Seafood Delights at Salcombe Harbour Hotel – by Lauren Heath

Salcombe – a glorious South Devon waterside town, full of ambitious and successful businesses from Salcombe Gin and Salcombe Dairy to Favis of Salcombe and Jack Wills – it has become a name synonymous with quality.

On this basis, it’s no wonder the Harbour Hotels Group snapped up this top of the estuary, hillside-set property. The Salcombe Harbour Hotel, a 50 bedroom building, was extended with a spa and the Jetty Restaurant back in 2013, maximising the available space, glorious estuary views and thus increasing the overall offering to clientele visiting from near and afar.

We were delighted to have been invited to try the Jetty Restaurant; headed up by Chef Alex Aitken and Head Chef Jay Gulliford, the website informs us they are proud to be ‘Serving local and seasonal dishes, with fish landed daily and a local larder of delicious seasonal produce on its doorstep, The Jetty offers an exceptional Salcombe dining experience. Our Chefs combines expert knowledge with a passion for local ingredients, to create outstanding seasonal food.’

After making a day of it, venturing down the South Hams on a mini food tour and enjoying late-afternoon wave jumping at North Sands, we were ready for dinner!

We were a little early so took advantage of the al-fresco seating and ordered some drinks whilst we perused the extensive menu. We did have to wait a little while to have our drinks order taken, but thankfully the view kept us occupied.

There are a few sections seating, some on the balcony directly in front of the restaurant and then some top sections, with even more of a view and glass balustrades high enough to not block said view, but instead reduce any breezes or chills.

Once we settled into the restaurant, we took stock of the light and smart yet warm, casual feeling to the bar and restaurant area, with estuary views out to the front – a large flowing space with earthy seaside tones, plump seating and clean, crisp whitewash ceilings to give an even more spacious feel.

The venue is a mix of high rollers, families and couples all with their own style – smart, casual or even beach ready, which gives this a nice feel of comfortable elegance.

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Whilst we viewed the extensive menu and specials, we opted for the ‘While You Choose’ pre-starters of Deep Fried Tempura Oysters served with fine diced shallot & vinegar, Cockle Popcorn served with sweet chilli sauce and Seafood Jetty Bites. We were very pleasantly suprised at the beautiful presentation and taste of everything. Light batter, fresh zingy dips, and the whitebait was clearly breadcrumbed in house – a great start (p.s. if you’re a bit unsure of oysters, I highly recommend having them battered, it’s my new favourite thing!)

Starter options included a varied selection of vegetarian, meat and fish – we opted for Scallops, Apple and Bacon as well as Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid. The scallops were as I would expect, but that’s the beauty of a classic combination like this – smokey bacon, sweet juicy scallops with a bit of added sweetness and crunch offered by its foodie bedfellows. The salt and pepper squid was completely different from what we imagined arriving, but not negatively so; squid cooked just right on a bed of salad leaves, pea shoots and peppers for a bit of crunch with a lovely complimenting dressing bringing it all together.

Choosing from mains would have been incredibly hard, save for the fact I told myself if there was lobster thermidor on the specials, that it would be the one – and it was! An all time luxurious favourite (and rare treat) of mine, it did not dissapoint.

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Hubby ordered Jetty on a Plate – South coast fish and shellfish with fennel, tomato, herbs & beurre blanc; a delicious array of fish and shellfish, with spring greens and a light butter sauce – he doesn’t believe in messing about with fish too much and this was very much to his taste.

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Other main courses include Duck and Squid, Ruby Red Beef, Monkfish and so on…all sounding tantalisingly individual making it hard for the diner to choose but all certainly a bit different from other restaurant fair. (making this ‘what do I choose’ scenario not a bad middle class problem quite frankly) – so choose wisely or maybe sneakily convince your dining partner to have something you also like the look of and steal from their plate, or share amicably – best of both worlds!

Desserts of  Dark Chocolate Fondant with Salcombe Dairy salted caramel ice cream and Crunchy Peanut Butter Parfait with roasted nut crumb, rich Belgium chocolate were our final victims for the evening. Good puddings, although I found the parfait plate a little too much of the same texture, still tasty nonetheless, and the fondant was possibly 60 seconds past perfection – but technically, this is a hard one to hit on the nose.

