Love us? Nominate us! Brilliance in Blogging Awards #BiBs2017

BritMums have launched this years Brilliance in Blogging Awards! Highlighting the best in parenting and lifestyle blogs across the country, it recognises the most creative, inventive and compelling bloggers of the year in a variety of categories.

Both of us, Chris and Lauren, are not freelancers who fit all these lovely things in between projects or clients (how we wish!) – we work full time, fitting in all our foodie adventures in around the day job. We absolutely love blogging; the eating and the wonderful people and businesses we meet along the way just makes it even more special.

We would love a nomination from our fab followers, if you can spare a few minutes, and you think we are worthy. We’ve broken it down a bit for you so you know what to do and can quickly get on with your daily grind, reading of random online news or playing that addictive game you were on until you saw this post!

Nominations close 11:59 on 7th June!

Follow this link: http://bit.ly/BiBs2017

Scroll down the ‘inner form’ on the BiBs page. All you need to do to nominate us, apart from entering your name, email and phone number is

Locate Number 5 Food Category – The award that celebrates the tastiest blogs around and fill in as follows:

‘Blog name’: Eating Exeter

‘Blog URL’: https://eatingexeter.co

‘Bloggers Twitter ID’: @eatingexeter

‘Blogger’s Email’: eatingexeter@gmail.com

‘Why do you feel this blogger deserves to win’: aha…that’s up to you and in your own words

‘URL of your favourite post’: Up to you to choose or see below

Then SUBMIT! We’ll send you virtual foodie hugs!

We realise this may seem a bit of effort for some and so we have put a selection below to jog your memory. If you think of any you have enjoyed then just look through our review directory or google Eating Exeter… xxxx review and copy and past the URL into the form.

Maybe you enjoyed Lauren’s Business lunch at Bills?

https://eatingexeter.co/2016/05/16/a-business-lunch-at-bills-exeter-by-lauren-heath/

bills

Or Chris’ soulful write up of the much loved Harry’s

https://eatingexeter.co/2016/11/14/harrys-restaurant-longbrook-st-by-chris-gower/

harrys

Lauren’s meat-tastic day out with Pipers Farm and Exeter Cookery School…

https://eatingexeter.co/2016/08/17/exeter-cookery-school-full-day-meat-butchery-course-with-pipers-farm-by-lauren-heath/

pipers cookery

Or did Chris’ write up of Topsham’s Salutation Inn make you salivate…

https://eatingexeter.co/2016/09/16/the-salutation-inn-topsham-chris-gower/

salutation

Or one of the fantastic Q&A’s showcasing local food heroes and producers such as local (but nationally popular) wine expert Susy Atkins?

https://eatingexeter.co/2016/04/18/10-questions-with-susy-atkins-by-lauren-heath/

susie

Thank you in advance for your nomination, we really appreciate it!

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Eating Exeter visits the Crediton Coffee Company by Chris Gower

Our part of the world is full of fantastic artisan producers who are all doing fabulous things with food and drink.  I live on the north-west side of Exeter, in fact it is easier to go shopping in Crediton than trudge across the city in search of a supermarket.

But when we’re not food shopping or visiting for another reason, it is easy to ignore the fact that the centre of this Mid-Devon town is home to awesome independent foodie businesses like Vagabonds Milkshakes, Bamboa Restaurant, Treloar’s Deli and The Crediton Coffee Company.

The Crediton Coffee Company is located on Market Street just off the main High St.  I’ve been dying to visit and had some time off, so decided to pop over and have a squidge at what they do best.

They’ve been going since 2011, being one of the first in-store roasters to open in the UK, they had to overcome a whole heap of obstacles to comply with the various air regulations, but the pioneering use of air filters and a small-scale roaster serves as a testament to their journey so far.



Crediton Coffee Company produce six varieties of coffee using single origin beans which is sold to farm shops, cafes and online customers as well as through their funky cafe.

When we visited, they were having a roasting and grinding day.  The smell was intoxicating, even to a natural tea drinker like myself.  Tori said she had to resist the temptation to walk back outside and come back in again as she was so taken with the gorgeous smell of coffee.

I have to admit that I am not a big coffee drinker, but my resident coffee-head said that the coffee was lovely and we shall definitely be visiting again.

It was great to talk to owner/roaster Dan who gave us a really good viewpoint on the business.  I hope that this exquisite business doesn’t suffer too much from the Costa that is due to open on Crediton High Street, because after all that is exactly what every small town needs…another bland big-chain coffee shop.

Five Guys, Queen Street


74 Queen Street, Exeter EX4 3RX – 01392 276744

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

fg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jerk Salmon with Pineapple Salsa courtesy of Turtle Bay

Rum, reggae and jerk is coming to Exeter!

Turtle Bay will open on 23 rd August in Exeter. Their first restaurant in Devon will be
bringing a brand new, blissful Caribbean dining and drinking experience to the
people of Exeter!

The concept celebrates the lively, colourful, soulful and, above all, delicious
experiences that the Caribbean has to offer – from explosive flavours to laid back
‘liming’.

