Who remembers that Muscle Food article slating Ely as one of the worst cities the UK for being a foodie? I dived deep into that “study” and pulled it to pieces here. One of the things which discredited the study was that it said that Ely had no bakeries.
Keeping in mind there are three bakeries in the city, one of them happens to be ‘Grain Culture – General Store’ (Grain Culture for short), which is quite simply a foodie paradise!
It all started in a garage back in 2018 with an aim to specialise in local produce and working with like-minded small businesses. Ever since, Grain Culture has gone from strength to strength and now has its own presence on St Mary’s Street. It’s amazing how many people I speak with in Ely who have never heard of it, so I decided to visit and do a write up to help spread awareness, as it’s a special and unique place.
By offering a wide selection of high quality locally sourced items, such as freshly baked goods, craft beer, fresh coffee, natural wine, and a great choice of hand-cut cheeses, there is truly something for everyone. Grain Culture has always reminded me of The Swoop Retail Taproom in Cambridge before it closed down and because of this is quickly becoming one of my favourite shops in the city and maybe even in the county.
The venue is beautifully presented and there is a wide selection of places to relax with a coffee. It looks small from the outside but the more you explore the more you discover. There is a nice seating area outside and several rooms to lounge in. It’s also dog friendly, with numerous people coming into the shop with their furry friends during our visit.
We decided to grab some coffee, which was beautifully presented. I’m no coffee connoisseur but luckily I had our Cambridge Foodies coffee correspondent Natalie Tompkins with us, who said that the coffee was very good.
We noticed the coffee was just above lukewarm temperature, which was unfortunate, but this did not sour our experience while we relaxed and chatted in the front room by the window in the sun. I highly recommend this table as it is beautifully decorated (and is right by the wine 😂).
We grabbed a few pastries from their bakery counter while we had our coffee, including a berry/summer fruit Danish and a sticky bun.
Both were made to a superb quality, especially the sticky bun which was probably one of the best I have ever had in my life. It was so dense, a generous size, and absolutely full of flavour. I couldn’t recommend this enough!
The best thing about Grain Culture is that they source locally or from suppliers that only they would consume from themselves. This means that everything in the store has to be personally endorsed by the team before selling. This creates a reassuringly high standard which is clearly apparent by walking around and browsing.
They have fridges filled with a selection of cheese which have been sourced directly from Neal’s Yard Dairy and Fen Farm. They also source their dairy from Estate Dairy which they use directly in their coffee for that added local touch.
Being a huge fan of peanut butter, I decided to grab myself a huge tub of “rugged” style peanut butter from Devon’s very own Butter Bike Co. Another example of their high quality products. No palm oil filled peanut butter here!
There is a great selection of craft beer available, which is dotted around the entirety of the shop. Everywhere you turn, there is a shelf of craft beer. It was a diverse selection too, with several brands I did not recognise. It was great to see Hertfordshire-based Baron available which we reviewed recently.
Wine is also available to buy and drink on site, as well as to takeaway. As you can see from the picture above they have 6 taps of changeable wines which you can enjoy with your pastries. Unfortunately, it was 10am, so it was a little too early for me to sample.
There is also a selection of gin and zero percentage beer too!
As you can tell, I am a big fan of Grain Culture, which is why I included it in my latest piece for Velvet Magazine. Make sure to pay them a visit and let us know in the Cambridge Foodies community what you think.
It is also located across the road from the stunning Ely cathedral and there are plentiful amounts of free parking too, so you really have no excuse!
Thanks for reading!