign students. We chose a spot by one of the huge windows at the front, which are ideal for watching passers-by at any time of year with the fantastic views of King's College on the other side of the road.
During the day, the menu consists of normal cafe-style fare, including salads, baguettes and all-day breakfasts. The breakfasts come with a pretty good recommendation attached - one student publication voted it as one of the best places to have an all-day breakfast in Cambridge. By night, the food takes on a more exotic twist, describing itself as 'Mediterranean', but hovering determinately over the Eastern side of that sea. There's an extensive array of meze for starters: we opted for dolma, rice wrapped in vine leaves; and sucuk, a spicy sausage flavoured with cumin and red pepper - but there's over ten to choose from.
For our main courses, we opted for a kleftiko lamb shank, a tender, lightly-spiced lamb dish, and the Moroccan-style vegetable tagine, a veritable feast of beans, vegetables and rice. Whilst the portions are not large, service is prompt and friendly, and the food is prepared with care. The dessert menu, too, is fairly spectacular, with tasty sweets such as baklava. We will certainly investigate these on our next visit.
In homage to the previous incarnation of this building, brightly-painted kettles are located all over the room, which is decorated in a sophisticated slate grey. There are also numerous old photographs of the Copper Kettles as it once was, with the roaring open fire. A range of tempting-looking cakes are on display by the counter.
Its fantastic location means that there's a great variety of Cambridge life here, on our visit we spied an office party and a romantic dinner for two as well as the language students. Considering its location, the prices are pretty reasonable too. It's not hidden, being as on the beaten track as one could possibly be, but a great choice for tasty food nonetheless.