As well as their famous jerk chicken, curried goat and gorgeous rum cocktails, dishes
like their Jerk Salmon are brimming with flavor as well as being a little lighter for a
summer’s evening…

Jerk Salmon
Photo Credit: Turtle Bay

Equipment:

Sharp Knife
Chopping Board
Mixing Bowl
None stick frying pan
Spatula or fish slice

Ingredients: (Serves 2)

For the Salmon:

2 x 6oz Salmon Fillet’s
30 gms Plain flour
25 gms Jerk Seasoning
25 gms Melted Butter
Pinch of Sea Salt
2 x Lime Wedges

For the Pineapple Salsa:

2 x Fresh Pineapple slices
1 x Spring Onion
150 gms Cucumber
¼ Scotch Bonnet Pepper -finely diced (optional)
3 x Mint Leaves
3 x Coriander Leaves

Method:

1. Place non-stick frying pan on the solid top & wait until pan is hot and slightly smoking, add a little oil

2. Place Salmon Fillets skin side down in Flour

3. Pat excess Flour off with your hand

4. Place the Salmon skin down into hot frying pan & leave it to cook for 30 secs

5. Brush Jerk Seasoning on the Salmon flesh

6. Place into oven & cook for 8-12 mins

7. Meanwhile, for the Pineapple Salsa, cut the Pineapple slices and cucumber into small chunks.

8. Finely slice the spring onion and place into a mixing bowl

9. Add the finely chopped scotch bonnet (optional) mint & coriander leaves and mix together.

10. Remove Salmon from oven & leave to rest

11. Brush the skin side of the salmon evenly with Butter

12. Sprinkle Sea Salt evenly over Salmon

13. Remove from pan using a spatula or fish slice and place onto a plate.

14. Serve pineapple salsa over the salmon and your choice of side salad, garnish & lime

Serve with salad and sweet potato mash.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Great Artisan Feast Festival – Southernhay Gardens

The team behind Exeter Street Food will be transforming Southernhay Gardens for The Great Artisan Feast Festival on Saturday 15th October 2016, 10:00am to 8:00pm.

Now a familiar sight on Exeter’s elegant Southernhay Gardens the Exeter Street Food team are launching their new food and drink experience for all, called The Great Artisan Feast Festival.

373A6898 CREDIT Faydit Photography

The all-day festival features local artisan producers, street food, deli stands, ‘Granny Garbutt’s ‘Gin Palace’, ale bar, guest brewers and other beverages. There will also be guest food speakers, cooking demonstrations from Exeter Cookery School, sponsor stands plus live entertainment.

There will be large undercover marquee with a bar & seating from which to enjoy the unique atmosphere right at the heart of Exeter city centre. Entry is free.

In addition to a wide selection of producers selling delicious food from Exeter and the South West, visitors can also enjoy Granny Garbutt’s ‘Gin Palace’, serving a wide selection of specialist gins, whiskies from the Whisky Wagon and local ales and beers. There will also be a variation of botanical drinks available.

There will be cookery demonstrations from Exeter Cookery School, who have been exploring opportunities to work with Exeter Street Food for some time. Live music will also add to the ambience of the event in the picturesque Southernhay Gardens.

Quality and Variety

As with all the Exeter Street Food events, The Great Artisan Feast Festival will also focus on quality and variety celebrating the best food and drink from across the South West.

Visitors will be able to choose from designated food and drink areas including Very Veggie, Meaty Mouthfuls, Tantalising Tipples, Relax & Natter, Sweet Sensations, Delicious Deli and World Flavours. There will be plenty of vegetarian and gluten free choices too.

Karen Skerratt, Managing Director of the Hubb Group, the company behind Exeter Street Food and The Great Artisan Feast Festival said:

We can’t wait to bring The Great Artisan Feast Festival to Southernhay on October the 17th. Our Exeter customers are very adventurous and the festival affords them a chance to meet the producers, ask questions and give direct feedback.

The Festival, which is free to enter, will feature our extremely popular Gin Palace, which alongside the live entertainment and demonstrations will make the event a truly unique experience to city folk and visitors of all ages.

The Artisan Festival reflects how we at the Hubb Group are learning and developing our offer all the time. We take pride in responding to both our customers and our stall holders and working hard to not only meet their needs but also exceeding their expectations.”

The Hubb Group created, organise and run Exeter Street Food, Bath Street Food and a variety of bespoke pop-up festivals, markets and other unique and award winning experiences. The Group is currently undergoing a period of sustained growth and company expansion. With a hard earned reputation for quality and variety, the Hubb team are skilled in planning and delivering events designed to meet their company mission ‘Be Inspired, Be Unique’.

Jim Fisher, co-owner of Exeter Cookery School who will be running cookery demonstrations at The Great Artisan Feast Festival said: “We have watched with eager anticipation the development of Exeter Street Food Market and are delighted to be involved in their inaugural Awards and Great Artisan Feast Festival in Exeter. We will be tempting visitors with some more unusual ice cream flavours, such as Margarita ice cream and caramelised rum-infused pineapple with a Pina Colada ice cream.”

The Great Artisan Feast Festival is on Saturday 15th October 2016 10:00am – 8:00pm at Southernhay Gardens for more information visit www.streetfoodexeter.co.uk or on Facebook at facebook.com/exeterstreetfood

Cockt-Ale Festival: Drinks & Entertainment Take Centre Stage at Exeter’s Piazza Terracina

Photography: Faydit Photography

Building upon the success and popularity of the Exeter Street Food brand, the team from the Hubb Group are launching their Cockt-Ale Festival.
Celebrating distillers and brewers from the South West, this brand new event is at Exeter’sPiazza Terracina on Saturday 24th September 2016 (11:00am – 8:00pm).

