Vote for Eating Exeter in the Food Magazine Awards 2016

EDIT: Link wasn’t working, but now it is! Please vote for Eating Exeter at the bottom of the page.

My good blogger mate Marcus from the countrywoodsmoke blog has just informed me that Eating Exeter has reached the finals of the Food Magazine Reader’s Awards 2016.


For, what I consider, a small blog written by my mortal fingers this is a massive achievement and if you did happen to nominate Eating Exeter, then a massive whole hearted THANK YOU.

Although I am not expecting to win, it would be an amazing experience to come close to second or third.  So please, go forth and vote for Eating Exeter and The Salutation Inn. And The Real Food Store. And if you don’t like Eating Exeter that much then please consider voting for Marcus’s meaty blog which is awesome.

So click the link below. Send it to your friends. Send it your colleagues. Send it to your book group. Send it to your tennis partners. Send it to their families and spread chance to vote for Eating Exeter 🙂 🙂


Eating Exeter Update (November-ish)

Life has somewhat got in the way recently.  Lack of money, lack of time and definitely a lack of energy has meant that EE had to be put on the back burner for a couple of weeks whilst I recharged my batteries, consumed Burger King Burgers and other assorted things that foodies just should not do.  We’re not really meant to admit it either… *hangs head in shame*

Next week I’m visiting Gus at Taco-Macho in Fore St. He’s been really keen for me to visit, so I’m going down to see what he does and see how awesome his food is for myself.  I’ve heard good things on the grapevine and have been meaning to visit for sometime.

Taco Macho

On Thursday we’ve got a meal at Orestone Manor in Torquay, a historical Hotel and Restaurant known for its prestige and heritage which I am very much looking forward to.

There are more things in the pipeline too, but can’t say too much at the moment.  Don’t forget to check out The Complete Dining Club for exclusive member offers.  Fancy being a member? Click the link on the right hand side and purchase a membership! ->

Food Magazine is also calling for nominations for their Food Reader’s Awards.  If you put down Eating Exeter for Best Food Blog, I wouldn’t be offended! But you only have this weekend to get your nominations in. Do it!! 

I am looking for recommendations for product reviews as well. If anyone has a particular local product you reckon should be reviewed on here, please send me an email via the contact page.




Grillstock to open in Exeter

The Dining Quarter is going to be one of the biggest things to hit Exeter next year, and one of the names that is coming is getting me very excited.  For the dedicated meat-heads amongst you, this is a definite bonus… scroll down for professional photographs and the press release!

Aviva Investors, the global asset management business of Aviva plc (‘Aviva’) announced today (18 November 2015) that American BBQ smokehouse, Grillstock will be the fifth restaurant to join Exeter’s exciting new Queen St dining quarter.

Grillstock signed contracts with Aviva Investors last week for their smokehouse restaurant which will face the newly remodeled Market Square, which with its amphitheatre-style seating areas, is set to become one of the main focus points of the whole £12m redevelopment.

Described as ‘meat, music and mayhem’, Grillstock began as an open air festival held in Bristol in 2010 which was so popular the founders quickly opened their first year-round smokehouse. Born out of a deep love for American BBQ and the culture that surrounds it. The Grillstock concept is simple, Southern style hospitality, ‘cooking meat with fire and smoke, all getting together around a big table with family and friends, kicking back to great music’.

Simon Green, Associate Director of Aviva Investors said: “Aviva Investors are delighted to announce that Grillstock will be coming to Exeter’s Queen St Dining. Their hugely popular smokehouses are lively and welcoming and provide an new ingredient in the mix of restaurants we have revealed to date. Work is really progressing well on the Queen St project and in addition to signing up tenants, we will shortly be announcing our plans for re-opening parts of the public realm, allowing shoppers to explore some of the newly re-modelled spaces in the lead up to the busy Christmas period, and get a glimpse of what is still to come.”

