January & February Highlights – New Thai Opening, Learn to Cook, Meaty Merrivale and more

The first highlight post of the year has arrived. It’s so genuinely exciting to see so many businesses opening their doors during such a difficult economic time. Here in Devon, we are spoilt for choice with some of the best producers, restaurants and pubs you’re likely to find. It’s a bold statement but we believe it’s true!

This month is a good reminder of how lucky we are. We have lots of discoveries and new openings for you to delve into our latest highlights post. A big highlight for the DD team was meeting up with some old foodie friends at the Rosa’s Thai launch event. As well as a visit to a meaty paradise on Dartmoor, a place where the future chefs of tomorrow are taught, and a restaurant with a view as well as many more.

As ever, get in touch if there is somewhere you think we should absolutely check out.

New Openings

Rosa’s Thai, Exeter

Kin Kao Rue Yang? “Have You Eaten Yet?” That’s what Rosa’s Thai wants to know. Two of team DD (Chris and Lauren) attended a brilliant launch evening (#invited) early on in February, in the Guildhall Dining Quarter, and what fantastically tasty, authentic Thai food we enjoyed.

Saiphan, the founder of Rosa’s Thai, has a beautiful beginning and growth story, was so humble and says the food is cooked as she would at home, and with heart. Growing from a stall on the Brick Lane Sunday market, Rosa’s Thai quickly became a local favourite. Soon enough an old caff on Hanbury Street became the first Rosa’s in 2008, and by 2009 after selling their house in Hong Kong to fund their second restaurant, the husband and wife team opened another cafe in Soho.

Exeter is their 32nd location. Situated where Absurd Bird used to live in Guildhall Shopping Centre. Stepping through the door, anyone who is familiar with the space will also see a familiar face as Martin, the GM from Absurd Bird, is back too!

Loads of tasters enjoyed, incredible meat, veg (vegan options too) and of course punchy sauces. Seek them out!

Colson’s Bar & Restaurant, Exeter

As Hotel Indigo is gradually waking up in the city centre – the uniquely decorated rooms, Dug Out Sports Bar and Spa are now officially joined by Colsons Restaurant and Bar. Lauren was #invited along to the official launch, to enjoy lovely food tasters using local produce from their new Head Chef, Charlotte Vincent (of award-winning Five Bells fame, as well as Great British Menu contestant).

With a very individual style, beautiful plush interiors, and knockout cocktails (alcoholic and non), we can’t wait to return for the full food offering cooked over flames! A perfect business meeting spot too or respite from a busy day of shopping. In the old House of Fraser building, the entrance is in the square opposite St Catherine’s Almshouses. More images can be found on our Facebook post.

South West Pizza Co, Topsham

Pizza and Dreams… that’s all you need. At the beginning of February, South West Pizza Company launched, and #invited Sue along on Thursday and Lauren on Friday.

Originally the Pig and Pallet, they have diversified and reincarnated into a pizza palace, serving delicious thin crust sourdough delights using their Good Game. charcuterie. The rustic interior remains the same, which we love, as it’s so casual, family friendly with good vibes. They’ll be selling their awesome charcuterie, rubs and sauces there too in a little shop corner to take away. V, VE & GF are available. More images can be found on our Facebook or Instagram posts.


Offshore Bar and Restaurant

Sue enjoyed a superb Sunday Lunch Offshore Bar and Restaurant in Torquay recently, as she was #invited to this independent and cosy harbourside restaurant well worth a visit for their delicious food & friendly service. If you want a change from cooking the Sunday Roast and wish to tuck into a most delicious plate of food with the biggest yorkies, then head over to Torquay! It was one of the tastiest roasts she’s eaten!

With starters of soup & toasted pitta with hummus & roasted vegetables before tucking into the main event… the Sunday Roast. Sue chose to have the beef & her friend went for the pork. Both plates came with generous portions of tender meat, plenty of hot roast potatoes & parsnips, a variety of seasonal vegetables & of course those yorkies! If only they came out like that at home! A large boat of tasty gravy & sauces completed the dish.

Arrive hungry if you are even contemplating having a dessert as the roast will certainly fill you up. They managed to squeeze in a sweet treacle tart & slice of lemon raspberry cheesecake. It really was a wonderful lunch, very relaxed, friendly service & with views looking out over harbour. She couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday. No cooking, no washing up and a lovely walk afterward. A great place to bring the whole family including the dog!

Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch & dinner & also for drinks, tea, coffee cake, snacks & cream teas. Lauren visited for brunch a while ago as well. More images can be found on our Facebook or Instagram posts.

@34 Restaurant, Michael Caines Academy at Exeter College

If you haven’t been before, @34 Restaurant is Exeter College’s training kitchen and restaurant which is located within the Laurence Building on the Hele Road campus. We’re a big fan of the restaurant and love the ethos and opportunities it gives students to excel in the hospitality industry, Sue visited in late February with a friend for a birthday lunch to enjoy their set lunch menu offering, which at £15 for two courses and £20 for three, presents excellent value. Menu change often, usually on a weekly basis and evening menus are priced at £32.50, sometimes with themes such as Ukranian Night (8th & 9th March), Northern Delights (15th & 16th March) and also dishes from where the student work.

They enjoyed starters of market fish goujons with tartar hollondaise and parmesan creme brulee with mushroom, spinach and crostini. Mains of butternut katsu curry and cassoulet with hassleback potatoes followed, finishing on crepe suzette with brown butter ice cream, and vanilla pannacotta, rhbarb and crumble. The meal was excellent from start to finish, beautifully cooked, presented & served, if you’ve not yet been, go!
Open for lunch term time Monday to Friday & dinner on Wednesday and Thursday. More images can be found on our Facebook or Instagram posts.

