Burger Heaven at Meat59 – by Lauren Heath

“Another burger restaurant?? We already have plenty in the city” was the main reaction I noticed on social media when Meat59’s opening was announced.  I too, thought very similar, even wondering why they chose Magdalen Road as their home.

Those who know Meat59 by their reputation at their Torquay branch rejoiced, a foodie contact of mine who had been a few times gave rave reviews… so I thought, maybe they’re different. Owned by Jenna and her brother-in-law Vince, she looks after front of house and he is the master of the kitchen. The interior is all done by themselves and family members, which gives it a nice feeling of individuality, and the name comes from the door number of the Torquay site.

Their ethos on the website states: ‘We source as much local produce as possible from within the Devon and surrounding areas. We hand mix our meat, hand press our patties, breadcrumb our chicken, pull our pork and make our veggie patties from scratch, all this along with craft beer, local ciders and music to boot.’

We were kindly invited to try it out for ourselves in August whilst we were on our summer holiday break. We ventured out to this potentially burgerlicious venue on a Friday, early evening as a family of 3, with rumbling tummies post swimming session. From the road, it’s deceptively tiny – what looked like one table and a bar , in fact leads up to a mezzanine level then through to another room at the rear which has the light and space of a small conservatory/Sun room.  Each area having a slightly different feel, our table in the rear room was floored with dark wood, cheered up by plants and plenty of natural light.

The menu is just the right size; enough range to choose from but not so much that it inevitably makes the kitchen cheat by using frozen food. This is a fresh menu.

No messing about with starters – chicken wings it is! Feeling dubious about what might arrive, as even chicken wings can be done badly – we were delighted to tuck in to tender, soft meat falling off the bone covered in the tastiest spicy, slightly bbq, sauce. Even hubby who isn’t a fan of chicken on the bone was gnawing like a caveman.

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For mains I chose the Truffle Shuffle burger – a 6oz hamburger patty served with wild mushrooms, wilted spinach, caramelised red onion and truffle mayo. Hubby chose the Raging Bull –  6oz hamburger patty, roasted jalapeño cream cheese, extra hot Mexican style chilli cheddar (made in Somerset), piquant peppers, fresh jalapeños, rocket and chipotle mayo – which he doubled up on and our son had the cheeseburger from the kids menu.

Juicy, meaty, slightly pink (as they should be due to the excellent quality mince meat) burgers in delicious buns, slathered in toppings. The burgers don’t come with chips, which might annoy some but the burgers are rather filling on their own actually.  A couple of very interesting and tasty sounding vegetarian burgers are also available.

We did opt for a bowl each of dirty and filthy fries though…and boy were they naughty! Definitely sizeable to share or even have as a meal on their own; fantastic crunchy yet fluffy skin on chips slathered in, well… filthy, dirty, hangover-curing noise-inducing toppings! Fantastic meaty chilli con carne topped with sexy melted cheese and fresh jalapeno slices or soft and sultry tender pulled pork in a delightful bbq sauce also bedded with plenty of melted cheese. No morsel was left unturned, crispy cheese picked off the tin bowl edges just about leaving the bowl’s coating unharmed.

After all this we somehow managed to share a pud of unctuous double chocolate brownie. Delightful crunchy outer, gooey middle, two tone chocolate that somehow was not sickly but a perfect slightly sweet ending.

A really great meal out which genuinely got double thumbs up from all three of us; easy going dining with excellent down to earth food. I recommend you head to Meat59, and find your burger heaven. I give them meat100!

 

Meat59, 29 Magdalen Road, Exeter, EX2 4TA

            Website            Facebook               Instagram

 

 

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Beer and Burger Bonanza at The Bridge Inn, Topsham – by Lauren Heath

The road between Clyst St George and Topsham holds many talented local businesses – Naturalmat, Sapphire Spaces, Amos Lighting and now even the operations for Good Game. Two more of these is the successful Darts Farm and the unique and historic The Bridge Inn pub.

On the back of some playground chat whilst dropping the kids off at school, the business minded ladies at both The Butchers at Darts and The Bridge Inn decided they should do a joint event, especially considering they are so close together. The Bridge Inn already holds ticket-only USA banjo infused music evenings and occasional evenings with Darts Farm providing the fish and chips for customers within their beautiful long brewhouse.

So on a lovely weekday summer’s eve in July, we ventured down to our favourite local pub for The Butchers at Darts Farm and The Bridge inn’s Burger and Beer evening.

It was a community feeling affair; it’s an incredible space filled with treasure, trinkets and furniture and all customers sitting together with friends as well as strangers (you know the saying – ‘arrive as strangers, leave as friends’), all chatting and wondering of the foodie delights ahead.

Caroline, the current owner, told us a bit about the history of this beautiful end of their pink pub. Their history page states:

It is thought there was a dwelling on this site as early as 1086, in the time of the Domesday Book. The stonemasons responsible for the construction of Exeter Cathedral may have lodged here.

The present building you see is substantially 16th Century, but the actual date of the different parts varies considerably. Unlike today, much building in the past was piecemeal, with new rooms added as necessary. Most of the fabric is local stone, but the old brewhouse at the rear is traditional Devon cob. This has the remains of the hop drying floor, and is adjacent to a large brewing chimney.

Great-grandfather was William John Gibbings from Clyst St. George. He moved into the Inn in 1897, and our family has been there ever since. The current licensee is Caroline Cheffers-Heard, his Great Grand-daughter. She is the fourth generation, her daughter Riannon will be the fifth, and Amelia, born in April 2008, will be the sixth generation.

Outside The Butchers at Darts were cooking up a storm on the Big Green Egg, with burgers galore; thankfully the weather was kind, gifting us a glorious Thursday evening.

Beers and burgers were paired up, with Caroline explaining each pairing as we went along and Alastair telling us about the meat and their flavours. We were served sizeable ‘mini’ burgers with generous servings of local ales:

  • Pork burger with Clyst St Mary’s very own Powderkeg Speakeasy
  • Duck burger with Jollyboat’s Thunder
  • Lamb burger with Branscombe Vale’s Summa That

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The big finale was a steak burger with Exmoor’s Beast. This mouthful was served with delightfully fresh salads, and we ventured outside at this point to sit on a bench and enjoy the end of the evening al-fresco.

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The burgers were absolutely delicious, juicy and flavoursome and of course the meat is all locally reared or sourced and expertly prepared by the Butchers at Darts.

The business is family run and based within Darts Farm; brothers Philip and Alastair are Master Butchers, which is not a common title and it means they can choose the right animal by feeling and handling it live on the farm – they even judge competitions. ‘Their knowledge and expertise of breeding, rearing, sourcing, maturing and butchering the best livestock enables us to provide you with the highest quality meat which you can trust.’ Becky, wife to Alastair, takes care of marketing side of the business and was delighted to be able to organise this event and there are plans for more so keep an eye out!

Here’s a peek inside the pub; there are two rooms indoors and both well behaved dogs and children are welcome, but noisy mobile phones are not. Don’t come here if you’re expecting lagers – this pub serves some wines and spirits but are very well known and loved for their fantastic local ales straight from the barrel with an ever changing beer menu being updated on their Facebook page each week. Food-wise they simply serve Chunk’s pasties or ploughmans with local cheese or meats.

If the weather is beautiful enough, you can be served out of the hatch (pictured top left) and sit on the benches enjoying the view!

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So keep an eye out for more joint ventures with these two brilliant examples of what makes local businesses special. If you can’t wait for an event, pop to the pub for a pint and make sure you drop in at the butchers for your burgers to cook at home!

Smokin’ Summer Pop Up on Exeter Quay – by Lauren Heath

Exeter Quay is currently blooming into a real destination for foodies, as well as those seeking an escape from the busy city and their work life.

Night markets, cookery school, outdoor and indoor activities, arts and culture as well as the growing restaurant scene. At the weekend it comes alive with tourists and locals alike seeking the relaxed waterside vibe.

Recently, The Boat Shed (brainchild of the Bike Shed Theatre) has just docked, ready to provide many arts and social activities for everyone and breathing life into another beautiful stone building.

Alongside this eclectic new venture is an additional food offering for the summer – The Smoke Pit and Grill by Beer and Vittles. Paul Manville, owner of Beer & Vittles was asked by The Boat Shed to come up with a food offering to compliment their cocktail caravan that serves cocktails, beers and organic soft drinks, alfresco style. Paul has over 15 years of professional catering experience and jumped at the chance to do something different on weekends for Quay punters over the summer season.