The Cockt-Ale Festival puts the mighty beverage right at the heart of the action, combining the best in local and international drinks, fun and informative food and drink pairing demonstrations, live entertainment and the option to carry home your favourite tipples plus a vibrant ‘street food village’ too! Entry is free.

The Bar’s the Star!

Visitors to the Quayside’s Piazza Terracina can enjoy a wide range of cocktails and real ales, with guest distillers and brewers and a wide selection of specialist gins on offer at ‘Granny Garbutt’s Gin Palace’. The ‘street food village’ will consist a wide variety of stalls, with food and drink pairing demonstrations courtesy of Exeter Cookery School.

There will be live music on the demonstration stage in the evening with acoustic performances throughout the day from local artists including Sadie Horler and many more. Visitors can also take home drinks they have sampled to enjoy at home too!

Karen Skerratt, Managing Director of the Hubb Group, the company behind Exeter Street Food and the Cockt-Ale Festival said:

We are really proud to be able to launch our Cockt-Ale Festival in Exeter. The Festival brings together all the key ingredients to create a wonderful experience. Our customers can expect a remarkable range of cocktails, real ales and gins to explore twinned with the variety and quality of Exeter Street Food.

Our Cockt-Ale Festival aims to give a platform to local distillers and brewers who are rarely given this kind of exposure. We are blessed with some great independent businesses emerging from the South West which play a large part in our local economy, creating new jobs and encouraging innovation and collaboration in the sector.

We are also delighted that Exeter Cookery School will be joining to us for their food and drink pairing demonstration, bringing a new fun and informative element to the event. There is of course, plenty of opportunities to meet the distillers, brewers and food producers too!”

373A6806 CREDIT Faydit Photography

The Hubb Group created, organise and run Exeter Street Food, Bath Street Food and a variety of bespoke pop-up festivals, markets and other unique and award winning experiences. The Group is currently undergoing a period of sustained growth and company expansion. With a hard earned reputation for quality and variety, the Hubb team are skilled in planning and delivering events designed to meet their company mission ‘Be Inspired, Be Unique’.

The Cockt-Ale Festival will be at Exeter’s Piazza Terracina on Saturday 24th September 2016 (11:00am – 8:00pm). Entry is Free.

For the latest information visit www.streetfoodexeter.co.uk or on Facebook atfacebook.com/exeterstreetfood

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time BTP…TTFN!

www.bostonteaparty.co.uk

 

Breakfast at Harry’s Restaurant

86 Longbrook St, Exeter EX4 6AP  Tel: 01392 202234  Twitter:@HarrysExeter

I don’t get out much.  For someone that writes a food blog, you’d think that I spend my days frequenting fine restaurants and hob-nobbing with the fooderati of Devon, but unfortunately I pay my bills, not via writing, but through a standard job that pays wages. It has nothing to do with food and given I dwell under the umbrella of education means that days off where I can go and have a breakfast or a lunch is a complete treat.  With a couple of days off for half term, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to sample the newest breakfast offering in Exeter from one of cities most established restaurants.

You might remember that I absolutely loved my visit to Harry’s Restaurant last year  and that I also counted in one of my Top Three Dining moments from 2015.  So I was thrilled to be invited along to have a look-see at their brand new breakfast menu.

The menu is a classic affair produced using the same excellent ethos that makes this restaurant one of my favourites.  Fancy something small? Bacon Roll.  Fancy something light? Avacodo Smash.  Fancy something epic to keep you going for the rest of the day? The Works (£9.50).  And being the greedy sod that I am, it was an inevitable choice.

Meat is sourced from Heal Farm at South Molton.  The sausage was a wondrous cylinder of meat that kept its shape, it really stood out for me as a highlight; along with the thick cut bacon too.  The beans are neatly kept in a ramekin, not spoiling the rest of the food which baked beans have a tendency of doing.  I like baked beans, but often the tomato sauce spills everywhere and overpowers anything that it comes in to contact with.  Baked beans need control and discipline, and Harry’s have control of their baked beans.

There is flexibility.  If you don’t like something you can order it without, swap it and exchange it.  And you get a choice about how you have your eggs too.  Tori doesn’t like Black Pudding, I’m always game for something different so she was able to hold back the Black Pudding and have her eggs flipped.  The eggs came exactly how we asked for them, everything was cooked wonderfully. Faultless.

The fact that Harry’s Restaurant has started doing breakfasts doesn’t take away from the core of the business, that being producing amazing food to a carefully composed menu. They are unpretentious, friendly, flexible and I will definitely be back soon to have more.

Cote Brasserie, Cathedral Green

August 20th is our anniversary and this was the opportunity to go somewhere that had been recommended to us by more than one person. It definitely has a few fans by having a look at the feedback on Google and Facebook, including Latoyah at Sugar Pink Food. Cote Brasserie sits on the Exeter’s historic Cathedral Green within earshot of Michael Caines Abode and just a down the road from Southernhay House.  This is the end of town that you want to dress-up nicely for, so I was forced to wear a shirt.  Nor did I hump along my DSLR as this was a romantic meal, but I still took lots of photos with my phone.

The Cote Brasserie brand is about replicating the famous bistros of Paris, this is done through the interior and the uniforms as well as the food.  Also the ‘optional’ 12.4% Service Charge that is added on to the bill at the end, because darlings ‘service non compris’.  And does it go to the staff? No, of course not.