Overall, the food was delicious, well presented and of good portions sizes, but sadly the service was a little hit and miss in our section. I noticed nearby servers giving a wonderful personal approach to their tables and feel that this is what the venue is striving for overall and perhaps we were just a tad unlucky that evening. For the price point and venue though, I would expect this to be a slicker affair, and perhaps they could tighten this up a little.  We enjoyed a very relaxed evening, nonetheless, before sailing away into the night (not on a boat sadly, just driving home).

Co-editor Chris recently visited for Afternoon Tea, which can be found here if you’d like to see what else is on offer.

Salcombe Harbour Hotel, Cliff Road, Salcombe, South Devon, TQ8 8JH;

01548 844 444 salcombe@harbourhotels.co.uk

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Recipe: Favis of Salcombe Summer Crab Burger

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

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

BBQ Crab Burger with Pickled Cucumber & Lime Mayo

Serves 4

For the cucumber

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 small cucumber, cut into thin ribbons

For the burger

454g (1 tub) Favis white crabmeat

50g fresh white breadcrumbs

Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon

1 large egg

Plain flour, for dusting

4 ciabatta buns, toasted

Small handful rocket

For the mayo

4 tbsp mayonnaise

Finely grated zest of 1 lime

Juice of ½ lime

Pinch of salt

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

 

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

Credit – Becca Watson Food Styling

KuPP Scandi Picnic in the Park by Lauren Heath

Gosh, hasn’t Summer well and truly shown herself this past week? Some days it has been too hot really, but alas we shouldn’t moan, there are so many great spots to find shade in our beautiful city whilst enjoying the sunshine. So you’re sitting alfresco, and you’re thinking ‘a deliciously fresh and exciting picnic would be great right about now’ – well guess what? KuPP Exeter have the answer!

I was very pleased to have received an offer from KuPP to experience their latest offering of a Scandi Picnic; “a feast of cold cuts and light salads, including Norwegian salmon gravadlax and house smoked mackerel with lashings of Scandi potato and summer heritage tomato salad as well as roast beetroot and smoked red onions. Meaty offerings come in the form of homemade chorizo sausage roll, smoked pork meatballs, Sussex smoked ham and potted rabbit with nutmeg butter. A Scandi picnic wouldn’t be complete without a generous helping of Västerbotten (strong Swedish cheddar) and a section of breads, spreads and pickles.”

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There is a vegetarian picnic too as well as vegan and gluten free options on request.

So I quickly gathered two fabulous lady friends, arranged a date – which happened to be the first day of #NationalPicnicWeek – placed my order 24hrs in advance and we swiftly found ourselves collecting our fabric tote bag of goodies and settling under a tree in Northernhay Gardens.

At £30 for 2 people, I initially worried this seemed pricey and also worried there wouldn’t be enough for the three of us so ordered two extra open sandwiches at a further £6.50 for both –Smoked Streaky Danish Bacon & Crushed Avocado Roasted baby plum tomatoes & dressed pea shoots and Smoked Chilli Torn Roast Chicken Roasted red peppers & little gem.

I was wrong on both counts – it was a bounty of food and even without the sandwiches there was plenty for the three of us – with some left over for me to take back to my desk. I am already a big fan of Kupp – their food is fresh, vibrant, filling and well priced in the restaurant, so to have all the delights from their smorgasbords packed up nicely for a picnic was a delight.

Everything was so tasty – the potted rabbit was moist, flavoursome and plentiful; the smoked pork meatballs are so good in their tangy gravy; the chorizo sausage roll is a triumph of crispy light pastry and delicious meat filling; and don’t get me started on the smoked red onions (I want to know how they do it!!). The breads bring even more texture and crunch to the offering and boy is that Västerbotten cheese tangy.

I could go on, but I won’t. Great for lazy days or even in your work lunch break; forget spending a fortune on the drier supermarket offering, this really is the bees knees of picnic and is very generous in size. All supplied with cutlery, plates and napkins – just bring along your picnic blanket and some great people to share it with – and if the weather is, well, under the weather, there are plenty of covered spots around the city where you can sit and have a nibble Scandi style. Cheers or Skål!

