Dr Ink’s Curiousities launches their second journal: launch night by Chris Gower

43 The Quay, Exeter EX2 4AE – doctorinks.com/ –
T:ink_patrick  F:doctorinkscuriosities/ I: doctorinkscuriosities/

Since its opening last year Dr Ink’s Curiosities has raised the bar (get it…?) for cocktails in Exeter with their inventive takes on classic Victorian cocktails, spun through the eyes of Dr Ink himself and his classic cocktail based adventures.

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The menu, ‘ahem’ journal, is presented in a beautiful hard back book, embossed gold lettering on the front gives the menu a steampunk-esque feel to it.  The stories within are pieces of fiction written by the team and Dr Ink regulars too.

It was great to meet Paddy and Tom who are passionate about their award winning cocktail bar and we were able to sample some of the elaborate and theatrical creations that are now available to patrons.

We sampled a few cocktails throughout the launch evening, but there were a couple really stood out!

The Ceylon Julep was a lovely experience.  It had a strong savoury element to it, including a carrot and coriander syrup, topped off with curry leaves.  Weird? No it works so well together, it felt like an alcoholic carrot shake but with an elegance put in its place with the gin and bitters.  All presented in a beautiful copper goblet.

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I was also taken with one of the cocktails Lauren had – the impressively presented Iolanthes Latern which uses Apricot Infused Hayman’s Old Tom, Amontillado Sherry, Creame D’Apricot and Peach bitters all presented in a vast and wonderful hanging lantern.  A tart, strong cocktail that has a grand taste and an even grander presentation!

Pictured here is the Baobab Daisy and the Tales of Space and Thyme.

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The Baobab Daisy made from Pineapple Rum, Bitters and Lime Sherbert to mention a few of the ingredients had a wonderful tropical flavour with bitter notes. It felt like a concoction one might have in a hot country next to a nice beach, meeting an African Queen and securing a trade deal.  The only thing that was lacking was a bug-eyed Monkey!

I think the overall favourite for all of us was The Tales of Space and Thyme.  This was a delicate cocktail.  The rim of the glass was lined with salt and thyme which created an amazing flavour upon drinking.  Made with Tanquery and Pamplemousse Rose to name a few of the ingredients, it had strong overtones of grapefruit and with the bitterness of the gin, the whole thing created a lasting complex tone on the tongue.  The little UFO on top was a fantastic finish!

I finished the night with the Aardvark.  Unfortunately my photographic skills had declined somewhat and my phone is rubbish (wish I’d brought along the big camera!) so it is not a great representation.  But the stunning photography in the journal really do the cocktails justice!

Inspired from a recipe in The American Bartender by W.H. Laid (1866) this fantastic little drink contains Flor De Cana (South American rum), Seedlip (gin), Kafir lime and lemongrass syrup and edible ants to name a few of its components.

This Dr Ink’s story is one of my favourites.  Finding himself persued by a lion, he manages to escape by sacrificing his horse. He takes refuge in a termite mound and makes friends with an Anteater; he finds a bunch of gemstones that the anteater has dug up and is rescued by his companions.  Of course the actual story is much better, but it makes you realise the amount of time and hard work that goes in to creating the Dr Ink’s experience.

The team are constantly experimenting and researching new drinks and this second journal is a testament to the passion and unerring devotion that these guys have to cocktails.

Dr Ink Map

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Polpo Exeter opening event by Chris Gower

18 Higher Market Guildhall, Queen Street, Exeter – T: @polpo

I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Polpo now for, well… months.  We were sad to hear that Grillstock were going to abandon plans to visit Exeter but we knew that in its place would be something exciting.  There was the usual speculation from foodies and news outlets, but to hear that we were getting famed Venetian cuisine restaurant Polpo was a massive plus for foodies in Exeter.  Co-founded and steered by the charismatic writer and restaurateur Russell Norman, we grabbed 10 Questions with Russell soon after it was announced.

If you’ve never heard of Russell before then you might have seen him on telly as The Restaurant Man a few years ago.  If this is still not ringing any bells, take a look at this video.

The Founder. Russell Norman / Polpo restaurant from The Founder on Vimeo.