The atmosphere is friendly and congenial, as you walk through the restaurant there are smiles and greetings.  The friendliness is like walking through a party where, everyone knows you and they’re all dressed up as waiters and diners.  The bustle and hubbub invokes feeling of a continental night out, as we sat at our table with a Cathedral view (as requested when I booked the table) one could have been waiting for a friend with a silky French accent who was jetting in frow New York, or possibly having an interview with a political dissident for a high-brow broadsheet.  The experience of just sitting there waiting for our drinks, took us out of Exeter and mentally plonked us somewhere in Montmarte.

Cote Brasserie has some enticing items on their menu (10oz steaks, very reasonably priced) but we were going for their weekday offer.  The lunch and early evening offer seems fantastic value, between 12pm – 7pm but beware as it can be deceptively expensive (I know three courses for £11.90 is an amazing deal, and yes I know there is no pleasing some people, but hear me out!). Our meal included at £2.00 surcharge for Steak and Fries, and the waiter recommended that we have a side with the meal as it is just steak and chips, yes we could have just ignored this but that was an extra £5.50 on to the meal, and then the drinks which were stupidly priced (nearly £4.00 for a tiny bottle of Kronenburg? yup…) and the glass of wine which was as ever overpriced as these sorts of places are.  And the service charge too.

I will discuss my gripe about the service charge at the end, but let us not lose focus.  I started things off with a Carpaccio of Seasonal Golden Beetroot with Creme Fraiche, Pea Shoots and a Hazelnut Dressing which was delightful.  The Hazelnuts were less dressed on the plate, more frantically scattered but it was a lovely beginning to the rest of the meal which was, in terms of quality of taste, exceptional.  Tori had the Duck, Chicken and Ham Terrine which went down well with good meaty chunks, a well balanced starter.

We both had Steak Frites as the theme of the night was ‘Steak’ and we both had the hankering for a steak, so this was the perfect compromise.  A beaten minute steak served with fries; of course we had been talked in to having a sides too, which was a delicately dressed Green Salad.  The combination was very nice, and with the beautifully cooked steak, the delight of the main overshadowed the rather pale choice of desserts.
Again, I mustn’t grumble. This was a great set menu so far, and the ‘Peach Crumble’ with Normandy Butter Crumble and Vanilla Ice Cream was very tasty.  Tori had something chocolatey, which made her very happy.

The service throughout was great, we had about three waiters who were all very attentive  and eager to please.  When the Steak Frites came out, Tori had gone to the loo and the waiter attentively offered to put it under a hot lamp to prevent it going cold.  One thing that kept on striking me again and again was how excellent the service was.

So this brings me on to the prickly subject of the service charge.

I would happily have paid the whole service charge, generally the rule of thumb is 10%, but recently it has been revealed that this ‘optional’ service charge that is added to your bill does not go to the staff but straight to the company.  Their argument is that their staff is paid more than minimum wage and this practice allows them to do this, but within the article it quotes a member of Cote staff saying “We are told by management that we don’t get to keep the service charge because we get paid more than the minimum wage, so we should be grateful, but most of us would prefer earning the minimum wage and taking home our tips for the hard work we do,”

And not to be unfair to Cote, they say the following on their website. “Company policy is that where customers leave a cash tip, it is at the waiters’ discretion to keep it for themselves or to include it in a general pot with other members of staff. Any deviation from this policy will be investigated and disciplinary action taken where appropriate.” which makes no sense.

So lets conclude:

Pros – Excellent food and service.  If you can get a seat by the window, some beautiful scenery of the Cathedral.

Cons – Expensive drinks, dubious service charge, lots of stairs (not overly accessible if you’re not very mobile). Chain restaurant, why go here when you could support our local independents?

Given the whole curfuffle with the service charge fiasco, I can’t recommend this restaurant yet. If they were to change this policy, then I this would definitely change.

19-21 Cathedral Yard, Exeter, Devon EX1 1HB
01392 433406

River Cottage Summer Fair 2015

In this end of the South West, we are quite lucky really.  We have a number of popular culinary landmarks that any good foodie must visit at least once in their lifetime.  Gidleigh Park, Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant, River Cottage HQ, The Riverford Field Kitchen in Buckfastleigh are for me, those placecs in the popular food arena which foodies need pay homage to, sacrifice a virginal aubergine, sing the hymn of the organic carrots to.  So, Chris, How many have you visited?   I hear you cry! Well…I’m getting there (slowly) but I have ticked one off my list when I visited River Cottage HQ for their lovely summer festival this weekend.

It is easy to fall in love with this part of the world, the Jurassic Coast has slowly turned itself in to one of the most desirable parts of the UK to live due to its nice climate and frequent appearances on property shows which profess the benefits of the area.  Lying near the sea with lots of beautiful rolling hills, peppered with forests and a patchwork of green fields that literally roll on as far as the eye can see (cliched but true). I would consider myself an apologist for Mid-Devon and the rugged tranquility of Dartmoor, but East Devon is definitely a sapphire on our doorstep.

If you haven’t heard of River Cottage then I can assume you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 20 years.  In a nutshell River Cottage kicked off in 1997 when journalist/chef/ Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall bought a former keepers lodge on the Slape Manor estate in Netherbury called River Cottage.  It featured as part of the renowned TV and book series that showed on Channel 4 in the early noughties. Further series and books followed, and operations were moved from the original location to Park Farm in 2004, where the River Cottage ethos lives on.