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So aside the stone wall, with high quality wooden tables and benches to eat al fresco, The Smoke Pit and Grill serves items such as low and slow brisket, BBQ’d jerk chicken leg and even a homemade vegan burger – all items homemade or bought from local farm shops, bread rolls so local they are from the Boatyard Cafe and Bakery across the river and the brisket is smoked overnight to bring you juicy soft meat on the day.

We visited on Sunday lunch and enjoyed a bit of everything – the brisket was tender, the chicken juicy and I must admit the black bean and chestnut vegan burger was excellent (I’m very carnivorous and was impressed!). Even the sauces on the side have an added twist, making them extra tasty too.

Too lovely to sit inside one of the fab restaurants on the Quay? Dine casual bbq style with The Smoke Pit and Grill; maybe even treat yourself to a delicious Dartington ice cream after from The Boat Shed. Here’s to a smokin’ summer!

You can find The Smoke Pit and Grill by Beer and Vittles on social media:

Twitter         Facebook           Website

Recipe: Favis of Salcombe Summer Crab Burger

In this warm weather, we find we’re still pretty hungry, working hard to stay cool! But the last thing you want is a hot and heavy dinner – thanks to Favis of Salcombe for sharing this lovely and easy crab burger recipe.

Favis of Salcombe have been fishing the waters off the South Devon coastline since 1972. Their hand-picked crab meat has won a series of awards and is delicious, fresh, easy to cook and good for you too! 

BBQ Crab Burger with Pickled Cucumber & Lime Mayo

Serves 4

For the cucumber

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 small cucumber, cut into thin ribbons

For the burger

454g (1 tub) Favis white crabmeat

50g fresh white breadcrumbs

Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon

1 large egg

Plain flour, for dusting

4 ciabatta buns, toasted

Small handful rocket

For the mayo

4 tbsp mayonnaise

Finely grated zest of 1 lime

Juice of ½ lime

Pinch of salt

  1. For the cucumber, pour the vinegar into a shallow dish. Add the sugar and stir together until the sugar dissolves. Add the cucumber and toss to coat. Leave to stand while you make the burgers.
  2. For the burger, place the crabmeat, breadcrumbs, lemon zest and egg into the bowl of a food processor and pulse together until mixed. Season with crushed sea salt and ground black pepper
  3. Divide the mixture into four and shape into burgers about 9cm in diameter. You can either do this by hand or press the mixture into a 9 cm round cutter or chefs ring to help shape. Place the burgers on a plate lined with greaseproof paper and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the grill to high and cook the crab burgers for 4 minutes on each side. To barbecue, place each burger on a double thickness sheet of foil and cook for 8 minutes, turning half way through cooking.
  5. For the mayo, mix the mayonnaise, lime zest, lime juice and salt together in a small bowl.
  6. To serve, drain the cucumber in a sieve. Split the buns (toast or griddle them if preferred) and spread the top and bottom with the lime mayo. Put some rocket on the bottom then sit the crab burger on top. Top with the cucumber, then the bun lid.

 

For more information or ideas, visit Favis of Salcombe’s website

Credit – Becca Watson Food Styling

URBAN DELIVERY GOES LIVE

urbanburger is launching a new URBAN DELIVERY service in Exeter on Friday, 24th February 2017. Their mission is to deliver high quality food straight to their customers’ homes, by delivery drivers on motor bikes.

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Simply download the app at https://urbanburger.app4food.co.uk and place your order for delivery. You can even pre-order a delivery for a specific time. And you can also book a table at urbanburger via the app.

URBAN DELIVERY is available on Fridays and Saturdays, from 5pm to 10pm and on Sundays from 5pm to 9pm.

Areas covered include Exeter City Centre, Exwick, St Thomas, Alphington, St David’s, Duryard & St James, Newtown, Pennsylvania, St Leonards, Mincing Lake & Whipton, Pinhoe, Heavitree, Priory and St Loyes.

Owner, Garth Pearse, says, “We’re very excited about our new URBAN DELIVERY service. As well as our delicious burgers, customers can order a large selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to be delivered straight to their front door.”

All URBAN DELIVERY orders will receive a 10% discount until 31st March 2017.

Five Guys, Queen Street


74 Queen Street, Exeter EX4 3RX – 01392 276744

As we waved goodbye to Ruby Burgers, muffled reports came in that there would be a large well known chain Burger restaurant moving in.  The doors closed and we waited with baited anticipation to discover who it was going to be.  MeatLIQUOR? Patty and Bun? Five Guys?

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Five Guys is like some sort of neon advertisement for modern Americana.  Here you’re offered a refillable ‘Soda’ not a fizzy drink.  To those who know Five Guys from the States you’ll not find much difference as the format is pretty much identical.  You won’t have to wait too long for your food, but you’ll have to unwrap it and you don’t get a tray (at least none that I can see).  But you do get free monkey nuts…

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Maybe it is immensely unfair to compare Five Guys to McDonalds? The burgers are far better, the chips (fries) are a universe away from anything you would find in the neon-hell of Maccy Dee’s and the prices are on quite different levels, but essentially the format is the same.

Five Guys were started in 1986 by Janie and Jerry Murrell; Jerry and the couple’s sons, Jim, Matt, Chad, and Ben were the original “Five Guys.  To this day the business is a family affair with the sons being responsible for different aspects of the business.

In the UK there are 27 Five Guys branches after the first one opened in London back in 2013.  Since then there has been a big expansion throughout the rest of the country with Five Guys filling an unoccupied niche for fast-food style gourmet burgers.

We visited with some friends after a swanky party at the RAMM.  It was 09:30pm and the restaurant had smatterings of people coming back from the pub or just out for a bite to eat.  Customers walk up to the till, choose from a small menu of burgers or hot dogs, choose the toppings which are all free and choose fries and or a refillable bottomless soda or something else to drink.  That is it.

There are no airs-graces or bells, whistles, twiddly bits or knobs.  This is a stripped down experience with the food at the centre stage.

And they won’t let you forget it; the walls are adorned with testimonials from customers and press.  This is just weird.  There is a feeling that they need to constantly remind you as you are eating your food how amazing others find it, and if you feel anything that isn’t complete happiness then you’re just plain wrong.

Burgers are prepared in full view.  If you’re sharp-eyed you can see your burger being prepped and cooked in front of you.

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We found that a lot of the tables were quite grubby.  On reflection we most probably should have moved away from the door as we were visited by a homeless lady who wanted money or food.

As she came in to the restaurant there was no effort from the staff to ask her to leave. This is a tricky situation, and given the problem of homelessness in Exeter not all too surprising.

I had a Bacon Cheeseburger. This comprises of two generous flat-patties of Irish Beef with ‘fake’ cheese and Bacon.  It was £8.95 with Little Fries at £2.95 and the Refillable Soda also £2.95* I can’t remember and given their website has absolutely no prices on the online menu.

The website states about the burger that ‘Our beef is 120-day grain finished from family owned farms in Ireland. Less than 1% of all UK beef qualifies. We serve our patties juicy, glistening and well done.’ – So when did Ireland join the UK?

Ultimately this is a chain restaurant.  It doesn’t support local businesses by buying local, it just exists in its own microcosm.  If you want a burger like this, then head down the road to Urban Burger and buy local.  The burgers were very nice, but the whole thing had a twinge of guilt connected to it, the same guilt one feels when one is sitting in Burger King.

The burgers are cooked fresh, everything is good, but unfortunately for Five Guys they’re just another restaurant in an already crowded market which Exeter doesn’t really need.

I can’t bring myself to give it a recommended status on the blog, mostly because it has too many echoes of the large fast-food chains.  The service was impersonal, it felt like any other fast food chain but just much more expensive and with nicer food.

Ruby Kitchen at The Grapevine Brewhouse, Exmouth

For burger fans in Exeter, we lost one of the best Burger joints in Exeter as Ruby Modern Diner closed the doors on its Queen St restaurant. But the saving grace to the story was that it wasn’t the end, in fact it was just the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Ruby Burgers.

2 Victoria Rd, Exmouth EX8 1DL – @TheGrapevineExm @RUBYBURGERS

www.rubyburgers.com

www.thegrapevineexmouth.com

For burger fans in Exeter, we lost one of the best Burger joints in Exeter as Ruby Modern Diner closed the doors on its Queen St restaurant.  But the saving grace to the story was that it wasn’t the end, in fact it was just the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Ruby Burgers.

We were lucky enough to be invited over to visit The Grapevine Brewhouse in Exmouth to welcome in their new kitchen-in-residence.

Whilst in Queen Street they won Taste Of The West Gold for three years running along with a host of other awards.  So what made Dicky and Erin Harrison want to move operations to Exmouth?