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For further info on their picnics, click here.

To read about our thoughts on their bottomless brunch click here.

KuPP – Unit 12 Queen Street Dining, Guildhall Shopping Centre, Exeter EX4 3HP

T: 01392 531 777  | Website: www.kupp.co

Facebook: KuPPExeter | Twitter: KuPP_Exeter | Instagram: kupp_Exeter

Rockfish Lodges Plans for Sixth Site in Exeter

Rockfish, the South West seafood restaurant group founded by restaurateurs Mitch Tonks and Mat Prowse, has lodged plans to open its sixth site, in Exeter.

The company has applied to the city council to build the venue at Exeter Quay’s Piazza Terracina, creating 40 jobs. The application is for a single-storey pavilion restaurant with a floor space of 500 square metres. If plans are approved it is hoped that the restaurant could be open early in 2018. Rockfish has been steadily growing since its first site in Dartmouth in 2010 and has become famous for sustainable seafood which is sourced locally and served on the day of landing.

The restaurant, which will also have a bar, will specialise in fried & chargrilled seafood in an environment and style that will appeal to all; Mitch and Mat with a 9 children between them want families to always feel welcome.

4MitchTonks161206Matt Austin

Founder Mitch Tonks said “Exeter is a really vibrant town and the unofficial capital of the South West, the dining out scene is great. I love nights out there and the site on the quay suits us perfectly as it is overlooking the water. Exeter is still only a short drive from Brixham so we can stick to our golden rule of serving local fish on the day it was landed and at its best. I can’t wait to get open and I’m already thinking of a few special additions at the restaurant, watch this space!”

Dinner at newly refurbished Circa 1924 – by Lauren Heath

Circa 1924 is already one of my favourites out of all the chains and independents. I have enjoyed their Express Lunch a few times (see my review here), taking friends with to show my ‘secret’ off. But this place should be far from a secret – it deserves to be found and filled with both diners and drinkers.

On this occasion I was invited for dinner; the interior has recently had a slight refurb to make the downstairs more diner focussed by removing the bar area, with upstairs fulfilling that part of the business with live music sessions every Friday. The upstairs is beautiful, with apex beamed ceilings, it’s cool yet cosy and a great place for a date or group gathering.

On a chilly Saturday night, we ventured out on the bus with our 6 year old son, so that we could enjoy a drink or two.

I always struggle to choose what to eat here; I would eat it all – it all sounds so delicious and there is a nice selection of meat, fish and vegetarian options. Of course, as important as the food is the drinks offering, which is extensive too – wines, soft drinks, craft beers and cocktails.I had no hesitation in choosing my favourite Espresso Martini and Steve made a special request for a Margherita.

So on to the food!

Whilst deciding, and due to having an ever -hungry child, we had some bread to start. It was lovely selection with some high quality butter and ewas consumed with gusto.

For starters I opted for Cured Loin Of Local Venison with Västerbotten cheese, wild mushrooms & lingonberry coulis whilst Steve chose the Crispy Softshell Crab with spring onion, house sweet chilli & wasabi. As ever, I had trouble choosing between the venison and the bisque so ‘blow it’, we order the Brixham Crab Bisque with butter poached king prawns & homemade bread as well to share.

The venison was soft and tasty, with a tang from the cheese and sweetness from the coulis. The softshell crab was beautifully crisp, texturally soft inside and sweet – really yummy. The bisque had a good amount of depth to it with two very plump and sweet prawns. A delightful start to our meal.

For mains I went for the Rump Of Local Lamb with roasted garlic purée,buckwheat pancakes & sour cream and Steve had his name on the Local Fillet Of Beef served with potato muffin, tenderstem broccoli & red wine jus. Our son enjoyed the starter softshell crab along with a side of skin on fries which he rated highly!

Both meats were cooked perfectly, were soft and full of flavour with no chewy bits in sight. Muffins and pancakes were light and all the elements worked well together. We were also enticed by the option of adding surf to our turf and enjoyed two fried oysters, which were absolutely delightful – something I have always wanted to try.

