Norwich’s foodie scene has a great new addition as St Giles Pantry opens its doors and champions local producers
Set in one of Norwich’s most charming streets, Upper St Giles, St Giles Pantry is a great hunting ground for those of us who love local produce.
Everything in the very charming shop comes from within a 40-mile radius, and the producers have all been personally selected by the Pantry owner, Alan Sabol. Alan, who has worked at many leading restaurants in the region, explains: ‘I just wanted to work with people who care as much as I do. I ask them to tell me their story – I love to hear their passion – and then I ask about their product!’
The line up of names is impressive – from St Giles Gin, to Candi’s Chutneys, Norwich Porridge, RocketShip Sauces, Crush cereals and oils, Norfolk Cookies, Monty’s mustards, Wild Knight Vodka, Yare Valley Oils, Flint wines and Duration beers. And that’s probably not even half of them!
Your attention is also caught by a lovely display of breads from The Two Magpies Bakery, including a very tasty sourdough number and enormous sausage rolls, pastries from The Green Grocers in Norwich, and a cheese chiller which bulges with local offerings from Mrs Temple, Fielding Cottage, Norton’s Dairy and more. The very popular Baron Bigod from the Waveney Valley is on offer, along with the dairy’s own raw milk butter.
There is also a glass fronted cake display unit, with more goodies from Two Magpies Bakery, and outside sees a lovely range of fruit and veg from Norwich-based Easters.
In the rear of the shop is a shiny 1950s style coffee maker which operates, apparently, like a steam engine using pressurised water. It is certainly quite a beast and makes an impressive amount of noise but does make a good coffee, with Alan having his own blend created.
So far so good, but what makes the Pantry really lovely is its design and decor. All the charm of the building’s heritage has been kept, with wooden floors and beams, but Alan has added some lovely contemporary copper light fittings, metal shelving and a stunning hexagonal display unit which really shows off the foodie goodies.
Alan is a real fan of the 1930s and 1940s and wants to have a traditional ‘general store’ feel to the place and certainly the 1930s swing music playing gently in the background helps create a vintage atmosphere. We loved it!
In happier times, there is seating for about 20 people who might like to stop for a coffee and cake – and a natter – and there are hopes to start light lunches, too.
Special mention must go to the range of hampers and gift packs on offer, all custom-made. Prices start at £10 and, as Alan says, they can be created to suit, say, a cheese lover, a real ale enthusiast or simply a gin drinker!
There are many future plans such as a beer club, meet the producer sessions and generally lots of fun. ‘That’s what it is all about – we love the shop to have a lively feel, for people to have a glass of wine and maybe discover a few new local producers,’ Alan says. ‘I really want to support the local producers and suppliers of this wonderful county.’