Erin Harrison, co-owner – “The opportunity for a kitchen residence came up at the Grapevine and was too good to miss! Its a fantastic pub and Exmouth has a great vibe and plenty of independent restaurants and bars, we thought Ruby would be a great fit. Also we were unsure of the impact of the Guildhall and other new developments in the centre of Exeter and felt that Exmouth would be a better home for us.”

For Burgerlad (one of the UK’s foremost burger bloggers) Ruby Modern Diner had been recommended to him countless times on Twitter and when he visited them in Queen Street it lived up to his expectations.  Every time we visited we were always full and very happy with every visit.

The Grapevine Brewhouse is a fantastic independent establishment owned by Oliver and Demelza Bainbridge.  It is also home to Ollie’s brewing operations named Crossed Anchors, which brews its product on-site. The perfect combination – local beer and local burgers, and throw in some regular live music events along with a vast selection of guest ales and continental beers, and you have a winning combination.

Erin says “The pub hosts great bands every week and is really busy and buzzy and of course I have to say the BEER! Crossed Anchors is the on site brewery and they are creating some awesome craft beer and ales. Ollie also stocks a huge range of international beers – so there is something for everyone and of course their beer is the perfect match for our burgers”

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With the wood paneled walls, shelves adorned with decorative paraphernalia there is a cosiness to this pub that invites you in from the cold.  The warmth of lamps and the low lighting makes this an inviting sight on a cold winter night and on the food tables are the all too familiar mustard and ketchup. Just like it was in Exeter.

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Ruby have changed their menu to adapt to their new home.  All Burgers come with fries, home-made ‘slaw and a pickle.  Before these were items that you could add separately and the prices reflect this change, but the classic names are still on the menu.

The Bad Man, Piggy, Blue, Scorchio are all names I’ve missed! But here they are, as good as they were and back in my life.  Luckily for Ruby, the two Head Chefs who steered the boat in Exeter (excuse the pun) are still at the healm! Erin added “We’re lucky and proud to say our two head chefs from Exeter, Rob and Mark made the move with us and are really happy in their new home. they’ve worked really hard to bring Ruby to the Grapevine and we think our burgers are better than ever.”

Ruby are still using  local suppliers and their local ethos is still at the heart of what they do. Roger The Farmer from Copplestone provides their beef, Exploding Bakery in Exeter provides brownies, Darts Fresh provides veg, Hawkridge from Crediton still provides cheeses etc.

It is a testament to a restaurant when you get chatting to a regular who sing the praises of the pub and Ruby Burgers.  As I was taking photos I got in to a bit of banter with some gentlemen sat by the iconic Ruby Burgers hatch who praised the consistency and quality of the food.

Our burgers for tonight would be the Blue 7oz beef patty, chestnut mushrooms, caramelised onions and Devon Blue cheese (£12.50) and the Piggy 7oz beef patty, home smoked pulled pork, smoked Applewood cheddar, smoked streaky bacon, Ruby sauce (£13.50).

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My Blue Burger was a delight to eat.  Chestnut mushrooms and the tang of the blue cheese made the burger feel more steak-like; it contrasted well with the sweetness of the caramelised onions.  The fries were, naturally, fresh and hot and it was presented on that iconic Ruby logo paper.  The bun was intact throughout the meal and not a soggy bottom in sight.

Tori’s was Piggy was quite a burger to behold as it was packed generously with pulled pork and bacon – it was brimming!  So much that half way through taking photos, it lurched to the side and suffered from the burger-topple effect.

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But this was no barrier to the taste.  It was a charming and delightful burger with a sweet smokiness throughout.  The home smoked pulled pork was a winning combination with the tasteful Devon Ruby beef.

The beer at The Grapevine Brewhouse is extensive in choice.  One of the region’s best selections of international beers coupled with their own delectable in-house brewed beers and ales make it an absolute mecca for local beer lovers.  As we sipped our pint of C.S.H (stands for Cascading Smash Hopburst) which was a spritely hoppy blonde ale at 3.8%ABV, I imagined afternoons cycling down to Exmouth and having a few pints and a burger at The Grapevine before hopping back on a train feeling slightly merry and full.

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There is something quite epic about the combination of a beautifully crafted local beer and a burger made from ingredients from this wonderful county.  And although we’ve lost a fantastic Exeter name on our restaurant scene, we have given it to Exmouth and they love it.

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Ruby Burgers has been open since October and in that short space of time it feels like they’ve imprinted themselves in to the fabric of the town; the partnership between The Grapevine Brewhouse and Ruby Kitchen seems so natural.  Not just because beer and burgers go so well together, but because here are two businesses that are already doing great things

Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Queen St – by Chris Gower

Burgers are highly subjective things to write about. I spend a lot of time talking about burgers as they are one of my favourite foodstuffs.  Some love them and talk about them with a passion, they would be happy if every single restaurant had an extensive burger menu and would most probably be equally happy if every restaurant was a burger restaurant too.  These types of people are called Burger-nerds (I’ve just made that up) and although I am objective about the role that different types of restaurant play in the dining scene of any town or city, I am fully supportive of burger restaurants – So long as there are not too many of them – and would consider myself a Burger-nerd.

Depending on who you talk to will give you a variety of opinions, but the general opinion is that there are too many burger restaurants in Exeter.  If you read my article in Exeter Living last year on this matter, I stated that I believe that anymore of this type of restaurant will saturate the dining scene in Exeter and I still hold to this.  Since I wrote the article we’ve not gained anymore, but we have gained a Five Guys as a replacement to Ruby Modern Diner that closed last year and moved operations down to Exmouth.  We now have an equal number of chain burger restaurants (Byron, Five Guys, GBK) to independent (Urban Burger, Hubbox, Zita’s) so it will be interseting to see what the landscape does in the coming years.

When GBK opened, we were invited to their launch night which I am using a few photos from in this article.  Everything was manicured nicely, the food was quick and everything was free.  The meal that we had was north of £50 for two of us, but it didn’t matter as it was the launch night.  We were impressed with the decor, in fact I fell in love with the pseudo-sixties modernist features and the speakeasy lighting.  It was mostly cosy and had perfect windows for people watching.

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When we visited this week, we had different things in mind.  Like most of the world, we’re January-Poor so can’t afford to splash out on a full meal and we really didn’t want to go home and cook.  So I downloaded the GBK App and up popped their latest offer, two burgers for £12! Upgrade the Resident Heroe burgers to £1.50 and off you go.

We arrived at GBK as ungalmorous as you could imagine.  Bags of shopping, slightly dishevelled and absolutlely starving.  We were greeted at the door by guy who looked casually managerial, he was dressed differently from the others and was really friendly throughout our visit as were all of the staff who served us.

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The menu is quite straight forward and follows the general format of burger restaurants. Choose your burger, choose your side separately and choose your drink.  Tori went for THE STACK (£10.95) which featured Grilled chorizo, Red Leicester cheese, house onion ring, smoked chilli mayo, rocket, pickled onions and house relish with a side of small skinny fries. I went for THE CAJUN BLUE (£9.15) which featured Cajun marinated chicken, blue cheese slaw, jalapenos, pineapple and sriracha mayo also with skinny fries.

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We both went for the refillable Fresh and Fizzy drink options which were essentially non-alcoholic cocktails for very little.  £2.45 got us an Elderflower and a Ginger & Lemongrass pint of fizz that was – get this – REFILLABLE!

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Some of my foodie friends had commented about the time that it took to get their food on their visits to GBK.  The delivery of our food was swift, there wasn’t much waiting for our drinks either but we did go before the peak evening rush, so bear in mind that this restaurant can get busy at times.

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I was happy with my burger generally, although the chicken was a little overcooked.  The taste was something else, and the pineapple sitting happily in the middle of the whole burger added a different perspective to each mouthful.  Tori felt although the burger was nice, it hadn’t matched up to the one she had during our previous visit.  We asked for medium-rare but it was more well-done.  Our skinny fries were super skinny, but also very tasty and well seasoned.

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For the price you pay GBK isn’t mind-blowing. It is acceptable, it is very nice, it is most pleasing and I am sure I will go there again.  The interior is lovely, the staff are friendly but it is expensive (but not as expensive as other places).  But let us compare it to Byron Burgers… it is cheaper and the burgers are on a different planet to the quality of Bryon and the prices are much better.  As chain burgers restaurants go, it is pretty much the best;  they’ve been doing it since 2001 and it has some mileage in their experience.  They have a successful format which is oft replicated and burgers that are firm classics in the eyes of their many followers across the UK.

ee-recommends

On The Waterfront, Exeter Quay – by Lauren Heath

On The Waterfront, 4-9 The Quay, Exeter, Devon, EX2 4AP – 01392 210590

http://www.waterfrontexeter.co.uk

@OTWexeter

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A long term favourite of mine has to be On The Waterfront; a restaurant based in the old ship buildings down on the Quay, it is well known for its ‘dustbin lid’ pizzas as well as a great drinking venue for the summer with punters spilling out on the riverside cobbles.