Last but certainly not least, it was dessert time! I opted for the Dark Chocolate Truffle Torte, vanilla-coffee mascarpone, honeycomb & blackberry coulis whilst savoury Steve was delighted by the chance to have Selection of Three Cheeses which came with a fantastic variety of crackers and crisp bread. My pud was rich dark chocolate, lots of crunchy textures, blobs of creamy loveliness and coulis for a bit of sharpness – and it was a work of art.

I may sound like a stuck record, but I do love the food here. It’s tasty, flavoursome, interesting, local, an independent and beautfully presented. The feel is casual and comfortable yet attentive. It’s ideal for groups or even a special evening.

My only small suggestion would be that, with the mains, perhaps a bit more starch is included as I was dining with a hungry man – yes you can order some extra sides but I guess at this price point you may not want to spend more on sides. The plus side to the food here is that is just so fresh, light and pleasing so you can manage 3 courses and you don’t go away feeling awfully stuffed.

Having written this after visiting a more premium restaurant further afield, at a similar price point, the quality of the food and cooking was very close and I do hope Circa 1924 achieves some recognition in future. But more important than any awards is that the locals (and visitors) support the restaurant and vote with their feet…and eat! Until next time Circa; this restaurant is firmly on my recommendation shortlist!

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Circa 1924, 6 Northernhay Place, Exeter, EX4 3QJ.
Ph: 01392 438545
Web: www.circa1924.co.uk/
@Circa1924
info@circa1924.co.uk

Online reservations: http://www.circa1924.co.uk/#!make-a-reservation/cg3s

Private Dining at The Pig at Combe – by Lauren Heath

The Pig at Combe is far from the dusty, muddy, snorty (but intelligent) animal it is named after, it does however embody the essence of countryside. As you drive towards it from the a30 and through the villages, you see this warm glow illuminating in the distance, calling you into its warm belly.

I have heard many many things about the Pig at Combe- all positive; and having seen plenty of lovely pictures, have wandered what it would be like to dine there. Editor Chris visited late last year and thoroughly enjoyed himself with their 25 mile ethos, you can read his write up here.

On this occasion I was invited to enjoy their private dining option along with some other press. I was really looking forward to it and had not just my foodie/social hat on but also my corporate hat – as in my day job as a PA, it is good to have places to book for meetings or events as well as to add to my pool of knowledge to recommend to others.

To start the evening, I was led underground to the cellar. I was immediately taken aback by the cosy yet elegant atmosphere; white brick walls, stone flooring, wood, and loads of candles creating a sense of warmth. We enjoyed bubbly and canapés whilst chatting with other guests. Canapés included mushroom samosas, scotch eggs, pork crackling, lamb koftas, and fried kale with prawn salt. Everything was just delicious – little taste sensations.

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We were then led up to the Georgian Kitchen; a hunting lodge type kitchen (could almost be in a National Trust house) with large aga/wood burning stove across the back wall and a scullery off the back left. A grand wooden table surround by 12 chairs awaited us, with more ambient lighting and candles. A few stags heads adorned the walls along with a dresser of country house crockery – nothing forced or kitch, just everything naturally belonging.

Rather than having a menu of individual dishes to choose from, the ethos is about sharing –  an option I loved. I struggle to choose from a menu when I could quite frankly eat it all – so to have a bit of everything is right up my piggin’ street!

Don’t for one minute think this is buffet style…it is banquet dinner style.  Wooden boards arrived adorned with starters of smoked organic salmon, cured meats, toast topped with mussels, crab and exmoor caviar as well as garden leek and blue cheese tarts.

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For mains we enjoyed a whole cod with foraged sea veg, roasted and slow braised Dartmoor lamb and hay smoked BBQ Pipers Farm chicken – all meaty, succulent and cooked to perfection. Big knives landed into them, ready for serving the troops. On the side, our mighty feast was compimented by creamy layered potato, roast celeriac and lemon thyme, glasshouse leaves, foraged herbs and garden greens.

