The Tab begins its tour of college bars.
Week #1: Catz.
Ok, its décor doesn’t do it many favours. There used to be a large papier mâché cat that presided (somewhat demonically) over the bar but since its mysterious departure, the bar has lost yet more sparkle. However, its central location – Catz is nestled between King’s and Queens’ – makes it a good place for pre-lash. And it has an absolutely lovely head barman, who will give you a nickname upon arrival which you’ll be hard pressed to shake for the rest of the night (or your degree, if you actually go to Catz) and flirt outrageously with you over the sticky bar. It’s not got a Wii, or a flat screen TV, or, well, any clean tables, but Catz bar kind of reminds you of that place you all loved because you always got served, even though the barmen used to see you walking in in your school uniform and getting changed in the toilets. (Clue: that’s probably why he served you.) Not in the respect that its populated by perverts – disclaimer: that wasn’t where I was going with that – but in the sense that it’s slightly run down and often a bit dead, but it still has a cetain wayward charm to it.
Attractions: Lovely head barman, pool table, new-fangled jukebox (highly technological looking and, somewhat confusingly, stuck to a wall above a row of couches so that you have to dethrone people with a well-aimed kick when trying to use it), quiz machine, central location.
Unattractions: Chairs that are liable to collapse whilst you are seated in them, couches covered in a synthetic fabric that smells a bit like feet and, where torn, exposes a hybrid child of cardboard and cotton wool stuffing, that looks like giant globules of hardened snot.
Specialty: The Fire Engine: four shots of vodka, lemonade, blackcurrant cordial, pint glass, £2.
Range of snacks: Quite a variety. They’ve got the classic Thai Sweet Chilli Sensations, which are always a winner (one chap ate them at such speed that he choked on one and a sliver of crisp actually ended up in my eye. This will not affect Catz bar’s rankings, but is merely an aside to campaign for eating at leisure). Also available are pork scratchings, other flavours of Walkers, something that included prawn in the title (enough to keep me away, admittedly), those crisps that look like little rashers of bacon, Haribo.
Liveliness: Weekdays are quiet (excepting Wednesdays for obvious reasons), but weekends, particularly if there’s been a swap, are acceptably lively.
Rules: It’s not quite the Mahal, but having watched various members of Hellcatz chunder into buckets in the bar last year, it’s pretty much anything goes.
Tab Says: Rough around the edges but give it a go (just remind yourself that not every college has recently acquired a millennium dome).