Editors note: This review is nearly five years old and has been marked for re-review.
5 Cathedral Close, Exeter, EX1 1EZ – 01392 427 127
The rise and rise of the casual dining, chain Italian restaurant has given us some interesting results. Notably in Exeter we are given two offerings in the form of Zizzi‘s and ASK. We are also given Strada, but this is in a slightly higher league (The prices reflect more then just casual dining, it’s a grown-up restaurant. A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about Strada in String Beans, my previous food blog and found it ‘alright’ but it is due another review!).
I am saving Zizzi’s for another review as the experiences that I have had there are inconsistent. Sometimes I go there and come out feel like I’ve had a fantastic meal with value for money and fantastic service, and other times I have feel like I have come out with my wallet molested and a hankering for KFC because the italian flavoured air that I have just eaten as not exactly satisfied me.
So, ignoring Zizzi’s and Strada, where does ASK sit in all of this?
Exeter has too many restaurants that are trying to cater for the mythical affluent middle-class casual/formal diner. They are mythical because they are in fact cut-out’s made of rice paper that disintegrate when it rains. ASK is, thankfully, an original addition to the ‘chain restaurant‘ gang in Exeter as it is housed in a historic building on Cathedral Yard with a beautiful Tudor entrance area and slightly wonky ceilings. The additional dining area is slightly more Georgian and regency with beautiful views over the Green and the Cathedral itself.
My beloved and I last visited on a Tuesday night after work, armed with a Main Meal for £1 voucher which they quite often send out if you’re subscribed to the email list.
We were immediately invited in by a very friendly Maitre’d who made conversation with us and put us at ease as he saw us to our table. He was French and had a thick accent, but his English was good and he smiled a lot. As we sat down, he sat on a chair near our table (slightly over familiar, but I liked it) and did the usual ‘selling the punter the most expensive thing on the specials board’. He was so nice, I wanted to invite him to sit and have the rest of the meal with us.
Then trotted over another waiter who felt very much like he was on his first day. The English was not fluid and when he came up to see if we were alright after ordering our food, I couldn’t work out what was being said what with being English and generally bad with foreign accents. Although friendly and great at coffee, it stopped there, I felt awkward and a bit uncomfortable, almost like he was trying to ask me out every time he came up to the table.
I had the Funghi Calzone with a Large latte. The latte was glorious, especially for a non-coffee establishment with a generous fluffly head and a nice balance between milk and coffee.
After an average wait for the food, I delved in to a lovely Calzone that was hot and tasty with my ‘funny face’ salad which always makes me happy.
The restaurant was quiet so the service was excellent, but as we left the tables started filling up as the evening diners started filtering in.
Meal for two with two drinks and one meal for a £1 came to just over £14 with a £2 tip. Overall opinion, pleasant dining experience in a beautiful setting and by far the nicest in its league, but still a chain restaurant.
5 Cathedral Close, Exeter, EX1 1EZ
TEL: +44 (0)1392 427127