Long boatrooms with sloped ceilings, small and large tables able to cater for all party types, for young and old alike.

Large 16″ pizzas served in a wicker pizza tray – many try, some succeed and others fail. If you don’t succeed, you get to take it home and have round 2 the next day – so you don’t lose really.

I’ve been here as a couple, a family get together, group of friends and a large work outing with my most recent visit being a group family dinner for my Dad’s birthday. It was the perfect venue; a menu of fish, burgers and pizzas I knew it would satisfy the easy going one, the fussy one, the seafood lover (not least my 6 year old!) and the very hungry one in my family.

Due to the lighting my photos probably don’t do it justice,  all I can say is that everyone was satisfied and it is excellent value and never disappoints.

Dustbin lid pizza’s can be enjoyed as a ‘half and half’ enabling you to indulge in two of their exciting toppings and they certainly don’t scrimp!

Among the items that were devoured were half and half Fiesta Mexicana and No Meat Aloud, a half and half Fully Loaded and Fiesta Mexican, the Fiery Inferno, a half and half Tikka Chicken special and Fully Loaded as well as two bowls of Fruits de Mer which were served with chunky ciabatta fingers – great for soaking up the sauce.

Puddings included Elderflower Pannacotta with Peppered Strawberries, Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownie and Chocolate filled Spanish Churros Fritters with Baileys Cream.

You hungry yet? You won’t be when you leave! Grab some family or friends and get down there pronto…you may need a walk around the canal to burn it off.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen – Press Night

Last week (or was it the week before last?) we were invited along to the opening of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, the second restaurant to open as part of The Queen St Dining Quarter.  With a lump in my throat for the recent loss of Ruby Burgers (loss for us but definite WIN for Exmouth!) this new kid on the burger block has reputation and heritage in the world of burgers – having been the first proper restaurant to serve Gourmet Burgers in the UK back in 2001 – it is certainly one of the largest burger chains in the UK.

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My love of burgers stretches back many years. I started a blog about them, I tend to choose the burger option in restaurants that we review and I love cooking them (with varying degrees of success), so the prospect of a GBK opening is Exeter has been an exciting one for me.  Given the reputation and the amount of positive feedback that I’ve received about other GBKs, I don’t seem to be the only one who is looking forward to its arrival.  EDIT: It’s arrived! Opened 12th September!

After my recent reviews in esteemed establishments such as The Salutation Inn and The Pig Hotel, it was nice to get down and dirty with a burger.

The stylish interior has clearly been thought about, and with the vast window looking out on to Queen Street it is the perfect recipe for people watching!

The range of burgers is impressive with upwards of 24 different varieties.  The burger meat is grass fed Aberdeen Angus from Laverstoke, so not locally local like Zita’s or Urban Burger.

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Tori went for ‘The Stack’ (£10.95) – Grilled chorizo, Red Leicester cheese, house onion ring, smoked chilli mayo, rocket, pickled onions, house relish and I went for The Mighty (£12.45) – Two 6oz patties, mature Cheddar, crispy bacon, garlic mayo, relish, dill pickle.  We went for a side of Truffle Cheese Fries £3.95 – chunky skin-on fries with truffle cheese sauce and grana padano.

The burgers were lovely, well cooked and as tasty as I had been led to believe by all of the positive comments I’d heard about GBK before.  The fries were nice, the truffle sauce was a little odd at first but a definite improvement on the traditional cheesy chips.

With friendly staff and a sexy interior (never thought I would describe an interior as sexy!) I can see this restaurant being one we’ll be visiting again.  As an alternative to the misery of Byron Burgers, GBK is definitely the one to fill it. Although it won’t replace Ruby Burgers, it will fill a much needed burger shaped hole.

 

Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) is celebrating the opening of its new Exeter restaurant with a big burger giveaway.

GBKSpreading the burger joy from its brand new location at Queen St Dining, in the Guildhall Shopping Centre, GBK Exeter will be giving away 100 cheeseburgers from midday on opening day – 12th September. Be sure to arrive early so you don’t miss out.

Proud of serving gourmet burgers since 2001, GBK kick-started the premium burger trend and was the first to introduce gourmet burgers to the London market. Setting itself apart from the rest with a huge range of adventurous crafted burgers, GBK uses 100% prime beef, hand selected and traditionally reared on independent farms across the South West counties. GBK only ever uses the freshest ingredients and creates sauces from scratch every day.

In 2001, three kiwi guys set up the first GBK in Battersea, South London. Their philosophy was simple – to create a fresh, quality burger reminiscent of the gourmet burgers they were used to back in New Zealand. They were the first to introduce gourmet burgers to the London market and we still pride ourselves on serving up the freshest burgers; combining 100% prime beef, hand selected and traditionally reared on independent farms across the South West counties, with the freshest ingredients and sauces made from scratch every day in each GBK kitchen.

GBK Marketing Manager, Laura Pettingale comments: “There’s been a lot of buzz around our arrival and we couldn’t be more excited to finally welcome the burger lovers of Exeter through our doors. We wanted to open with a bang and what better way to celebrate than with free burgers?”

GBK Exeter will be the restaurant’s 76th to open. Located in the Guildhall Shopping Centre, and opening on 12 September, the restaurant will create 45 jobs in the local area.

For exclusive burger rewards and benefits, download the GBK app. Take advantage of our Order & Collect service, to pre-order burgers from GBK Exeter and collect at a time that suits you.

GBK Exeter, Guildhall Shopping Centre, Exeter, EX4 3EB

Ruby Modern Diner to close in Exeter

With great sadness I have to announced that Ruby Modern Diner, or ‘Ruby Burgers’ is closing their doors in Exeter, but moving to Exmouth instead!  They were THE first restaurant to engage with this blog when we had just started five years ago, and we’ve worked with Erin and Dicky over the years as they’ve served some of the best burgers in Exeter.  Read our initial review of Ruby Burgers here.

The brainchild of Erin and Dicky Harrison, Ruby Modern Diner opened on Queen Street in January 2013 and was one of the first restaurants to bring the trend of American street food to Exeter.

Since 2013 Ruby has won several prestigious awards, including three Taste of the West Gold awards and Taste of Devon’s Best Takeaway 2014.

Ruby Modern Diner is closing its doors in Exeter on 3rd September and relocating to the sunny shores of Exmouth.

Taking over the kitchen at craft brewhouse The Grapevine, Ruby’s award winning burgers and the Grapevine’s huge range of craft beer and ales are a match made in heaven. The Ruby Kitchen will continue to serve much-loved Ruby classics including the Notorious PIG and Mutha Ducka as well as their famous $5 shakes.

Ruby Owner Dicky Harrison said

“We’ve have just had our first child Jasmine and have made a life choice to move the business to where we live in Exmouth. We’re proud to have blazed the trail of independent restaurants in Exeter and to have given so many local suppliers a platform to showcase their amazing produce, however we love the spirit of Exmouth town and think Ruby will fit right in!”

 

Grapevine
Courtesy of Ruby Modern Diner

Ollie Bainbridge, owner of the Grapevine added:

“This is so exciting for the Grapevine and Exmouth. Ruby’s awesome homemade and wholesome food is the perfect complement to our fantastic craft beer and ale selection. Exmouth is thriving, there are great bars and restaurants, beautiful beaches and it’s just 25 minutes on the train or a leisurely cycle ride from Exeter. We’re very excited to be joining forces and bringing Ruby to the seaside.”

Base and Barley’s New Burger Menu – by Lauren Heath

I was recently invited to a bloggers evening at Base and Barley following the release of their new burger menu. I have seen all manner of burger puns being shared over Twitter recently: “Does my bun look big in this?” and “lets ketchup over dinner then burger off for a dance at the meatball”…let’s move on before this get’s too cheesy!

Having visited previously when they first opened and tried their pizza offering, I can understand why they may want to expand the menu slightly to appeal even more to their target audience. There are already plenty of burger options in the city, but none of them offer pizza too, so I guess this would happily satisfy a family or group of mixed tastes.

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On arrival we were offered a variety of beers, prosecco and cocktails to try. Whilst I am already a fan of prosecco (no convincing needed there!) Steve tried some of the beers; their selection has expanded which now includes one of their own local brews on tap. As well as beers on tap, they have bottled beers from the UK and beyond. Steve tried Curious Brew which is a premium lager, re-fermented with Champagne yeast which definitely had that light flavour and fizz at the end of each mouthful. He also loved the Einstock Icelandic White Ale which features the complex flavours of the classic witbier, including orange peel and coriander – all brewed with pure Icelandic water.