The pudding offering sent us all into ‘kids in a sweet shop’ mode. The most comforting and delicious rice pudding I’ve ever had, clear and wobbly gin and tonic jelly with tongue tingling lemon sorbet, a smooth ice cream parfait, sticky toffee pudding, apple and blackberry crumble and a trifle that would put your grandmother’s to shame.

 

For coffee we wandered across the path to the Folly. This was a lovely outhouse restaurant, candlelit once more, giant wicker woven lampshades hanging down, it had an African/ethnic feel for me. Coffee and ‘piggy fours’ were served whilst we admired the pizza oven and outside seating, complimented by firepits. This space is open, serving more casual food and dining and can be hired for private parties. Ceiling height sash windows can be opened to let the outside in if the weather permits.

We had enjoyed the evening thoroughly and all the spaces we had been in worked well for their purpose. The Pig at Combe really is a flexible venue, and I can assure you they will be able to cater for your private dining or casual party needs.

It was hunting lodge elegance..big food, beautifully cooked, subtle service. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed such casual, comfortable yet sophisticated dining, with professional and effortless hosting. I look forward to returning, and sending everyone I know!

Check your diary and find an excuse now – you’d be a silly little piggy not to; pigs are one of my favourite animals and this beauty is no different. A great venue for family dining, a couples treat, corporate entertaining or getting down to serious business – you still gotta eat, a deal can’t be done on an empty stomach right?! As a restaurant with rooms you could of course stay over and be happy as a pig in…well, bed.

Time for this little piggy to go wee wee wee all the way home.

Find them on wheels: The Pig at Combe, Gittisham, Honiton, Devon, EX14 3AD

Find them online:Facebook, Twitter or on their website

*Dinner in the Georgian Kitchen can be for up to 14 people,

priced at £32 each for a 3 course family-style sharing menu.*

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Guest Chef Days Announced at Manna From Devon Cooking School

Manna from Devon Cooking School is delighted to announce the dates for the 2017 Guest Chef Classes: a series of celebrity chefs and foodie experts will be running classes at the school from March until September.

These guest days only pop up once a month and usually book up pretty quickly, a true reflection on the talent and reputation of each chef. This year’s Guest Chef classes are being hosted by Peter Greig of Pipers Farm, Mitch Tonks of Rockfish and The Seahorse, Romy Gill MBE from Romy’s Kitchen and food writer Charlotte Pike with another two hosts in the pipeline.

David, co-owner of Manna from Devon comments on the Guest Chef programme: “Holly and I are really excited to confirm we’ve got some of our best foodie friends joining us in 2017- we hope you can join us too! It’s important for us to involve other chefs and experts here at Manna from Devon, as we’re all about the community aspect of cooking; connecting lots of people through food and drawing on the array of amazing chefs and talent in the area.”

Peter masterminds Pipers Farm in Cullompton and he and his team produce the most amazing meats, raising their animals from birth and selling them through their own butchery and online shop. Peter will be bringing one of his lamb carcasses to butcher on Saturday 11th March and will be cooking up some of his fabulous meats in the wood fired ovens as well as discussing the Pipers Farm way of farming and how important it is to him; a true expert in his field.

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Peter Grieg

Mitch Tonks is an old friend of David and Holly’s. His knowledge and passion for fish and the fishing industry is inspiring and his fish dishes are truly delicious. As well as his chain of Rockfish restaurants in South Devon he runs The Seahorse restaurant in Dartmouth so Manna from Devon are delighted to have him hosting what will be a fabulously convivial day of some outstanding fish and seafood recipes on Friday 7th April.

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Mitch Tonks

Romy Gill MBE will be hosting her class on Sunday 7th May and will be cooking some of her amazing Indian food from her restaurant, Romy’s Kitchen – traditional flavours with a light and contemporary twist. David and Holly have been friends with Romy for a long time and love hearing her tell our guests stories of growing up in India and her determination to open her restaurant in Thornbury, just outside of Bristol. If you like Indian cooking, this is a day not to be missed.

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Romy Gill

Food writer Charlotte Pike will be joining David and Holly at the school on Sunday 4th June – passionate about smoking food, she will be creating some amazing dishes, passing on lots of tips and discussing how the enthusiasm for this kind of cooking is growing. David and Holly discovered “low & slow” smoking on their road trip in America so are keen to compare notes with Charlotte.

