For any restaurant or café, quality of output is incredibly important. British diners are a very picky lot, and because we’re not very good at complaining restaurants don’t often get to read about a bad burger or an over-cooked steak until they see it on TripAdvisor.
One of Exeter’s best loved restaurants is Lloyd’s Kitchen in Catherine Street, in the dominating shadow of the House of Fraser building. We were invited along to one of their feedback evenings which are held before a new menu is rolled out. At this point, the new menu isn’t completely public and it gives those attending a sneak preview to what the new menu might look like; it gives the chefs a chance to refine, tweak and adjust.
As Lauren and myself were both invited along to this event, we’ll both give our two cents about what we had and the evening itself.
Lloyd’s Kitchen is another indie restaurant that has gone from strength to strength on the back of a firm reputation for quality and attention to detail. There is a strong local ethos with ingredients and an eye for detail with each dish that has seen them excel despite fierce competition from local chain restaurants; despite the devastating fire that ripped the beating heart out of our beloved city taking place just a matter of metres away from their door, they are one of the top names on our dining scene.
This feedback evening was a chance for us to gather together with Lloyd and his family and a few other foodies/bloggers and sample the epic delights of their new menu.
I had opted for a ‘no preference’ option which meant I was going to be treated to some unknown dishes. The element of surprise was enticing.
Unfortunately the evening seemed to start earlier than planned so I missed the starter.
I was lucky to be sampling the
Chargrilled Lamb Rump – Lamb Kofta, Pomegranate & Mint Cous Cous, Red Pepper Jam, Confit Tomato & Shallot Sauce.
White Chocolate & Blueberry Cheesecake
The lamb was beautifully cooked. I will start off by saying that I am not the biggest fan of lamb at the best of times, but I am always impressed at how succulent and tender it can be if it is cooked and treated properly.
The balance of flavours worked together wonderfully. It felt like a Moroccan inspired dish with a flavour palette that was homely and sensible, the sweetness of the pomegranet and the sharpness of the Red Pepper Jam worked well with the Kofta and the lamb itself.
Then we had the cheesecake. The cheesecake. Oh my!!
British restaurants are terrible at desserts in my opinion. Often relying too heavily on pre-packaged stuff out of a freezer, or dressing up ice-cream beyond what it really is. But Lloyd’s Kitchen and their White Chocolate and Blueberry Cheesecake is one thing that would change my mind if every restaurant did something like this.
Creamy, sour, sweet, colourful and delightful – I was blown away by this dish. My only criticism is that there wasn’t more of it. I know that is a cliched thing to say but, damn it was good.
Settling into Lloyd’s for this very organised set-up, I initially felt it a bit staged at first but the family were there as well and were incredibly welcoming. They insisted on wanting honest feedback in order to improve dishes and know what to choose for the upcoming menu change. Lloyd himself, still young in the eyes of restaurant ownership ensured he greeted all his guests and made us comfortable right from the off.
Even with only a dozen of us in the space on this evening, this lovely restaurant did not feel empty and exuded a cosy glow; the lighting and decor is stylish yet warm, hanging lights, white wall tiles for said light to bounce off and even a patio heater to enjoy the glass front area, that can be opened to enable an al fresco option in the summer and allow plenty of people watching!
So down to business. I had already chosen my food choices earlier in the week to ensure that all the potential menu items were going to be tasted by the group.
Tempura Monkfish Cheeks, Mango, Chilli & Avocado, Harissa Sauce – a meaty yet light starter in an even lighter crispy batter!
Confit Duck Leg & Rare Breast, Potato & Rosemary Rosti, Seasonal Greens, & Honey Grazed Baby Carrots – the meat just pulled away on this dish and as a rosti connoisseur at home I can’t put into words how good theirs was! Seasoned to perfection too.
Lemon Tart with Raspberry Sorbet – a good tart but I tell you that sorbet sang!
The food, overall, was delicious; well balanced in flavours and textures and equally well presented. It’s not flashy; it’s just stylish and comforting – exactly like the decor. My scoring and feedback will remain confidential of course but a few constructive comments were thrown in, otherwise the purpose of the event would not have been fulfilled. Plenty of good comments were given too – they are certainly doing something right as I only ever hear good things about Lloyds Kitchen.
I found the idea totally refreshing and I look forward to seeing what is chosen for the upcoming menu and how our comments have affected the final product, enabling you – the paying customer – to enjoy your dinner and a positive experience whilst spending your hard earned cash on tasty food in one of Exeter’s great independents.