The cocktails served included my favourite Espresso Martini, and one I haven’t tried before called a Pornstar Martini – a passionfruit based martini served with a shot of prosecco on the side! The cocktail is very sweet so the shot is there to cleanse the palate as you go, it looked very pretty.

The burgers then followed; we were served a selection of everything, served exactly as it would be for the diner, with a mixture of normal and sweet potato fries on the side. First of all, and everyone agreed with a variety of sounds as we politely nibbled fries before delving into the burgers, the sweet potato fries were excellent! They were thicker than you would normally find and were not oily or limp as I have experienced before – they were delicious! Another obvious agreement was how nice the brioche buns were, very light and fluffy.

The homemade burgers include fresh (purple) house slaw and skin on fries and we tried the Vegetarian burger (£9.95), Chicken burger (£10.95) and the Fully Loaded burger (£10.95). This seems a fair price considering other local venues charge similar but with fries costing extra.

The Vegetarian consists of a chickpea, sweetcorn, coriander and paprika patty served with batavia lettuce, red onion, tomato and smoked garlic chutney and mayonnaise in a brioche bun.  It was very tasty and a soft texture. It was quite squishy (for want of a better word) but this was clearly homemade.

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The Fully loaded consisted of homemade beef pattie blended with sweet roquito peppers (slightly hot) served with crispy bacon, emmental cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomato, red onion and house sauce in a brioche bun. It was a very tasty, juicy burger with a good texture and the meat is purchased from a local butcher. I also really enjoyed the house sauce which you could clearly taste.

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The Chicken burger was a piri piri chicken breast, tomato, red onion, batavia lettuce and cooling mint and cucumber yoghurt in a brioche bun. Another delicious option, with a meaty chicken breast and well topped.

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Base and Barley’s surroundings are relaxing with light wooded booths in the restaurant area decorated with fairy lights, and a bar area of high stools and tall tables. They welcome all guests, especially families, and kids eat for £1!

All in all, we were pleased to ‘meat’ the new additions to Base and Barley’s menu and suggest you give them a try. If you feel like reading some ‘cheesy’ burger puns, find the action on Twitter by searching for #burgerpun. Now ‘burger’ off to Base and Barley and you’ll be sure of love at first bite!

 

Boston Tea Party: Exeter’s very own Tardis – by Lauren Heath

Boston Tea Party – 84 Queen Street, Exeter, EX4 3RP, Tel: 01392 201181

Free wifi, open Mon – Sat 7am til 7pm and Sun 8am til 6pm.

Boston Tea Party have 18 cafes from as high as Birmingham all the way down to Barnstaple, with a 19th cafe about to open in Bristol (making the total 6 in and around the city!). I must admit, I haven’t been to a BTP in a few years, since the Salisbury branch we tried when it opened over 4 years ago when I lived there – we weren’t particularly blown away based on the existing offering in the city. I note on their website that 80% of their suppliers are based in the South West and that their eggs and meat are all free range – so this is a good start to reignite my interest.

BTP is based in another prominent building I pass most days, and my particular thoughts have been ‘oh it’s seems a bit small’. I can’t tell you how wrong I was – this is a true example of ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’!

The buildng was originally purpose built as a post office but was only used for this for around 7 years; Exeter’s Boston Tea Party has been in the building since 1998! The ground floor area has 2 small tables along with window seats where you can watch the world go by, along with a few tables out the front. It also houses the takeaway fridge with yummy sandwiches and cold drinks as well as the counter and main hub where it all happens.

This level is very deceiving as I was blown away by the contrast of upstairs which is bright and open, with high ceilings and plenty of tables and could be compared to the tardis – it is even painted blue. The calm colours and lighting work well with the natural light that pours in. There are plenty of adjoining tables as well as separate ones to cope with any size group of people. Some sofa seats line the left side, below a noticeboard encouraging local paraphernalia, leading to a book corner with another sofa.

The fact this is really an upstairs cafe does prove an access problem for those who can’t tackle stairs. Unless you have help I don’t think you could take a pram up but that is the nature of the building and possibly a problem that can’t be fixed even if they wanted to. Once you have found your table after venturing upstairs, you have to go back downstairs to order, remembering your table number – perhaps this is something that needs to be re-thought as, if you were on your own, this would pose the possibility of losing your table unless you left your belongings behind to claim it and similarly if you had a child with you it would be a big inconvenience.

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So as I browsed the menu, I was pleased to have been invited into the old post office to see what BTP has done to put their ‘stamp’ on the coffee/tea/cafe market – the menu has been consistent over time but recently some toasted sandwiches and raw veg smoothie drinks have been added to expand their offering. An additional leaflet attached to the menu told me to ‘Cut the Crappe’…the cheeky yet clever title referred to some new drinks using avocado instead of frappe powder (a mix of unnatural ingredients, high in sugar used to give the smooth texture used by most competitors in their frappes). It is full of vitamins and potassium and they use maple syrup for sweetness.  I instantly decided on the mocha crappe and it was delicious. Not full of ice which tends to dilute it; it was fluffy, creamy and even malty- that could be the coffee flavour.  I would definitly have it again.

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For research purposes I also tried ‘The Red One’ from the new raw veg smoothies – a drink containing beetroot, carrot, apple, cucumber, orange juice, ginger, mint and parsley (£3.35). A large vibrant maroon filled jar arrived equipped with straw – this is definitely not my sort of drink normally but I must say that all the flavours blended well together and with each sip you could still identify the different elements but without anything being overpowering. There were lots of bits in it, so either more blitzing needed or a bigger straw in order to avoid blockages! There is the option of ‘The Green One’ – I’ll let you find out what that is yourself…

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I must say there was plenty to tempt me on their large menu, which consisted of breakfast, brunch, lighter options, mains, toasted sandwiches and salads. All items are served all day so you are not tied to turn up at a certain time to get your favourite. I was very impressed by the tea options (if that’s what you’re into) – I dont think I have ever seen such choice. I counted 25 vegetarian options and 4 vegan items, clearly marked and there is almond and soya milk available for hot drinks too. There is also gluten free bread, which is made especially for them in Bristol. This isn’t something I have to worry about but it’s great that it is obvious and those who are concerned don’t need to feel they have to ask as it’s clear to see. Normally a large menu spells frozen items, and not fresh but I can see that a lot of the ingredients are used in different combinations in various meals across the menu – this instills confidence in a clever use of stock/ingredients and minimising waste – it allows them to offer more when in fact they use less and therefore can use fresh.

The brunch options that stood out for me included Chorizo Hash (£7.75), my favourite Eggs Benedict (£6.75) and then the Sourdough Eggy Bread, Smoked Bacon and Avocado (£7.50). I chose the latter as it sounded very different and right up my street. Delicious oven roasted vine tomatoes sat atop a generous fan of avocado, kept company by lovely smokey bacon all sitting on top of some lovely soft eggy bread. The assumption that you would use the tobasco they provide as part of the meal is a good one, as a few drops here and there really livens this up – I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also chose the Chipotle Chicken and Parmesan Toasted Sandwich and went with the half option (£3.50) – it was a good lunch portion and with very nice quality bread. The salad had a vibrant zingy dressing, the sandwich contained tasty chiquito peppers and good chunks of chicken.  The parmesan was subtle and the chipotle was just enough in the background to lift it in flavour with a hint of heat but nothing too spicy.

The room was fairly well filled with around 50 – 60 people, and I noted one or two people querying the delivery of their lunch – I too waited maybe 20 mins for my food. What I will say is,  that although they call themselves a cafe, this is not another coffee chain with just sandwiches in the fridge and you get served your toasted takeway swiftly – it is in fact a cafe-come-restaurant. So appreciate that you are getting a good meal, well cooked and this takes time as it is not fast food. I really enjoyed my visit to this tardis and I will absolutely return to investigate the rest of the brunch menu…whether or not that is actually at brunch time, lunch time or early dinner is up for discussion – but no pressure, they serve it all, all day.

Until next time BTP…TTFN!

www.bostonteaparty.co.uk

 

A Business lunch at Bill’s, Exeter – by Lauren Heath

32-33 Gandy Street, Exeter, Devon EX4 3LS – 01392 259 227

Monday – Saturday 8am – 11pm
Sunday (and bank holidays) 9am – 10:30pm

In a city full of a variety of restaurants at all budgets, I was delighted when I was told I could choose where to go for a business lunch meeting – delighted and bewildered! I love ALL food – the choice was too large. I felt an opportunity here for a restaurant that has not been featured on the blog, and also somewhere I had been to before and enjoyed enough to return, also to ‘save face’ and be confident of guaranteed satisfaction for my meeting partner.

