Report – Otter Valley Dairy: Tasting event at Ruby Modern Diner

A few weeks ago, Erin from Ruby pinged me an email to let me know about this awesome event that was taking place at Ruby Modern Diner in conjunction with Otter Valley Dairy.  To celebrate the fact that Ruby were now serving Otter Valley Dairy ice cream, they were giving away free samples to those lucky enough to either pass the door or hear about the event beforehand.

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Not only as I excited about the prospect of free ice cream but I was chuffed to hear that this was multiple award winning ice cream, in fact it was also listed in The Telegraph as possibly one of the best ice creams in the UK.  Free.

So not only did I go and get my taster(s) but I also bought a big ol’ cone of the stuff as well.

I met Rebecca from Otter Valley Dairy who told me about the fact that the ice cream is made in micro-batches and also the method that they use means that it is super-dense and really smooth (the proof was definitely in the eating with that one).  Did you know, for instance, that large commercial producers mix more air in to their ice-cream? I didn’t know this and I was delighted to hear that Otter Valley use a method that keeps the density and creaminess.  The milk comes from their own cows grazing happily on the Otter Valley in the Blackdown Hills, and Ruby Modern Diner is one of the only big places that Otter Valley supply.

I managed to drag in two work colleagues and my wife (who also counts as a work colleague) to taste the gorgeously smooth offerings. And they all agreed that that was the nicest ice cream they had eaten this side of summer.

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Flavour of the day? Had to be Banoffee Pie for me.  The tubs were all presented so nicely and I can’t wait to travel over to Monkton to pay them a visit in the near future 🙂  

http://www.ottervalleydairy.co.uk

Read the Eating Exeter review of Ruby Modern Diner here

 

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29th July: Tasting event at Ruby Modern Diner with Otter Valley Dairy!

To celebrate the start of the Summer Holidays RUBY Modern Diner and Otter Valley Dairy have teamed up to offer a one day tasting event.

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From 10am on Monday 29th July at RUBY Modern Diner on Queen Street, customers will be able to try the delicious range of Otter Valley Ice Cream for FREE!

Erin Allgrove, Managing Director at RUBY Modern Diner said:

“Otter Valley ice cream is the perfect treat on a hot Summers day. We are proud to be the only restaurant in Exeter offering Otter Valley ice-cream, we use it in our milkshakes, sundaes and it’s the perfect compliment to our buttermilk waffles.”

RUBY brings a modern twist to the roots of the American diner, serving fast food prepared with the finest, fresh local ingredients.

The RUBY menu features smoky pulled pork, hot salt beef, real hamburgers, homemade waffles and fresh bagels. Local suppliers feature heavily and include Emma’s Bread at the Real Food Store, Copplestone Barton Farm, Hawkridge Dairy, Sandford Orchards and Flat Cap Beers in Cornwall.

Otter Valley Dairy produces the highest quality, handmade, luxurious gelato ice cream at Aplins Farm near Honiton. Using milk from their own dairy herd, four generations of the same family work together to create and deliver luxurious farmhouse ice cream at its very best.

Otter Valley has won numerous awards – the most recent include:

Taste of the West Ice Cream Champion 2011 & 2012

Devon County Supreme Ice Cream Champion 2012 & 2013

For more information and images please contact Erin Allgrove:

Email: info@rubyburgers.com Phone: 07528 848382

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Sanremo UK Ltd: How they test their coffee machines

Posted on wrong blog again. Sigh. Very funny video though…

Holsworthy Ales Open Nights: Beer n Bangers! next one 27th July!

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Edited copy of Image:The Brewer designed and engraved in the Sixteenth. Century by J Amman.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If anyone fancies a trip to the distant hills of Holsworthy, then this might be worth the trek!

HOLSWORTHY ALES and Beer Hill House are holding seven open brewery nights between April and October 2013 on

  • Saturday 27th April
  • Saturday 25th May
  • Saturday 22nd June
  • Saturday 27th July
  • Saturday 31st August
  • Saturday 28th September
  • Saturday 26th October

Come and taste the beer and have a look around the brewery – we’ll be open from 6.30 – 9.30pm. You can find us at the Circuit Business Park on the North Tamerton to Clawton road. Click here for a map to get directions.

And don’t forget, members and up to two of their guests are entitled to free draught beer at two of our open brewery evenings per year.