He is currently writing another book about Venice, having just returned from a 10 day stint.  Polpo even take their staff to Venice to experience the Venetian way of life so they can themselves share that passion with their customers.

Their latest restaurant is Exeter which is now open for business.  We were invited along to sample what makes Polpo special.

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Polpo is the the result of a long love affair that Russell has with Venice and its culture. He is an apostle for the Venetian way of eating and drinking, and a font of knowledge about the subject too.   Just chatting to him casually in the restaurant made us realise that he was passionate about Polpo, the brand, the ethos and its mission to keep things cheap and simple.

Russell was the first person we saw on the door.  I turned to Tori and said in not-so-hushed amazement, “That’s the founder, Russell Norman!” My powers of discretion are terrible.

Taken to our seats by a friendly waitress we were in one of the booth seats by the kitchen, a perfect place to see how the kitchen worked and watch service at work.

The interior of Polpo was as I thought it would be, a well thought out collection of reclaimed features including the floor that was salvaged from an old hospital from The North. Hidden for decades under a modern floor, this addition to the restaurant is one of particular pride, so whatever you do, don’t drop your food on it!   The tiles, fittings and decor gave a feeling of faded elegance, but in such a way that it was clean and well thought out.

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The menu is a simple, cheap and elegant.  There is the option to have a more substantial meal if you wish, or you can nibble on Cichetti, which is a little like Venetian tapas. Venetians often like to partake in a giro d’ombra which is essentially like a pub crawl with lots of little bits of food.

I was lucky enough to sit down with Russell for a mini-interview for the upcoming Eating Exeter podcast (launching soon!) he was absolultely brilliant to talk to, one of the things mentioned was the signature Fritto Misto and Red Chicory which I just had to go for. Both fabulous.

Lauren and Steve had Pizza with Cured Pork Shoulder & Pickled Pepper (jalapeño).  We were introduced to the concept of Braised Cod cheeks with lentils and the brave ones amongst us had Marinated Baby Octopuses… I didn’t because frankly, I am a wuss sometimes.

We were all treated to an Elderflower Martini which was more lime but had a back taste of elderflower which was punchy and refreshing.

There is a lot to say about Polpo.  Tonight was just a taster of what you can expect from this trendy Venetian restaurant.  We loved it.

Dr Ink’s Curiosities, Quayside

38 Commercial Rd, Exeter EX2 4AE Commercial Rd, Exeter EX2 4AE

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We visited Dr Ink’s a few weeks ago after an event and although it was only a brief visit, I’ve been eager to write something about this lovely establishment for a while.

There are quite a few places in Exeter that do cocktails now.  They range from the pre-made stuff in cartons, to fine concoctions made by men with beards.  A good cocktail is easy to come by in Exeter these days but an exceptional one is even harder.

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I could name a number of places that are ‘must-go’ and you must go, because the cocktail landscape of Exeter is a varied and complex thing.  Nuances, differences, things done in a slightly different way in one bar and not in another, quirks.

But here is Doctor Ink’s Curiosities on the Quayside, tucked in behind the Customs House it makes little impression on the Quay from outside.  But step inside and you are presented with a classic styled cocktail bar with a wall of brightly lit spirits and lots of red velvet.

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This is the quirkiest of them all, this is just theatre.

Doctor Ink’s isn’t the cheapest place in town but you’re not coming here for special offers – There is a lot of pride taken in the stories behind each drink and the authenticity of the ingredients used.  The menu is presented in a hardback book  and there is, when they are quieter, a table service.

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Proudly independent, their cocktails each have a story.  They are created with an attention to detail which only goes to show the passion that their mixologists put in to every drink.

We loved it, so did Exepose – Read their review here. and so does Instagram too!

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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

Zita’s, Bartholomew Street

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Pizza & Nibbles at Artigiano

Fancy a bite to eat? Like Artigiano and its hip classiness? Then you’ll be stoked to find out that Artigiano has started doing Pizza!  Click here for the pizza menu

The introduction of their Pizza and Nibbles menu a little while back is a further innovation for this beacon of good coffee and free wifi.  I was lucky enough to sample some of their pizza at the Create Your Own Cocktail experience a few weeks ago.

Pizza’s start at £8.95 and are served on tasteful board, it is very much a plank of pizza!  Scroll down for photos!