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.
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:
Teaming up with 6 O’Clock Gin and Scavi & Ray, Foozie is heading to Exeter for two very special, and one-off events!
Bursting with events celebrating the popularity of gin and prosecco, Exeter has yet to experience these delicious drinks on an open-top bus! That is until Foozie, Bristol’s leading experimental ‘foodie and boozie’ events agency, decided to bring its Gin and Prosecco Bus Series to Exeter for the Summer of 2017.
After a huge success in Bristol (with 600 tickets selling in 4 hours), Foozie is venturing out of its hometown to bring the Boozie Bus Series to Exeter! With two dates in August, each event will accommodate 50 guests aboard an open-top bus. Taking them on a 2-hour long scenic tour of the city, the events are completed with gin cocktails and prosecco.
The first event will take place on the 12th August with an exciting collaboration with 6 O’Clock Gin – one of the UK’s finest gin distilleries. Based in Thornbury, Bristol, the distillery has crafted four gin-based cocktails for guests to enjoy whilst taking in the most beautiful sites around Exeter.
Roll on 26th August and Foozie brings you Exeter’s first Prosecco Bus: The Bubble Decker. Teaming up with Italian prosecco heavyweights: Scavi & Ray, guests will be offered a drink on arrival and 5 glasses of prosecco throughout the event.
● Saturday July 22nd – The ‘Bubble Decker’ Prosecco Bus
● Saturday July 29th – The 6 O’clock Gin Bus
Foozie’s founder and food and drink fanatic, Thom Whitchurch, said of the event:
“We’re so excited to be bringing these events to Exeter. I come to the city regularly and it was the natural next step for us. The cocktails that 6 O’Clock have created are incredible, and Scavi & Ray make one of the best proseccos in the world! We can’t wait to serve these on our buses and take in the sites of the city.”
Foozie offers a free membership to ‘Club Foozie’ where members receive exclusive discounts and priority on all of their events. Guests who signed up to Club Foozie will receive a 10% discount on the Exeter Bus Series and notified 24 hours before they go on sale to the general public.
Tickets will be available to Club Foozie members on Friday 30th June and Saturday 1st July to the general public. Club Foozie members will be emailed at 10am on Friday 30th to buy tickets.
Recently I was over the moon to be invited to join a host of other foodie, family and lifestyle bloggers at River Cottage HQ, to experience their facilities and offering. The event was being hosted blogger groups Foodies100 and HIBS100.
I have been to HQ before for one of the annual Summer Fairs but it has been some years now. Most of you would know of River Cottage I’m sure, and the fantastic Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who has lovingly developed the farm, his book collection as well as using his knowledge and power for good.
If you don’t know much about River Cottage and Hugh, here’s a little snippet:
‘River Cottage HQ, found on the Devon and Dorset border, is home to everything they do and is the base for their Cookery and Chefs’ School, unique dining experiences and memorable events.
There are four Canteens, the award-winning restaurants and delis based in the South West where they combine their philosophy with the finest producers in Axminster, Bristol, Plymouth and – most recently – Winchester.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a multi-award-winning writer and broadcaster widely known for his uncompromising commitment to seasonal, ethically produced food.
He has earned a huge following through his River Cottage TV series and books, as well as campaigns such as Hugh’s Fish Fight and the most recent- Saving Africa’s Elephants: Hugh and the Ivory War
Hugh’s early smallholding experiences were shown in the Channel 4 River Cottage series and led to the publication of The River Cottage Cookbook (2001) which won the Glenfiddich Trophy and the André Simon Food Book of the Year award (and was republished in an expanded 10-year-anniversary edition in 2011). Ten more books have followed, including the acclaimed River Cottage Meat Book and the hugely successful River Cottage Veg Everyday and the most recent A-Z of Ingredients.’
As we arrived in the unassuming car park, we gathered in the wooden hut along with other bloggers who had already arrived and waited patiently for more to trickle in with the final count being 55 I believe. We were all like children knowing we would inevitably have a tractor ride down to the farm – we weren’t disappointed, although what a bouncy journey!
After being welcomed into the twinkling barn with drinks and delightful drop scones, topped with yogurt and honey, we settled in for a demo. This demo was all about enhancing your Christmas meats including making your own ham, how to brine a chicken or turkey and how to make venison bresaola. All three sounded so simple and I will certainly be looking to give one or two a go! Of course the tasters were delicious.
After indulging in said tasters, the group split into two with half networking and talking all things blog and social media in the famous River Cottage HQ main house where lots of filming has taken place and the other half piling into the yurt, warmed by the beautiful log burner in order to take on a Guess What’s in the Box challenge. The challenge involved putting your hand in said box and feeling around and guessing what the items were, with some being unexpectedly sticky such as candied ginger and a bit daunting at first.
Now for the main event! We gathered inside the barn again, now transformed for our dinner. I say dinner, it was a grazing fest – we were fed for almost three and a half hours. It started off with a lovely warming apple liqueur, along with canapes of Devon mussels with cider apples and diced red onion, leg of pork croquettes with a bechamel sauce inside, as well as bruschetta of goats cheese, beetroot, cider vinegar and fennel. Every morsel a delight.
We were then treated to a pre-starter of pulled rabbit, and romanesco puree followed by a starter of celeriac ravioli with wild mushrooms and leaves. The main was River Cottage cider brined ham, carrot puree, fried savoy cabbage and braised beans. Full yet? Maybe a little…but then what followed was the most beautiful honeycomb creme brulee with apple puree and apple crisps – it was heavenly, every morsel eaten with my eyes shut, I wish I could have had more!
Everything was absolutely gorgeous, flavoursome and texturally well thought out but then what would you expect of such high calibre chefs and environment.
During courses we were welcomed by chef Sam Lomas (below far left) to wander round and even be nosy in the kitchen. The chefs kindly showed us the cookery school, where they hold the usual courses including fish, meat and baking to the more unusual of beekeeping, wild food cookery and even foraging courses.