Also available are tasty sausages, bacon or burgers in rolls, BBQ’d for you by Pete and Sally from their ownBeer Hill House free range pigs.

http://www.holsworthyales.co.uk/Events.aspx

Best In-Store Cafe: Waitrose Ltd., Gladstone Road, Exeter

I am sad to declare that Marks and Spencer‘s have lost their ‘best in-store cafe in Exeter‘ title that I gave them years ago.  It has been well and truly beaten by Waitrose in Gladstone Road.  Apologies for the bad photos, camera fail.

Everytime I go food shopping, I spend most of my time moaning.  First off about the prices about things that were at one point, really cheap.  Secondly I normally moan about the fact I need a cup of tea and that the fact we are food shopping is in some way, nullifying my human rights.  I generally like food shopping compared to clothes shopping for my long-suffering wife or clothes shopping for myself.

In-store cafe’s are there to make the shopping process much easier.  They are there to serve two purposes.  Firstly, to give you something to look forward to after the ordeal of lugging your items around the shop, and secondly they exist to promote the foodstuffs that can be bought in the shop.  Many stores achieve this with a greater or lesser degree of success.  Notable bad experiences was going in to the Sainsbury’s In-Store Cafe in Pinhoe Road and waiting half an hour for my English Breakfast only to be told we had been forgotten about.  This normally would not have been an issue but it was the morning of my wedding, so I was already pretty nervous.

In previous ramblings on this website or another, I have written about Marks and Spencer’s cafe in the High St.  Which is generally very nice with good views over the street below.  In my mind, it has been the nicest In-Store cafe as the coffee is nice and generally the experience has always been a good one.  But, the crown has been taken away, only to be replaced by that of Waitrose’s In-Store cafe in Gladstone Road.

Less busy than John Lewis‘s cafe, the whole experience is something I am yet to experience in Exeter, apart from visiting one of the lovely indie cafes (Cafe@36, Devon Coffee), it’d be hard to get this good from an In-Store cafe.

The subtle interior decorating is a little like getting your coffee from an interior design department, the prices are very reasonable for what/where it is and the cakes & general ‘cafe fare’ has been delicious each time we’ve had something.  Yesterday we were partial to share a piece of ‘Dark and Light’ Baked Cheesecake for £2.75 which was mindblowingly lovely.  The service is always friendly, professional and quick, and the teapots (as pictured are awesome).
Now here is the best part.  Become a Waitrose member, which is free, and you can receive a free cup of tea or coffee a day.  And spend over a fiver in the shop generally and you get a free paper too.

The view isn’t as nice as Marks & Spencer’s, but you get to sit outside and watch people drive in to each other in the car park.  Sometimes the comfy chairs are free, but only sometimes.

You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer place to recover from the ordeal or shopping.  But Eating Exeter is always up for suggestions.  Leave a comment below and we’ll investigate your favourite ‘In-Store’ cafe’s to see if they match up!

The Ash Restaurant, Inverness: A lesson in online reputation management?

20th July 2013 – Scroll down for an update.

Willie has Down Syndrome. He likes fish fingers and he can only manage small portions, so tends to have kids meals when he eats out. Alledgedly the Ash Restaurant didn’t want to serve Willie his fish fingers and now this act of supposed blatent discrimination is now the fuel for a social media sh1tstorm that has massacred the Ash Restaurant’s reputation on TripAdvisor and, who can tell how this will effect its future? This one bad incident might have cost the Ash Restaurant more than just its future?

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Image via CrunchBase

The Ash Restaurant describes itself on Trip Advisor as ” a lively bistro and bar within the stately Royal Highland Hotel. The pale green walls and gilt-framed oil paintings of the Victorian dining room are freshened by tartan table runners and bright flowers, creating a bright contemporary elegance.” It seems by anyone’s standards to be quite a nice place. Have a rummage through TA and there are quite a few differing experiences without the discrimination related comments. But I felt compelled to write about this incident because it is a lesson as to the power of social networking, and why it is good to be savvy.

The Ash Restaurant saga was first brought to my attention on Facebook when I saw a picture of a very happy looking Down’s Syndrome chap on a bouncy red springy playground insect thing, and my first thought was less what the post was about, but because he looked so happy. I came back to the post later, and read through and realised that this happy looking chap was very much the instrument of anger, a pawn in a fight for justice and a reminder that bad things still happen in restaurants. The Sun is reporting the story tomorrow and it appears that the Regional Manager for the hotel chain has been on television to answer for the misgivings of the staff involved in the incident and he issued an apology (not for the discrimination though) on the Royal Highland Hotel’s Facebook page

But what exactly happened? Well here is the post.

