Giraffe World Kitchen, Princesshay by Chris Gower

Tel: 01392 494 222  Princesshay, Exeter, EX1 1GE @giraffetweet

Princesshay Shopping Centre is the gleaming modern jewel in the centre of Exeter’s shopping experience.  With restaurants and fine High Street names, it replaced the tattered pre-war complex that some of us Exonians still remember with a bizarre nostalgic fondness.

When the modern Princesshay opened, with it also opened Giraffe with its slightly westernised versions of world specialities, it was the start of the arrival of the big chain restaurants in Exeter.

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I have a few good memories of Giraffe when it first opened, and I even wrote a review quite a few years ago for my old blog Veget8.  Naturally since then it has moved on and changed, and it was great to be invited along to have a look at what has changed since it first opened back in 2007.

Since my first visit all those years ago, it has rebranded itself as Giraffe World Kitchen which has helped solidify itself as a place to go to get a wide range or world cuisine offerings, all of them excellent value.

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Not much has changed as far as the building itself.  Three of the four walls are fronted with glass giving an excellent vista of passing shoppers and part of the ancient city wall. There is al fresco dining available, perfect for whiling away a summer evening.

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As chain restaurants go this is certainly one of my favorites in Exeter.  It is casual dining at its most casual, with a fantastic menu that covers all continents it is also excellent value given many main meals are under £10.

We kicked proceedings off with bottle of Rosé wine and an Espresso Martini £6.95 (Absolut Vanilla vodka, Kahlua liqueur and a fresh espresso shot over ice) which was a perfect start to our enjoyable meal.

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For starters Tori went for Steamed Duck Gua Bao Buns £6.95 (soft steamed buns filled with crispy shredded duck, cucumber, peanuts, spring onion and rich hoisin sauce) and I predictably went for Nachos £7.95 (black bean chilli, Monterey Jack, guacamole, sour cream, jalapenos and chipotle).

The Steamed Duck Gua Bao Buns were a definite hit with the other side of the table. We had first been properly introduced with Bao Buns at the Absurd Bird blogger night a couple of years ago, and this was another chance to try this oriental culinary staple.  I was very happy with my large mountain of Nachos, well seasoned and cooked well.

For our mains we were both in need of Bowl For Soul food!  Tori went for the Katsu Chicken £11.95 (breaded chicken and noodles in a mild peanut & coconut sauce, with bok choy, tenderstem broccoli and wok-fried vegetables) and I couldn’t help myself but went for the Thai Duck Stir Fry £10.95  (shredded duck and noodles with chilli jam, bok choy, crispy onions and wok-fried vegetables in teriyaki sauce).

The menu is incredibly diverse. It truly represents a classic dish from each continent of the world – they are also going to lengths to cater for those of us with dietary requirements too.

The food was well cooked and tasty – the menu itself is fantastic value for money, and even though the cost is on the lower end of the spectrum, it didn’t effect the quality or portions.

We went for desserts too, a lovely finish to a satisfying experience.

Tori went for a Whoopie Cookie £4.95 (speculoos biscuit ice cream sandwiched between chocolate cookies. With chocolate sauce, caramel popcorn and pretzels) and I plumped for the  Salted Caramel Sundae £5.95 (salted caramel ice cream layered with caramel popcorn and pretzel pieces).

So they ran out of pretzels, but instead we got double popcorn on our dessert.

Paul and Tom were amazing in their service, so helpful and friendly throughout the whole evening.  The evening service seemed quiet and surprisingly so for one of Exeter’s better chain restaurants which is a telling tale of restaurants throughout the city, whether a big High Street name or a unique independent.

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Giraffe World Kitchen is a good casual dining restaurant which presents excellent value for money, their menu is well thought out and not overly pricey.  Perfect for lunch, coffee or a nice evening meal.

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This meal was paid for by Giraffe World Kitchens but the opinions expressed here are independent of influence from the restaurant.

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The Flat, 142 Fore St – Vegetarian/Vegan Pizzeria by Chris Gower

https://www.theflatexeter.co.uk/ –  I: @TheFlatExeter F: TheFlatExeter

Edit: Previous version of this review stated that gluten-free and vegan mozzarella was default, in fact these are options.

Last year Exeter lost two great pizza restaurants.  The Base & Barley became The Book Cover and Pizza Stein turned into Bierkeller, leaving diners in Exeter without a central place to grab hand-made thrown pizza.  Yes, there are plenty of little Italian places that do good pizza but nothing in the city centre.

Enter ‘The Flat’, a vegetarian/vegan pizzeria set-up and run independently located in the heart of Exeter’s quirky and wonderful West Quarter on Fore Street.

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I had heard rumours about the launch of this restaurant for a few months from multiple sources, so to finally see it in full and set up ready for business was very exciting.