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Charlotte Pike

Classes will take place at Manna from Devon Cooking School in Kingswear and run from 10am – 4pm. All are limited to just 12 students and cost £175 per person.

To book one of the Guest Chef Classes visit http://www.mannafromdevon.com/cookery-courses/guest-chefs/ or call 01803 752943.

Follow Manna from Devon on:

Twitter (@mannafromdevon)

Facebook (facebook.com/mannafromdevon)

Instagram (mannafdevon)

Join Plymouth Gin for a Voyage of Discovery at the Plymouth Seafood Festival

My culinary journey this year has been one of many discoveries.  One of those discoveries has been the fact that I actually quite like Gin.  We tasted some lovely Gin from Conker Gin at the River Cottage Summer Fair, and I suddenly realised that this stuff was actually alright.  Never having been a Gin fan, this conversion was almost spiritual.  So imagine my over-excitement when I got an email from Isobel from the PR company looking after Plymouth Gin and their Voyage of Discover at The Plymouth Seafood Festival.

The sad part is that I’m unable to go, but it sounds like so much fun.

Plymouth Gin is still produced at The Black Friars Distillery, the UK’s oldest, where in 1793 Coates & Co. set up shop, producing Gin for the British Navy.  The Naval love of this drink saw it shipped all over the world, and by the time the Mixologists bible, The Savoy Cocktail Book, was published, the brand was one of the only ones to be named in the publication due to the love of this particular brand.

…I am slightly jealous of Plymouth on this count!

Plymouth Gin is proud to be headline sponsor of the 2015 Plymouth Seafood Festival, taking place at Plymouth Barbican and Sutton Harbour on 26 and 27 September. Plymouth Gin will be inviting gin and seafood lovers to join a Voyage of Discovery during the Festival where they can explore the fascinating maritime heritage of the brand in its hometown.

Visitors will be provided a Voyage of Discovery Passport to enjoy a gin education session with Plymouth Gin International Brand Ambassador, Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge and pick up tips at the Cookery Theatre Stage. Each exciting activity earns a stamp in your Voyage of Discovery Passport. Three stamps will be rewarded with a free tour of the iconic Black Friar’s Distillery, home of Plymouth Gin.

Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge, International Brand Ambassador, Plymouth Gin said “Plymouth Gin has a rich and authentic heritage in the city of Plymouth, and we are incredibly excited to share the story of brand at the 2015 Plymouth Seafood Festival. It doesn’t end there – our on-going Plymouth Restaurant Partnership will extend the Voyage of Discovery for the local community and visitors to the city”.

When the festival is over, the journey continues: this time in partnership with five renowned Plymouth restaurants; Barbican Kitchen, Rockfish, The River Cottage Plymouth, The Glassblowing House, and Rhodes @ The Dome. For eight weeks, Voyage of Discovery Passport holders are entitled to a free Plymouth Gin Classic Cocktail when ordering dinner at any participating restaurant, and can request a passport stamp on ordering two courses. Customers who collect three stamps will be invited to take the Master Distiller’s tour at the Black Friar’s Distillery – a fascinating in-depth tour which includes the opportunity to learn the secrets of gin distilling and create their own gin recipe to take home.

Sarah Gibson (nee O’Leary), Plymouth City Council, said: “With Plymouth Gin’s help we’ve grown the event this year to support hundreds of Waterfront businesses, attracting even more visitors to enjoy the cafés, restaurants, pubs and shops in the historic heart of the city. The Plymouth Gin Voyage of Discovery is unique and exciting as well as educational. Joining forces with some of the most well-known Waterfront restaurants this will no-doubt be popular amongst those gin and food lovers out there.

To participate, festival-goers can collect their Voyage of Discovery passport at stands 16 and 17. For more information on the Plymouth Seafood Festival, visit http://www.visitplymouth.co.uk/events/plymouth-seafood-festival-2015-p1365023 and to explore more about Plymouth Gin visit http://plymouthgin.com/.