I settled on Bill’s in Gandy Street, which is also very conveniently located about 100 yards from my work and with a busy schedule, was not too far to go if I was running late – which I was. I had already booked online using their easy system to ensure a table, as I have seen the place bursting at the seams most days as I walk by during my lunch break.

On entry we were very warmly greeted and I mentioned the name of my booking; I had written some notes online about requesting a larger table for the 2 of us and in a quieter corner if possible. I’m not sure if this shows on their booking sheet as I had to repeat my request verbally to the hostess, but nonetheless it was granted with absolute ease and no feel of us being awkward. In order to accommodate this request they offered us a table upstairs; having only ever sat downstairs, I accepted gladly and we were seated by 2 large windows at a spacious table that was not too close to others. We had a great view of downstairs through the railings and a very light and airy feel to the whole room.

Bill’s serves breakfast as well as a good sized main menu across lunch and dinner. Over the last 3 years I have enjoyed their breakfast once and lunch twice – my most recent visit being at the beginning of the year. In addition to this they have a very well priced set menu from 12pm until 7pm, with 2 courses for £10.95 and 3 courses for £12.95.

Whilst perusing the menu, I knew from experience which drink I wanted right away and ordered the Elderflower Cordial (priced at £2.50) which can be served hot or cold – I opted for cold which has a selection of fresh fruits floating at the top. It is delicious and refreshing and just a bit more exciting if you are not able to choose a cocktail or similar. There are plenty of fruity non alcholic options if you’re that way inclined. There are plenty of wines, beers and everything else you’d expect of course.

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Whilst browsing the menus, our waiter asked if we wanted the windows opened, to which we replied yes as it was a lovely (and humid) day. He then apologised for the noise of the delivery truck just outside and assured us it would be moving on shortly – what a nice touch – being concerned for their customers enjoyment regarding something they have no control over, I was very impressed.

My business partner chose from the set menu; a starter of Potted Ham Hock and the main of Hot Smoked Salmon Salad (£10.95 total). I have recently been on a bit of a carb-free rule during the week but that went ‘out the window’ as the Rarebit Mac ‘n Cheese (£9.95) was standing out for me as a treat and it sounded different and so not to be left out I settled on a starter as well, choosing one of my favourite items – Crispy Calamari (£6.50).

The Potted Ham Hock came in a glass pot containing mustard mayo, radish and watercress with toasted campagne bread on the side. It was vibrant in colour and delicious so I was told, with enough bread to cater for the quantity of food. The Crispy Calamari was served with a tartare sauce and red pepper tapenade; both were delicious. The panko style breadcrumbs were light and crispy and the squid was cooked to perfection without being too oily.

They were spot on with their check back timings and I found that we were left long enough after we had finished eating before they took our plates away, and with a nice enough gap between courses. We didn’t feel rushed at all yet felt well attended to.

Mains arrived and we were both delighted visually. My business partner’s salad looked vibrant and well stocked with enough salmon versus salad and veg. I had a taste of it and the fish was beautifully smoked and the right ‘meaty’ texture. It contained baby potatoes, radish, long stem broccoli, green beans, lemon crème fraîche dressing, pickled red onions and bramley apple slices. The smokiness of the fish against the sweet onions, sharp apples and fresh lemon dressing was a real triumph and very well balanced in flavour.

My Mac ‘n Cheese wasn’t quite what I expected, but in a good way – I like to eat items that I can’t or don’t make at home and this was certainly a twist on the usual heavy yet comforting pasta dish. Small and very soft macaroni pasta served in a cheddar cheese sauce with mushrooms, leeks, peas, broad beans, topped with a mustard rarebit and garnished with baby kale. The sauce was thinner than I thought it would be but so full of flavour – I considered asking for bread to dunk and absorb some of it but decided against it in order to not over fill myself and actually by the end I had eaten everything including said sauce. It didn’t mention mint or similar but it certainly had something ‘fresh’ tasting in it  which really lifted it to be something else. A really unusual version, and the mustard rarebit top was really yummy and quite a treat, I’d highly recommend it!

You would have thought by now we would be stuffed and indeed my guest was, but  everything so far was so nice I felt I couldn’t leave without completing a hat-trick. Our very smiley waiter also helped convince me, although with fairly little effort to be fair. I adore pudding, it’s my weakness and I really couldn’t decide on what to have. I decided to test and trust him and asked for a recommendation. He very confidently said, that without a doubt, the Lemon Meringue Pie (£5.50) was the best – decision made.

This course was another surprise when an unassuming little glass turned up with the most gorgeous blow-torched meringue top and yellow layers. The waiter suggested, with great enthusiasm, to dig deep and get all the layers at once. I tried but there was lot to this well filled pud. This cheesecake in a glass was topped with Bill’s lemon curd, yogurt ice cream and poppy seed meringue – and was just spot on! The meringue was so creamy and fluffy but nice and firm, enveloping a ball of delicious yoghurt ice-cream. You then come across a creamy, zingy lemon curd followed by a layer of cheesecake and the expected biscuit base. The base was a little too crumbly or sandy if you will, but that only caused slight inconvenience as some of it fell off my spoon as I tried to eat it, although luckily back into the glass! The ice-cream worked really well as a cleanser against all the other sticky, gooey textures.

You may think I am being over enthusiastic – but what Bill’s manages to do is serve very tasty food, good portions, well priced, in a really comfortable and buzzing environment with efficient yet discreet service – money well spent I’d say. They really do offer something more than other chains offer, and it doesn’t have the feel of a chain, more so an independent.

EE RecommendsThey do, however, add a discretionary service charge (although this is clearly noted on the website and the receipt). This is not something I’m a fan of and I am unsure if the staff receive the full amount – I do hope so, as our waiter was very good and represented Bill’s well. Not forgetting to mention the kitchen staff who, if they hadn’t done their job properly, would’ve made our lunch a very different experience, good service or not.

I look forward to the next visit and sooner rather than later I hope!

exeter@bills-email.co.uk

https://bills-website.co.uk/restaurants/exeter/

Zita’s, Bartholomew Street

EE RecommendsRIP Burgerfest.  Your existence in Exeter was short lived. Your burgers were nice, but your secret recipe was not overly transparent.  Your Sega room was liked, your ping pong table was novel but ultimately the demise of your parent company meant your service was short lived.  Although your value was great, your burgers were chargrilled, your beer kegs were terribly harsh on my sensitive derrier.

Out the ashes of the burgery flames comes Zita’s Bar & Grill, still selling burgers but also an emphasis on steaks and cocktails.  The parent company owns the Taste Cafe in the Harlequins Shopping Centre, and Waikiki amongst other places; Zita’s prides itself on being local and independent, a gastro-pub that is ‘homely’ and ‘a friendly spot’.  I wouldn’t call it homely as that brings up a whole set of expectations that I wouldn’t expect from a gastro-pub style restaurant.  But friendly? Yes, very.

We booked a large table as there was about eight of us for 6pm.  We didn’t arrive until 6:30pm at the earliest.  There was no disapproving tutting, or impatient briskness, we were welcomed and we took our seats and chose our drinks.

The interior still has echoes of Burgerfest; a large mural in a comic style that exclaims how large a burger is, still emblazons itself across the wall (might need a few cans of Dulux to cover over that) and the Sega Room is still there too. The atmosphere is much more mellow, chilled music piped softly in the background and COMFY SEATS, no beer kegs, just sofas and nice chairs.

The menu is a simple but effective selection of burgers, with names like The Shaun and The Perfect Pull. There is a wine list, a selection of cocktails, and a nice selection of beers. The two chaps that run the restaurant have previously ran Burgerfest in Torquay, and there are many nods to BF in some aspects, but overall this is a new and shining restaurant.

 

I went for the The Usual Suspect burger. £7.00 is a good price, with some Rosemary and Garlic fries for £3.50 and a drink, for under £15 quid it echoes the great value of BF.

 

My colleague Dale wondering what he’s just let himself in for…

The Usual Suspect is dripping with BBQ sauce. Stacked with giant homemade onion rings, this towering ediface to meatiness was one of the best burgers I’d had for a while for under a tenner.  The meat was seasoned well, and it had a great taste along with it (they source their meat from Dart’s Farm).  The smoked cheese and bacon was a perfect balance to the burger, and even though I had to deconstruct it, it was a glorious burger.

The Rosemary and Garlic fries were chunky and well cooked, given there were eight of us, everything came out hot and together.