I never normally visit restaurants within days of the opening, it isn’t fair to review a restaurant when things are being tweaked and they are bedding in, but we were anticipating great things so we couldn’t wait.

So Tori and myself headed down with our good friend Lewis, owner of Exeter’s premier comic book shop to give Exeter’s newest restaurant a test-run.

Great things happen when pizza is met with passion, and here is a restaurant that produces some delicious pizza.  There is a strong desire to accommodate those with particular dietary requirements and they offer gluten free bases and optional vegan mozzarella which I might add, is home made!  The interior of the restaurant is simple and unassuming with exposed utilities following the trend for modernist, exposed ducts and dark woods.

We hit the evening off with Beavertown Session Neck Oil IPA which was reasonably priced given the way drink prices are going at the moment for £3.75.  Then a Garlic Focaccia (£3.50) for starters, which wasn’t technically focaccia but we ignored this fact, as it was moreso Garlic Flatbread which is just as nice!

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There was three of us so this was a perfect for nibbles size but for those with a bigger appetite, this would feed one person comfortably.

The selection of pizzas is concise but includes a well thought-out range of different tastes. All the bases are gluten free, and everything is hand-made and hand stretched.

Tori went for the Garlicky (£9.50 10 inch), I went for the Smoked (£10.50 10 inch) and Lewis went for the Olive Tree (£9.00 10 inch).

The pace of the restaurant tonight was distinctively European.  It had a relaxed atmosphere which was only enhanced by a large gathering of Italians on the next table – I could close my eyes and be somewhere in Florence or Rome.  It also makes you realise what a fantastically diverse city we live in.

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The Smoked was a lovely hand-made pizza, full of flavour and covered in delicious Smoked Halloumi.  Tori’s Garlicky was covered in veg and looked colourful, Lewis’ Olive Tree was well topped and tasted very nice, we were told.

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We finished off procedings with a long espresso and some people watching from the big windows that look out over Fore Street.

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One of the things that Fore Street lacks is a good evening destination.  The Flat joins The Jasmine Thai restaurant a little further up, a few kebab shops and Angela’s at the bottom. There have been drives to market the West Quarter and get shoppers down from the High Street beyond South Street.

This will always be a challenge, but I like to think that the more restaurants that open at this end of Exeter will add that little bit more to the Many Reasons To Visit Fore Street.

I am stoked that this is a Pizzeria in the centre of Exeter and I am chuffed that this is a vegetarian/vegan establishment that is joining other similiar places in Exeter like Herbies, The Plant Cafe and Rabbit up near Sidwell Street.

To add to it the pizza is nice, it is cheap (Beer and Pizza potentially for under £15) and their ethos is in line with my own.

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10 Questions for Polpo co-founder Russell Norman

Last week Eating Exeter excitedly broke the news that Polpo was coming to the Queen St Dining Quarter. We tracked down co-founder Russell Norman to find out what lies in-store for Exeter diners.

Last week Eating Exeter excitedly broke the news that Polpo was coming to the Queen St Dining Quarter.  We tracked down co-founder Russell Norman to find out what lies in-store for Exeter diners.  Take five minutes to have a look at the video at the bottom, it gives a really good idea what Polpo is all about.

Photos are courtesy Polpo Restaurants

  1. What are you most looking forward to about the new restaurant in Exeter?

We have made some significant changes for our opening in Exeter and I’m looking forward to launching a Polpo with so many points of difference. We will be open for breakfast. We will have a fantastic value set menu in addition to the a la carte menu. There will be some dishes made and served table-side. And I’m really looking forward to lazy, sunny afternoons on our beautiful terrace sipping Campari and nibbling cicheti (Venetian snacks).

  1. How ‘Italian’ is Venentian cuisine? Does it differ widely from some of the more well-known Italian dishes?

Venice has a very different food culture to the rest of Italy and the Polpo menu has been very much influenced by that. Seafood, of course, a little pasta and some tomato-less pizzas, but the culture of small plates is what has influenced us the most. Venetians love sharing food, family-style, and so do we!

  1. Seasonal menus must be important to a brand like Polpo?

We change the menu 5 to 6 times a year to follow the seasons. It’s very important to go with the natural rhythms of the year in terms of ingredients and dishes. Exeter will be opening at my favourite time of the year in terms of food: Spring. So fresh, green vibrant and happy.

  1. What is your ethos in regards to sourcing ingredients?

We take our inspiration from Italy, but always source locally where we can. Our fish and seafood comes from the south coast and our grocer works with farmers in Kent, Sussex, Dorset and Devon.

  1. Why Venice? What made you want to recreate a Venetian bacaro back in 2009?

I first went to Venice as a student in the late 1980s and I’m afraid I rather fell in love with the city and have been going back several times a year ever since. When it came to opening my own restaurant, the food I knew best was Venetian, so it seemed like a sensible idea to stick with what I knew.