Did you know you could get married here? Well you do now…and in the lovely veg patch I believe! It’s a really charming environment with charming staff to boot.
Around 10pm or so it was time to go, our carriage (I mean tractor) awaited to return us to our cars. We left with quite a smile on our faces, bellies very full. It certainly was a culinary experience.
So if you are struggling to think of that ideal gift for a friend or loved one, think of #RiverCottageChristmas or any time of the year for that matter – remember cookery skills are for life, and not just for Christmas!
I love it when a two great things come together. The Exploding Bakery and their fantastic new cafe space, coupled with The Rusty Pig and Ex River Cottage chef Robin Rea with his mobile oven made Friday night’s Pop-up event in Queen Street a really excellent evening.
From Robin’s bistro kitchen situated just outside on the pavement, punters were treated to an array of spicy flat breads and other Rusty Pig specials cooked to order to either take-away or eat in.
This is the first event that Exploding Baker owners Ollie and Tom have put on since their extension to the original bakery a few months ago and from what I’ve gathered it won’t be the last sort of event that will be taking place.
Tonight’s menu was going to be a spicy feast with lots of warmth, much needed on the first wet evening in ages.
I’m a big spice fan, but I wasn’t feeling that brave so I went for the Game On flatbread. Smoked Spicy Phesant, Home-made Tabasco Sauce and Gaucamole cooked on a fresh flatbread dough.
With pheasant smoked in Robin’s very own smoker at the back of the Rusty Pig restaurant in Ottery St Mary, this was a beautiful combination which worked so well together. I savoured the whole thing and ate it very slowly.
To dip, I opted for a side of home-made Tzatiki which brought the temperature down, a pleasing combination which went down far too quickly washed along with a bottle of Wild Beer Co. ‘Fresh’, a slightly sour beer which is one of their more quaffable tipples.
Even though I was on my own, Pop-up events like this are a great way to meet people. I met so many great people, including Tor, Whitney, Toby from Occasional Brewery, John from Powderkeg Brewery and my good blogger friend Tara with her lovely other half Steve who were also there to take in the spicy flatbread magic of this event.
It would be great to Robin here again, and given it was so close to my place of work, I felt absolutely spoilt to have food like this on, literally, my work door step. Robin’s mobile kitchen is out and about, and is also available for private events and weddings.
Talk to any ale fan in the Exeter & Devon area and you won’t find many that would not class Yellow Hammer as one of their favourite ales. For as long as I can remember this beautifully light and golden ale has been a staple in various pubs around Exeter. It is produced by Hanlons Brewery who are based out at Half Moon Village in between Cowley and Newton St Cyres on the A377. Sounds far away? It is less than two miles from the centre of Exeter, nestled in the rolling hills that surround the city.
Some long-term hardened ale fans might remember a few years ago, Hanlons used to be based out at Whimple. After some financial difficulties the company went in to administration but partners Dan Taylor and Jim Bungard swooped to the rescue and bought the ale-ing (sorry) company, relocated it to a purpose built brewery building and the rest is history. Dan and Jim’s families invested heavily in the business, as a result the company is has a distinctive family run feel to it.
Not too long ago, Hanlon’s opened their doors to the general public on a Friday night serving top quality food and of course their own beautiful ale from draught. Living less than a mile away, I was ashamed to say that I hadn’t been to visit sooner but was over the Half-Moon (as they’re located in Half Moon Village?…I’ll get my coat) to be invited over to see what has made this hidden gem so successful.
The whole building is wood clad, a distinctive design hidden behind the hedgerow from the A377 which it sits close to. A whole selection of buses pass here, and there is one every hour generally, and with ample parking it is easy for the designated driver to rock up and find somewhere to park.
During the week their in-house bar hosts corporate and private events. But on a Friday night, the menus come out, the reserved signs are placed on the table and diners come down to eat a menu incorporating Hanlons products created by Chef Tim Ware (Jack In The Green, Digger’s Rest).
The room itself is decorated with lots of Hanlons marketing and photographs including the most amazing illustrated diagram that adorns the wall which was created by a local illustrator. The place mats on the tables replicate this artwork, and there are colouring crayons on each table for big and little kids to colour in (excuse the fuzzy photo!)
As we arrived, we commenced proceedings with a half of Firefly Bitter; a member of the Hanlon family that I don’t often see in the pubs I visit.
The menu changes each week, follow Hanlon’s Facebook page to see what each week holds in store and keep up to date with brewery tours and other exciting events.
We decided to share our starter. A delicious baked Camembert served in fresh Yellow Hammer bread with a side of Stormstay Chutney (£9). There is something so delectable about fresh bread and melted cheese, and this dish punched straight to the heart of what makes this comfort food a firm favourite in restaurants across the country.
Our main course was a choice, but I had to go for the Sticky Pork Tenderloin with Thai Slaw cooked in Yellow Hammer (£10) as well as Tori. The fusion worked fantastically, the Yellow Hammer addition shows that this ale is very versatile, not just to drink but to cook with too.
This is fine dining quality for fantastic value but keeping it very much in tune with Hanlon’s tune. Using ales and beers that Hanlons produces is a great showcase for the other ways that their products can be incorporated into cooking.
The meal was topped off with some locally produced dairy ice-cream, a very simple yet satisfying end to really good meal.
After the meal, we were lucky enough to be taken down to the brewery floor by Dan Taylor to have a brief tour of the facilities. Yellow Hammer is a beautiful traditional ale that has a special place in the hearts of ale drinkers across the county and to finally visit its birthplace was a definite culinary highlight.
Hanlons has invested in new equipment to help improve consistency and make things more efficient, the shiny vats holding a vast amount of liquid that would eventually be served across pubs and supermarkets.
I love the ethos of this local company and I am a definite fan of their products. I want to write what I thought of their food in terms that would make readers of this blog cringe or squirm uncomfortably whilst I use words like ‘lush’ and ‘om nom’. But as with any review, you need to try it for yourself.