Jon Finch, Grillstock, Managing Director added: “We can’t wait to bring our Southern style hospitality to Queen St Dining. Grillstock will be cooking up a storm for Devon diners and visitors to Exeter from all over the world. Our smokehouse in Market Square will provide the perfect location for BBQ fans to appreciate our distinctive offering of authentic recipes, US beers and our relaxed, communal dining experience.” Grillstock currently has six smokehouses across the UK (Bath, Walthamstow, Leicester, Liverpool and two in Bristol), and hold annual open air live events in Bristol, Manchester and London. Like their sister restaurants, Exeter’s Grillstock will be taking ‘big hunks of meat and smoke them low ‘n’ slow fresh on site every day’.

When fully open, Exeter’s Queen St Dining will have eight restaurants in total along with wonderful new open air spaces designed especially for food events, markets and entertainment. Turtle Bay, The Stable, Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) and The Terrace have all been announced to date, with the remaining three restaurants to be named by Aviva in the coming months.

The Queen St project is seeing the Guildhall Shopping Centre’s neo-classical façade on Queen Street transformed, a new entrance from the high street is underway and the three public spaces within the centre itself are being re-invented: Market Square, bordered by amphitheatre-style seating areas, St Pancras Square overlooking the beautiful 13th-Century St Pancras Church and Goldsmith Square, making them all more welcoming and attractive to shoppers and diners alike. For further information about Grillstock visit for more information about the Queen St redevelopment, please visit:

UK BBQ Magazine now available!

Marcus Bowden has been a busy chap recently.  Not only is he the author of  Country Wood Smoke (one of UK’s best BBQ Blogs), but he is now the founding editor-in-chief of a new BBQ publication.

UK BBQ magazine does exactly what it says on the tin, packet or foil wrapping.  Packed with some amazing articles about the UK BBQ scene, recipes, tips and foody intrigue.  The magazine’s official birthday was the 17th November.

It is free to download and subscribe to, and is also compatible for mobile devices.

It’s All About The Base + Barley – Exeter’s new Pizza & Craft Beer Restaurant

Exeter’s foodie scene is growing as Base + Barley is set to serve
sourdough pizza and craft beer with a hefty dose of style.

Freshly risen sourdough, clouds of flour in the air, a great range of craft beers, wines and cocktails and a buzzing atmosphere:  Base + Barley will disrupt Exeter’s foodie scene when it opens in late November.

The Base + Barley team have taken two old staples back to their roots – pizza and beer. Sourdough pizza will be made fresh and flavourful with carefully sourced toppings. It’s all about the base, as the sourdough is prepped the day before with finest grade 00 flour and baked to order.

Equally important is the beer. Featured beers are hand-brewed in small batches by local yeast gods who love their barley and hops.

The vibe at Base + Barley will be buzzing and busy, it will be a destination for families looking for a relaxed lunch, friends catching up over dinner and students starting a fun night out. The aim is to offer a simple but well crafted menu with very reasonable prices – the artisan pizzas will all cost £6.95 – £8.95. There will be no reservations, so anyone in the mood for good food and good times will be able to drop in for a great meal.

The restaurant will open on Longbrook Street in November 2015 and will seat 150 diners. The spacious unit will be decorated with contrasting wooden benches and neon lights, with hand drawn illustrations featured throughout the decor. The cool and casual bar will be distinct from the restaurant area, so people looking for a drink with friends will feel welcome even without ordering food.

This level of creativity and, some might say, obsession, wouldn’t come from just anyone. One of the founders of Base + Barley is local Devon boy Joe Hill. Joe already has a successful portfolio of Espresso and Wine Bars with Artigiano, which has five locations across England and Wales. The foodie entrepreneur has had great success with his day to night hybrid concept, and is hoping to stamp his personality on this beer and pizza venture with an ambitious national expansion plan.

Base + Barley Managing Director Joe Hill said:

“People care more than ever about how their food is made, and our pizzas could hold their own in the back yards of Napoli. I can’t wait to see Base + Barley full of life as diners embrace the laid back and stylish atmosphere. Exeter is becoming known as a foodie destination, and I am very excited to add something fresh and fun to what’s on offer.”