Zita’s gets my recommendation as a place to eat as it echoes many of the positive values of Burgerfest.  Cheap food, good value and a friendly atmosphere.  But the one thing that worried me slightly was that for a Friday night, the restaurants was deserted.  We were the only diners for most of the evening, then joined by two other diners, but that was pretty much it.  If you’re thinking of going out over the Easter holidays, please come here, more people need to see these burgers.

The Pig & Pallet, Topsham Quay by Lauren Heath

7 Strand, Topsham, Exeter EX3 0JB   Tel: 07920 527691  Twitter: @pigandpallet

EE RecommendsEarlier this year, we found ourselves child-free (don’t worry we hadn’t lost him – it was the blessing of holiday club) and decided to treat ourselves to a bit of brunch. Although we have a fairly well behaved and seasoned foodie version of a 5 year old son, eating sans enfant just adds a bit more freedom to the event.

When in this situation, it can be almost possible to choose where to go in order to make this chance of relaxation worthwhile. We settled on The Pig and Pallet in Topsham; we have been aware of Good Game and their charcuterie for a couple of years now, seeing them at the various festivals we attended

in Devon as well as enjoying their Beer and Bacon Festival in Topsham last September. The guys are always very friendly and warm and evidently appreciative of their customers and more importantly – the taste and quality of their produce is fantastic.

It was a soggy morning, so we were delighted, on entry, to find ourselves almost in another world. It was a wooden shack, like something we had been to in St Petersburg, Florida – a place where the food does the talking. All they are missing is the view to the water. We settled down to a large table near the back; I like to be able to see everything and people watch.

On browsing the menu, we decided on the Full Devon Fry Up. It is one of the higher priced items on the menu but consisted of house sausage, dry cured bacon, 2 Devon free range eggs, BBQ beans (which contain meat), black pudding, sweet potato, fried potato tots and toast. There was a good selection of other meaty options but for the vegetarians among you it also includes a tasty sounding Herbivore bap (smoked halloumi, portobello mushroom, and tomato with cheese).

The Pig and Pallet has a real rustic charm to it; seats made out of recycled pallets, cushions made of coffee bean sacks and sailcloth from a neighbouring company, books on the shelves, lightshades made out of veg crates and glass jars –simple and non-fussy yet cool and calm. There were some smaller tables but plenty of large bench tables, perfect for group or family gatherings.

Our breakfast arrived in good time and looked well stacked. What I would say is a bigger plate would have been good, and this is not a negative, but the food had been layered and looked smaller than I anticipated but was actually hiding a lot of loveliness underneath! Perhaps that is part of the plan, the element of surprise.

The eggs were perfect with wonderful sunshine yellow yolks, very tasty petite sausages, some incredibly tasty bacon with even tastier and crispier pieces on top which just made you close your eyes and think of bacon heaven. The beans were an absolute triumph – a variety of beans coated in a southern type smokey BBQ sauce with even more meat in them in case you didn’t have enough on your plate and the sweet potato was a clever addition to this very savoury dish. Another delightful addition was the crispy potato tot.

All in all, we loved it! Knowing this produce hadn’t come far, and we were supporting a local company and enjoying something totally different just adds to the satisfaction and it was money well spent.

I have recently seen posters by P&P explaining their price structure to justify to some customers why they charge what they do. If you want real food, produced locally, with care and without preservative junk that you get elsewhere, this is the place for you. As their posters says, “why ask what’s in a £10 burger…you should be asking what is in a burger that costs 99p?”

They also sell some of their produce near the entrance if you wish to take something home with you.

Strangely, I also recommend using the facilities (translation: toilets) – I recall chuckling whilst in there, perhaps it was the sink made out of a metal bucket – I can’t quite recall. We shall definitely be back again…perhaps even let the boy in our on little secret.

Thanks to Guest Blogger Lauren Heath for this great post! Follow Lauren on LinkedIn and Twitter

A Belated Happy Birthday to Ruby Burgers!

I am rubbish with birthdays, and you might have noticed if you’re a fan of Ruby Modern Diner that they have just celebrated their third birthday.  Eating Exeter has been there from the start, we attended their press night, and have done numerous enjoyable reviews for this fantastic restaurant.  They’ve won countless awards, all deserved!

Ruby Modern Diner opened on January 28th 2013 and was one of the first restaurants to bring the trend of American street food to Exeter, Ruby serves American classics made with local ingredients like 7oz real hamburgers, pulled meats, chocolate brownies and thick malt milkshakes.
Erin Harrison, Co-owner, comments,
“Our customers love the value, quality and provenance of our ingredients. Almost all of our produce is sourced from Devon, including our beef and free range chicken from MC Kelly, brioche buns from Emma’s Bread, fruit and veg from Dart Fresh and ice cream from Otter Valley.

Since 2013 Ruby has won several prestigious awards, including three Taste of the West Gold awards (the only restaurant in Exeter to have done this three years in a row) and Taste of Devon’s Best Takeaway 2013.
Erin adds,
“Despite increasing competition it’s great to see that people in Exeter still prefer to support local independents offering a local and transparent supply chain. Sourcing locally not only enables us to offer unrivalled quality but also great value.

Burgerfest, Bartholomew St East

EE RecommendsIt is here, it has arrived.  It opened a few weeks ago and being the burger loving sort that I am, we just had to go down to Burgerfest which had just opened a few weeks ago on Bartholemhew St East (behind the old Mama Stones building).  Tori and myself were joined by our mate Lewis, owner and general all-round top bloke from OMG Comics in Fore Street. We went, we ate, we liked.  I had a few minor negatives that stuck with me, but there wasn’t anything there that made come away as anything but a satisfied  burger-head who conceded that the diet is going to start again on Monday.  Would I recommend it? Yes.  Top value, great atmosphere, and  two-for-one cocktails.

Burgerfest is Exeter’s fifth Burger joint, sitting alongside HubBox, Ruby Burgers, Urban Burger and Byron Burgers.  Naturally we’re not counting McDonalds or Burger King given the difference in the output.  With Gourmet Burger Kitchen which is opening soon in The Dining Quarter, we will have six altogether.  Is this good or bad? I’ll answer this in due course (maybe not in this review).

For the moment I am going to say that the variation between each burger restaurant is enough to make the experience in each place slightly different, and I would definitely disagree that they are all the same.  However, any more burger restaurants and Exeter would definitely have a saturation.

There are three (the others are in Torquay and Taunton) Burgerfest restaurants which are owned by The Lifestyle Hospitality Group, who also own Tiger Bills. The USP is the quirky geekiness.  How many other restaurants in Exeter have a Sega Room? Or a Ping Pong Dome? Yup, there is a genuine Sega Mega Drive set up in a room  which diners can play for free and a Ping Pong table located in the dome of the tower old kiln.  I literally squealed with delight when I discovered this.

The value is pretty good.  None of the burgers broach the £10 mark, and the sides are reasonable as well.  Drinks are averagely priced; we were lucky tonight as they are having a sale on tinned beers from another one of their sites so this kept our bill down along with the 20% student discount.  Yup, students get 20% off with a valid form or ID.

We arrived at the restaurant about six o’clock after a sneaky half in The City Gate.  The one thing I have to say that I liked on first impressions was the easy access from the pavement, not really an issue if you’re not able or sure footed but given Tori was on crutches today, the lack of stairs in to the restaurant was welcome.  This was the first time that I had been to this building, I had never been whilst it was Casa Maroc or even when it was Gino’s or whatever it was before that.

This isn’t a restaurant where waiters flit around taking orders, it is  casual and informal and you’re told how it works as you step through the door.  You decide what you want, you go to the bar and order. Pay before-hand (a la Wetherspoon’s) and you get your burger brought to you.  Personally I like this, there is greater independence and it frees up service to deliver food to the table.  It doesn’t mean that staff are less attentive, and throughout our meal there was always a member of staff at the bar.

The menu is just as quirky as everything else about the restaurant.  On the front is the menu items, on the back is a paper aeroplane with instructions about how to create it.  It was nice to have something to make and play around with as we waited for our burgers which took about 20 minutes to arrive.  None of us managed to get anything to fly, despite many attempts. Lewis won the award for distance as he managed to get his plant nearly across the restaurant.

I went for The Bad Boy (£9) which consisted of two beef patties, American cheese, smoked streaky bacon, stuffed with seasoned fries, BF Sauce, tomato, baby gem lettuce.  Add on to the Skin-On Fries (£2.50), Sweet Potato Fries (£3) and Onion Rings (£2.50) we had a pretty almighty meal.  Tori went for for Dirty South (£7) which consisted of a Beef patty, American cheese, Cajun mayo, red onion, roasted red peppers, tomato and baby gem lettuce.  Lewis, the bravest out of all of us (although none of us were brave enough to go for the Bronut, which consisted of doughnut and jam!) went for the El Diablo (£7) which was a Beef patty, chilli cheddar, jalapeños, soured cream, BF Sauce, tomato, red onion, baby gem lettuce and hot sauce.


