March / April Highlights

The last two months have been a busy time with lots of exciting opportunities to meet, eat and shout about the fabulous food in our area. This Highlight post is a little different as we have a little section at the end ‘In Other News’ which will flesh out with foodie events and goings on around the county along with a round-up of what we’ve been up to.

If you have something happening, send an email to info at diningdevon dot com

With Acleaf in Plymouth gaining their first Michelin Star, it only goes to show how many amazing places we have that produce food and drink in the area, with restaurants making the most of fantastic local produce.

City Gate Hotel

[PR/Invite/] Owned by Young’s pubs their new menu that came out recently is flavoursome and local-centric. If you have never been before, now is a perfect time to try it out. Chris and some friends went for a visit in April.

Head Chef Al Morgan has created a menu reflecting the seasonality and freshness that sits on our doorstep in this beautiful part of the world, and coupled with an attention to detail, going beyond presentation and the seasonality, it champions flavours that work together and inclusivity, with something for all tastes and diets.

We were invited along to sample the menu and enjoy an evening as guests of Youngs.

With a good balance of land, air and sea, the menu has plenty of choice, whilst not being vast and overbearing. I went on Dan’s recommendation and went for the Fowey Mussels to start with. Not normally a shellfish guy, but I like to push the boat out (pun intended) and try new things. I am glad I did, the broth was full of umami and the subtle garlicky notes that wild garlic delivers and this complemented the meaty mussels perfectly.

My table mates shared a gorgeous baked camembert sharer which came with camembert, pickled vegetables, crusty bread and olives. Even though it is designed for two to share, I would most probably come in and just devour one myself with no guilt at all, but for now I am glad to say I do have some self control. My other table mate indulged in a fresh and light crab salad that well balanced and nicely presented, he is a fan of crab and enjoyed it immensely with nice things said about the freshness of the crab meat and salad.

Cooking and battering fish is a skill and it’s easy to mess it up and thankfully The City Gate nailed it. The cider creates a light wafty batter that evenly coats and brings a crispness that you can’t get quite the same with with beer batter (in my opinion) and this went to prove it.

To read the full review, head here.

Boston Tea Party Barnstaple

[PR/Invite] A few weekends ago Lauren popped into Boston Tea Party in Barnstaple after their recent refurb and to try their new menu items. We’d been away in Woolacombe and this was perfect for our departure day – breakfast out, then a wander around Barnstaple shops

The interior is roomy, full of light and has a chilled vibe. It’s right on the edge of a large car park so easy to get to.

We had the new quesadilla dish with added poached egg, a pancake stack with added smoked salmon and scrambled eggs (my child eats like a man!) and their homemade hash browns. With excellent coffee and a yummy smoothie, its a great place for all day brunch for every preference.

They support local producers so are a great reliable option if you’re not sure where to go for brunch.

Follow on Instagram @btpcafes and @btpbarnstaple and the Barnstaple cafe’s website

The Swan Inn, Lympstone

A short hop, skip and a jump from Lympstone Station is The Swan Inn, a pub which does good food and drink with friendly service. Chris visited a few weeks ago on a rare weekday visit. At the moment they are running a £10 menu Monday to Wednesday which is worth a shot if you’re after something bank-friendly. With a good selection of ales, this is a perfect spot for a drink and a lazy harbour walk to burn off the calories. The Exe Esturary is short walk through the windy historic streets.

At low-tide you are able to walk along the riverside and take in the beauty of the estuary. With the cycle route from Exeter to Exmouth passing nearby, it is the perfect place to stop for ‘refreshment’ and ‘refuelling’.

Follow on Instagram = @theswaninnlympstone

Pieminister, Exeter

[PR/Invite] Do you do brunch? How about a bottomless brunch? Unlimited drinks for 90 minutes, brunch pies with vegan options too. Starting point for a cracking night out or a celebration, don’t worry as Pieminister has you covered.

Chris popped down to Queen St. in Exeter to try out this new offering that kicked off a few weeks ago. Every weekend you can come down and fill your boots, or your glass. From the time you’re served your first drinks, they’re unlimited..

The flavourful pies are filling-centric and popping with chunky elements. We loved the smoky beans and garnishing of garlicky potatoes. It’s £29pp for alcoholic, £19pp for non-alcoholic and £13 just for the brunch on its own. Available on weekends, until July.