14 Broad Street, Ottery St Mary – 07879 995273 / 01404 813280
One of the aims of this blog is to showcase the best eating experiences that Exeter and the surrounding area has to offer. But there is a whole lot of stuff happening outside of the Exeter area that I encourage you to visit. One place that is hot on my radar at the moment is Ottery St Mary, and a few months ago you might remember we took a trip to visit The Rusty Pig. This time we were guests of The Samosa Lady, whose name is Tina.
Ottery St Mary loves Tina. And Tina loves Ottery too. When she took up residence at 14 Broad Street, Tina put a call out on Facebook asking for help setting up shop payment was in curry and samosas. Tina was amazed to find a queue of eager helpers waiting to offer themsleves with brushes and paint in hand. This was the beginning of a long and happy place in the hearts of the residents of this large East Devon town.
Through the foodie circles I move in, praise for Tina’s cuisine (especially her Samosas) has echoed. She is renowned for producing some amazing food. After she appeared at one of Hanlon’s Brewery Pop-up Evenings the positivity on social media was building me up for something epic. The expectation was delivered, the evening was as memorable as I had hoped it would be.
We were invited along to one of Tina’s dining nights where a special four-course menu is prepared with a theme; tonight’s was Eat East, a whole Asian menu fused together tastefully with Thai, Indian, and Chinese being a few themes of the evening.
The first thing that hits you when you walk through the door of 14 Broad Street is the smell. Its like some sort of olfactory welcome party, with the strong smell of spices filling every inch of cubic airspace. It was a busy evening and, as a first for one of Tina’s events, there were named spaces as a group of friends wanted to be together.
There was no written menu, each dish was announced by our host at the beginning of each course with a wonderful fusion of different eastern styles of cooking.
The table was laid out with aperitifs, including Poppadoms; strips of scratch-made Samosa dough and to dip some home-made Mango Chutney; Aubergine Pickle and Lime Pickle.
As guests started to filter in one by one, we met our table mates. On my left was John & Meena, both retired residents of Ottery St Mary. On my right was Gary and Helen from Copperhill Farm Meats, who were absolutely lovely. We shared many laughs at our end of the table.
Our first course was Peking Duck Samosas served with a tamarind chutney and Chicken Satay on Yorkshire Pudding with a cucumber salad. I liked the fact that Tina introduced the evening with her specialty; up to this point I had never had a Samosa Lady samosa, but with my SLS virginity taken, it was clear what the fuss was about. Beautifully cooked duck wrapped in a crispy light home-made dough.
The wonderful Chicken Satay on Yorkshire pudding was an homage to Tina’s Northern heritage. After moving from Africa to the Gujarti region of India, Tina’s parents (Mama Samosa was present tonight!) ended up in Yorkshire. This was a fitting tribute with the exotic satay contrasting with a such a traditional British staple; as a fusion dish it worked really well with the similar buttery flavours and that nutty, slightly spicy edge to the chicken.
Before our main we were treated to a complimentary Spiced Rum and Ginger shot. Down in one? Or sip? I deliberated, but opted for sipping it as I am a tad strange with alcohol.
Our main dish was a Thai Seafood Curry with Ginger & Garlic infused Pilau rice with curried spinach. The curry included a medley of different seafoods and a beautifully scented rice. The dish felt so home-cooked, as if it had been cooked in Tina’s very own kitchen at home.
Throughout the meal Tina had assistance from a small army of helpers who assisted with prepping the food, serving the food and being accommodating to the various needs of the convivial gathering downstairs and the raucous birthday party upstairs who were also taking part in the meal.
Our dessert was a spin on the traditional. A Sticky Toffee Pudding infused with cardamom, drizzled with a Chilli Toffee Sauce and topped with saffron clotted cream with crushed Pistachios as an option.
The pudding was light as I would imagine a pudding like this to be, the addition of the pistachios with the exotic accents of this traditional British dish really worked, saffron clotted cream is a first for me but it won’t be the last. The chilli toffee sauce intermingled with the clotted cream, playing with texture and temperature.
Communal dining isn’t for everyone. In fact for most Brits whose idea of ‘eating out’ involves a table away from the rest of the humanity in a dark corner of a soulless restaurant, the concept of having to sit with strangers within close proximity would send them screaming for the hills. But once diners get past that initial apprehension, it is an easy way to make friends.
This type of dining experience was fun, even for an INFJ like myself It was immensely entertaining, and when the wine/beer/shots flow, your friend count rises gradually.
Tina knows how to do a dining night. More than one person recounted ‘the time when’ something fun happened at a previous event (I think dancing on tables was involved?…), Tina has a definite band of avid supporters and it is clear to see why. From the moment the community banded around to support her setting-up shop, that support hasn’t wavered and there is a definite place for her with her delicious smells in the heart (physical and emotional) of Ottery St Mary.
The evening cost was £35 per head. It was BYO with table water available.
The end of the week is here, another rare day off for me on a day that is not a weekend! So what a better way to spend it by visiting Circa 1924 and indulging in a Coffee Marathon! That is for a later post, but we broke up our caffeine binge with a lunchtime treat. We had been invited along to sample a culinary innovation that I would love to see take off for the team in the Northernhay Place based restaurant.
One of the best things about Exeter being that there is always something innovating going on within restaurants and cafes that grace our city. Circa 1924 is hosting a Scandinavian Pop-up lunch menu called Skandel@Circa1924, envisioned and developed by Circa’s own Scandi chef Lauri Hilli. The price is cheap, but the meal itself is not reflected in the price, a top-notch slice of fine dining from one of Exeter’s best independent restaurants.
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The menu is a simple but attractive affair with Swedish named dishes and a concise description of the dish itself; its OK, put away those Swedish-English dictionaries! Based downstairs in the Bootleg bar area, diners get to properly see the wood paneling and the speakeasy inspired design that gives this restaurant the aesthetic edge
One of my dining rules is to always go for the fish. This is often a good indicator of the skill of the chef, as fish can be tricky to get right. We don’t tend to eat a lot of fish at home, so it is a special occasion to have a fish based meal when the opportunity arises.