Kräftskiva at Circa 1924

So you are probably thinking – what is the connection between a 1920s, prohibition-inspired, restaurant and bar, and the humble crayfish? Well, the answer is Circa 1924’s head chef Lauri Hilli, whose Swedish roots have inspired the team to celebrate the tradition of Kräftskiva on Thursday 29th October, a feast of crayfish and schnapps, and its inviting Exeter residents to join them.

Following the threat of the crayfish population being wiped out in Swedish waters around the start of the 20th century, a fishing restriction was imposed, limiting catches to just a few weeks in August. And thus, crayfish became an exclusive and much sought-after delicacy and the crayfish party was born.

Rob Weeks, Circa 1924 co-owner, says: “We had planned on holding our crayfish party in August, as per tradition, but it turned out that all UK suppliers were out of stock, keeping up with Scandinavian demand. So, as we like to do things properly, we have delayed our celebration until October, so that we can provide our guests with copious amounts of crayfish, backed up with a generous helping of schnapps.

“We are taking bookings now and hope to attract a good crowd, so that we can celebrate in true Scandi style. Other than steak, Circa 1924 is all about great seafood and we are really excited about our seafood banquet, which is quite possibly a first in Exeter.”

The Circa 1924 Kräftskiva will follow the usual format: tables will be adorned with brightly coloured tablecloths, candles and guests given paper hats (much like a British Christmas dinner). The meal will consist of big bowls of steamed crayfish, bread and cheese, topped off by song and shots of schnapps.

Schnapps is another Swedish favourite, and Lauri explains: “The alcohol is referred to as ‘moonshine’, because traditionally it is illegally brewed and flavoured by locals at home. Our cocktail bar is decked out just like an American prohibition-style moonshiner bar, and so serving Scandi moonshine schnapps seems very apt.”

Circa 1924, the new independent steak and seafood restaurant, with cocktail bar, is located just off Exeter High Street at 6 Northernhay Place. The team has put together a calendar of mouthwatering events for 2015, with one food and one drink evening each month.

To book a place at Circa 1924’s Kräftskiva or to find out about other event call: 01392 438545 or visit the website

Festive feasts fit for the Lord of The Manor

On Tuesday 24th November, Exeter Cookery School will host the first in a series of exclusive new pop-up cookery courses at Bridwell Park, the home of Lord Ivar Mountbatten in Uffculme. Surrounded by far-reaching views over rural Devon and with its very own deer park, Bridwell offers a sumptuous setting for these intimate cookery courses, which promise to educate and entertain in equal measure.

The first will focus on creating a magical Christmas feast for friends and family, and will take students through a range of classical and modern cooking techniques. Over the course of the day, you will learn how to create three sensational dishes, starting with Sautéed Duck Liver on Toasted Brioche with Onion Marmalade and a Glass of Chilled Monbazillac, closely followed by roast loin of Bridwell venison with confit shoulder, creamed mash, Savoy cabbage and venison chorizo. The piece de resistance, a Louis XV – the decadent multi-layered celebration of chocolate, hazelnuts and meringue – will round off the meal in style.

Lucy Fisher, MD of Exeter Cookery School says: “We are really excited to be launching this collaboration thanks to the generosity of Lord Ivar. We hope this will be the first of several pop-up cookery events we host at this splendid location, where guests will learn how to prepare, cook and eat some tasty alternatives to those Christmas favourites. Jim will also show you how to cook certain elements ahead of time, so you get to enjoy more time with family and friends.”