  1. You started your journey in the restaurant world as a waiter and worked up the ranks. How important do you think this experience was to you when you were starting Polpo?

It’s always a good idea to work your way up. That way, you know what it’s like to be waiting tables, cleaning fridges, sweeping the floor, working long shifts and, most importantly, looking after customers.

  1. If you had to choose two particular dishes to recommend to diners who are completely new to Polpo and Venetian dining, which ones would they be?

Always order the fritto misto. Always order a spritz!

  1. How easy will it be to book a table in the evening at our new Polpo?

We are being totally relaxed about reservations at Polpo Exeter. You can book, walk-in, sit at the bar, sit outside, take a booth, whatever you want. We have online booking, too. So the short answer is: “Very easy.” But because we keep tables back for walk-ins, you can even get a table when we are fully booked.

  1. The interiors of your restaurants are lovely. Do you still take charge in designing the interior of new restaurants?

I love places that look lived-in, so I take charge of all the designs and try to use as many antiques and reclaimed materials as possible.

  1. Finally, the Venetians love their wine. What is your favourite Venetian wine?

The most Venetian wine on the list is the Malibran Glera “Col Fondo”. This is a prosecco with tiny bubbles, not sweet at all, and very slightly cloudy because it has been left on the lees. Delicious.

Carluccio’s – Cheese and Wine, Deli and Dine – by Lauren Heath

Carluccio’s, Princesshay, Bedford Street, Exeter, EX1 1GJ

Tel: 01392 410492, @carluccios, www.carluccios.com

I was recently invited to Carluccio’s in Exeter’s Princesshay for a cheese and wine evening; I like cheese and wine a lot, but this really had my husband’s name all over it – and he was even more delighted than usual…I hoped it wouldn’t disappoint.

On arrival we were warmly greeted by a member of staff and then we were introduced to our tutor for the evening, Stefanie. It turns out Stefanie is no ordinary employee; she has enjoyed being Exeter’s deli manager for the past 3 ½  years and, having studied both Italian and food, loves that she can bring her two passions together in this role.
She has visited Italy twice thanks to Carluccio’s, and has met and seen where a lot of the products in the deli come from. She also teaches other regional staff from a base near Bristol so she clearly knows her stuff.

If she isn’t available to serve you, don’t worry as Carluccio’s also ensure all their staff are trained well enough to be able to help deli customers, and of course the restaurant customers too as you would expect.

We settled down to a table near the kitchen; it has a lovely large opening so you can see what the chefs are up to, to some degree. We each chose a wine off the menu, both going for the Carluccio’s exclusive but in red for Steve and white for myself. Both were very nice wines; we shared a 3rd glass of their special red which was a delight – full of flavour, but light. Sweet on the nose with flavours of honey, black pepper and cherry.

For a Thursday evening, I noted how busy the restaurant was (they say Thursday is the new Friday right?) but it had a great ambience to it, with staff moving around without fuss and everything seemed to be happening smoothly around us. It’s larger than you think actually, and had perfect level of lighting, low enough for cosiness but not too low you couldn’t see what was on your plate.

Then a beautiful cheese board was presented. …Steve’s eyes lit up. He had to wait a tiny bit longer whilst Stefanie explained her background and the fact that Carluccio’s used to do taster events but this went on the back burner a little. With the current foodie buzz that is happening everywhere and people becoming even more aware of provenance, quality and impressing at home, Carluccio’s are planning to do mini events again whereby you can come along and try a selection of cheeses and possibly wines or olives in a relaxed atmosphere and chat with fellow attendees as well as learning about the products.

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Along with our tasters, we had a useful info sheet that was only partly filled in, leaving room for your own notes as well as a map of the region so Stefanie could point out where they were from.

Right…time to dive into the cheese fest. Amongst the 5 cows cheeses on the board we tried creamy Taleggio from the Lombardy region, which has an edible skin, is square in shape, melts well and is ‘young’ (less than 40 days old). Then a Fontina from the Valle D’Aosta region; this is a protected cheese and only 70 or so dairies can make it. It had a lovely nutty flavour and becomes stretchy when warmed so it is good for fondues and delicious with speck ham. The most interesting and unusual cheese was Ubriaco (meaning drunk); this special cheese has a washed rind using skins and seeds of the prosecco grape which is an excellent use of a by-product. I found this totally different; it gripped the tongue and then exuded a hue or aroma in the mouth – certainly one to impress guests!