For our drinks we chose a delicious Cloudy Lemonade non-alcoholic cocktail made with lemon cordial, an almond based syrup called Orgeat, dill and crushed Ice. It had a strong flavour, but the combination of almonds and lemon was a surprising success at our table and, as our waiter Zac pointed out, it worked really well with the flavors of the lunch menu too.
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As I am reviewing a fixed price meal, I am not putting down prices. Two courses costs £10.95 per head which I feel is fantastic value. For starters I went for Gravad Lax which is Smoked Salmon, Swedish Potato Salad and Pickles. Tori went for the Jagar Toast which consists of creamed mushrooms & Vasterbotten cheese on toasted sourdough.
Given I have not traveled extensively throughout the Scandinavian regions, this is the first time I’ve really come face to face with Nordic dining. I’m always up for new things, and if this is anything to go by then I am officially a fan.
The smoked salmon was delicately smoked, not overbearing in flavour so much it out-weighed everything else. The potato salad and the pickles were delicate, so it balanced out well with the salmon. Tori made approving noises from her side of the table, she was happy that there were lots of pea-shoots as she is a bit of a fan. She liked the sourdough bread and the creamy mushroom was a hit too.
Our main course was a tough choice, but given I am one for stereotypes and a Scandi menu wouldn’t be authentic if there were not meatballs on there somewhere, I had to go for the Kottbullar – Devon Venison meatballs served with Lingonberries, New potatoes served in a cream sauce. Tori went for the Kyckling & Rotmos – Chicken Schnitzel with a dill & lemon butter and a root veg mash.
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My Venison meatballs had a wonderful meaty aroma on first biting in to them, and a lean density that you could tell was a quality Devon meat. Ultimately all meat in Devon is superior, and that is a fact. And yes, I am bias.
The cream sauce with the new potato combined beautifully to create a homely comforting feeling that you might get with that combination of flavour. But then add a Lingonberry in there too and it takes it to another level. They are sweet, gently tart little berries that are not as harsh as cranberries but not as fruity as pomegranate, a really superior-berry-sharpness middle ground.
Tori’s chicken was moist, again adorned with pea-shoots and combined with the butter and the lemon, made for a very happy Tori.
So we reached that stage of meal called The Pleasantly Stuffed Phase. I am generally only a two-course kind of person, but our waiter Zac managed to sell the Ligonberry Ice Cream to us. We decided to share it, as ultimately it would be nice to have a sweet thing, but not a whole one.
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The sweet rye bread crumb provided a satisfying crunch and the caramel constrasted with the delicate tartness of the ice cream. It was very rich, so we were both glad we only went for one dessert between us. Zac said that we needed this dessert in our lives, and I am glad it is now added to the list of things I have tasted and will have again. Thank you Zac.
It was a nice surprise to bump in to one of my blogger mates, Tara from Tara’s Busy Kitchen who was also having lunch and doing a write-up. We shared notes, I recommended the Cloudy Lemon and had a brief natter before we left. Being a food blogger in a smaller city like Exeter means you can sometimes be a little isolated from other bloggers. It makes me realise that we need some sort of Food Blogger/Foody Social thing, so watch this space as I might be organizing something in the not too distant future. I digress.
Skandel@Circa1924 is a fantastic concept from an innovative restaurant, driven by clean food and fresh ingredients. There is simply nothing else like it in Exeter at the moment, and I would strongly urge all foodies to take up the opportunity to visit. Lunch is served between 12 – 14:30 on Mondays to Saturdays.
An acapella group from the University of Exeter will be popping up on selected commuter trains on their way into Exeter on 9th, 10th and 16th February. The impromptu performance will be helping to shine the light on an exciting new Scandi pop-up restaurant launching in the city this month. A group of 14 singers from the popular group Semi-Toned will be performing their unique rendition of an Abba medley to herald the arrival of new Scandi pop-up restaurant, Skandel@Circa – featuring an Express Menu fresh from the hot new Scandinavian food brand straight out of London’s über-fashionable King’s Road.
There won’t be any London prices, though, as you will be able to enjoy a delicious two-course lunch for just £10.95.
The performance will be a real treat for commuters, as Semi-Toned will be fresh from winning the Exete Quarter Finals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella 2016, an international competition that attracts hundreds of college a cappella groups each year. Next up for this talented group is a US tour, where thanks to TV shows such as Glee, a capella is more popular than ever.
Circa 1924 Co-owner Rob Weeks, says: “Thanks to our Swedish Chef, Lauri Hilli, we wanted to introduce something innovative and fresh and so thought it deserved a launch with a difference. We hope commuters will get involved and share the performances on social media using #CircaSkandel and including @Circa1924 and @SemiToned to help us create a bit of a buzz.”
There has been a bit of a theme over the last week on Eating Exeter, and following through with the Pop-up theme is The Oddfellow’s #popup Kitchen evenings that happen most Sunday evenings.
For me The Oddfellows in New North Road is one of the shining beacons in Exeter’s foody scene. Founded and run by Yvan and Faye Williams, they have recently opened a second pub in Exmouth on the storming success of the original one in New North Road; they are a progressive pub that is not afraid to try new ideas and go beyond the Gastropub label.
comes with stabbing implement, useful in dividing the bill!
Some kitchen theatre.
One of the early reviews for Eating Exeter was our visit to their @meateasynight which happened on Thursday nights. It was an excellent burger, and just went to show the dedication to good food that this pub has. And this really shows in the selection of Pop-up kitchens that have been invited to take over The Oddfellows.
Each Sunday, a different Pop-up Kitchen serves up something exciting and fresh.
1st Sunday – Taco Macho The crazy-yet-talented Gus from Taco Macho and his beautiful Burritos take over the kitchen with the flamboyance and skill that has made Taco Macho one of the most talked about food places in Exeter. Normally based from a small premises in Fore Street, Gus brings his genuine Mexican zazz to The Oddfellows kitchens.