Students will learn a wide range of culinary skills, from understanding foie gras and its preparation, seasoning, pan-frying, making onion marmalade and presentation of the dish. For the main course, students will discover the art of preparing and cooking venison, including making confit and roasting lean meat, as well as producing perfectly smooth and unctuous creamed mash and creating a flavour-packed venison sauce. For a suitably Royal end to this festive feast, Jim will teach you how to make a Louis XV – from the hazelnut dacquoise, white chocolate croquante and white chocolate mousse to finishing the dessert off to perfection, draping it with chocolate and using gold leaf for an elegant final flourish.

The brainchild of Jim and Lucy Fisher, who recently returned from running a successful residential cookery school in the Dordogne, Exeter Cookery School is set to open its doors after Christmas in a Grade II Listed building on the city’s historic Quayside, currently the focus of a major regeneration strategy. Once open, Exeter Cookery School will offer a host of exciting culinary courses – each packed with cheffy tips, tricks and techniques honed in busy restaurant kitchens, but adapted to use in your home and designed to make cooking for family and friends fun, easy and stress-free.

The Bridwell course on 24th November runs from 9am to 4pm, with lunch included and ending with a celebratory glass of fizz. As well as leaving with a host of new skills, participants will be presented with an Exeter Cookery School certificate, recipe information and a goodie bag to take away. No previous experience is necessary, but a love of fine food is a must.

This exclusive day course costs £185 – places are limited, so early booking is advised if you don’t want to miss out on this fabulous opportunity. To book, contact: Jim & Lucy Fisher, Exeter Cookery School, 07534 635302; Email:;

Full details are available on


The multi-award winning Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink returns to Northernhay Gardens and Exeter Castle on Friday 22nd – Sunday 24th April for another year of exceptional food, drink and demonstrations from top regional chefs. With more exhibitors, chefs and local producers expected than ever before the Exeter Food Festival is set to be the ultimate foodie weekend and the region’s leading food Festival. 2016 will be its 13th year.

Championed by Michael Caines MBE, the Festival hosts a packed programme of chef demonstrations, hands on master classes and tastings as well as a dedicated children’s programme including Fun Kitchen cookery classes, farm animals, storytelling and craft activities. The Festival’s charity partners Exeter Foundation and Families for Children will be on hand to help teach little ones more about their food and where it comes from.

Exeter Food Festival

The Darts Farm Taste and Knowledge Teepee’s, Festival Question Time hosted by BBC Radio Devon and the Westcountry Bakery Theatre will return with a packed schedule of informative and fun workshops, demonstrations and talks on topical food and drink themes. New features planned will focus on artisan bread baking and a milk bar – celebrating the region’s many dairy farms and looking at the importance of provenance

Visitors can browse from over 100 artisan food and drink producers from the region who exhibit in three pavilions; providing plenty of opportunities for trying, buying and chatting to the people behind the South West’s delicious food and drink. Local musicians will take to stages throughout the festival grounds and the weekend to entertain visitors

Michael Caines, 2-Michelin star chef and Festival co-founder, says, “The Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink promotes the vibrant food and drink of the region giving visitors the chance to try local food, talk to producers and learn more about cooking and farming. The Festival sets out to educate, entertain, feed and refresh people and is open to people of all ages who want to enjoy the great food and drink of our region.

Visitors can also enjoy three Festival After Dark Party Nights from Thursday 21st to Saturday 23rd April 2016. With its unique party atmosphere, the Festival After Dark Party Nights bring a host of exciting and talented musicians to the stage to entertain revellers until late. Producers will be selling local beers, wines, ciders and a wide selection of tempting street food throughout each evening ensuring party goers a tasty combination of excellent food and exciting bands and musicians.

Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink is a not for profit event.

For more information or to buy tickets visit:

Artisan Chai, Fore St. (OPENING 6th NOVEMBER)

Fore St. is without a single doubt my favourite part of Exeter.  It has so much character and it is occupied by a strong community of shop/business owners who are all driven to make this a hub of independent retail in Exeter.  It is the home to the Glorious Art House Cafe and many other excellent places to eat and drink, and it has recently acquired its very own Craft Beer Shop in the form of Hops and Craft which we visited last week.