We were also served some fresh foccacias topped with speck and then some taleggio and fontina. Their foccacia is made in house every day, it was soft, airy and not too oily as some can be. I threw in a curve ball too and asked Stefanie if I could have mozzarella as it is one of my favourites and I do tend to buy the cheaper supermarket versions as well as treating myself to the finer ones so wanted to see how theirs compared. She was very obliging; it was so soft and a bit sweet and melted in the mouth – heavenly. All of the above were served with honey that had a few drops of truffle oil added, balsamic vinegar and some fig jam. All were absolutely delicious and complimented the various cheeses well.

After eating we were shown the deli area; we did not realise the vast selection the deli held. I know we champion local food but, if you want Italian food done right, this looks like the place to come. A wall of jars of wonderful pesto’s, pasta sauces and pastes. A wine fridge for takeaway wines that are not on the menu, and if you do want to drink it with a meal, they charge the shelf price plus a little corkage. Meringues, cakes and breads, a cheese fridge to make any cheese-a-holic jealous.

There is a ‘breakfast bar’ you can perch yourself at, on a stool, order coffee and just chill surrounded by all these goodies. Of course, if you haven’t got time of an evening or can’t get babysitter for one of the future events, then you are most welcome to just pop in to the store and ask to try some cheeses. There is no obligation to buy, it is all about service and sharing their love of all things Italian.

A few little facts for you:

  • Cheese making was done all over Europe as, due to the preserving nature of cheese, it was easy to keep in a time before fridges
  • Forma (of formaggio) actually means ‘shape’. Cheese was traditionally shaped in wicker baskets
  • Cheese ‘skin’ is edible and ‘rind’ is not
  • The biggest cheese festival is held every other year in a city called Bra
  • Grana Padano is suitable for vegetarians whereas Parmesan is not

We had a very enjoyable evening which didn’t disappoint and we will certainly be back to the deli again; it really is an Italian treasure trove. They say animals are not just for Christmas, well neither is Carluccio’s deli. Keep an eye out on their website for upcoming events.

Marco’s New York Italian – by Lauren Heath

Clyst Honiton, Exeter EX5 2LJ – @marcosexeter – 01392 348111 

ee-recommendsOn the east side of Exeter, off a lane at the back of the airport, lies a hotel in a convenient location for travellers. Beside said hotel is a restaurant which, in my opinion, is conveniently located for locals. With easy access by car off the M5, A30, surrounding villages that lie east of the city and with plenty of free parking is Marco’s New York Italian.

Having been open 3 years now, I was invited to give it a try so on Friday night Steve and I went to see what it was all about. We are well aware of the story of Marco Pierre White and, at the same time, are aware that a restaurant associated with a chef’s name can be a let down as they inevitably don’t cook there, with prices to imply that they do.

Having looked over the menu last year, I recall seeing items such as hot dogs  – and for some reason this made me think that, for a restaurant, perhaps the food was a bit too basic and not going to be good. Thankfully, the menu has since changed slightly, and we already had our eye on one or two items before our arrival.

On entry, it is designed so that you wait by a reception desk and, if you wish, start off your evening in the smart bar with its casual seating or stools.The bar area is very cool; dark wood, good lighting – matching the italian/american theme.

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Having been seated at our table, we browsed the wine menu which is well laid out first of all by colour, then by what food it would suit. For a change I chose the Pino Grigio Rose (£6.65 for 250ml) and Steve was intrigued by Passori Rosso which was under the subheading of spicy peppery red as well as having the MR (Marco Recommends) next to it and described as simply stunning (£9.25 for 250ml). My wine was delightfully light with a hint of rose and Steve was very impressed with his wine – sweet, rich, peppery; he agreed it was something different as the menu had described.

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We then set ourselves on the food menu; Steve had already decided on the Grilled Jumbo Shrimps (£9.75) served alone in all their glory, but brushed with rosemary, garlic butter and sea salt and a sprinkling of baby coriander leaves. Some may feel this was a bit ‘naked’ but he believes seafood should be served as simply as possible. He couldn’t locate any rosemary flavouring but his words were “they were cooked to perfection”. A huge and rare compliment indeed from a seafood lover with over two decades of culinary experience. Maybe one or two more on the plate would have been nice, but he was pleased to have had a light starter.

I, on the other hand, decided to be a little bit brave (polite word for greedy) and go for the Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork Nachos (under the heading ‘For the Table’; £6.50). I was informed this could be a sharer but I went for it anyway as I love nachos. It was a really tasty dish, served with what tasted more like BBQ coated pork along with melted cheese (Monteray Jack possibly), homemade guacamole which was lovely and chunky, as well as a very nice sweet chilli sauce-come-salsa. I can see that it could be a sharer between 2 people for a light starter each or even between 3 for nibbles.