2nd Sunday – Eat The Smoke @EatTheSmokeBBQ Christian & Pete from Eat The Smoke bring a bit of the Deep South to Devon via their BBQ Pit Sauces and Rubs. Using genuine American liquid smoke and locally sourced herbs & spices, it comes straight from Exmouth in a range of crafted products that is available for purchase online and through their street food stalls, Eat The Smoke really comes in to its own within a proper restaurant.
Eat The Smoke Dirty Dogs
Eat The Smoke Dirty Dogs
The guys from Eat The Smoke have been working hard to get their products to the foodies of Devon and beyond, they have a few new ranges out which I am hoping to get my hands on soon for a product review.
3rd Sunday – Rob Dawe: The Pop-up Chef – Twitter @RobertdaweRob Last year I wrote this… “Rob Dawe (formerly senior sous chef at the RAC Club Pall Mall and Head Chef at The Puffing Billy) is a chef tutor at the prestigous Ashburton Cookery School and now he is adding to his many strung bow, by putting on pop-up restaurants in select restaurant locations in and around the Exeter area.” Over the last year Rob has been putting on Pop-up events on some of the best restaurants in Exeter, and now he is making an appearance at The Oddfellows.
Rob’s classic style and attention to detail made our visit to The Heart of Oak in Pinhoe a one of my food moments of 2015.
4th Sunday – Irregular with a possible appearances from Pickle Shack
Its a bit of a gamble on the 4th Sunday. But it might be visited by The Pickle Shack? We visited The Pickle Shack last year when they held a Tapas Evening at McCoy’s Arcade. Fronted by talented chef Josh Mcdonald-Johnson, this award winning Pop-up Grub Club could make an appearance soon!
Dates are subject to change, the best thing to do is to keep an eye on The Oddfellows social media for the latest goings on.
Launched in June 2015 by two local guys, Rob Weeks and James Waddington, Circa 1924 has quickly made a name for itself as one of the coolest places to dine out in Exeter. Due to popular demand, the funky 1920s-inspired seafood & steak house will be opening its doors for lunch as of 2nd February, with an on-trend new pop-up restaurant. ‘Skandel’, London’s hottest new Scandinavian food brand first launched on London’s über-fashionable King’s Road, is looking to take the pulse on South Devon’s taste for Nordic cuisine.
Set in Circa’s bootleg bar, skandel@Circa1924 is aimed at all comers and will offer an affordable express lunch menu priced at £10.95 for two courses.
James Hagen and Lauri Hilli (skandel group) say: “Skandel will be showcasing red hot seasonal Nordic cuisine. With access to fantastic local produce, rather similar to what we have available in Scandinavia, we will not compromise on our commitment of delivering clean, natural dining that is full on taste, featuring flavours from the crystal fjords and misty mountains of our home.”
Rob Weeks, Co-founder of Circa 1924 comments: “We have been overwhelmed by people asking for us to open at lunch times, and we are always looking for unique and interesting ways to expand our offering. We were really excited when Lauri, our head chef and director, told us about skandel’s desire to test the water in the South West, because it allows us to provide customers with a menu perfectly designed for a quick bite for lunch. If customers love the concept as much as we do, we are looking forward to skandel@Circa1924 being at the heart of Exeter’s lunch offering for a long time to come.
Starting from Tuesday, 2nd February, skandel@Circa1924’s express lunch will be served from 12pm to 14.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday, and at cost of £10.95 for two courses, represents amazing value for money. Circa is looking forward to welcoming all types of diners for lunch, the only requirement is a love of clean, locally sourced food.
Exeter beams with a foody vibe these days, and with the growing trend for Pop-up dining events, it is thrilling to introduce a new Pop-up dining event on to the scene. Presenting Pop-up Polsloe!
“Pop-up Polsloe offers a unique alternative to restaurant dining but with flavours we hope can compete some of the best in the area. We will be “popping up” in various unusual venues in Exeter (the first is Chef Pegler’s dining room for example) – these will be confirmed as and when you book your spot via our facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
At each event, guests will be treated to a lovingly designed menu, courtesy of the pretty amazing chef Pegler (more about him later). If you’re lucky, there might even be a complimentary cocktail thrown in! Fear not, you are also welcome (in fact encouraged) to bring your own bottles or even barrels! At the end of the evening, we will provide you with an envelope in which we kindly ask that you leave a contribution – the amount you truly believe your experience was worth.
A bit more about us!
Your chef is the award winning (so he tells me) Nick Pegler. Having worked in a load of fancy restaurants this guy really knows what he is doing! I might be a little bias, but he’s really not half bad! And I, Issey, am the brains behind this whole operation and will be looking after you!
For more details about our first event, including the menu please have a look at our facebook page and don’t hesitate to get in touch!”
Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Saturday 6th February’s event is all booked up, but the next one after this will be on Sunday 28th Feb. Keep an eye on their social media for more info.
Tara Smith is a busy person. She writes local food & lifestyle blog Tara’s Busy Kitchen, she teaches ballet, she also works at a big named salon AND she manages to go nice places whilst writing about her adventures and providing some awesome recipes too. I’ve been a fan of the blog since she started it last year (I think I’ve been reading it since the summer) so I couldn’t resist asking Tara to answer a few questions for a ’10 Questions’ feature.
And to add to all of this, she is starting ‘Tara’s Busy Kitchen Presents…’ a series of Pop-up events starting with Afternoon Tea. All cakes are crafted by Tara herself, tea is in unlimited supply using Tara’s very own vintage china collection. The first Afternoon Tea event was a success and covered by Hazel from Bedboat Magazine on the Bedboat Magazine blog; I was there too read my account of it here.
Tickets are £19.95 each and spaces are very limited. Nearly a quarter of the tickets have sold for the next event on the 28th February, for more information email Tara at email@example.com
What gave you the inspiration to start Tara’s Busy Kitchen?