Learn to Cook

Devon Cookery School

Mid-January, Sue was #invited along to experience one of Nila Ross’ Indian Cooking classes she is teaching at the Devon Cookery School. This was the Veggie Indian Feast and what a wonderful spicy feast it was! Sue is keen on Indian food & was excited to learn new skills & techniques which she can put into use next time she invites friends round for dinner.

The morning session was centered around making an authentic base sauce using both fresh and dry spices. This was made into a Rajma – a warming kidney bean dhal. Next they learnt how to make, roll & cook an authentic Indian flatbread – Paratas, made with spinach. The students then cooked up an Indian style omelette which was in fact part of lunch which they sat down to talk and break bread over.

The afternoon session was learning how to make Budjas, which we know as Bhajis, and a cooling yoghurt dip. These will make a fantastic starter or just great to nibble on! They also learnt how to temper spices and balance flavours when it comes to creating and cooking an Indian meal. What you don’t eat for lunch you get to take home, ready to pop into the freezer or to reheat the next day for your dinner. Throughout the day Nila imparts her knowledge and passion of Indian cuisine and you will pick up lots of hints & tips.

Devon Cookery School is in Cullompton, in a lovely converted barn at Piper’s Farm, which can take up to six students per class. There’s plenty of space to work, all the equipment is provided and ingredients weighed out so you get to spend valuable time preparing and cooking all the dishes. The washing up is taken care of too (what a dream!). Recipes are printed out for you in a folder which you can also make notes on if you wish.

As well as Nilas Indian Cooking classes, there are full and half day classes run by Jazzi Curley, founder & previously chef tutor from Exeter Cookery School. Bookings are online & gift vouchers are available to buy for your foodie friends or family. More images can be found on our Facebook or Instagram posts.

New Discoveries

The Dartmoor Inn, Merrivale

Mid-February, Chris had the absolute joy of visiting Eversfield Organic‘s very own Eversfield Organic Dartmoor Inn located just over the hill from Princetown at Merrivale. Eversfield took the pub on a couple of years ago, and ever since they’ve served up diners with organic meat and veg from Ellacott Farm in Bratton Clovelly on the edge of Dartmoor, where Eversfield grow produce and reer cattle.

Chirs was #invited along to see what this little pub on Dartmoor, who has been doing so well for the last couple of years that a huge number all of the reviews left on Trip Advisor are five star, saying stuff like “overwhelmed by the friendly welcome and exceptional steaks” and “Exceptional meat, very well cooked, flavours were incredible plus an excellent wine selection” to quote just a few. Was it going to be as good as many previous diners had said? Absolutely.

Eversfield Organic is a family-run business that specializes in organic food delivery. Established in 2002, the company has a strong focus on ethical and sustainable farming practices. They provide an extensive range of organic produce, including fresh vegetables, fruits, dairy, meat, and pantry essentials, all of which are delivered directly to customers’ doors. They also have a number of shops and delis which supply the pub with fresh veg. The seasonality is strong in the menu along with the fact everything produced by Eversfield is organic.

Having never been to the Dartmoor Inn before, it was a huge surprise to see part of the kitchen within the dining area itself. This level of confidence and transparcy over ingredients is something that I feel more places that pride themselves on the quality of produce and proteins, should do. And it was heartening to see the meat prepared and resting. And what a sight it was.

This is a pub for meat lovers, there is no question. Although if you find yourself coming here and you are a vegetarian or vegan, you’re covered. They’re using organic fresh veg, and there are specials each day alongside the usual menu. Using their own herd of free-roaming Aberdeen Angus, the meat is treated with respect. If you have any doubt about how the meat is stored, there is a fridge right next to the prep area for diners to see. More images can be found on our Facebook or Instagram posts.

The White Hart Pub, Dartington

What a meal Lauren enjoyed during half term! The historic Dartington Trust estate houses a real gem of an eatery… at The White Hart Pub Restaurant. Head chef Adam Page and team are knocking out unpretentious fayre and putting the ‘Hart’ into hearty…

A mix of traditional classics and gastro pub specials, they elevate even the simplest dish to a new height. With local, seasonal and sustainably sourced produce (even holder of a Sustainable Restaurant Association star). Serving lunch and dinner for all palates and ages, she was surprised at what amazing value they offered, quality and skill on offer, and the generosity of portion sizes.

The White Hart Pub sits at the centre of the stunning 1,200 acre Dartington estate, nestled alongside the medieval Great Hall under the bowers of ancient trees. Dine in the grand feasting hall under sky high dramatic 60 foot beamed ceiling, or in one of the cosy dining areas. In the nicer weather there is the alfresco seating as well.

She enjoyed many dishes including starters of Braised Totnes pork belly with an insane maple syrup butter, Totnes blue cheese arancini with parmesan, sage and a punchy red pepper sauce. Mains of duck breast, seasoned to perfection and a cracking crispy skin, with a soft dauphinoise potatoes, and doorstop sized buttery pie and mash, with a knockout red wine poached red onion and seasonal veg (and drinkable gravy).

Desserts livedup to the same excellent standards with a white chocolate tart with meringue kisses, honeycomb and tongue tingling popping candy, and a chocolate and rum fondant with the expected oozy middle Lip smackingly, plate lickingly gorgeous was her verdict. You can walk on the estate to burn or earn those calories… don’t think twice, just go! Kid and dog friendly inside and out! More images can be found on our Facebook or Instagram

2023 © Disclosure – all images, unless otherwise stated are copyright of Dining Devon. For some of our visits we are #invited or products are #gifted, and are noted as such. This means we have been given something complimentary in exchange for our views in the hope of us sharing on our socials. This does not affect our opinions which are not seen or pre-approved by venues before we publish or share our experiences


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