All Day 6 (Wok 7), Palace Gate, Exeter (2/5)


All Day Six is now called Wok 7.

You can’t miss it, no matter how you try and avoid its orange glow at the bottom of Palace Gate in Exeter.  The bright and shiny beacon of tangeriney paint hits you like a visual nuclear warhead.  As I like the colour orange, this was genuinely the only reason why I chose to eat here one night a couple of years ago and I have never really thought about why I go or why I shouldn’t, I just like going.  So it only dawned on me recently that I really should write about it.  But writing about a place that I like is harder than going on the first or second visit, because I am biased by love. So here goes, an objective review about a place I know I like.

After a quick scoot through the moaning and whining of Trip Advisor diners who either loved it or hated it, one thing becomes clear to me about this place, you get what you pay for.  There are no frills, there is no real reason why you would go apart to eat; the decor is shabby and the general atmosphere can be like a frenzied bird feeding session if you go at the wrong times.

A couple of nights ago, a good friend of mine dubbed it a ‘chavvy scoff and trough’. We were deciding where we wanted to eat and surprisingly I found that not everyone liked the cheap functionality of this orange temple of buffet goodness.  I then realised that there was quite a lot wrong with 6 All Day if you compared it to other restaurants in Exeter.  But you have to put it in its own class, because after all you are only paying £6 for, well everything.  So what class would you put it in to? Well, if Easyjet opened a Chinese Restaurant?

So let us start with the important stuff.

The Food.

The food is left out in large metal troughs, as is standard in all buffet restaurants.  Since we have started coming here, the choice of food hasn’t really changed at all, in fact it got to the point where we came here so often I actually got bored of the food.  The curries and sauce based choices do seem to be swimming in grease, the noodles are very nice though and the ‘random fried things’ such as chicken skewers, spring rolls etc are palatable but nothing to write home about.
But then there is hygiene, the food is sat about for ages and lots of customers are unaware of the concept of using tongs or washing their hands, so you have to accept this as an occupational hazard when you come to a place like this.
At busy times they will run out of stuff too, and it is not always a quick turnover when it comes to putting out food.  But again this depends on when you visit, I have visited after work on a weekday quite often and I have never found this an issue.
The deserts verge on party food, with free-for-all ice cream scoops and a random selection of fruit in bowls, cheesecake in bowls and Bakewell Tarts, you can create some bizarre final courses if you really put your mind to it.  Bakewell Tart on a bed of tinned fruit garnished with strawberry flavour ice-cream sauce anyone?

The Drinks

Reasonably priced, in fact compared to some places that I have dined in, you are paying LESS than you would in a pub for some items.  Last time I looked a pint of Carlsberg Export was £3.30 and a bottle of semi-decent wine was under a tenner.  This is actually a big positive, with some really competitively priced items on the drinks menu when compared to the way that Strada or ASK price their alcohol.

The Service

Have a gander at Trip Advisor and there are some reports of some quite bad service.  I have never found the service here to be awe-inspiring but they are generally polite and useful.
They are polite and friendly; I am not sure how good their English is but I have never found them to be particularly rude.  One thing that shocked me a bit on Trip Advisor was the report that a lady who had taken her severely autistic son to the restaurant who felt discriminated against as her son was ‘excitable’, as the waiter described him.  There doesn’t seem to be any disabled access to the upper floors either, which might pose a problem for wheelchair access.

The Parking

6 All Day has a rather unfortunate position in Exeter.  Palace Gate has limited parking on the road outside, and further up towards the Cathedral is clamper territory, having caught out many an unwise diner I expect.
The Quay multistory car park is at the bottom of the hill and the Corn Exchange car park is nearby too, but parking close to the restaurant is always a bit of a pain.  But this is just Exeter in general with the City Council‘s further attempts to make life painful for car owners.

The Atmosphere

The atmosphere isn’t bad, however as the policy of the restaurant is ‘bums on seats’ it can be quite noisy  especially when you get large hen parties or parties of teenagers on the upper floors.  As there is no partitioning, you are very exposed to hear and be heard whilst having a conversation.  This lack of privacy makes you think twice before telling your dining companions about that dream you had with the nun and the nylon rope.

Best times to visit? Between 5pm and 7pm on a weekday.  Worst time? Saturday/Sunday evenings.  They throw in a free soft drink if you visit before 5pm, but you can get away with having a glass of water with your meal if you’re counting pennies.

This sort of restaurant seems to attract lots of different sorts of people.  Teenagers, students, mums, dads, business men, contractors staying overnight, weirdos, OAPs and well, all sorts.  And yes, it can be a bit ‘chavvy’ at times but then so can Burger King or McDonalds or anywhere else that dishes out cheap grub.  The decor is a lot to be desired and I am sure that the tree growing out of the wall outside is going to cause a lot of damage eventually, but for functional food and a cheap value for money grub, it is very hard to beat.  Over the road in The White Hart, they are doing two meals for £10 but there is a limited choice.  Buffet City up the road in South Street is more expensive, similar concept but strange pricing structure.  Here you know that you are getting a meal for £6 whatever time of day.

The simplicity of the experience is quite satisfying, as you get what you pay for.    But then the dining experience is compromised by the decor, the noise and the atmosphere that can be hectic at times.  The food is often tasty, but can be inconsistent in quality if you go regularly.  It is either a very addictive place to come, or you hate it.



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