To add to the eclectic and varied mix of shops we can add Artisan Chai, a business that specialises in hand-made Chai tea. The brainchild of Derry Tydeman, he and his mother Rosie are the owners of The Glorious Art House Cafe which just happens to be across the road.  Derry became frustrated with the poor tasting commercial chai teas that were available when buying for The Glorious, and set about creating his own home-made version.  Now they grind the ingredients themselves, all hand-made in Devon and have started selling it in their own tastefully designed shop.

The end result? A Chai tea, cheaper than Whittard’s version and much nicer.  And not just Chai. Earl Grey and other loose leaf teas will be available to buy from the little shop located in McCoy’s Arcade along with all the ephemera needed to keep the most expecting of tea-snobs happy.

Head over to and see what its all about. You can buy their amazing teas online too.  Fancy serving it in your own establishment? Then they can supply wholesale.  Fancy sitting in their big red chair and reading a book? You can do that too.  They’re really a very friendly bunch.

They are officially opening tomorrow (6th November 2015) so please go and visit, buy some tea, say hello and relish the Chai.

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South West Chef of the Year 2015: The Grand Final

I was invited to attend the first part of the Grand Final of The South West Chef Of The Year 2015 last Thursday.  Upon reflection I most probably could have done some interviewing too, but I was a fly-on-the-wall, an observer with a camera.

This is an experience that foodies don’t often get to be a part of.  In fact, apart from the members of the press that were wandering around observing too and Steve Haywood the pro photographer, I think I was the only blogger (as far as I knew) who had been invited along to this prestigious event.  No pressure.

South West Chef of the Year is a competition like few others.  Helmed by Exeter’s very own culinary guru Michael Caines, whose alma mater is Exeter College (Michael also sits on the Board of Governors and has the exemplary Michael Caines Academy based at the college too) the grand finals were the end of the a long road for the competitors involved and Eating Exeter was there to be a fly-on-the-wall to watch the kitchen mastery of three different classes.

The Competitors:

In the Professional Class:

Dale McIntosh – Chef Patron of Merchant’s Manor in Falmouth

David Kelman – Executive Head Chef, Ellenborough Park Hotel, Cheltenham

Jamie Coleman – Head Chef, Saunton Sands Hotel, Saunton

Jamie Rogers – Head Chef, Langdon Court, Down Thomas

In the Young Professional Class:

Alexander Brownrigg – Chef De Partie, Manor House Hotel, Castle Combe.

James Mason – Sous Chef, The Salutation Inn, Topsham

Steffan Davies – Commis Chef, Gidleigh Park, Chagford.

Joshua Martin – Senior Chef De Partie, Deer Park Country House Hotel, Honiton.

Student/Apprentice Class

Jack Sharland – Apprentice Chef, The Salutation Inn, Topsham

Jamaar House – City of Bristol College

Samantha Smith – St Katherine’s College, Somerset

Stepping in to the kitchen was quite an honour.  Here were eight chefs who were all there to prove that they were the best chefs in the South West, the South West’s finest culinary talent in one vast kitchen.

Competitors were presented with their ingredients.  From these ingredients they would have half an hour to compose a three course meal, that celebrated the the finest produce the South West had to offer.  To quote the website:

“[Competitors] are asked to prepare a three course meal for three people using two compulsory protein elements and a choice of dessert ingredients announced one week before the final.  All other ingredients will be provided in a mystery box on the day.

Upon receiving their mystery boxes, finalists will have 30 minutes to draw up their three course menu before the competition begins.  Basic reference recipes can be referred to during the 30 minutes of preparation time.”

The day started for the Professionals and Young Professionals at 8:30am, they had an hour to get themselves set up, then a Judges Briefing.  Then the fun started.  Ingredient boxes were presented to the chefs, then they had thirty minutes to think of something to cook.  During this time, press were not allowed to disturb of hassle them taking photos, this was a moment of zen that they needed in order to use all their experience and creativity to bring together something that would impress the judges.