“Today for lunch we went to ASH RESTAURANT INVERNESS beside the train station during our holidays & as soon we went in the door the staff were giving us dirty looks and tried to put us off by saying that it would be a 20minuet wait for food even though the place was dead! We were obviously not there clientele little did we know it was because of my Down syndrome uncle!! We never got offered drinks and after 10 – 15mins someone finally came over to take our order, we order for my uncle willie (in the picture) fish fingers off the kids menu as that’s all he can eat is small portions and every where we go he has always had it! But they then turned round and said no he can not have that then for a supervisor to come over to say they CAN NOT SERVE MY UNCLE TODAY. This is clear DISCRIMINATION and I want to make every one knows what a horrible place that is. That staff were rude from the word go! We made our opinion clear to the staff as we walked out. Noone should be told what they can and can’t eat especially when it’s a treat for them. Please LIKE AND SHARE so that everyone can hear what this “award winning restaurant” is really like!”

The whole thing is a testament to what people believe on Facebook. And as a restaurant owner, your reputation is the most precious thing. Something like this would be a nightmare for anyone whose business relied on people thinking ‘nice things’. No matter how much of this was truthful, it is up to the owners to react in the right way.

The family cannot be helped in reacting the way they did.  Willie is clearly a loved and cherished member of their family.  Their anger is natural, and the desire for justice (like any diner’s) is one that you, as the manager, would have to live up to or negotiate.  The hotel have offered an apology, but what else are they going to do?  They don’t have a Twitter account or a Facebook account, so immediately life is made harder by not being able to publicly tackle any bad press.  But given the voluminous extent of the feedback, should you even try?

Take a trip through Twitter and see what sort of things people are saying, could you react to each and every one?

“Absolute disgrace. ASH RESTAURANT INVERNESS refused to serve a family because the uncle has Down’s Syndrome. My… http://fb.me/2Tq9eJkUo”

“ASH RESTAURANT INVERNESS you ought tobe ashamed of yourselfs discrimination of disabled person is disgusting”

“ASH RESTAURANT in Inverness. An apology needed. Shame on you! http://fb.me/AO2bMhna”

Social Media is a very powerful tool. Piss off a punter in this day and age, and the perfect storm can bring your bad service/bad food/casual Disability Discrimination to the attention of the national media.

So what should the Ash Restaurant do now?

Jon Barker over at JoinedUpNetworking has this really good advice for saving your online reputation.

“Be listening: Set up relevant searches for your brand on Twitter, and Google alerts, watch out for anything potentially damaging online. This allows you to manage your reputation, even if you’re not otherwise active on Social Media.

Deal with it, quickly: If you discover something negative don’t avoid dealing with it! If you do, people will assume you’re guilty! Address the issue publicly; show you’re interested, listening and that you care.

Accept responsibility: If it’s your fault, own up! The best of us can make mistakes once in a while. Shows you’re human and more importantly that client satisfaction is important to you. Have you ever been unhappy with service you were given? I suspect non acceptance, a defensive attitude or being secretive would have made it worse.

Apologise: A genuine apology makes the world of difference. No excuses; thank them for bringing it to your attention. Show the world that you want to make things right. Solve the Problem and get offline: If it’s easily resolved, offer the resolution and say you will call them. If you can’t solve it easily, make a clear public statement that you want to call them to solve the issue. Reaching out and attempting to make things right gets noticed by others who are watching the exchange. Once it is offline then deal with it properly and fully, as I’m sure you would do normally. –

I am going to be interested in seeing how the Ash Restaurant deals with the storm that has brewed around Willie and his Fish Fingers. The next week or so will be crucial to how they deal with the bad press, and what they offer to do to repay their mistake, if they have actually done anything wrong in the first place.

The punter has more power now in the form of Trip Advisor and other online forums not to mention Twitter and Facebook, and it is now harder than ever for the concerned restaurant owner to stay on top of all of the comments from all avenues. Not everyone believes everything they read, but enough people do for social media not to be ignored or underused.  The case here is a lesson though, that the mob will punish you if you make a massive cock-up as The Ash Restaurant did. The important part is how to deal with it and recover from it.

Social Media Alba has this excellent advice for any business.

“Our advice for any company using Social Media is that they should have a Social Media strategy in place, and they should have a policy in place which guides them in addressing how the organisation and its staff uses Social Media.