My aunt has always been a massive inspiration to me from being a little girl to the here and now. She is a fabulous cook and entertainer and I vowed to be just like her when I grew up! Hopefully I am getting there in some form or another. She was my initial inspiration alongside numerous friends telling me I should share my love of cooking and entertaining with others. So one morning in May last year I wrote and published my first post and the rest is history. Tara’s Busy Kitchen was born.
I’ve followed your blog for a while now, you’re quite a cook! What do you love cooking more than anything else?
I love anything with a Mediterranean twist. Fresh fruit, vegetables and fish get a big thumbs up from me. I like serving my home cooked dishes on big vintage platters in the middle of the table so everybody can dig in.
Is there any authors or big-name bloggers who inspire your writing?
The first person that springs to mind is Yotam Ottolengi. I love his style of cooking. Lots of salads, vegetable and fish dishes for communal dining.. I find his books very inspiring, particularly Plenty. I follow numerous foodie bloggers but my favourites at the moment are Deliciously Ella for her easy, healthy recipes and Secret Squirrel for her love and passion for food. That girl can eat!
For most bloggers there is a ‘real-life’, what is your day job?
I have two jobs in and around Tara’s Busy Kitchen. I am a self employed Royal Academy of Dance trained ballet teacher. Alongside this I work part-time on reception at a well known hairdressers. I’m a busy bee!
What is currently your favourite place to eat out in Exeter? That has to be The Hour Glass. It’s my “go to” place whenever I want fantastic quality in a relaxed informal setting. I have never had a bad meal there. It’s always “top notch” in my book.
I hear you love Vintage china, what’s your favourite item in your collection?
That is a tough one..I have a rather wonderful Royal Vale white and gold tea set that I add to every time I spot a piece on my travels but I would probably choose my big blue and white serving platters. They get used on a daily bases and I love them dearly.
For those who don’t already know, what is ‘Tara’s Busy Kitchen presents’?
Tara’s Busy Kitchen Presents.. Is my take on the popular supper clubs and underground restaurants that are springing up everywhere. I didn’t want to limit myself to just supper so I decided on afternoon tea as a starting point and hope to branch out. Who knows where it might lead.. Tara’s Busy Kitchen Presents..Brunch, Lunch, Cocktails. The list goes on. It’s exciting to think where it might lead in the future.
I bet there’s a heck of a lot of preparation?
There is! The menu is the main thing obviously. I keep changing my mind but know it will all come together on the day!
What have you got in store for diners on the 28th February?
A beautifully styled “pop up” tea room at my house with vintage china, sparkling wine and delicious homemade goodies. You will be greeted with a welcome glass of fizz. A chance to mingle with other guests before finding a seat at one of the vintage themed tables. From this point on indulge yourselves in the edible goodies that come your way. Savoury treats, finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and a selection of cakes. All of this is washed down with as much tea as you care to drink. I try and use as many local producers as possible when putting my menu together so you can be assured of fabulous quality.
Any plans for the future, where do you want to be with the blog by next year?
I don’t have plans set in stone but I am focusing heavily on making the blog as successful as I possibly can. 2016 is going to an exciting year for me watching the blog grow. Don’t forget my first post was less than a year ago. (May 2015) I love sharing my experiences with my followers and readers and hope that they continue to enjoy what I do. Onwards and upwards as they say!
I would like to do more Tara’s Busy Kitchen Presents .. Too. Perhaps you and your readers can come up with some awesome ideas for future events?
The concept of the ‘Pop-up’ has enjoyed a raft of success as a concept in recent years. Pop-up shops, pop-up restaurants and even pop-up galleries make this a really sharp tool for creating a buzz and spreading word-of-mouth with ‘never to be repeated’ experiences (for instance having dinner in a polytunnel at Trill Farm). In Exeter we are lucky to have at least three pop-up food events that happen regularly, and now we might be welcoming a fourth in the form of ‘Tara’s Busy Kitchen Presents…Afternoon Tea’
A High Tea Pop-up? Yup. Count me in.
Will there be cake? Yup.
Will there be tea? Yup.
Will there be sparkling alcoholic stuff from Sharpham’s Vineyard? Yup.
Tara’s Busy Kitchen is not just the name of the itself event but also a spiffing blog that is written by Tara Smith. Ballet teacher by day, lifestyle-food blogger by night. It was the first time that I had met a fellow Exonian blogger, and the first time I had met any blogger whose writing I read regularly. It was strange how much information you are able to recall, and you realise just by the nature of blogging itself that writing a blog is a very personal thing.
Her writing has a clear voice. Tara uses lots of photos and she has consistency which I wish I could replicate! So to be invited over for tea with a host of other foodies was an honour and a half
The baking was done by the hostess. The sheer amount of prep work that went in to the whole thing was outstanding. The baking, the vintage crockery, the tables, Tara had turned her modern living room in to a classic tea room setup which looked, for lack of a better word, awesome.
The tea was from Miles Teas, the sparkling white was a Sharpham’s Sparkling Reserva and the jams & condiments were from Louise’s Larder.
I liked the little goody bags we were given to take away and the little A6 sheet that gave all of the suppliers of the different elements. The cosiness of our surroundings made the whole experience exceptionally welcoming to the lonewolf who suffers from social anxiety, there were no awkward moments and it was lovely talking to so many other foodies.
Unfortunately for Tara, she had quite a lot of washing up afterwards!
Tara has posted about the event on her blog, so go forth and read it. And subscribe to her blog too.
Danish superstar chef Kasper Gaard is joining forces with Robin Rea from the award-winning Rusty Pig in Ottery St Mary to cook a one-off supper at Smiths Wines in Magdalen Road.
Kasper, who took part in the River Cottage series ‘3 Good Things’, is a feted restaurateur in Denmark, and runs the Ilse restaurant on the island of Samso, where he lives.
Iain Smith of Smiths Wines said: “It’s been a long-term ambition of mine to persuade Kasper to cook for the people of Exeter.