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

Take Out
Take Out (Photo credit: AMERICANVIRUS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indian

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

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

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

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

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

Chinese

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

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

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

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

Kebabs/Fish and Chips

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

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

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

Italian

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

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

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

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

Everything else

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

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

The Clock Tower Fish Bar, Queen Street

It has been a chippy since 1977, but the latest incarnation of this Fish and Chip shop has seen it spruced up and rebranded in to The Clock Tower Fish Bar.

So, what did I have? Well I had chips.  I was here to see how their chips fared up to the previous visit, when it was the Dolphin Fish Bar.  And to be honest, it was no match.  Prices very reasonable, £1.50 for a portion of chips and they do a standard Cod and Chips for a fiver too!

These were hot, crisp and it didn’t taste of dirty oil.  There was much to be said for the chips, and it inspired me to go back a few days later to see how the battered sausage fared up.  Battered Sausage was good, light and tasty batter with a standard jumbo sausage in the middle.

The service was quick, and the owner was chatty on my second visit.  They don’t have a website or any sort of social media channel yet, so the only way to experience the full wonder of this funny little chippy is to go and taste.

Special Dispatch: The Ship Inn, The Barbican, Plymouth.

The Barbican is foodie’s wet dream. Crammed on to a relatively small portion of land, lies a gastronomic plenty with so much choice your head is likely to pop just thinking about it. Pubs, seafood, Mexican, Chinese, Greek.  And it was here we found ourself in the pouring rain, looking for a dry and reasonably priced establishment after a kiddy filled day at the National Marine Aquarium.

So with all that choice, why end up in a chain pub? Because damn it, I wanted fish and chips and ale. And more importantly I wanted my instant gratification.

St Austell Brewery produce some killer ales. Tribute, Yellow Cloud and Proper Job are three that you might have heard of. So by that logic, the food must be good?

My gut instinct about The Ship Inn was a good one, and happily I was right as the award winning fish and chips they serve is well deserved.

Good of fish and chips is hard to come by which always surprises me as its so popular. Ask any fryer and they’ll tell you that its in the batter, some will say its the quality if the fish. But good battered fish is dependent on a number of things.  If you do want to know how to cook perfect battered cod, then have a look at this Guardian article, as quite frankly I am hardly the expert.  I just like eating the stuff.

The thing that drew me to this pub was the outside area.  It was raining, it was frankly foul weather yet it still enticed me to want to sit under the large pagoda like roof that they have set up next to the restaurants.  The slightly unnatural collection of food eating establishments in this part of Plymouth does make me wonder if there are other restaurants in the rest of the city?

The interior is light and done in neutral pastels with lots of wooden furniture.  A large bar spans one wall and there is lots of oddments and general pub paraphernalia related to local history and regional interest.  It is a gastro pub, but its not carpeted which gives it a bit of a ‘spit and sawdust’ feel to it.  But not so much that it is uninviting.   If Sir Norman Foster designed the interior of a pub, and in the brief it said ‘it has to be a spit and sawdust pub’ I can imagine it would look something like the interior of The Ship Inn.

Service was brilliant, very attentive (if not a little over attentive as we had at least three separate people come and ask if our meal was alright?), and the ale was perfect.

Special Dispatch: Fish On The Harbour, Lynmouth, Devon.

Lynton and Lynmouth sits on the North Devon coast. It has a rugged windswept beauty that most little towns in that part of the world posses. Tucked under the gigantic cliffs that is created as Exmoor collides with the Bristol Channel, it is only accessible via a network of windy roads which during the summer months are full of buses, cars and camper-vans all heading for the one tiny car park.

It is loved by tourists. They come and shuffle very slowly around the collection of gift shops and drink tea in the myriad of cafes and restaurants that inevitably spring up near scenic parts of the world.  We were one of those groups of tourists, walking slowly and wandering aimlessly whilst eating ice cream and reading fridge magnets.