For mains I knew I wanted a pizza so opted for the Americano (£9.50) and asked if I could have mushrooms on it as well which was accepted without any issue. Steve chose the Great American Beef Burger with BBQ sauce, bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, served with seasoned fries (£11.50). The pizza was approximately 10 inches at a guess, and was right on the money. Stonebaked base, well cooked with crispy edges. The meat was not pepperoni, but like a milano salami which was very tasty with a good amount of tomato and cheese supporting it. It also came with its own pizza cutter which was very uself. Steve’s burger was juicy and a good thickness, served with partially skin on fries. He also enjoyed the cheese but post meal we realised that he didn’t recall any BBQ sauce; it was, however, served with its own individual sealed tomato ketchup pot.

Somehow we found room for pudding. Having a savoury tooth, Steve was very pleased to see a cheeseboard and ordered the Selection of Italian Cheeses (£7.50). When this arrived, it was very appealing visually. Served with high quality biscuits and with two ramekins of accompaniments, one of which was a beautiful honey. The cheeses were mozzarella (definitely not your average shop bought mozzarella), parmesan, goats cheese and gorgonzola. He enjoyed it immensely.

I went for the Classic Affogato; vanilla ice cream served with a shot of espresso and amaretti biscuits (£5.25). I am not totally sure how you are meant to eat this dessert but I love that you can eat and drink it. I have had this pudding before elsewhere, and normally the coffee is served in an espresso cup that when you try and pour it on the ice cream it goes everywhere, so I was delighted to see it in a mini gravy boat which was also rather cute! My only critique would be the presentation; it would have looked great served on a board or slate to bring it all together – but if that’s my only complaint then they have nothing to worry about. The vanilla ice cream was absolutely delicious – full on vanilla flavour and so creamy; the coffee was excellent and very strong.

In between courses we looked at our surroundings and mused; there is an open kitchen but it’s a tiny shame the seating near it has such high backs that you are unable to enjoy it in full view and the same goes for the bar area – hidden by high backs of the end booth area. On the plus side, I love the chequered floor and thankfully the seating and tablecloths are plain and simple so as not to clash. A nice mirror at the end gives further depth to an already large dining area capable of seating around 90 and I am aware they can cater for large parties which is useful to know. There is plenty of space between tables so your conversations at the table are your own, and we noted you could definitly fit prams or wheelchairs in without coming close to the next table which is a big plus as many chain restaurants really cram the tables in.

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Overall, it was a very enjoyable meal for a what we believe to be a good price (approx £50 for 2 people with 3 courses each excluding drinks). The food was uncomplicated and very tasty and the restaurant is smart but relaxed. I’m not sure how many locals or city dwellers go here for lunch or dinner, but it isn’t just for hotel guests or flight passengers. Yes, Marco’s face is on the walls here and there with his name above the door but if the name puts you off by giving visions of shouty chefs, expensive food or just another chain – I suggest you ignore the name (except for when you put it in your sat nav!) and I urge you to give it a try. Filling, tasty and good value for money. Yes Chef!

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Easy Chicken and Pesto Pasta – Ideal for beginners

Our kitchen is about the size of a knat’s testicle and given the tiny amount of surface space we actually have, I am all for the student modus operandi when it comes to cooking.  There is no shame in using a jar of pesto opposed to fresh pesto that you make yourself, and I can’t start to say that it matches it in taste but for ‘everyday’ its a fine substitute.  So with this I present a budget/student version of Chicken and Pesto Pasta with my signature vague instructions.

There are a few recipes floating about for Chicken and Pesto Pasta if you don’t like the look of this one.

The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can adjust it and suit it to your tastes as you wish.  Generally it should work with more pasta and less sauce or vice versa and that is the beauty of pasta.

I used chicken for this, but this would also work with quorn pieces should you be that way inclined.  If you have broad beans lying around then use those instead of peas.  If you have pine nuts to hand then even better, but for this I am using sunflower seeds as they are far cheaper.  They still add a satisfying crunch to the dish, and if toasted in a bit of butter, they keep the slightly buttery flavour.

You will need:

3 tbsp Sunflower seeds (more the merrier)
3/4 Jar Sacla Basil Pesto
2 large chicken breasts or 3 handfuls Quorn Chickens pieces
Frozen Peas 1 large handful, (or not. Depends if you like peas)
Half a clove Garlic
Parmasan

1. Start the pasta off. It’ll need cooking for about 15 minutes in a large pan.
2. Toast the sunflower seeds. Put aside.
3. Fry the chicken with some garlic until slightly brown.
4. Add peas to chicken in pan and heat till peas are cooked. Add pesto and sunflower seeds and heat through for a couple of minutes.
5. Drain pasta, combine with chicken/pesto in the large pan and stir on a low heat for a minute.
6. Grate Parmasen. Boom.