“He’s previously dazzled the folk of Ottery St Mary with his cooking, and I decided it was our turn next. I’ve known Robin for many years too, and I’m looking forward to seeing what these two exceptional chefs concoct between them. ”
Both chefs are committed to ethical dining with sustainable aims and the dinner will be based on seasonal local ingredients. On Samso, Kasper Gaard is an expert at foraging for ingredients to use in his cooking, whilst in Ottery St Mary, Robin Rea has strong ties with local suppliers for fish, game, beef, vegetables and salad. He also raises his own Oxford Sandy and Black pigs on a nearby smallholding.
Iain regularly hosts suppers for small numbers in the shop, which is equipped with a long dining table that nestles between the shelves of wine, and armchairs for customers to use in between browsing the shelves at Smiths Wines. He and his team have a comprehensive knowledge of wines and Iain will be choosing the varieties to complement the meal created by Kasper and Robin.
The supper is on Tuesday, November 3. With space limited to 20 diners, the four course set meal costs £80 including wine. To book, call Iain on 01392 426550.
I really wanted to come back last night and start writing about this, as the experience left me buzzing. At The Salutation Inn in Topsham a group of press representatives and us too, had a taster of the Dining in the Dark events that are taking place in November being put on by the WESC Foundation, which is a fantastic institution that offers residency to 100 or so young people with varying degrees of sight impairment, ranging from partial sight to absolutely no sight at all. Click through here for more information about the events.
As you can imagine there are not that many photos with this post compared to the usual barrage of images and photos taken at jaunty angles that I normally plaster across this blog. This experience was one that had to be described.
The evening was taking place in The Salutation Inn, an establishment that has become synonymous with fine dining under the command of Michelin trained chef-director Tom William-Hawkes, who has taken what was a ‘sticky carpet pub’ and given it a new life as one of the places to go for fine cuisine and excellent service (1# on Trip Advisor!).
The WESC Foundation will be laying on three one-of-a-kind Dining in the Dark events in November (Wednesday 25th, Thursday 26th and the ‘Gourmet’ night on the 27th November) that will see diners taken on a culinary journey of taste, but also empathy as you are guided up the stairs from the downstairs function rooms to the dining area by one of four guides who are themselves blind or partially sighted, hands on shoulders in to a room that is pitch black. The dining room is clad in a double lined curtains which creates a darkness that is rarely experienced in this modern age of street lights and twenty-four-seven daylight. The events are designed to take diners on a journey of culinary delight, but they are also meant to be thought-provoking.
We met our hosts as we entered through the front entrance of the restaurant, and were guided to a couple of rooms that acted as a gathering area for the diners; canapés and conversation were exchanged and consumed, after a little time we were told exactly what was going to happen. In groups of four, our guides would lead us upstairs in groups of four. Placing your hand on the shoulder of the person in front, we were led up the stairs in small groups to a room set up for dinner, in complete darkness.
As soon as we entered the room, my eyes were as good as useless. Having to rely on a mental image that I was painting in my head as to where items on the table were laid, it was only after I put my hand in the Confit of Rainbow Trout, that I realised the food was already served!
Our guides were around to help with anything we needed, I spent most of the meal trying to find my bread but ended up eating Tori’s instead. After I had poured my water (not in my glass, but somewhere…) I set about enjoying the beautiful piece of rainbow trout in front of me.
The taste of the fish, the tartness of the ratatouille and the basil of the marinade felt like fireworks going off in my mouth. Without sounding too cliché, there was a basil and trout filled party on my taste buds. Tastes seem to take on a new life without the eyes to play a part in the cognitive process of eating, and given the calibre of what The Salutation Inn produces, this event is guaranteed to deepen guest’s appreciation of taste.
After we had finished our meals, we were led out in a similar fashion to enjoy some teas coffees and petit fours (which we were allowed to bring home, post to follow). We listened to a short talk given by Jon Duckham (Fundraising Manager for WESC) and looked at just some of the kitchen and cooking items that were on display, all designed to help those with sight impairment.
Although our experience in the dark was a short one, it was a good overview of the sort of thing to expect, a journey of taste and an experience that will be hard to forget.
On Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th November the meal will include prosecco and canapés on arrival, three specially designed courses with a glass of wine, coffee and petit fours; all for £40 per person. The Gourmet night on the 27th November will include champagne and canapés on arrival, four specially designed courses with a full flight of wines chosen to complement each course with coffee and petit fours afterwards, all this for £80 per person.
Guests gather before the dinner for canapes and conversation!
I’m happy to announce that Rob is going to be at The Lock Keeper’s Cottage Cafe in Topsham for a couple of weeks, from the 19th August until Monday 31st August (closed on 24th and 25th August). The opening hours are 10:30am – 4pm weekdays and 10am – 5pm weekends.
The cafe isn’t accessible by car. You can either park at Turf Lock’s pub and walk up, or its accessible via the Topsham Ferry.
Just a sample of Rob’s handiwork at his Pop-Up Restaurant
Just a sample of Rob’s handiwork at his Pop-Up Restaurant
There will be home-made cakes available with hot and cold drinks available throughout the day or how about treating yourself to a canalside cream tea with home-made strawberry jam and Devon clotted cream in the afternoon? Rob is also providing a small but elegant lunch menu using local produce between Midday and 3pm with a selection of home-made desserts all served with honeycomb and vanillar shortbread & fresh strawberries.
Main courses are excellent value price (given Rob’s heritage) in the region of £7 and desserts £3.50. Or fancy two courses for £10?
A children’s menu will also be available. Although bookings are not being taken, if there are more than six people planning to visit, please ring Rob in advance on 07745438481
I’ve borrowed heavily from Rob’s email from his exclusive mailing list. If you want to know more about Rob’s events, send Rob an email requesting subscription to chefrobdawe at gmail.com
In writing this blog, I have met some people and eaten some food that I might not have been able to even consider. I’ve been given some ‘awesome food moments’ for me to write about and remember for years to come, and certainly the Pop-up restaurants that I have reviewed have given me plenty of material to digest and photograph. They are special, one-time menus that you might never experience again cooked by chefs with vision and experience.
