Callum Weinstein

The Locker, located on 54 King St, is light and airy. The white walls are decorated with a rotating selection of independent art (which is for sale), and the large windows create a light, pleasant atmosphere. The café is filled with greenery, plants are liberally placed around the room, creating a fresh relaxed feel. The Locker is not for people in a rush, of places I’ve been to in Cambridge the food isn’t the quickest, however it's perfect for those looking for a more chilled affair. Their outdoor area, which I was too cold to brave on the winter morning I visited, would be very pleasant during a warm summer day.

"It's perfect for those looking for a more chilled affair"

It only makes sense to start with their Ham and Cheese, described by the establishment as 'famous'. On the surface ham and cheese is the most basic item on a menu – but behind what is fundamentally a three component dish is actually a lot of craft and thought. The first thing that stands out in the sandwich is the bread, sourdough sourced from the Crust of the Earth (which sets up in market square), it has a brilliant, buttery crunch which then gives way to a soft interior. The bread has been griddled on one side (with the other side cooked on a flat top), the result of which is ridges of maillard reaction which provide both flavour and an interesting texture. As a vehicle for a ham and cheese the sourdough is perfection – the juxtaposition of the tangy outside with the gooey cheese filling. The cheese is dominant over the honey roast ham, it is a liberal portion and simply oozes out of the sandwich – in my opinion the sandwich would certainly be almost as excellent served as a plain cheese toasty for those who are vegetarian.

I also sampled their chorizo, cucumber and raclette special. Surprisingly it is the cucumber which is the star of the show, it provides an excellent sweet antidote to the richness of the chorizo (which though sliced thin still is a formidable presence). The raclette’s presence is subtle, unlike in the ham and cheese it does not overwhelm the dish, but instead provides a welcome creamy texture. The sandwich is clearly something which a great amount of thought has gone into.


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From their brunch menu I tried the avocado toast. The Locker’s itineration demonstrates all the subtleties which one looks for in the dish. The consistency of the avocado is exactly on point, not so mushy that it looses all texture and becomes baby food, but not in such large chunks that the structural integrity of the dish is compromised. The bread provides a good structural, crunchy contrast, it could be slightly improved though by toasting the bread so that the entire piece is crunchy instead of just the (admittedly fantastic) crust. The lime supplied produces a good acidity which works well in tandem with the liberal supply of salt and pepper, though I think a little bit more would not have been remiss. Overall the dish is light and refreshing whilst avoiding being bland.

The pastel de nata (which is supplied by Norfolk Street bakery) was a little on the disappointing side. Being someone who grew up living only a short walk away from a Portuguese Deli in London, I have to hold them to a high standard, and they are lacking. Whilst the filling is satisfactory, a thick viscous mix of cinnamon and lemon offsetting the custard, it is the outer pastry which lets the dish down. The pastry is too dense on the bottom, whilst the outer layer does not have the delicate flaky texture which I look for in a pastel de nata. In my opinion the true shibboleth of a quality pasta de nata is the juxtaposition between the flaky buttery outside and the rich interior, and sadly on this count Locker disappoints. However, I feel obligated to point out that I am particularly pedantic about pastel de natas, and my lunch companion with still enjoyed theirs.

 The Locker’s food is great, and if this alone was its appeal I would still say that it is worth a visit. However, more than food alone, the Locker shines because of its atmosphere – it's somewhere where you can escape the constant stress of Cambridge life and just relax over a great meal.

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