Failure to have a strategy in place can result in bad public relations. A good strategy and relevant policies can help limit any potential damage.”

Update – 20th July 2013

It appears that Trip Advisor have either been asked, or have noticed that there are a large volume of reviews about this incident and have removed it them.  This is interesting because it gives us a more ‘accurate’ picture of what the Ash Restaurant is like (69 Terrible Reviews versus 26 Excellent Reviews).  Ultimately Trip Advisor gives a ballpark view about any eating place.  But head over to Google Reviews and low and behold the vocal anger of Willy’s case are still in plain view.  Will Google remove them? Will they remove if asked? Who knows. .

Brody’s Breakfast Bistro, Queen Street.

EDIT: 1st July 2014

Check www.brodysbistro.com for updated cheaper prices…

EE RecommendsI always worry that Eating Exeter gets a bit unbalanced towards my end of Exeter.  But the urge to write about Brody’s has been with me for months now, ever since I saw the poster and put a post on Eating Exeter counting down the days till it opened, it has been the most popular post on this blog.  Everyone wants to know about Brody’s!  Given this, I broke my ‘three month rule’ and came a bit earlier then I thought I might do.

It used to be, years ago, an arcade.  Lines of fruit machines lined the walls with lots of unconvincing prizes in the window.  Then it closed and turned quite rapidly in to a Starbucks.  For a couple of years, this Starbucks made the coffee life in Queen St. an interesting one, torn between corporate goodness and independent niceness.  But then, mysteriously it closed.  And for a while, it laid unoccupied and unloved.  Until a few months ago when it started the transformation in to a unique addition to the Exeter food scene.

Bouncing off the success of their Torquay restaurant, the owners have decided that expansion in to virgin territory is the way to go. An independent business, this breakfast bistro is a welcome addition to the dining life of Queen Street.

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I couldn’t help but ask the question though.  Is it actually any good? Is it worth the price? Because the first thing you notice on the large boards in the window, is the price.  Before we start picking at this, remember, it is unlimited.  The more you eat, the better value it will be.

Readers will know that I quite like buffet style eating.  You can eat as much or as little as you like, you can create combinations and tastes that you would not have been able to achieve with a set menu.  Your freedom goes beyond conventional dining, you are given buffet aided wings to have whatever the fark your heart desires.  Is it really mass catering, catering for the masses though?

Brody’s doesn’t feel like that, although it is a buffet it isn’t all about food being kept hot under a warm lamp or a hot cabinet, this really feels more like a cafe than a buffet restaurant.

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The young man behind the counter greeted us warmly, his mid-western American accent was a welcoming one.  You pay before you eat here, which makes sense but I would be interested to see how they deal with complaints.  He explained the set-up and off you go.

Pricing is pretty easy, you have five options.  Starting at £2.99 for unlimited toast and cereal, you can move up to have a Pancake Breakfast which is £6.49 right up to The Legendary Breakfast which is £9.99, which gives you free reign to have whatever you want.  The English Breakfast is £7.49 which consists of an unlimited English Breakfast, and then unlimited drinks which are £2.49 or there abouts.  Brody’s has a Facebook Page but no website as such? The menu on the Facebook page doesn’t tally with what the prices were in the Queen Street bistro which is quite confusing.

I had the unlimited English Breakfast and Tori had the Pancake Breakfast, as she wanted to see how authentic they were to the genuine American article.

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The quality of the English Breakfast was really good, even for a buffet style arrangement.  Chefs busy cooking things behind the hot counter, make sure that there is always freshly cooked items on the go.  Never at any point did I find that something had ran out, the staff here seem pretty on-the-ball and very friendly!
Locally sourced where possible, and very tasty.  The chef behind the counter struck up conversation, he seemed amiable and we had a short but pleasant exchange.  I piled up my plate and toddled back to my stool.  There was quite an impressive range of items to have with the English Breakfast.  Fried Eggs (that were not hard, but done exactly how I liked them), Black Pudding, Hash Browns, Mushrooms, Baked Beaks, Sausages, Bacon etc.  Plus you can have your DIY Toast too.  The different sorts of breads seemed quite impressive, ranging from tiger loaf to bog-standard wholemeal.

Tori went for the Pancake Breakfast.  This was a pleasant surprise, given she came with high standards in mind.  They were, according to her, the most ‘authentic pancakes outside of the US’ that she had tasted.  The Pancake Breakfast is a great idea, but my one criticism would be that the Pancake machine most probably needed to be faster, or another one provided as it was very slow.  And on occasion, it would seem to produce mini pancakes for no apparent reason (not a reason that we could work out anyway).

