Modern refurbished pub restaurant with amazing views across the Exe and good food…
The Samuel Jones, 37 Commercial Road, Exeter, EX2 4AE – 01392 345345
Ah, the Quay. Nothing better than finding a nice spot, dangling your legs over the side and letting the swans nibble your toes whilst you sip on a cool beer. It is definitely one of the nicest spots in the city, especially on a hot summer afternoon.
One company that saw the potential in this spot was St Austell Brewery who opened The Samuel Jones a couple of years ago, a large craft ale smokehouse located in what was a bonded warehouse. Some of you might remember when it was Boxes & Boogies, a long standing nightclub with sticky floors and dark walls; the transformation from this previous life to the hip, freshly clad restaurant is an aesthetic revelation for the quayside.
We were invited over to see the £1.5 million refurbishment, to taste some ale and have something to eat. For me it solidified that St Austell Brewery had really managed to get it right in terms of location and design.
In March this year the pub won The Publican Morning Advertiser’s Award for best new pub, judges praising the 19th Century Aesthetics which had been tastefully preserved.
Using local produce their skilled team of chefs create some fine dishes that are inspired by smokehouse recipes. The specials are even matched to beers and ales, of which the pub boasts that it has the largest selection in the region.
And who was Samuel Jones? Well you can read a brief history of the building and the man on their website.
The menu caters for wide tastes with its smokehouse inspired creations. There are specials as well including the extensive range of ales and ciders which are available from the bar or via service.
We were lucky to be seated near a window, looking across the Quay. There are large windows looking at the Transport Shed and across the river itself. The views from the restaurant are some of the best in Exeter. Perfect for people watching or just relaxing in the sunshine. With their views over the Exe further upstream at The Mill On The Exe, St Austell Brewery have really got a monopoly on eating out in Exeter with a river view.
We arrived in the evening, starving and ready to tackle three courses. Our server was Laura who was attentive and friendly throughout our meal. She offered us some Ale tasters and naturally, well, it’d be rude not to try.
The Ale tasters came out on a small metal tray in shot glasses. Three small samples to help you decide what to choose from the vast selection that they stock.
The green looking one at the back is Neck Oil, a fruity ale with an elderflowery nose. It was light and refreshing, perfect summer sip which we both declared our favourite. The yellowy one on the left of the image is Admiral ale. Nutty, hoppy and almost savory in many ways, I’ve had it before but it wasn’t my favourite. Finally we had Tribute…which is Tribute and served everywhere.
Deciding not to go with any of these, as we’d already selected our drinks before this came out, and because when it comes to alcohol I am a massive light-weight, we did make a note to look out for Neck Oil as it is rare to find a light fruity ale with strong fruit overtones that doesn’t get overhopped. I had a pint of Smash #4 and Tori settled for the wonderful Korev which we both know and love.
For starter Tori opted for the Deep Fried Pickled Gherkins, Onion & Carrot served with smoked cauliflower and almond purée with roasted garlic (£6.00) and I chose the 12 Hour Hickory Smoked tender Pork Shoulder served with pickled onions, gherkins and robata charred focaccia (£6.00).
The Deep Friend Pickled Gherkins were VERY pickled. Well cooked and with a crispy batter; it was a strange yet pleasant combination but definitely for those who love their pickled veg as it was very strong.
My smoked pork shoulder melted and worked perfectly with the pickled vegetables and the green leaves tucked neatly under the focaccia. I liked the use of pickled stuff, something that adds to the curated rusticism of the restaurant.
For mains I did my usual and went for the burger option. I went for the 6oz Chuck Beef Flamed Burger served in a charred pretzel roll with melted cheese, beefsteak tomato, skin-on fries and dressed rocket leaves (£10) and Tori headed in the direction of the 12 Hour Smoked Beef Brisket served in a charred pretzel roll with smoked tomato & pepper salsa and skin-on fries (£10).
A pretzel roll? Yes. A roll made of pretzel dough, again a creative take on the standard way of doing things. It would have been nice to have had it charred, but this small detail did not get in the way of our enjoyment of this epic thing.
I was also really happy to see a restaurant serving Hog’s Bottom Delights sauces, the first that I’ve seen in the area. These sauces and preserves are made by Hogs Bottom Delights based in Lifton in Devon, the company is run by a chap called Maurice who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Live Love Eat Awards 2015
Tori’s Beef Brisket was something to behold; soft melty meat smoked delicately. Although I was happy with my burger, but I did suffer from ‘I want what you have’…
Normally I only to two courses, in fact it at the point we finished our meal we had a small debate about whether we could carry on. But it had to be done!
We shared delightful choclaty dessert with fruit and chocolate and a wonderful cherry sauce. And chocolate. A perfect finale to a very nice meal.
The Samuel Jones has a creative menu, using things I haven’t had seen before (pretzel rolls, deep fried gherkins etc.) and this innovation makes The SJ a restaurant that deserves the praise that it gets. If you want a place to watch people, this is also a good location given its commanding views across the Quayside and as I mentioned, definitely ‘best views in Exeter’ when it comes to dining out with style thanks to large windows.