Follow on Instagram – @pieminister

Pho, Exeter

It was a wonderful Good Friday treat to see family. Chris headed to Pho because he hasn’t been in forever. It’s always a pleasure to experience the comforting warmth of a glorious bowl of pho, especially with chicken as a mix-up alternative.

Pho has been in Exeter for nearly five years! They opened in August 2018 and have firmly established themselves as an Exeter dining favourite. Their menu is vegetarian/vegan friendly with a respectable percentage of dishes being easily converted to or solely plant-based.

There are things that Pho do really well. The service is always on their game, friendly and accomodating without falter. Their drinks menu has some of the regular staples but also some exotic Vietnamese beers, ironically I seem to plump for their Mint Tea each time which matches really well with the BÚN GÀ HUẾ (Hot & Spicy Chicken).

Follow on Instagram @phorestaurant

The Beach Pub, Exmouth

[PR/Invite] Lauren recently visited The Beach Pub, on Exmouth Quay end. Independently owned by Maisie for the last year, she has taken it from microwave pings to local produce thanks to her determination and her female chef, she’s really proud of their girl power 💪

The interior is unfussy but tastefully themed with quay inspired touches. It was a nice level of busy with a mix of regular drinkers and visiting diners.

The menu has a good variety on offer, using meat from King’s Butchers Exmouth and fish is literally from her doorstep at neighbour Fish on the Quay.

We dived into
Panko Halloumi Fries
King prawns and scallops on celeriac puree
Minted lamb burger with tzatziki and cucumber ribbons
King prawn and chilli linguineCrème brûlée and raspberry

A really yummy easy going meal minutes from the beach!

Follow on Instagram @beachpubexmouth

Rosa’s Thai, Exeter

[PR/Invite] In the last few years, Exeter has exploded with a variety and diversity with food choice that fifteen years ago foodies could have only dreamt of.

With Rosa’s Thai opening in the Queen St Dining quarter, we’ve now got at least three cracking places in Exeter that do damn fine Thai food. So welcome to Exeter, Rosa’s Thai. Chris went to visit!

Occupying the space formerly Absurd Bird, it’s an authentic Thai experience. Only difference is it’s a bit less spicy, but apart from that it’s an experience brought over to the UK by Chef Saiphin who opened her first restaurant in London, bringing her authentic recipes and cuisine from her home country.

The story of how she opened her first restaurant is part of the lore of the brand – taking a run down old cafe called Rosa’s in the East End of London, they kept the Rosa’s part as they couldn’t afford to take it down but also as an homage to the local community

But the name stuck and within a few years Rosa’s Thai had branches all over London and they have been growing ever since. Exeter is their 32nd branch and we were invited to have a meal, and see for ourselves what the fuss is all about.

We had…

Drinks –

Lemongrass Pandan Ices Tea £3.25
Rosa’s Thai-PA £5.45

Starters –

Sweetcorn Patties (Todmun Khaopod) £6.50
Honey Marinated Pork Skewers (Moo Ping) £6.75
Chicken Satay (Gai Satay) £6.75

Mains –

Rosa’s Red Duck Pineapple Curry (Gaeng dang supparod ped) – £14.95
Rosa’s Green Curry (Gaeng Kiew wan) £12.50
Sticky Rice £3.50
Egg Fried Rice £3.75

For us the highlights of the meal were the Pandan Iced Tea, boozy and sharp with a generous helping of whisky. The Green Curry was a flavoursome combination of sweet coconut, umami and the savory of the chicken; and the Duck and Pineapple Curry with it’s tangy sauce and the duck worked really well together.

The starter, or street snacks really impressed us with the sauces. The chicken satay sauce was full of peanuts, and there was just enough. We bought three starters which was enough for both of us! Overall it was an enjoyable night with good food and a lively atmosphere, staff were attentive and eager to make sure we were comfortable.

With cocktails, authentic Thai ingredients, spice and friendly welcoming staff who make some really good recommendations, you’ll get a fun and flavourful night out, especially if you love Thai flavours or if you’re up for something different.

Follow Rosa’s Thai on Instagram and have a look at the website.

Genesis, Honiton

[AD/Gifted items] Thank you for sunshine, thank you for rain… 💦🌤

It’s what makes produce grow. (See our Instagram reel for reference)

And thank you to those who bring this produce together to showcase what is being made locally so we can discover and enjoy it.

