Tel: 01392 279393, Portland House, Longbrook St, Exeter EX4 6AB www.baseandbarley.com
Take a stroll down Longbrook Street, you might have noticed the large letters on the side of the windows of Exeter’s newest restaurant. Base & Barley opened for business before Christmas with a series of soft openings and an active social media campaign. Like the large lettering emblazoning their front windows, the buzz was big and full power, Base & Barley have officially entered the building.
They gave away sourdough starter kits. They chalked the pavement. Even if you were not on social media, this effective launch campaign really showed Exeter B&B meant business. I managed to get my hands on a kit, but had a mishap which involved gravity and a mop, but I hear that there have been some successful sourdough babies from these kits.
But its not like they haven’t done this before. Their sister ship, Artigiano was founded by Joe Hill who has ambitious plans for the expansion of the B&B and Artigiano brands with a winning combination of excellent value handmade pizza and artisan coffee. We were lucky enough to be invited along to see what makes B&B the talk of Exeter’s dining scene.
Situated on one of the main student arterial routes in to town, the footfall this restaurant could have is significant. Coupled with an excellent value menu, it is easy to pop in one way home for a quick take-away pizza or to sit down in the stylish interior, peppered with fairy lights and candle lit tables.
As the name suggests, there are two important elements to making B&B. The base of the pizza, and the beers on offer. The pizza is base is important… so says their website.
“Our pizzas could hold their own in the back yards of Napoli. It’s all about the base. We prep our sourdough the day (not the night) before.
And before you ask, it doesn’t go off. It goes up…thanks to the finest grade 00 flour. It’s so soft you could sleep on it.”
I decided not to test out their claim that you could sleep on the flour, mostly because I would get covered in the stuff, but also because they might not let me.
B&B also brew their own beer too which is served alongside a small and select range of other craft beers.
The menu is quite straight forward. Starters, Pizzas, Salads, Sides then desserts. There isn’t really much else to it. None of the pizzas are over £8 which makes it very good value compared to Pizza Depress or ASK. One thought that resounded in my head throughout the meal was why anyone would want to go to a chain pizza place when they have somewhere like this on their doorstep.
The pizzas are cooked in a vast pizza oven which is one of the first things you see when you enter the restaurant, colourful and decoratively coated in paint and illustrations, it is the focus of the restaurant. Diners can see the oven from their seats, and your eyes are drawn to it when you enter, this a very important element of what makes this pizza restaurant awesome…
For starters Tori had the DOUGH STICKS served with garlic herb butter (£3.95) and I took a recommendation from my good blogger friend Tara from Tara’s Busy Kitchen and went for OVEN ROASTED CHORIZO in a red wine Jus (£4.95). The Chorizo was tender and combined with the Jus it worked really well. The garlic herb butter and fresh doughsticks worked really well as a light introduction to the main show.
The range of pizzas have been put together thoughtfully. You’re not getting pages of different toppings, it is a simple yet delicious offering of carefully thought out to cater for diners with different tastes.
My taste is for spicy so I went for the No. 6 (Tomato, mozzarella, fiery n’duja sausage paste, salami + roquito peppers) £7.95 and Tori, who is a lover of chicken and pesto went for a No. 8 (Tomato, mozzarella, chicken, roasted red pepper + green pesto) £7.95. In a fit of health guilt we plumped for a Green Salad too, which was particularly impressive.
The Pizzas were evenly cooked, no soggy middle. The toppings tasted like something straight from an Italian pizzeria. Everything that should be cripsy was, and the bits that were meant to taste of tomato, tasted of tomato. The chicken on Tori’s pizzas was tender, my pizza was spicy without over-burn, the whole thing was a dough based thing beauty. Again…why would you go to Pizza Depress.
We couldn’t fit in a dessert, although they all sounded very nice. Gelato and Affagato are two things that tempted me…but we rounded the evening off with coffee.
Our waitress Sydney (who happened to be an old college friend of Tori’s) was attentive and I liked the fact that the service regularly walked through the restaurant making sure diners were tended to.
Base and Barley have a winning combination. Cheap pizzas, lush craft beer and stylish surroundings. For non-pizza lovers you are tempted with salad and fresh River Exe mussels accompanied with a well thought out wine list.