Set in the magnificent surroundings of the old Dean Clarke Hospital’s Halford Wing in Southernhay, The Cosy Club opened last year (April 2013) to what seemed to be a quiet fanfare. Ever since it opened, I have heard rumours of the amazing interior, walls adorned and festooned with bits and pieces, and some absolute killer cocktails. Unfortunately, it being a school night and all, I wasn’t able to take advantage of the cocktails but I was able to see what it had to offer in terms of food. Word of mouth had said that the food was good, in fact I have never heard anything bad about it amongst my foody friends. Trip Advisor gave a spectrum of reviews as ever, mostly glowing but some not.
Entering through what had been the chapel entrance of the old hospital, you are presented with one of more unique bar designs in Exeter. Lofty ceilings with walls adorned with large pictures, the bar area is filled with natural light during the day and fends off any feeling of claustrophobia during the busiest evenings. Through to the dining area, the clusters of lampshades and the reclaimed lights from the hangar that housed Concorde, cast a yellowy glow across the tables. Two painting that stuck in my mind was the full length portrait of Lenin and another called Lenin’s Plans for Electrification by L. Shmatko, which dominate the walls they sit on. There is also a bookable room called The Snug which I wasn’t able to visit, but I will save this for another day. The interior is a fantastic cavalcade of stuff, it is interesting without being cluttered. Varied, yet sticking to distinct style and variety.
There were about eight of us, so the staff were going to have their work cut out. I know its not really a ‘fair review’ given some places I have reviewed just on my own, but my lasting impression of the service at The Cosy Club was that they could handle big parties. This was a place that says, “yes, bring your birthday parties and leaving dos to us as we can handle a party large than six!”. This is demonstrated in the fact that they were happy for us to pay separately which is great when its a large party of work colleagues. The service throughout our visit could not be flawed, and our waitress Abi was absolutely brilliant. The thing that stuck in my head was the timing and the friendliness of all of the staff that we spoke to, and at no time were we made to feel harassed for a quick decision on our choices or neglected.
So. Lets talk food. The menu is varied yet still manages a degree of safety. Burgers feature on the menu like many places do these days, but also things like Beer battered Cornish pollock, Duck shepherd’s pie and Thai beef salad. Nothing weird or off-putting. The prices reflect the fact that this is a restaurant in Southernhay, although not bank busting for the average diner we’re not talking Wetherspoons or Hungry Horse prices.
I had the ‘Hero Hamburger’ which had consisted of a “6oz hamburger, chorizo, mature cheddar, fried red onions, chimichurri (Chimichurri or chimmichurri is a green sauce used for grilled meat, originally from Argentina. Thanks Wikipedia), chipotle mayo and marinated chilli served with skin-on fries”. The skin-on Fries were frankly delicious and some of the nicest fries I have had since Ruby Modern Diner’s ‘Double Fried Fries’, but there was just simply not enough of them in my opinion. I felt a pang of disappointment when I had finished them all, and after trying to steal my wife’s fries unsucessfully I accepted defeat. More chips Cosy Club, more chips!
The taste made up for it as expected, with a distinctively fine burger which would give a few places in Exeter a run for its money on, it took me a long time to devour the dense beef patty which was something I would be having again in a flash. At £9.25 for the fries and burger, it was worth it when compared to other places that do burgers in Exeter, and with a pint of Copper Glow (one of the guest Ales) I was happy. Unfortunately I wasn’t up for a pudding, but I was happy to have a small pot of tea (which was brilliant value at £1.75 for a big-assed pot of Clipper tea). I know that in journalistic terms ‘big-assed’ isn’t really a term one should use but I had to ask the chap who brought it out if it was actually a small pot and it was. And I was happy.
The service throughout was excellent (big kudos to Abi for dealing with us so professionally) and I have to conclude that although I moaned about the portion size of the fries, I would be happy to recommend this place to anyone who wanted to go somewhere special, different and safe in the knowledge that they could cope with a larger gathering of people. Is it kid friendly? I wouldn’t think twice of bringing a sprog with me, they have a kids menu and the many different things in view is ammunition enough to keep them entertained. Given the presence of a Vegan and Gluten free menu too, I would be more than happy knowing that they could cope with nearly any demand that was thrown their way and that they would be more than happy to accomodate.
The Cosy Club
Halford Wing, Dean Clarke House
1 Southernhay Gardens
Devon, EX1 1SG