Genesis Honiton, owned by an incredibly talented media and content creator James Brooks who is passionate about great food and local produce. It’s a petite shop but bursting with passion and excellent friendly service on Honiton High Street. Lauren visited recently to see for herself why this shop has been such a hit with local foodies.

To name a few products and suppliers, this is what we skipped home with:

🍯Incredible floral honey from Holly Farm Devon, where the bees find an array of wild plants to feed off and you can take is it!
🥬 Handsome kale, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes from Little Bishops Organics
🍞 Sumptuous sourdough bread and cinnamon buns from Maslin Bakery (possibly the best sourdough we’ve tried so far)
🌶Tingling sauce from YAMZAfoodtruck
🧂 Flavoured salt from Forage & Combe
🌿 And their own foccacia herb mix
🍠 Excited to find the exotic cassava from further afield too!

Follow Genesis on Instagram

Wine Tasting at Devon Local Wine School

Sue recently went along to the Spanish Wines & Tapas Evening with the wonderful Luke – Head Chef & Wine Tutor at Devon Local Wine School.

It’s all about wine and food at Devon Wine School. It is an independently owned wine education company based in Exeter.  Regular wine tastings, events, qualifications in wine and food and wine experiences take place here so if you like wine and food, then this is somewhere you might like to visit!

The Devon Local Wine School is headed up by Luke, the owner and lead tutor at Cowick Barton, Exeter.  He started his wine journey back in 2009 and has trained thousands of professionals in the hospitality industry and is keen to share his knowledge with you.

The Spanish Tapas and Wine evening is a very relaxing and informative event, held in the beautiful 16th century mansion.

Luke takes you through method of wine making and matches the wines he has chosen with carefully selected tapas dishes which go perfectly together.  You get to learn a lot about Spanish Wines and more importantly, how to taste them, from appearance, aroma characteristics, sweetness, acidity, body and flavour characteristics.  It certainly opens your eyes to drinking wine and the ones tasted are easily accessible from local supermarkets and wine merchants and are not overly expensive to buy.

You have all the information in your work book about the wines and then space for your tasting notes at the back which are very useful to take away with you so you don’t forget what you’ve drunk and also so you know what to look for when going to the shops to buy your favourite Spanish wines. The tapas dishes which came out of the kitchen to accompany the wines went perfectly with all wines tasted. 

It’s a lovely experience if you like wine & food and it opens your eyes into the world of wine! An informative & fun evening to go with your wine & foodie friends.

There are many events coming up in the next few weeks – the next Spanish wine and Tapas Pairing Evening is on Tuesday 30th May 7pm – 9.30pm Tickets £35pp

Other events:

Italian Reds & Steak Night
Exclusive Six Course Food and Wine Taster Menu Lock-in-Night
Italian Wine and Antipasto Pairing Evening
French Reds and Steak Night
Introduction to Professional Wine Tasting
Cheese and Wine Night

for upcoming dates.

Follow Cowick Barton on Instagram @thecowickbartonexeter and Devon Local Wine School @localwineschool

In Other News

Gather, Totnes

Hyper local award winning restaurant Gather, based in Totnes, is having a wine tasting evening led by Christopher Piper wines. There will be a tasting menu too, for £115 for the evening.

Celebration of Speed at Lympstone Manor

Michael Caines lives life in the fast lane. So much so that he his annual Celebration of Speed is back at Lympstone Manor. This festival of cars with fantastic food thrown in too, is available to book now. There will be cars, food and music too in the evening.

Michelin Stars for Devon

While Devon may be known for its breath-taking landscapes and charming coastal towns, it has also emerged as a haven for food enthusiasts, with several restaurants in the region earning the coveted Michelin stars and this year we did pretty bloody well!

Food magazine has a fab run down of Michelin Stars in Devon and beyond, read it here.

Congratulations to all the restaurants that managed to hold on to them, but certainly Acleaf in Plymouth who achieved its first Michelin Star, solidifying its position as the top-rated and sole Michelin-starred restaurant in Plymouth. With an impressive 4 AA Rosettes already under its belt, this cozy establishment is placing the Southwest firmly on the map as a destination for discerning food enthusiasts, not just limited to London.


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