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The range of sauces that you could use with your pancakes was to be commended.  You could have them with pretty much anything, Nutella, Maple Syrup, the list goes on.

The unlimited drinks option was also something which was worth writing home about too, they have Energy Drink and Vimto on tap, not to mention the other favourites.  Downside was that the Orange Juice wasn’t fresh, it was some sort of concentrated concoction which was a tad disappointing.  But they had PG Tips and Yorkshire Tea, I ended up having three cups in the end.

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Past the niggly things, like the orange juice, this is a great place and is somewhere I’ll be visiting again and recommending too.  But not to those people with small appetites or with personal space issues.  Given the seating is arranged ala ‘Wagamama’ where you are forced to eat with strangers if its really busy.  Some people like this, but I have to say I am far too English for such things 🙂

I got my money’s worth.  But only after feeding myself like a bucket monster.  If you want an English Breakfast and you have a small appetite for instance, then you might be disappointed given there are cheaper places to go for the same thing, however, less choice. It is a balance that is hard to strike, especially if it is an ‘unlimited’ business model.  How can you afford to maintain a profitable business by underselling yourself? You can’t.  But, if you need your fill, then this is the definitely the place.

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The service was incredibly friendly (I can’t say that enough), and although they don’t have free wifi (and have no plans to get it by the sounds of it) it is a good place to meet friends for coffee or for some people watching.  However, the seating is not designed with personal space in mind, and if you have problems with sitting on high fixed stools, you might have issue with the majority of the seating as well as there was only one bank of seats at a standard level.  I am wondering how they would cater for wheelchair bound or those of limited mobility.

To conclude.  Great food, alright value given the fixed price and buffet arrangement, awesome service but intimate seating arrangements.  This Bistro would be a brilliant venue for a post night-out review or some serious eating. Just make sure you’re very hungry when you visit to get the best out of your experience.

Killerton Kitchen Restaurant, Broadclyst, Exeter (5/5)

It isn’t often that I leave a restaurant, tea-room or any other place that serves cream teas saying how nice the scones were.  In my life, I have spent a happy 32 years in Devon and despite this my exposure to Cream Teas (Cream first…) has been quite minimal.  But Killerton Kitchen, a small tea-room/cafe that sits at the back of Killerton House nr Broadclyst, sits in my head as the place to head for a cream tea in Devon.  Best Cream Tea in Devon? Possibly, but it’d be interesting to find out from my dear readers to see if anyone else has had a better cream tea!

The afternoon was baking, the beautiful gardens surrounding this lovely house seemed to beam with colour and scent.  My grandfather is 90, and like the Queen he has two birthdays, a normal birthday which was back at the beginning of June and his ‘official’ birthday which is around this time.  We celebrated it last year coming to Killerton on a similiar outing which I wrote about somewhere, but I thought this deserves a proper write up.

Killerton Kitchen is a relatively new venture.  OK, so it might not be that new but to someone who sporadically visits Killerton to enjoy the immense fertile growth and verdant surroundings of this unique little volcanic outcrop, I have to say that they have done the whole destination coffee shop really well.  It is modern, well priced and set in beautiful surroundings.

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A party of 12 people descended on this relatively medium sized establishment.  Richard the Catering Supervisor made us all feel welcome and did his best to cater for our many demands.  Best demand was my aunt who wanted Beans on Toast. We had a Cream Tea for 12, various sandwiches, tea, coffee, drinks, and we took up half the largest room of the cafe.  At no point did they break a sweat or roll their eyes.

The scones were a mixture of normal and fruit.  They were freshly baked and tasted amazing.  A perfect scone should be able to break in the middle, each one I had broke in to a fluffy mass of niceness and clouds.

I have developed a style of taking photos of food halfway through eating them.  So not to disappoint regular readers, here it is, Half Eaten Cream Tea.  There was plenty of Jam and Cream, and the usual debate as to which goes first.

They have lots of cake, and light bites.  Tea, coffee, cold drinks. All sold within the house itself on the original slab floor.  The decor has always been ‘modern’ with a sense of retro forethought.  This unique styling means that the whole cafe feels like a photo shoot for some sort of popular modern interior magazine, to some it might be offensive and to others it might be stylish and tasteful.

After Katy and Fergus had run around in circles enough to tire them out, it was time to go.  We all left in a happy haze of contentment, safe in the knowledge we would be back.