Like home, but with better food, more alcohol, nicer chairs and better artwork.

The Grain Store, Cambridge 

DSC02812You enter in the middle, and whichever way you turn, everything is different. There’s chairs and sofa’s on the right, and there are benches on the left. It’s may be seen as a gimmick- the whole, sit where you like according to personal taste in decor and the hope the food matches vibe. So that’s what we did. We found the table with orange-velvet chairs, dimmed lighting and a view out of the window and hoped for the best. But beneath the facade, in all it’s student-glory, The Grain Store actually manifests itself as a restaurant for all, with quirky decor and a kitsch bar upstairs, and it all seems a little pretentious, but then check their website and they say otherwise. The only way to truly know were to test it out, as one did.

“We’re not your average pub. Not too traditional, not too pretentious – our new look and direction isn’t meant to push us into gastropub territory. We’re not wanting to pull the rug from under our current regulars, and we’re not starting from scratch.”-

The drinks are what you draw you in first. Four giant beer tanks take the floor with beer from the Czech Republic, but they have more than just beer and beer-Cocktails. Ciders, Gins, Whiskies, wines and champagne, make up the diverse and expansive set of drinks they carry. It’s the perfect place to sit, if not for food but with round of drinks in a setting so entirely homey and atmospheric over two-floors, that you almost forget you came for the food.

Short and sweet. The menu is British, meaty (with veggie options) and simple: PORK CRACKLING STICKS, OAK-SMOKED BRITISH BRISKET IN A BUN, PUMPKIN, SMOKED CHEDDAR, CHILLI AND THYME BURGER, ONION STRAW, SMOKED FISH [in a box], STEAK AND EGGS (breakfast only). This is the sort of food you can expect from this gastro-esque, no-need-for-plate-all-the-time eatery. This does one of two things; excites me and terrifies me. It could be tantalisingly beautiful, or awful food masquerading itself as great-British classics that seem like they’d be made well. Thankfully, it were not the latter. It’s like home, but with better food, more alcohol, nicer chairs and better artwork.

The place began buzzing a little after we ordered and within a decent amount of time, the friendliest of staff brought out our meals. Not in the hungriest of moods, three mains were enough: 6OZ 100% BEEF BURGER with Cheese, crispy streaky bacon, house fries, smoky tomato relish)SMOKED FISH [box] with cold-smoked Scottish smoked salmon, hot-smoked salmon fillet, potted smoked mackerel, horseradish and dill dressing and the 8oz SIRLOIN STEAK with Peppercorn Sauce, Onion sticks, mushroom, tomato and fries.

The food and drink
The burger, though a little overdone, were flavourful. The fries (both potato and sweet-potato) were beyond expectation. Perfectly seasoned, plentiful and perfectly cooked- it may have been the best part of the meal. The pot of relish and burger-toppings tied this plate up wholly. The steak, were similarly overcooked but the meaty middle were faultless. The peppercorn sauce may be the best ever tasted, alongside the mushroom- the one thing that is either undercooked, dull or forgettable, but in this case, it were so entirely appealing, that it should be a dish in itself. The same could have been said for the onions. The fries again were perfect, the tomatoes, which are not a usual favourite, were not detestable. The lambs-lettuce though, may have been an ambitious addition for appearance, or maybe, just possibly for taste.

A box of fish sounds like something one would not want to order, so that’s why it were chose. And that’s what came- a box of fish. Salmon, cooked two ways, potted mackerel and a ton of additions. The smoked salmon and potted smoked mackerel were perfection whereas the salmon fillet should have been served hot, for texture and delectability. The bread was fresh and possibly artisan, the dressing was clean in flavour and the addition of mixed picked vegetables was a nice finish.

All in all, the portions were great, we left food on our plates, and there some real winners. It’s a menu, and an establishment that makes you want to come back and try everything else. But we stayed a little longer, for coffee and for once, no dessert. But the coffee was a gem so we left thoroughly satisfied. Should you go? Whether for the food, drink, entertainment or events, make it your next foodie-stop.

The Grain Store
Regent Terrace, Cambridge CB2 1AA

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