Set in 44 acres of farmland, the farm sits on the same hill as Trill Farm (the amazing setting for my Johnny Does Dinner evening in a polytunnel where I met Tim Maddams!) and within spitting distance (pun intended) of Castlewood Vineyard, a boutique vineyard that creates sparkly stuff and has a Wine Festival too which we went to a couple of years ago.


Park Farm plays host to day events, cookery courses and is the base of operations for the River Cottage universe.  You can even book it for a wedding should you wish!  Learn how to forage, how catch fish, butcher and bake on one of their courses and now there is the opportunity to learn a chef apprenticeship at their Chefs School.

And…did I mention? River Cottage also runs a series of successful canteens in Plymouth, Bristol, Axminster and Winchester which brings the River Cottage food ethos to the masses. One might appear in Exeter, but for now I’ll have to settle for a train ride over to Axminster.

One of the many things that go on at River Cottage (here is their calendar) is their Summer Fair which is where I come in.

Our visit to the Summer Fair was an appendage to a longer trip.  We had been to see Polly, co-founder of Eating Exeter and possible future creator or Devouring Dorset (hint hint Pol if you’re reading this) who now resides in glorious Wimborne.  I’ll bash out a post about our culinary adventures in Wimborne after I’ve finished writing this post.  On the way back we decided to pass through and say hello and see what sorts of things were happening at this family friendly event.


Parking is a little way away from Park Farm which is halfway down the hill at the end of a track.  The tractor shuttle service means you’re transported from your car in style and landing safely at the bottom.  But you are allowed to walk the footpath if you feel up to the climb.

The first thing we needed when we arrived was food.  The street food stalls didn’t get much of a look-in with us as we spotted that the River Cottage Kitchen were doing plates of grub for £6.50.  This went down very well (not being a beetroot fan I am now a convert as the Slow-cooked Beetroot with Oregano was superb!  It was accompanied by River Cottage Baked Beans, Potato and Spinach Curry, English Yellow Split Pea Hummus and Pearl Barley Tabbouleh.


After we topped up our energy level, all washed down with a half of River Cottage EPA, it was time to do some exploring.  As we had arrived later then we had planned, its more than likely we missed some bits entirely as we got caught up with watching Falcons and wandering around the River Cottage Kitchen Garden.

Had we been more patient we could have had a garden tour, but for that moment we were happy wandering around this magnificent piece of horticulture.  The highlights for us were the flowering ball artichokes and the sweet pea arch.

Walking around neatly planted patches of vegetables does funny things to someone at a certain stage of their life.  It makes you want to go home and grow things, the inspiration largely washed off by the time we got home and looked at how much of our garden would have to be completely dug-over.  Could I rent an allotment? Only time will tell.  Certainly Tori being the Head Gardener has decided that we simply have to grow Bell Artichokes.

After a meander around the garden we hit the local producer’s tents.  Shaldon Bakery was represented and so was Conker Dry Gin.  Distilled in a copper still, they are Dorset’s only dry gin company and making a name for themselves with their blind optimism and fresh approach to distilling gin.  We’ll definitely be getting a bottle soon…very soon 😀


Further exploring took us up to the demo tent in the Meadow.  We just happened to catch the last part of Good Game’s Steve Williams, I really wanted to go up an say ‘hello’ but we were short on time as it was nearly time for the Falconry display!

Had we been able to come up for the whole day, I might have been tempted to sign up for one of the masterclasses that were running throughout the proceedings.  And it is a credit to the organisers that visitors are literally spoilt for choice in the sort of things that they can get involved with.


River Cottage is such an iconic piece of the food scene in Devon and the Summer Fair was a fantastic way to experience an up-close view of what River Cottage does.  Local producers, activities, large green areas for kids run around in, food to eat, masterclasses to master, things to buy, drink to drink and live music to listen to makes for a fantastic festival atmosphere.

Rob Dawe at the Topsham Lock Keepers Cottage Cafe

You might remember a few months ago we were invited to sample one of Chef Rob Dawe’s Pop-up Restaurants at The Heart of Oak in Pinhoe.  It was a fantastic evening, and something which we enjoyed immeasurably.

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.


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

Eating Exeter Update – August (No.2)

Good Game TopshamSo I thought I’d just put out a little update before going downstairs and making a brew.

The last few months have been the busiest in the history of the blog, I’ve spoken to more people and been to more events than ever, and just when you think its about to stop, something else appears in the inbox 🙂

Good Game Topsham – We visited the newly opened Pig & Pallet on Saturday and took photos.  Pete and Steve have done good with their rustic decorated ex-sail loft, and it looks amazing.

Deliveroo – Looking forward to revealing a restaurant food delivery service that’s coming to Exeter in the form of Deliveroo!

Pizza at Artigiano – We were lucky enough to have been invited to the launch of Artigiano’s Cocktail Experience launch, and part of the evening was spent eating some very nice Pizza.  So a few nice photos of Pizza at Artigiano to come up too!

River Cottage HQ: Summer Fest – My first visit to River Cottage HQ!  The summer festival is happening next weekend, and we’re passing it as we come back from a couple of nights in Dorset with Eating Exeter co-founder Polly and her wonderful chap.  So why not pop through and say hello? I thought.