Exeter Picturehouse Bar, 51 Bartholomew Street West

EE RecommendsBesides my love of food, the love of film and cinema is the next on my list.  And in my opinion there is nowhere else in Exeter worth going to for cinematic consumption than The Exeter Picturehouse.  Exeter has three main cinemas, and this is the only one where you can get good food and reasonably priced drinks before you go in to the auditorium.  And you can even take your drinks with you.  But turn off your phone.

One of the main criticisms levied against cinemas is the price of their convenience snacks and drinks which are famously extortionate.  But the reality is that a cinema only makes a small profit on showing a film, most of the revenue comes from the popcorn and Maltesers that are for sale and anything else that they have to offer.  The Exeter Picturehouse is lucky as it has a bar area that is licensed and also happens to serve food as well.  To non-members, there are things that are expensive but ultimately cheaper than a few places I could tell you about.

The main staple foodstuff in The Bar are the range of pizzas that they do along with cakes and a few other snacks.  They stop serving pizzas at 9pm but are normally open until later, which makes The Bar a fantastic little venue for meeting up and the bi-monthly infamous Exeter Picturehouse Movie Quiz which is a challenge for even the most seasoned movie fanatics.

The one thing that strikes me about this Bar is the amount of natural light that it invites in.  The views over the River Exe from the mezzanine are hard to match in other bars in Exeter, let alone a cinema bar.  But it really is its own entity, hosting live music and other events during the week.
The bar can get quite busy before and after showings, but visit during a screening and its easy to find a place to plonk yourself with the free Wifi and the lovely views.

Inferno Stir Through Pasta – (Tomato and Mozzarella)

This recipe has a health warning. It is VERY spicey and VERY garlicky. Another trip into the archives from 2010!

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This is most probably the most extreme dish you will ever come  across.  OK, it might actually be mild compared to some mexican  recipes and in the grand scheme of things, actually eating fire    would be hotter and more deadly.
But it’s hot.   It’s also very garlicky, the sort of quatities of garlic  involved would stun a man at 100 yards and most probably do  you so much good you’d live to 120 (as garlic is very good for  your heart).  However it’s very very easy, very very quick and if    you take out of the cheese and the pesto it’s very healthy too.

In terms of cost, it’s slightly more expensive if you don’t already  have red pesto lurking in your cupboard, however you don’t have to use pesto.  You can make this with normal pasta sauce, although you’d really be making a normal pasta sauce meal with…

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Guest Post: Uldis Freipics writes about takeaways in Exeter (via ordertakeaways.co.uk)

Take Out
Take Out (Photo credit: AMERICANVIRUS)

This post is a guest post and views represented here are  not endorsed by Eating Exeter.  

Are you looking for a takeaway in the Exeter area? No matter what your taste in cuisine, there is plenty of choice for you. Everything from Thai to Chinese. Perhaps you are just looking for a Kebab or a Pizza after a night out on the town. There is so much choice on your doorstep.

Before the online revolution, if you wanted a home delivery you would only have the one option of calling up the takeaway yourself and get them to take your order. Fortunately now in the digital age, there is now a much better way to order your take away, quickly and easily with simplicity and convenience.

Ordering over the telephone is never so easy. Not only do you need to search for a take away and get the right number, but there was also much to go wrong. Often, there would be mistakes made with your order, which could only lead to disappointment. Now you can decide not only the type of cuisine but even find the dish that you require online.

There are many reasons why you would want to order your takeaway online. Not only is your order send direct to the kitchen, but you can see customer reviews and ratings too. This can really help you choose the right takeaway.

You can even check their food hygiene rating. You can even see their opening hours and even see if they are open right now. You will find a Takeaway in Exeter will cater for virtually any cuisine, the popular and the specialist.

Indian

The Indian probably the most popular cuisine in the UK today. You will find many takeaways in the Exeter area that deliver to most areas. Here you will find many takeaways that have not only received a food hygiene rating of 5, but are highly regarded by their customers. You can come over to OrderTakeaways.co.uk and see for yourself.

One of the highest rated of Indian Takeaways is Tiffin Wala. Highly regarded by 55 customers for both its service and food it is an excellent choice. Here you can find everything from Traditional Curries to Balti dishes. Even vegetarians are catered for.

The highest rated of all in the Exeter area is The Benegal. It has been given a 5 star rating by over 320 customers. They offer everything from Kebabs to Rice dishes as well as those Indian classics that you will just love.

You will find a lot a vast choice in Indian takeaways in the Exeter area at ordertakeaways.co.uk.

Upper left: A Meat Feast Parmo from 'Four Seas...
Upper left: A Meat Feast Parmo from ‘Four Seasons’ in Stockton-on-Tees, UK. Upper right: Fish and chips. Lower left: Pizza delivery. Lower right: Döner kebab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chinese

Perhaps the next most popular choice in takeaway has to be the Chinese takeaway. There is nothing better than getting quality great tasting authentic Chinese cuisine being delivered straight to your door.