On Tuesday night we were invited to Rob Dawe’s Pop-up Restaurant which was taking place at The Heart of Oak in Pinhoe; I can happily add this evening to my list of ‘awesome food moments’ and it makes me reaffirm why I write this blog with my spare time.
Rob Dawe (formerly senior sous chef at the RAC Club Pall Mall and Head Chef at The Puffing Billy) is a chef tutor at the prestigous Ashburton Cookery School and now he is adding to his many strung bow, by putting on pop-up restaurants in select restaurant locations in and around the Exeter area. Each evening of his Pop-up restaurants have been a sell-out so far, and Rob is now looking at adding members to his exclusive mailing list which you can do by reading to the bottom of this review.
The Pop-up Restaurant scene has really taken off in Exeter and Devon over the last two years with Chefs such as Josh McDonald-Johnson (Pickle Shack) and Jonny Jefferies (Jonny Does Dinner) doing regular events throughout the county. Tim Maddams, of River Cottage Fame started a Pop-up event using Village Halls as the main locations for his pop-ups, through his Hall and Hearty evenings and I expect there are others too. But Rob’s Pop-up Restaurants stand out for me as they are mostly in Exeter, and so far they are all in established restaurants.
The recently refurbished Heart Of Oak in Pinhoe was a fantastic setting for the evening, which saw diners treated to a 6 course tasting menu. The Heart of Oak itself is a pub which has undergone quite a transformation recently. The clean, modern interior was comfortable, and I hope I’ll be able to do a review of the food here at some point soon. The menu was a well balanced exploration of tastes, ingredients and presentations which was accessible yet perfectly executed. As we sat at our table, we were presented with Spicy Duck Canapes to mull over as we inspected the menu.
Rob kicked off the evening with a Sweet Potato, Ginger and Coconut Veloute (generally a soup thickened with either butter, egg yolks and cream). This was accompanied by artisan garlic bread which warmed up the taste buds. I loved the coconut and sweet potato combination.
Our next course was a first for both myself and my able assistant, as we are not overly fond of seafood. Black Bream with a Mussel, Butternut Squash and Fennel Fricasse. Yes, here is someone who writes about food who doesn’t like seafood and has no desire to eat things with shells. But that feeling of accomplishment and discovery that we both really quite enjoyed the Mussels both shelled and in the beautiful Fennel Fricasse was overriding. Unfortunately my benchmark of Mussels are now set pretty high, whether I will ever have mussels that good again is unlikely. But thank you Rob, for introducing me to Mussels.
After the fishy feast, what better way to clear the palette than a Gin & Tonic Sorbet presented in frosted glasses. This refreshed the palette and got it ready for what I personally saw as the highlight of the evening.
Sous Vide Rump of Beef with a Horseradish Mash, Honey Glazed Carrots and a Port and Thyme Jus was a massive highlight for me and my love of meat. Sous-vide is a method of cooking using airtight bags with increased cooking times, which results in a beautiful tender texture.
Next out was a Lemon Posset and vanilla shortbread which was beautifully presented. The ‘topping’ was a layer of raspberry which worked with the tangy zestyness of the lemon. Add in the shortbread, and it presented the palette with a crumbly, buttery, lemony spectrum of flavours that had me scraping the last few bits out with my spoon.
And then from tangy and creamy, was the glorious taste of salted caramel in the shape of Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart with Honeycomb Ice Cream. The consistency and texture of the chocolate was literally like slicing through velvet. Up to this point we had been having a quiet conversation about this and that, narrating the food, talking about what we were eating but at this point our table fell silent and we were quite overcome with the amazing taste.
Just a sample of Rob’s handiwork at his Pop-Up Restaurant
The menu was rounded off with Coffee and Homemade Pistachio Macarons.
The evening was, for us, a resounding delight. The service (hand picked by Rob) was excellent and really attentive, food came out quickly and drinks (although not BYOB) were served speedily and elegantly.
The combination of location and the quality of the food would be for any foody, a memorable food moment. For the prices that Rob charges, for instance our night was £35 per head, you are unlikely to get such good value for a tasting menu as well put together. Had we paid £70 per head, then it would have been a true reflection on our evening.
If I could make this the next culinary sensation that everyone talks about in Exeter, I would. But that is up to whether you put your name on the mailing list for the latest news and dates.
At the moment Rob’s mailing list and word-of-mouth is the only advert for dates of future Pop-ups.
There are two more coming up at The Salty Pigeon on Sunday 1st March and Monday 2nd March. If you would like to book a place, please text Rob on 07745438481. Drinks are BYO.
There are plans for a website and a greater social media presence. You can follow Rob on Twitter as well @RobertdaweRob
To join the mailing list, email Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rusty Pig in Ottery St Mary is the venue for Tim Maddams’ Green Sauce to set up shop for a Pop-up night. Tim previously worked as Head Chef at River Cottage, and can still be found teaching, writing for national rags and promoting ethical foods. The Funghi Night looks like its going to be a spectacular evening, using foraged mushrooms to create a carnival of culinary creativity!
If you wish to book a place on this special evening contact email@example.com or contact 01404 815580
The next Grub Clubs will be held in Chagford (4th October), Ashburton (10th October) and Gittisham (1st November). Booking is essential with these dates are there are a limited number of spaces available.
Click on the images to get to the Facebook event page.
Chagford Grub Club:
Ashburton Grub Club:
Gittisham Grub Club:
If you can’t make these evenings then fear, not. Josh and Jodie are returning to The Real McCoy’s Arcade for a Street Food Pop-Up on Saturday 25th October.
Josh has also teamed up with Whistle Wines to bring another Pop-up Restaurant on the 30th October.
And finally, a Pop-up Restaurant at Exeter Brewery which looks set to be a stonking good evening too 🙂