Exeter & Devon Food Blogs – I’m on a personal quest to read more food blogs, and I’ve compiled a list of local food blogs that I read regularly.  This is going to go up tonight as a conversation starter for #devonfoodhour on Twitter.  I am always up for suggestions too, so if there are anymore that I need to follow, please let me know via the contact form!

10 Questions for Exeter Cookery School – I put ten questions to Jim and Lucy Fisher, founders of the soon-to-open Exeter Cookery School. This is a really exciting venture, and after meeting them both at their launch event, I can’t wait to pick their culinary brains!

The Complete Diner’s Club – I’ve been doing some work with Will and John (founders of The Complete Diner’s Club) who are out to get more diners’s in to independent restaurants across Devon.  Post is mostly written, but I have some exciting updates to put in, so this will be published towards the end of August.

Princesshay Grand Dine Out

Princesshay is running a fab competition over August.

Grand Dine Out PrincesshayGrand Dine Out will reward four winners with a £1000 Princesshay Gift Card when spending £35 or more on food in any of its restaurants between 1st August and 28th August. There is no limit on the amount of times diners can enter the competition, so the more times visitors dine, the more chances they have to win.

Princesshay offers dining for all tastes, with family friendly restaurants, cosy intimate options and plenty of alfresco tables.

All nine of the centre’s restaurants are participating in the Grand Dine Out competition, providing delicious fresh summer menus and seasonal flavours including pan Asian tastes from wagamama and Japanese delights from Yo! Sushi; modern European dishes from Jamie’s Italian, Café Rouge and Carluccio’s; relaxed dining in Coal Grill & Bar, Giraffe and Nando’s and proper hamburgers from Byron.

Wayne Pearce, Princesshay Centre Director, said: “We have something for everyone in Princesshay, our restaurants offer a choice of menus, styles and cuisines from around the world. Our new Grand Dine Out promotion celebrates all that’s great about summer holidays, eating out with friends and family and now the chance to win £1000 to spend in Princesshay”.

For more information on the new summer campaign Grand Dine Out visit www.princesshay.co.uk/granddineout

Circa 1924, Exeter

CIRCA

When Harry’s Grill & Bar closed in Northernhay Place, it left available a prime spot for a restaurant. The inevitable march of Exeter’s chain restaurants had some worried that the site might be engulfed by some bland corporate named establishment…

Enter stage left: James and Rob, founders of Circa 1924, a 1920’s inspired Steak and Seafood Restaurant that is raising the bar for casual-fine dining in Exeter, with its Shoreditch like coolness and eye for excellent quality dining. Since they opened in May in Northernhay Place, they have been doing some excellent things with seafood and steak. I don’t normally analyse feedback, but if the image on the right is anything to go by, they must be doing something very right.

We visited on a Wednesday night, it was a school night, the city winding down after a busy hot day; the shops had closed but now it was the restaurant’s time to shine.

Based at 6 Northernhay Place just off the bustle and hustle of the High St, the restaurant features a rustic downstairs bar, serving cocktails, beer and wine. The interior is smattered with vintage antiquities, which help create the theme of ‘1924’ with dark wooden furniture and the grand wooden roof that arches over the diners in the restaurant upstairs.

As you walk past the rustic downstairs bar (inspired by the moonshiner bars of the prohibition era) and head up the stairs to the restaurant, the first thing you notice are the large shelves at the top of the stairs, adorned with top hats, vintage telephones and a lot of very nice looking wine in the cupboard underneath. The dark woods and black moleskin booths lay themselves out to straight lines with the till at the end of the restaurant.

The waiters were handsomely wearing waistcoats, not overly theatrical but subtle and efficient. Throughout the meal the service was unobtrusive and friendly.

The menu itself is presented as a typed and simple affair which fitted into the theme of the restaurant. It is printed in-house which gives head chef Lauri Hilli greater flexibility to change the menu depending on the season and weather. The ingredients, as expected, are locally sourced and of excellent quality with a lot of care being given to the selection of meat and seafood.

As well as the wine menu, there is a beer and cocktail menu, which I realised half way through eating that I hadn’t asked for. But as it was, the wines on offer were gorgeous and well selected vintages which worked well with what we chose to eat. Unless you’re into Cocktails or Beer Food matching, with food of this calibre I would stick to the epic selection of good wines Circa 1924 possess.

I would recommend checking out their website if you’re considering Circa 1924 as a place to dine as there is a lot of good information about the food and it is very personable.

We kicked off our meal with Spicy Peanut Chicken (with a rice noodle salad £7.50) which was presented tastefully. The rice noodle salad was chilled, presented in a slate bowl, with a warming dressing that worked nicely with the chicken. As usual, I ate this ungracefully and managed to get half of it on the table. The chicken, as expected was moist and very enjoyable.

I wanted to get a good impression of the sort of things that Circa 1924 can produce, so I went for their daily fish of the day. This changes from day-to-day, depending on what has been landed. Today it was Cod Loin (£14.50) which sounded perfect, and Tori went for a Rib-Eye (£19.50 a really good recommendation from our waiter Matt who sold it to us after we found that Rump wasn’t available). Our sides, which were separate, consisted of Triple Cooked Chips (£3.50) and Seasonal Steamed Vegetables (£4.00).