There are 7 Chinese takeaways in the Exeter area that are open for online orders and cover most areas of the city. They will cater for virtually any taste, no matter whether you want a classic rice or noodle dish or perhaps something more exotic.

One of the highest regarded in Exeter is China Town, having been rated by a total of 483 customers. You will find a Chinese takeaway for any taste, from classic Chinese rice dishes to poultry and seafood dishes. You will also find house specialities as well as drinks and desserts.

The next Chinese takeaway that should be on your list is Beijing Oriental Express. Having been well received by 145 customers here on ordertakeaways.co.uk they are another good choice. They also offer an extensive range of dishes from Sweet and Sour and Chow Mein dishes to soups and other Chinese favorites such as Foo Yung dishes.

Kebabs/Fish and Chips

Of course the Fish and Chips is probably one of the most English of take-aways. For those that want something more traditional there is plenty of choice in Exeter. In fact, you will probably notice that Fish and Chips is on the menu of many takeaways in Exeter.

Perhaps you are looking for something convenient such as a Kebab. A popular choice that could make the perfect end to a perfect evening. Exeter has so much choice, one of the highest regarded takeaways for both Fish and Chips and of course the classic Kebab is the Chef & Grill Kebab house.

They are been proudly rated 5 stars on OrderTakeaways.co.uk. With almost everything that you could want. They also prepare other great dishes such as Burgers, Pizzas and even desserts.

Italian

Another popular choice is of course Italian food. Everyone loves a Pizza, or perhaps you would like to try something a little more traditional such as a great pasta dish. Exeter is home to one dedicated takeaway producing many great pasta dishes, pizza and even Ice Cream.

If you are more of a pizza lover, you certainly have a lot of choice with 16 Pizza takeaways to choose from. Whether you already have your favorite item on the menu at Pizza Hut or Dominos pizza, or perhaps you want to try one of the many other Pizza takeaways in the Exeter area.

One of the highest rated takeaways is the Pizza La Vita. Having been rated 5 stars by over 326 customers you know you are going to get great food and great service. There is of course a good selection of dishes. As well as Pizza you will also find Pasta dishes and even Burgers and Kebabs. This takeaway also has a level 5 food hygiene rating too.

Another great place for pizza is the Blue Eye Turkish Grill House. Although not an Italian restaurant they do offer some great pizza, with a great 5 star rating for both food and Service.

Everything else

If you have a different taste, or want to try something new. There are some specialist takeaways. Perhaps you want to try Thai, Turkish or even an African food. There is plenty of choice. There is also Halal food available in Exeter from Indian takeaway Chadni too.

For more information about Take Aways in Exeter visit http://www.ordertakeaways.co.uk/exeter_ex1_takeaways.htm

Lunch: Gregg’s Pepperoni Pizza

Under the heat lamps it didn’t look too bad, but when the chap behind the counter put it in the bag it seemed to go about absorbing the bag in to it with the grease that bled out of it uncontrollably like some sort of skewered pizza shaped rat that cost £1.15.

Credit to Gregg’s, they do what they do really well.  Baked goods, cheap and hot.  The sausage rolls are delicious as are the new Breakfast Rolls (same as a sausage rolls but filled with greasy breakfast meats and egg), but the pizza’s have always been a bit of an unknown entity to me.
Anyway, what better day to try them as I had ran out of time to make my own lunch and needed some sort of quick Umami fix.

The pizza itself wasn’t disgusting. In fact, it was pretty acceptable and if I hadn’t taken it back to work, it most probably would not have gone a) cold and b) greasy.  Unfortunately the grease content of this product is quite amazing, covering me and everything within 2 metres with its flourescent orange blood.  The pepperoni is stingy though and there isn’t much evidence that it actually has cheese on it, it feels thoroughly mass-produced.

Verdict: Eat immediately, don’t save till later plus eat with a napkin and turn off the little voice in your head that says ‘stop eating such filth’.

Image

Bella Italia, Queen St.

This post appeared originally on Gower The Gourmand on the 5th February 2012.  It might have got better since then?  I have edited it as the whole experience wasn’t a great one, but then I am my own worst critic sometimes.

Bella Italia sits in the heart of Exeter opposite Oggy Oggy on the end of a row of nice eateries and shops at the top of Queen Street in Exeter.  It is another chain Italian restaurant which serves a nice range of interesting meals in quirky surroundings.  A large group of us decided to choose Bella Italia as the destination for a reunion meal, and this was the outcome.

Strada and ASK have all fed me well in the past and I haven’t felt terrible for parting with my money as they do good food at sensible civilised prices.  Strada and Bella Italia are owned by the Tragus Group, (here is a video) who also own Cafe Rouge.  However, the value of the meal overall was quite disappointing given my previous experiences with Strada and ASK.