So who was doing the judging?  I saw numerous people floating about with clip boards including the following:

Peter Gorton – Gorton’s

Neil Haydock – Watergate Bay Hotel

Paul Ainsworth – Paul Ainsworth at Number 6

And of course Mr Caines himself was MC’ing the event (excuse the pun) keeping the chefs motivated and even taking time to chat to the students that were helping with conveying the dishes to the judging room.

At first, the tension in the room was palpable.  Most of the chefs were involved in basic prep, chopping blanching etc. Timing was critical at each and every stage, and as observers we had to stay as far out of the way as possible.

I was lucky enough to meet Lucy Munday from the Express & Echo and Katie Pathiaki from The Staff Canteen website, who both kept me company as I pottered around the kitchen awkwardly.

Each chef moved in a slightly different way, it was almost like a dance, between chopping, wrapping, refrigerating, cooking, back to chopping, over to the ingredients table, trying to stay completely out of the way was at times a little tricky but generally I managed this relatively well.

The competitors would have to produce three plates of each course.  Two for the judges and one for Steve to photograph and which was taken out to display on the table in the restaurant for display.  In the restaurant anxious partners, parents and friends of the chefs waited to see their loved one come out of the kitchen.

The tension rose as soon as the plating up started.  The chefs moved faster, the calm focus that had been there before turned up a notch or three.  There were no dramas, no disasters, no one spilled anything, the professionalism of all competitors was unshakable.

The judging was done in secret with the results being announced at a fantastic dinner laid on at the Exeter Golf and Country Club in the evening.  The full list of winners can be found here.

The winners were:

South West Chef Of The Year: Overall AND South West Professional Chef Of The Year
Jamie Rogers – Head Chef, Langdon Court, Down Thomas, Plymouth, Devon

South West Young Professional Of The Year
James Mason – Sous Chef, Salutation Inn, Topsham, Devon

South West Student Chef of the Year
Jack Sharland – Exeter College and Salutation Inn, Topsham, Devon

If you would like to use some of the photographs seen here, please contact me via the Contact page and I can provide access to the full library.  These photos can be used but credit must be given to

The Beer & Bacon Festival 2015: Good Game have done good!

My birthday falls on September 12th.  Working in the lovely world of education (as support staff not teaching btw) this is most probably one of the most inconvenient times which to have been born, as quite often the start of the new academic year falls slap bang on the day itself or very close to it.

This also means that one cannot have protracted days off which to celebrate the birthday unless it it on a Saturday.  And this year it was on a Saturday. Even better, it was on the same day that the Good Game organised Beer and Bacon Festival takes place, and this year it was being held on Topsham’s historic quayside.

The easiest way to get to it is by bus.  As of 2015, there is still a semi-regular bus service that goes from the quayside in to the centre of town.  However this is due to change with the reduction of services.  If its 2016 and you’re reading this, double check, it might not be running.

Topsham is one of the easiest places to get to with public transport.  The main road to Exmouth runs through it, and it has a station about half a mile from the quayside.  This is the sort of event you definitely don’t want to have to drive to.

Secondly, there are some excellent food stalls (Eat The Smoke, La Catina, Good Game themselves and others…) and a beer tent.  Its not a massive festival. Its about chilling on the quayside, enjoying fun times with friends or watching the paddle boarders as we did.

The community spirit is very much alive. Topsham is a lovely and welcoming town, and the Topshamites have definitely taken Good Game under their wing.  Exeter’s only charcuterie has really grown from strength to strength over the last few years.

The Pig and Pallet is worth a visit.  Based on the quayside, they are starting to do good food, and recently there have been some nice looking dishes emerging from the pallet based cafe.

The festival was great.  It could be larger, maybe more food, maybe more choice of ales from other parts of Devon, but much of this is about planning and how much of the space on the quayside would be able to cope with the crowds that would appear.  I hope it is able to run next year, and I hope I am able to visit it next year!