Tori and Lewis were very happy with their burgers.  Lewis sweated through the scorching heat of the El Diablo, and definitely win award for Burger Devoured In Under Four Minutes. I had to divide my burger in to two separate units so I could fit it in my mouth.  Tori was happy with her burger, although the burgers were a little dense for her taste.

The burgers themselves were not overly greasy, they had a nice juice level, not so much that it decimated the bun, but not dry either that you had to chew your way through the patty itself  There is nothing worse than a soggy bottom.  I didn’t feel sick or painfully stuffed, which sometimes the grease of a burger can exacerbate, there was a feeling of great satisfaction afterwards which I haven’t had for a long time after eating a burger.  Good work.


The sides were quite a sight.  The onion rings were, for lack of a better description, were nearly the size of actual proper onions, less rings moreso tubes with a light fluffy batter that just popped with air and crispyness.  The Sweet Potato Fries were masterfully cooked and definitely a bonus, maybe even matching Urban Burger’s which up to now have been our favourite provider of fries made from this hard to cook vegetable.  My Skin-On fries were really nice, there was a lot of them and they definitely filled a hole of three.  I was impressed with the value of the sides, which really finished off the meal.


So my minor points.

What is the secret ingredients in the top secret recipe mix? I don’t like secrets, especially with food. Sorry. #partypooper  On the flipside of this, in this world of food transparency, here is a restaurant still has the guts to say ‘actually we have a recipe for our burgers that is different from other burger restaurants and we’re not telling you what it is’…This is brave and I have to say I like what they do with the burgers, but some indication might be good.

The patties themselves were slightly flamed/charred, which is something I am a fan of; that slightly burnt, slightly well done but still pink in the middle effect is definitely a good thing in my humble opinion.  But some burger lovers in this world might not appreciate this particular style.

It’d be nice to have some optional cushions for the barrel stools, as they started to get a bit hard on bum after a while.

We all felt a great air of satisfaction after the meal.  I liked the design taste and the interior itself, which was very funky. Burgerfest only goes to show the variation in Burger Restaurants in Exeter, and it is a welcome addition to the family.  There are cocktail offers, Hot Dogs, and a specials board too which looked very appetising.

I really hope Burger Fest is here to stay, with their Sega Room and their Ping Pong Dome.  As the restaurant got busier, the buzz of the atmosphere made it hard to leave. I wanted one of their super-amazing cocktails that they have been showing off on Facebook, but that might have to be for another night.

http://www.burger-fest.co.uk/

The Old Malthouse,
Bartholomew Street East,
Exeter,
EX4 3BG

Burger Fest Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ruby Modern Diner: The new menu

Ruby Modern Diner has been open for nearly as long as Eating Exeter has been running.  We hadn’t been writing the blog long (our 2nd attempt…) when we were invited to the press night, our first ever.  The great and the good of Exeter gathered to drink the nice beer & wine and eat samples of sliders that were coming from the kitchen.

The consensus back then was that Ruby Burger would surely do well given its position and its niche in providing Exeter foodies with an American diner experience.

So catapult to 2015 and Ruby Burgers is going from strength to strength.  They’ve won a Taste Of The West Award Gold for 2014, which is no mean feat (being a judge myself…might not have meant to have said that…never mind) and a Love The Flavour Award Winner in 2013. Oh..did I mention they also won both Taste of The West Gold and FDD Best takeaway in 2013 and 2014.

They’ve recently had a shakedown of the menu.  Some items have gone (bye bye The Reuben; hello Salt Beef Stack) and some items have changed their name (The One Burger is now called The Bad Man for instance).  But the thing that got me most excited are some of the new items added to an already awesome menu, which we were invited down to have a peek at.

So lets start with the most important thing.  The very essence of any good burger joint is the burgers themselves and they’ve really improved their game.  All burgers have been upped to 7oz patties, and are definitely denser in texture with an improved taste (more juices!) The Ruby Beef is still reered and supplied from the same farm in Mid-Devon as before, with the burgers being made fresh in-house each morning.

The egg glazed brioche buns are still made by Emma Parkin from The Real Food Store in Paris St. and is delivered by Emma each morning on her electric bike.  If you chomp down on the brioche buns you might notice that the buns are slightly different as they’ve changed some of the weights of ingredients (more butter possibly?) to give the bread a slightly tastier bite to it.


Being a spice-head the first thing I noticed was a new burger called The Scorchio.  A well rounded burger consisting of Lettuce, Tomato, 7oz Patty, Spicy Chorizo, Chipotle Mayonnaise, Mexicana cheese piled with Jalapeños.  Tori-wife-unit went for the Mutha Ducker from the House Specials menu which included Smoked Creedy Carver Duck Leg, Spring Onion, Cucumber and Hoi Sin sauce.

We chose some new sides too.  New to the menu is Corn On The Cob served with either normal or chilli melted butter and Spicy Slaw which, for me, had a nice balance of taste and gentle kick.
All of this was washed down with a can of Crafty Dan’s 13 Guns which is new to the list of beers available and Tori-wife-unit went for a can of San Pellegrino Orange & Pomegranate.

The Scorchio is a tower of spicy meaty majesty.  The spicy chorizo pieces work really well with the chipotle mayo and the mexicana cheese. This combination turns the whole burger in to a heavenly stack of umami awesomeness that I enjoyed with every single bit.  The Jalapeños give it a fiery hit and mixed with the seasoning of the burger it creates a really top combination, and certainly one of my favourite burgers so far.  The spice level has to be noted too; it is not challenge just to eat the burger and non of the taste is lost in the burn, as it would be very sad to lose any of the chorus of lovely tastes. With the glazed brioche bun, it works really well as a burger and really hope it stays on the menu for a long time to come.

One of my burger heroes is Burger Lad who has eaten and travelled the length & breadth of the UK reviewing burgers and writing about them.  He recently stopped by Ruby Burgers and wrote about The Scorchio Burger saying about the Spicy Chorizo…

“The Spicy Chorizo was beautiful. Bordering on outstanding… very rich with its signature smoked paprika flavour, thickly cut and a very generous amount on-board. In my notes I described it as highly decadent, oozing with quality bringing another dimension to the arsenal of tastes in my mouth.”
Burger Lad (2015)

Burger Lad also had The Ruby Burger which he rated really highly as one of his favourite burgers that he’s sampled on his travels, Beer Burger and Beyond (our sister blog which I also write) sampled The Ruby Burger as well and I can say that it an impressive burger.  But The Scorchio might just be nipping at its heels for my affections.


The Mutha Ducker burger is an interesting and successful concept.  Duck meat, in a burger? You have to be quackers!? Excuse the pun.  I have to say though, this burger works really well with the lashings of Hoi Sin sauce, smoked pulled duck and the freshness of the spring onion and cucumber, it is an interesting alternative for those who want something a little different.

The smoked duck and hoi sin sauce reminds me of duck and hoi sin wraps that you sometimes get in Chinese Restaurants. The spring onion adds that extra dimension to the flavour and the whole thing is topped off with some fresh Cucumber.  The duck, like nearly all of the ingredients that go in to the food at Ruby Modern Diner is locally sourced, coming from Creedy Carver based a few miles away in Crediton.


The Corn On The Cob is, for me, a welcome addition to the menu. Its griddled and served with either melted chilli butter or normal butter.  We also tried the Spicy Slaw which was more of a delicate heat rather than a ‘blow-your-mouth-off’ number.  Despite not really being ‘new’ we still got in a portion of the Sweet Potato Fries that Ruby does so well.  Seasoned with sea salt and cracked black pepper, these are hard to cook well and guaranteed each time we come, its gotta be a portion of these as well.

Any good menu needs to evolve and change, and the best restaurants know that a stagnating menu can be boring for the diners and boring for the chefs who have to make it.

Fresh, exciting and interesting menus are the ones that change and adjust according to customer feedback, season and taste.  Ruby Modern Diner continue their award winning journey with a new blue menu with some new and wholesome additions, which I would recommend sampling for yourself.

74 Queen Street, Exeter, Devon EX4 3RX
01392 436168

www.rubyburgers.com

Twitter: @RUBYBURGERS

References:
Burger Lad. (2015). Ruby Modern Diner Exeter. Available: http://www.burgerlad.com/2015/04/ruby-modern-diner-exeter.html. Last accessed 27th August 2015.