Fancy winning a Gourmandine Meal for Two? thanks to The Exeter Daily

The Exeter Daily is running a competition ūüôā Its a Facebook only comp,¬†and well worth a look.


Daily Chef, 3 Angel Terrace, Tiverton – Special Dispatch

Tiverton is not known for its Chinese Restaurants.  The only descent Chinese Restaurant in Tiverton is the Golden Panda I have been told.  Then there is The Orient and China Xpress on Distribution Road, and really the choice stops there.  We were coming back from a tiring day, and the best thing you can eat on a Saturday night after any tiring day is Chinese, it is THE law.  So here goes with my impressions on The Daily Chef on Angel Hill.

The Daily Chef External View

Chinese Take-Aways in the UK often have strange names, House of Wong, Fo Young, Golden Woo etc. but this one is very English. ¬†The name doesn’t make sense unless you take in to account the fact they’re open pretty much every day apart from Monday? So that isn’t really Daily…is it?

Get past the name and you have a pretty traditional Chinese.  A vast wall mounted menu, some fish in a tank, over-priced cans of drink and a 60p surcharge for any card transactions under 12GBP and some cheap chopsticks for sale in a plastic cup on sale behind the counter.

The Daily Chef doesn’t have a website or any sort of digital internet presence. ¬†This is highly unusual for any business in the UK at the moment, but they seem to get by with word-of-mouth and a bit of advertising. ¬†This is not a pretentious establishment, and for that it is endearing, it is what it is.


The prices are average ‘Chinese’ prices, anything between 3GBP and 6GBP, there is a set menu with four person menu hitting 38GBP and they do Chinese and English meals.

The greasy state of Chinese food in England is pretty legendary. ¬†And the food here doesn’t really go past that expectation. ¬†I went for two Pancake Rolls, Chicken in Water Chestnuts and some Egg Fried Rice.

The speed of the food was quite amazing (5 minutes!). ¬†I have been to some Chinese’s where you have to wait for up to 30 minutes for a ‘very busy chef’ to cook ¬†your food for you and then have it brought out in some greasy congealed half cold mess. ¬†This wasn’t. ¬†It was quick, it was hot and the service was very polite. ¬†No resentful crone sitting behind the counter with a face like a slapped trout, the young lady seemed to have a hold on what was happening, who was having what etc. ¬†It did give me confidence that this was going to be a good meal.

One thing about The Daily Chef which will make you overlook everything else, is the portion size. ¬†For what we paid, we felt satisfied. ¬†The prawn crackers cracked, the Pancake Rolls were a little small but still very nice and the Chicken and Water Chestnuts hit the mark three times over. ¬†This is definitely a place we will revisit ūüôā



No website or Twitter or anything Social or Digital…

Darkhorse Espresso, 135 Magdalen Road, Exeter

This isn’t a rated review as I was passing this funky little cafe and thought I would pop in and say hi.


Over the last ten years or so, St Leonards has become a desirable affluent part of Exeter that attracts money and prestige. ¬†Where the borders of St Leonards end and the beginning of other bits of Exeter lie is a bit of a mystery to me. ¬†It is the place of private schools, posh shops and Georgian terrace houses and green well-tended gardens. ¬†Cars are bigger this end of town, shops are tidier and don’t have 99p in the title, Tim Martin Lord of Wetherspoons lives down this way. ¬†Even the dog poo is rose scented.

It doesn’t get much of a look in on Eating Exeter, mostly because of the geographical alienation that exists in my life. ¬†It is a well known fact that I live in a bubble and the border to that bubble is just beyond ASK on Cathedral Green. ¬†So I was excited when I was able to escape albeit briefly.
And I was thrilled to be walking past this funky modern little cafe today on my way to the hospital. ¬†Creatively called Darkhorse Espresso, a newly opened cafe next door to St Margaret’s School sites at the top-end of Magdalen Road.

Exeter is fast filling up with cafe’s, places that sell tea and coffee are not exactly a novelty in Exeter. ¬†Which means that if you want to open a cafe and survive, you have to have something novel and engaging. ¬†So what is Darkhorse’s speciality? What makes them different?

They are an independent cafe! They serve Ozone coffee, the interior has to be one of the nicest I have been in for a long time.  The owners, Sarah and Neil, were a delight to chat to.  Sarah has a background in graphic design (hence the lovely designed interior) and their enthusiasm for coffee came across through just our brief chat.  The use of black, red and white made me all happy and gooey inside given this is my favourite combination of colours for anything really.

EE Recommends

The Toronto and San Francisco coffee scenes are famed worldwide, and it is easy to see where their inspiration lies. ¬†The unique metallic ceiling, imported from North America, is a unique design feature which is a rare sight on our shores or in our coffee shops. ¬†I really hope they think about hosting music events here, or even poetry nights (hint hint…). ¬†It has something very City Lights about the atmosphere, and I hope it will evolve into something special.

