Ely is known for many things; its stunning cathedral, the beautiful fenland countryside, and its copious amounts of tea rooms. It isn’t, however, well known for being a foodie hub, especially after the damning Muscle Food magazine piece citing Ely as one of the worst foodie hot spots in the country last year.
Ely Market has been looking to change all that with its Foodie Friday events, by trying to push more food vans into the market over the weekend. This is aimed to give consumers a reason to come to the high street rather than sitting at home and shopping online. Shopping in Ely is now a day out, an experience, and entirely hassle free.
The city planners really know what they are doing when it comes to the high street in Ely. While Cambridge is looking to alienate 500,000 of the 650,000 Cambridgeshire residents with a congestion charges and still enforcing extortionate parking charges, Ely is still offering free parking and a food market experience which has ever changing cuisine from all over the world. People can pop in, stroll around with the family (without feeling like they are being charged by the hour,) and embrace the historic beauty of the city while sampling ever changing food vans.
For example, I was able to try Tibetan style food from Tibet Flavour while doing my Christmas shopping recently. This is a food unavailable anywhere else in Cambridgeshire. Next week, it could be something entirely different. I guess I will have to come in to find out!
The best thing about food vans is the lack of a mark up. During these hard times of inflation, every penny counts. Without having to run an entire restaurant food vans are able to pass on the savings to the customer or put it back into the ingredients. This means you can have an affordable snack with top quality ingredients, such as Scotties Hot Scotch Egg’s, Al Chile, or Mrs Lekka without breaking the bank.
Every time you pop into Ely, you are faced with the potential of something new. It is not the same restaurants over and over again. Even when you have very good restaurants on the high street, can get tedious, and does not have the lame lure as a market of ever changing food vans serving food from all over the world.
It is not just food vans either. They have marvellous Italian bakeries, stalls selling fresh produce, hot sauces, and a ‘cheese and pie man’ I have lovingly dubbed “the most dangerous man in Ely”. All from local producers and small independent businesses. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find any chain restaurants in Ely without having to visit a painfully dull Pizza Express. This is the way it should be, a place where small independent businesses run rife, rather than having to hunt them down or find them tucked away.
The next time you want a day out or are thinking of doing some Christmas shopping, take a look at the Ely Market website and come pay the city a visit. Park up for free, try something new from the food vans, visit our award winning tea rooms, take a leisurely walk along the river, pop by Draymon’s Son or 3@3 for a craft beer or mulled wine, then visit the stunning Ely cathedral. No muss, no fuss!
For more information, check out the Ely Market website.