Its that time of year when, depending on where you work, the collective decision about where to host the Christmas meal falls on some unlucky sod. Often the decision is one that you have to choose carefully, especially if there is much disagreement about where the best place to host. Some want quality food, and others want a cheaper option which might skip the quality for quantity.
This year it was the turn of On The Waterfront, who got the royal Eating Exeter Christmas visit. On The Waterfront is a gastro-pub on the historic Quayside which has a sister pub in the form of John Gandy’s in the city. Unfortunately I couldn’t take any photos because it was too dark for my camera, mood lighting has a lot to answer for sometimes! The Christmas menu can be found here on their website. Two courses for £19.95 and three courses for £23.95, minus the deposit of £5.
On The Waterfront used to be renowned for their ‘Dustbin Lid pizzas back in the day. The decor was varied, with lots of ‘old stuff’ dotted about the roof and on various shelves and cravices. Dug in to the side of the cliff, the interior was a warehouse that served the wollen industry of Exeter when the Quayside was an active port.
Now, it serves the diners and drinkers of Exeter in serving a varied menu of home-made pizzas, gourmet burgers and the usual gastro pub offerings. On The Waterfront of today is a modern, sleak affair with mood lighting and lots tables. A few sofa’s here and there, a generally pleasant place to be when its not overly busy.
When we had been presented with the Christmas Menu, it was like most Christmas menu’s; peppered with seasonal vegetables and smaller compared to the larger main restaurant menu (as they generally are, obvious really). I moaned about this to my colleague who was organising it as I don’t like roasts generally. Given this, they allowed a small portion of our party to choose some items from the main menu. This was something I was quite glad about given the portion sizes that came out for my fellow diners. Although tasty, the amount of food on the plate was somewhat underwhelming and the seasonal vegetables were somewhat skimped on with one bowl of sprouts for a party of 8. Extra gravy? Didn’t appear to be any, just the splat that was added on the mains.
My ‘Mama Meata’ pizza was exceptionally tasty though. Beautiful crisp base and a whole load of really nice meats in the topping left me with the distinct impression that I would definitely be coming back to On The Waterfront for the pizza. But not for the Christmas Menu. In Exeter, On The Waterfront remains the place to go if you want a very special pizza, but the two/three course modestly portioned Christmas Menu was surprising. The service was flawless throughout our experience and the bar lady must be given credit for giving me a glass of water after she had shut the bar down.
So here is the argument. Why should you start presenting diners with large amounts of food if your focus is on quality?. The meat part of the Christmas Menu was tasty enough, did we really need more gravy? There is always the need to cater for individual tastes, and some in our party were happy enough with just the gravy that they got. Had we a similar meal in a ‘proper pub’, we might be presented with more in quantity but would it really have tasted as nice? Maybe not.
I am holding off giving On The Waterfront a rating on this experience because I knew had I been there to have a pizza, it would have been a great experience. So next time I visit, I am having a MASSIVE pizza and lots of beer.