The Cod Loin flaked; it was tender and well cooked with an excellent taste. The butter created a delicious sauce with the seasoning, and with a dash of lemon the spectrum of flavour intensified. The steak was as flavourful and well-cooked as we had imagined it might be, the fats of the Rib Eye steak gave this piece of meat a really nice palette which worked well with the delightful peppercorn sauce (I am sure my wife is obsessed with peppercorn sauce). The triple cooked chips certainly get my award for ‘Nicest Chips in Exeter’, already seasoned with a bit of salt they were crunchy and moreish and generally bloody lovely.

Normally, at this stage of a meal, I have to start wondering whether I’ll fit dessert in. But on this occasion, there was no question that we were going to explore the Circa 1924 dessert menu.

Tori, who is obsessed with chocolate desserts, went for the Chocolate Truffle Torte (seasoned with chilli, served with frozen orange & cream £6.00), which inspired many noises of delight from the other side of the table. I went for the Lemon & Cream Cheese Tart (served upside down & topped with gingerbread crumble £6.00) which was smooth, creamy and everything in between.

Circa 1924 is a new concept for Exeter. Fine dining, with a casual themed twist, yet still using locally sourced quality ingredients in their dishes. The A La Carte menu was well portioned, and would be a good introduction to anyone who felt intimidated by the concept of A La Carte. The friendly and relaxed atmosphere doesn’t detract from the level of service that one would expect from a restaurant of calibre, and Circa 1924 is definitely here to give some well-established Exeter names a run for their money.

I would recommend this as a restaurant to consider for a special occasion, an anniversary or when the need for a blooming good steak is overwhelming. Let Circa 1924 step in and grill you some meaty magic.

EE Recommends

6 Northernhay Place, Exeter, EX4 3QJ
info@circa1924.co.uk

01392 438545

‘Eating Exeter Recommends’ – a new rating system for Eating Exeter

Generally speaking most ‘reviews’ you read will have some sort of rating system, and since starting this blog I have been keen to look beyond the ‘out-of-five’ rating syem that I started off with.  I have tried not rating anything, but I feel this then negates the fact its a blog that reviews restaurants and products.

So I will be introducing a new system, that might work amazingly or might just fall flat on its face.  The new system is called ‘Eating Exeter Recommends’ and I will be changing the Read Reviews page to reflect this.  I might even create a little graphic that reviewed places or producers can put up on their websites or paraphanalia, but I’ll see how much time I have.

The basis of the system will be whether I would recommend a reviewed eating place to a friend.  If I would then it gets on the Eating Exeter Recommended list.  If not, then it doesnt…simple.

Keep your eye out for some changes over the coming weeks, if it is all horribly confusing then please feedback.  Without feedback its harder!

Harry’s Restaurant, Exeter

86 Longbrook St, Exeter EX4 6AP  Tel: 01392 202234  Twitter:@HarrysExeter

EE RecommendsIts not often that I get to review a restaurant that has such a legacy.  Whilst at work on the day of the review a couple of conversations I had with colleagues went along the lines of

“What are you doing tonight?”
“Going to Harry’s for something to eat…”
“Oh I love Harry’s, its really nice, you’ll like it”

The number of times I’ve had this sort of conversation is uncountable, pretty much because I don’t count the number of times I’ve talked about a restaurant as I am not that particular about reoccurring topics of conversation.  But also because I have never once heard a bad thing about this place.  They have a new summer menu which we were invited along to have a look at, and experience the legend that is Harry’s Restaurant.


Harry’s Restaurant has been in the same family for the last 21 years, it is in my mind, one of the longest serving independent family-run restaurants in Exeter, I might be wrong (correct me in the comments) and has been housed in the iconic red brick building which is number 86 Longbrook Street for that time.  Having been many things in its past, its history is a blog post in itself, but here is a digested version.

86 Longbrook Street was purpose built for a successful businessman named Harry Hems, who ran a church fitting business from the premises.  Hems had made a name for himself with his carvings and ornamentation which had gained international reputation for its quality.  The workshop was built in the 1880s and designed by R Medley Fulford. It remained a workshop until 1938 when his son Wilfred and business partner retired.  It subsequently became a leather workshop, wine-sellers and later Harry’s Restaurant in the nineties.  For a full history head to Exeter Memories.

A few peeps who read this blog will remember Harry’s Grill & Bar behind Boots.  Not long ago Harry’s moved out (it has now been turned in to Circa 1924) and brought the grill menu down the road to 86 Longbrook Street.  Some of the grill items that were served are now available on the menu at Harry’s.

As the restaurant isn’t a purpose-built establishment, the layout is quite interesting.  There are two sides to the restaurant floor, with the kitchen open to diners with only partition separating the action of the kitchen from the seating area. The door at the back leads to the toilets and the back room which the restaurant hires out to parties and larger gatherings, the walls adorned with collages of photos which make up the background of the menu.

Stepping through the door, we were greeted by Amy who looked after us with a smile and a lovely demeanour throughout the whole meal.  We were lucky enough to have a window seat which gave us lots of light as we chomped away.  The atmosphere was friendly and busy, it wasn’t overly loud but for a Wednesday evening it was still very bustling, it felt comfortably busy.