The coffee was, did I say?, lovely…

They do light cafe eats, gorgeous looking/sounding cakes, some to-die-for muffins that I was  able to sample (loved an unusual savory muffin with bacon in?) and the usual sorts of coffee styles, but always fresh Ozone coffee.  There is also a range of nice things to buy, such as posh tea and posh coffee.  I will be returning to sample their lemon drizzle cake as it sounds divine!

Darkhorse Espresso
135 Magdalen Road


T. 07825 397663

Twitter: @darkhorse135

Vote in the Express and Echo’s Best Pub Award!

Vote in the Express and Echo’s Best pub award!

“NOMINATIONS have now closed in the Echo‚Äôs first Pub of the Year competition ‚Äď with an impressive 61 in the running for the contest.

Voting from that list has now begun – below is the list of 61 that were nominated by our readers. To vote, simply type the number of the pub you wish to vote for at the bottom of this article in the comment box.”

I think this is a great idea. Please visit and vote.

Castlewood Vineyard Festival 2013

This weekend saw 500 revellers descend on the sleepy  Devon village of Musbury to celebrate a one-day festival with music, good food and a party atmosphere.  We were lucky to get our hands on some of these exclusive tickets, only 500 were issued!

Castlewood Vineyard is a ’boutique’ vineyard, planted on the sunny south facing slopes of Musbury Fort. ¬†It produces sparkling wine, from grape varieties including Germanic,¬†Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier varieties.

For more detailed information on what happens and that sort of thing, check out the website

On site food was catered for by Tierra Kitchen and The Pizza Dragon.  Amazing Pizzas, we found these guys at the Exeter Food Festival 2013 with their awesome portable pizza oven.
Otter Ales were also on hand with such lovely Ales as Otter Amber and Otter Bright.  Calvors English Lager company were also on hand with a portable draught machine and their lovely pints too.

Ruby Modern Diner, 74 Queen St

EE RecommendsBack in January, I was invited to attend the press night of a new restaurant in Queen St.  It was called Ruby Modern Diner and I was very excited.  I went away from the night with a great sense of anticipation at what I reckoned was going to be a fantastic restaurant.  So I jumped at the invitation to come down and sample some of their meaty delights!

Ruby Modern Diner has a distinct thread of the classic ‘American Diner‘ sewn together with a modern ‘London inspired’ eating experience. ¬†I added the London-inspired part, as the whole atmosphere makes you feel like a hip-young thing. ¬†The interior and the whole atmosphere made me feel fashionable just sitting there, waiting for my food. ¬†And that is quite an accomplishment as I have no fashion sense whatsoever.

This is my most anticipated review of the year, not just because I had said early on that I would give Ruby Burgers a few months to ‘bed-in’, as there is never much point giving an unbalanced review of a new restaurant as the chefs are still getting used to working together, service can be sketchy and I have always found the whole experience of dining in a freshly opened, just out of the box restaurant a little deflating at times. ¬†I loved the concept of a modern diner, and after nibbling some ‘Proper Chips’ as samples at the press night, I knew that this was going to be a culinary adventure, so I really wanted to give Ruby Burgers a fighting chance to prove what they were made of.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARuby Burgers is an independent restaurant.  Let me say that a bit louder.  Ruby Modern Diner is an independent restaurant.  It is ran by Erin Allgrove and Richard Harrison, who trade under the name of Modern Diners Ltd.

The name Ruby comes from the type of beef that goes into making their burgers.  Ruby Beef herds from Copplestone Barton Farm (which is less than 15 miles away) are used to create their in-house patties.  Using Locally sourced produce drives the ethos of Ruby Modern Diner, and this is evident in the taste alone!  Click the link to get an idea at how local the suppliers are.

The prevalence of clone restaurants like Zizzi’s and ASK etc in Exeter only goes to make this establishment standout like a glorious burger shaped beacon. ¬†So, I am sold on the concept and I am appreciating the way they use locally sourced ingredients. ¬†But was it any good? Was it something that Eating Exeter would recommend? Our mission tonight was to decide whether this was a place that we wanted to recommend on the blog.

In Ruby, the floor space is divided into two parts.  Self Service covers food that you can order at the bar which then appears at the kitchen window, and you pop over and collect it.  The other area is a Waited area which has service, orders taken at the table and food brought over to you.  There is an upstairs which is reserved  for larger parties and is bookable.
Unlike my experience at a smaller cafe, just up the road, this was delineated clearly with big signs and a big menu on the wall for people who didn’t have a clue like me.