Bella Italia is a new one for me, the food does seem to be a very loose take on Italian.  We had a waiter with the Italian accent who was very nice indeed, (swift service especially for a large party like ours), the names of the food was written in Italian and we really felt for about three seconds that we could be in Italy.  But the image shattered when the food came.

I ordered the Fritto Misto:

Fritto Misto

Lightly battered king prawns, cod, calamari and courgettes. Served with fries and a herb, lemon & caper dip

 a small bowl of deep fried seafood and some large chips.

It had a lovely lemony herby dip, that didn’t strike me as actually having capers in them, a rather disappointing selection of deep fried oddments and some half cold chips.

The cod pieces were dry, the calamari was chewy but the courgette managed to save this meal despite the fact I only got a few titbits of it.   This would be easier to overlook had it been 4.99 but it wasn’t it was 10GBP.

This left me feeling somewhat annoyed, hoping the dessert would be better.  It was better, The Cholocate Lava Cake was delightful but still a fiver for, well not much in volume.  The taste however, saved the day as it was heavenly.

By the end of it, I did feel that I had finally found a bit of value.

My wife had some sort of pasta dish that mostly consisted of peppers and ccreamy chicken, it was sickly and watery and although there was enough taste to be able to distinguish it, the peppers overpowered the taste of the chicken and the cream.

Bella Italia seems to have high expectations of itself which do not match the end product.  If you do go, maybe stick to the staple pizza option or spag bol, and leave the exotic items to the poor fools like us who will then moan to their friends or write strange reviews on sites and blogs.  The service was great though, polite and attentive to a large group and generally professional.  I shall return one day to see if it has improved, you never know…

Bella Italia - Exeter on Urbanspoon

ASK, Cathedral Yard, Exeter

Editors note: This review is nearly five years old and has been marked for re-review.

5 Cathedral Close, Exeter, EX1 1EZ – 01392 427 127
The rise and rise of the casual dining, chain Italian restaurant has given us some interesting results.  Notably in Exeter we are given two offerings in the form of Zizzi‘s and ASK.  We are also given Strada, but this is in a slightly higher league (The prices reflect more then just casual dining, it’s a grown-up restaurant.  A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about Strada in String Beans, my previous food blog and found it ‘alright’ but it is due another review!).

I am saving Zizzi’s for another review as the experiences that I have had there are inconsistent.  Sometimes I go there and come out feel like I’ve had a fantastic meal with value for money and fantastic service, and other times I have feel like I have come out with my wallet molested and a hankering for KFC because the italian flavoured air that I have just eaten as not exactly satisfied me.

So, ignoring Zizzi’s and Strada, where does ASK sit in all of this?

Exeter has too many restaurants that are trying to cater for the mythical affluent middle-class casual/formal diner.  They are mythical because they are in fact cut-out’s made of rice paper that disintegrate when it rains. ASK is, thankfully, an original addition to the ‘chain restaurant‘ gang in Exeter as it is housed in a historic building on Cathedral Yard with a beautiful Tudor entrance area and slightly wonky ceilings.  The additional dining area is slightly more Georgian and regency with beautiful views over the Green and the Cathedral itself.

My beloved and I last visited on a Tuesday night after work, armed with a Main Meal for £1 voucher which they quite often send out if you’re subscribed to the email list.
We were immediately invited in by a very friendly Maitre’d who made conversation with us and put us at ease as he saw us to our table.  He was French and had a thick accent, but his English was good and he smiled a lot.  As we sat down, he sat on a chair near our table (slightly over familiar, but I liked it) and did the usual ‘selling the punter the most expensive thing on the specials board’.  He was so nice, I wanted to invite him to sit and have the rest of the meal with us.

Then trotted over another waiter who felt very much like he was on his first day.  The English was not fluid and when he came up to see if we were alright after ordering our food, I couldn’t work out what was being said what with being English and generally bad with foreign accents. Although friendly and great at coffee, it stopped there, I felt awkward and a bit uncomfortable, almost like he was trying to ask me out every time he came up to the table.

I had the Funghi Calzone with a Large latte.  The latte was glorious, especially for a non-coffee establishment with a generous fluffly head and a nice balance between milk and coffee.
After an average wait for the food, I delved in to a lovely Calzone that was hot and tasty with my ‘funny face’ salad which always makes me happy.

The restaurant was quiet so the service was excellent, but as we left the tables started filling up as the evening diners started filtering in.

Meal for two with two drinks and one meal for a £1 came to just over £14 with a £2 tip.  Overall opinion, pleasant dining experience in a beautiful setting and by far the nicest in its league, but still a chain restaurant.

5 Cathedral Close, Exeter, EX1 1EZ

TEL: +44 (0)1392 427127

http://www.askrestaurants.com/