The new summer menu is an eclectic array of Modern British, Grill and Mexican items, all of which sound quite epic.  There are a few items that are considered classics which are still there, and the one that considered almost legendary is the Harry’s Heartattack (chocolate brownies, marshmallows, chocolate and vanilla ice cream and peanut M&M’s, chocolate flake, whipped cream and hot chocolate fudge sauce).  There are some new items as well (Beef Bon Bons for instance).

We kicked off our meal with a Grapefruit Fizz (light and very nice) for Tori and a bottle of Harry’s Cider (£4.00) for myself.  Nope, not produced by Harry’s Restaurant but actually by a farmer from Somerset.  Currently Harry’s Restaurant is the only Exeter restaurant that is serving this lovely stuff.

It was Nachos for starters (refried beans, cheese, jalapeños, salsa & sour cream £5.50) and liking the sound of a new addition to the menu Tori went for Beef Bon Bons (balls of pulled beef, crispy coated and served with a horseradish sauce – £5.00).  For someone who forgot that they don’t like horseradish, she did very well.  The nachos were a good size, it was a basic starter but it makes me laugh how terribly some restaurants do Nachos, in my experience a good Nachos is often indicative of a good restaurant.  And these were great…

The main courses were a lot harder to choose.  There were quite a few amazing sounding items on the menu, which is lethal for someone as indecisive as me.  Should there be a smaller menu? The balance between new dishes and classic Harry’s dishes has to be kept, and if you are a restaurant that has definitive favourites, what would be the point getting rid of them just for the sake of change? Despite the fact I have moaned about places with larger menus, this isn’t the largest menu I’ve had to read through, and although there is a lot of choice, it is not unwieldy. The menu is constructed to cater for a wide range of tastes, and it does this adequately.

Rather predictably I ended up having a burger, The Mothership sounded good (bacon, cheese, onion, tomato & dill pickle – £12) and Tori went for the Pulled Pork Burrito (sour cream, Mexican green rice, cheese, shredded lettuce, guacamole, salsa – £10).  I had considered the Hangar Steak but felt my taste buds needed a grilled burgery thing but next time I go? It will have its moment.

The burger was fully loaded. The fries were fresh and the coleslaw was slaw-ey. I am not sure that is a word, but if it trends enough I am sure ‘slawey’ might get in to the OED.

As with previous burgers that come in the ‘fully loaded’ category, there is a certain amount of debate about how to actually fit in my mouth.  I opted for the ‘take it apart’ method, which allowed me to see inside.  Large tomato, lots of good ingredients stacked carefully.  It was a good burger, and I felt it was good value considering the the fries came with it.

Tori’s burrito was packed full of filling, the sour cream, salsa and guacamole laid on the top was colourful in presentation.  There was a lot of it, and as she takes ages to eat anything this was a good indicator that this portion was a generous one when considering portions from similar chain counterparts.

No matter what anyone says, there is ALWAYS space for dessert.  The Harry’s Heartattack wasn’t going to be on our list today, as we were both quite full.  But the great thing about Harry’s is that there are some really divine sounding desserts on the menu.  Tori kicked off the final chapter of her meal off with a Hot Chocolate Fudge Brownie (vanilla ice cream, hot chocolate fudge sauce – £5.00) and for me it was the Affogato (vanilla ice cream, shot of Kahlua, single espresso £6.50)


After working out that I had to tip the Kahlua and the Espresso over the ice-cream, then promptly spilling half of the Espresso over the table, I managed to get it in my mouth without drawing too much attention.  It was a lovely combination and a perfect end to a really good meal.  Tori made satisfied noises from the other side of the table too, the Hot Chocolate Fudge Brownie a success with her, it literally melted.

Harry’s Restaurant is a legend in its own right.  A family owned, independent restaurant which adds itself to the exclusive list of really good places to eat that I will return to in the near future.  Exeter is blessed with some awesome independents, but they need our support especially with the growing competition from the chain restaurants of this world.  In the spirit of independent reporting, my closing thoughts are this.  When you have such a great restaurant, using scratch-made, local produce on your doorstep, why would you want to go to Jamie’s Italian?

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Eating Exeter Update – July

It seems like no time at all since the last update.  We had a really busy June, including a visit to The HH Restaurant, some product reviews and a rather interesting experience at The Red Deer in Crediton.  And the end of June and beginning of July seems to be hotting up to be quite busy too.

Next week we finally visit Harry’s Restaurant in Longbrook Street.  They’ve made some big changes, so we’re going to go and take a peek at whats been happening.  The week after that will be a trip to the The Cosy Club to sample their new Summer menu.

At some point I will also do a review of Hunter’s brewery limited edition Chilli Ale and anything else that comes my way that might be worth writing about.

And…then with the possibility of going on holiday, Eating Exeter will be on hold for a bit as I pry myself away from the keyboard.  Well, I at least try to.

And and and…in July, we’ll see the first ever Eating Exeter Podcast.  Me waffling with my co-host, Riviera FM radio personality Steve Price, about food and foodstuff.

As usual, if you want to get in touch about absolutely anything (I like a good conversation sometimes) then use the contact page.

Cheers,
Chris

Beer, Burger and Beyond: No longer updated

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A couple of years ago, I started a blog called Beer, Burger and Beyond.  I really enjoyed writing this blog, but due to a complete lack of time and the usual ‘life stuff’ getting in the way, I have decided to put it on an indefinite hiatus.

The quest to find Burgers and Beer will continue through Eating Exeter, and future Burger Reviews will be hosted on Eating Exeter and not BB&B.