Which still didn’t stop me from sitting down at the wrong table at first.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe ended up in one of the ultra comfortable booths in the end, with a decanter of water presented to us and just enough time for us to make our minds up about drinks.  Soft Drinks and Alcoholic or Hard Drinks as they are listed, are average restaurant prices, but one thing for me that did stand out was a curiously named Root Beer drink which upon further interrogation, we found out had to be imported directly from Australia!  This was as authentic as Root Beer got, as one of the ingredients had been made illegal in the US and the EU, I imagine this is how it used to taste.

Tori had a Coca-Cola, both were £2.50 and both arrived quickly (no waiting around wondering if we had been forgotten which so often happens).

Whilst slurping on our drinks we considered the menu, and what a menu it is. ¬†The prices are not excessive, and this is an important point to remember when you first eat here. ¬†We’re not talking budget food, its no All Day 6 but is cheaper than ASK. ¬†I don’t like burgers I hear you cry? They have other stuff too under ‘Other Mains’ which includes Pulled Pork In A Bun, Hot Salt Beef – The Reuben and the Superfood Salads. ¬†All of them at reasonable prices which, given the nature of the ingredients, is pretty good.

If you are looking for a massive variety of burgers, then you might be disappointed. ¬†OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe menu is not overbearing in choice (too much choice IS a bad thing), but balanced in variety. ¬† There are seven types of burger, starting at ¬£5.50 for the for Classic Burger and ending in The One which tops the scale at ¬£10.00 but then, that is the most expensive item (excluding the ‘Sliders’ at ¬£15) on the entire menu. ¬†Sides are separate, and there is an optional 10% service charge which is added to the bill at the end. ¬†Sides include Fries, Proper Chips and ‘Not Yo’ Mama’s Slaw’ (Coleslaw that is grated carrot and red cabbage in a punchy sauce).

So, ordering time. ¬†I ordered The One Burger (¬£10,¬†TWO hamburgers, double Hawkridge Mature Cheddar, double smoked streaky bacon, loads of RUBY sauce) with a side of Proper Chips and some ‘Slaw. ¬†Tori went for the Piggy Burger (¬£9¬†6 oz hamburger topped with shredded smoky pulled pork, apple BBQ sauce) and Fries.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have a bad habit of timing how long our food takes to get to the table from placing the order, this is something that I started doing after we went in to Sainsbury’s Cafe for a fry up and they forgot us. ¬†It is always interesting though, because I worry a little bit if food doesn’t take a bit of time. ¬†The food arrived promptly and was presented on white tin enamel plates, The One burger was the largest burger I had personally ever been presented with.


Proper Chips come in a big tin enamel bowl, enough to feed at least two people who have just ran the entire length of the High St dressed in full combat gear, both pulling buses. ¬†So of course, I felt I had to do just that! ¬†The size of the meal so far, plus with a generous portion of ‘Not Ya Mama Slaw’ meant we had a proper feast on our hands.

The superior taste of Ruby beef is apparent in Ruby’s Burgers, with a richness which doesn’t really get any better. ¬†The quote of the evening ¬†was from Tori, and it was ‘this is the best burger I have ever had’. ¬†In fact I could end the review there, but I have much more to say. ¬†The burgers were cooked medium by standard but you can have them cooked your way should you request it.

My burger was so large, and it had so much Ruby Sauce, eating it the traditional way would have meant that I would lose all dignity very quickly in the messiest way possible.
Eventually I dissected it and ate it with manners and cutlery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADespite my best efforts, I was sadly defeated for the first time in a very long time. But it was so nice, so well cooked and put together, it was a worthy opponent.   Tori being the gannett she was finished it off for me despite wolfing down her Piggy burger (shown left).

There are things on the Ruby Burgers menu that I haven’t tried and really wanted to. ¬†The ‘Five Dollar’ Shakes, The Hard Shakes (in particular The Peanut Butter Wolf), The Breakfast Menu, Pulled Pork In A Bun being a few that I salivated over whilst examining the menu. ¬†But that just means that I will have to go back and try them.

I like to write positive things about places that I visit because the places I visit tend to deserve them. ¬† But some places I visit, I really have to hunt for positive things to say and I have to, as a reviewer, be balanced with my criticism or feedback. ¬†Ruby Modern Diner have not put a foot wrong, my only thing that I had to mention was that the ‘Slaw was quite mustardy and not to everyone’s taste, but hell, its not Your Mama’s ‘Slaw…hence the name. ¬†I believe they deserve all the positive reviews they get.

For what you get, it is good value and it is genuinely good food.  Locally sourced, well cooked burgers that make a really great dining experience.  A glorious independent beacon in a city full of clone copies, this is a restaurant that is worth supporting and visiting if you can.

01392 436168
74 Queen St, Exeter, EX4 3RX

Ruby Modern Diner on Urbanspoon