I remember, a few years ago now, I introduced myself to someone at a professional networking event I was speaking at (not about the blog). They had heard of Eating Exeter, as it was back in 2016 and said something that has stuck in my head and I tried to unpack afterwards. They said that the blog was too ‘burger focused’… Cue me looking shocked that this might be considered a bad thing?
Fast forward to 2019 and the burger-fad craziness of the middle of this decade (what is the name of this decade?) has calmed down a bit. Yes, most average gastropubs/restaurants etc. have some sort of burger on the menu with some garish name that exclaims it is from the deep south, whereby the actual heritage is moreso an afterthought at the back of the head of somebody in Head Office who has watched too many Netflix food shows.
The great food writer Anthony Bourdain travelled the world and visited the places tourists wouldn’t necessarily see, places that were often ‘off the beaten track’ – They were places the locals knew and loved. His writing and TV work were often drizzled with new experiences, heavy drinking and tattoos. Had Bourdain visited Exeter, he would have most probably been visiting the Beer Factory and Kitchen. But he wouldn’t be driving. He would have caught one of the many convenient buses that pass right outside.
The A396 is an artery to North Devon, a scenic blood vessel stretching from the beating heart of the county. You can see Hanlon’s brewery from the road and the bus route is nearby too – it’s a 10 minute drive from St David’s, a 15 minute cycle from the University and a little more if you’re walking. It really isn’t far away and definitely not in Crediton.
Burger lovers of Devon will know and love the creations of La Cantina Street Kitchen. Now settled permanently in Hanlon’s Brewery, the combination of a their winning beers and ales, couple with the burgery goodness of Head Chef Tim Golder’s meaty imagination has created a meat-based mecca for those who love the Ale/Patty partnership.
We had previously visited the Hanlon’s brewery a couple of years ago when their food offering had more of a Pop-up feel. This has since evolved into a partnership with La Cantina Street Kitchen, creating the Beer Factory and Kitchen in it’s present format.
There is a lot going on. Diners are surrounded by images, information and lots of natural wood with tasteful furniture decor. Service is swift and accommodating with orders being placed at the bar which serves Hanlon’s own brands and others too.
Our menu looked like this:
Chris: Beer Factory Burger £14 / Chilli Cheese Fries £6.50 / Fried mac and Cheese Balls £4 / Pint of Yellow Hammer
Tori: From the Specials board – La Hog and Hen Burger £14 / Hand Cut Skin on Fries £3.50
Chef and co-owner Tim has nearly 230 different burgers consigned to memory. The La Cantina spirit is very much alive and kicking, even though the burgers are being served in an establishment without wheels, fans of the old set-up won’t be disappointed.
How you choose to eat your burger is very much a personal decision. Are you going to try and shove it in to your gob at once? Or will you disect the burger daintily with a knife and fork.
These burgers were juicy, full of gooey cheese and the types that were likely to fall apart if you tried to eat it all at once without taking a firm grasp of the bun.
Burger purists will emphatically say that you have to SHOVE IT IN ALL AT ONCE at this point, even if you make a mess of yourself. However the more pragmatic burger eater will recognise that this isn’t the best method, and opt to dissect the burger slightly first.
Tori’s La Hog & Hen burger was a stacked tower of pulled pork and chicken, the meat was tender where it needed to be and was flavored well. As she bit into it, the pulled pork made a bid for escape but expert handing skills ensured that very little of it got out.
My Steak Burger was punchy in taste and I am happy to say that it managed to stay in one piece as I bit into it. However being a bit of a wuss, I opted to dissect mine instead.
It was a gooey explosion of cheese, bacon and tender steak burgers that was a little bit too delicate for face-to-burger contact.
The Beer Factory and Kitchen is a Beer and Burger lovers dream come true. On offer is Hanlon’s very own home-grown-brewed-on-site beery goodness with the talents of Tim and his team who are creating some legendary burgers. All of this less than two miles from the Centre of Exeter. It’s the same distance as Countess Wear. There are no excuses.
Where is it?