On the outside, Fish On The Harbour does not jump out at you as being special. It sits behind black hand written boards, a white pebble dash exterior with a the obligatory blue signage outside. There is a large outdoor dining area and an indoor dining area where the magic happens. We ummed and arred about whether we wanted to eat-in and examined the menu closely before we decided on anything. The menu itself was a nice blend of restaurant and traditional cafe things, it wasn’t overly pricey for the location and given the reams of commendations in the windows, you would expect to pay more for the Cod n Chips which at £6.45 was very good value.

Let us talk interiors. Fish On The Harbour won’t win any awards for interior decorating. Yellow walls, and hard varnished furniture straight out of an episode of Home and Away, and of course lots of obligatory references to fish and the constant reminder that you are in a place that is a) near the sea and b) serves fish.

Neither will the Fish On The Harbour win awards for customer service. The Till Boy who took the order looked enthralled to be there and he failed to tell me that they charged for packets of sauce. He was equally nonplussed when he informed us that Mushy Peas were £1.20 extra and we proceeded to have quite a loud conversation across the restaurant about how expensive they were. Not one of my most dignified moments. Diners are so rude sometimes.
Also, the waiter/KP who took our plates did not wait for my wife to finish her food.  The number one rule for any waiting service is to wait until the entire party have finished, instead my wife found herself blocked from her food by an unwanted arm.  Nil points I am afraid.

I opted for a Large Haddock and Chips with a pot of tea. £7.95 was the upper limit of what I would normally pay for a dish of this type, and in no time at all, cooked to order, arrived a piece of fish with a good thickness and an expertly cooked batter. The Wetherspoon sized portion of chips albeit tasty were not freshly cooked and by the time I was half way through the meal they had become cold. When listed as ‘Large Haddock and Chips’ thats JUST the fish.

If I had known that the fish I was about to eat was the best piece of battered fish I am likely to have for under a tenner ever, I might have savored it a bit more. The flesh looked like soft white pillows and cut like butter, the batter was golden and crispy as cooking textbooks say it should be. All misgivings were mostly forgiven. The table were all in agreement, this fish was good fish.

Fish On The Harbour is deserving of its awards, although from our brief visit it feels like its trying hard to be much more than just a chippy. Charging for 20p for sauces is understandable for take-aways, but not for a restaurant. Sauces on the table please. Please smile more, and less hand written signs. But most importantly don’t stop producing such awesomely delicious battered fish.

Dart’s Farm (Deli Cafe – 5/5)

Dart’s Farm is a curious place, because unlike many people who might read this, I remember when it was still Picfresh.  Right, so lets go back 20 years ago and Ronald Dart owned a funny little farm shop that, in my mind, was always tacked on to the side of a larger barn.  That barn is roughly where the Deli is now and if you look down from where it is, you can still see what looks like the original doors (I might be wrong of course) where the old entrance used to be.

Now his sons; Paul, Michael and James Dart, run the business (I spied them today and wanted to go up and say hello but it’d be too awkward and they looked busy) and over the last ten years have expanded the site, marketed it to a certain segment of consumer and have generally made Dart’s Farm in to a ‘destination’ for people to go to.

Dart’s Farm has changed beyond recognition from the place I remember when I was growing up as a wee sprog in Ebford.  And in many respects not much has changed, certainly in terms of their ethos.

Fresh, local, good quality produce.

There is a fantastic array of different goods on offer.  ‘Lifestyle shopping’ is the term that they use to describe everything that isn’t food related, and that lifestyle is not for the short of cash.  But even though I am not a regular shopper here, it is still nice to come and browse and have a cup of tea in their lovely little Deli Cafe.  Which we did today and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Things I love about Dart’s Farm

1. Green Valley Cider
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Green Valley Cider are based on site, and as you can see from this slightly blurry photo, they have quite literally the largest array of local ales and ciders ever.  Obviously they sell their own wares too, but they have a terrific range including English wines.

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2. Deli Bar
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The Deli Bar, which is a cafe really, but not a cafe as the seats are in spread about, is a nice cafe serving traditional cafe favourites with a range of snacks and light eats.  We had most probably the nicest cookie ever, a Triple Chocolate Cookie for 99p which was so rich and gooey, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.  Prices were very reasonable, staff were politely brisk in service, friendly and very quick to serve.  I did find the arrangement of having the seats so far from the serving/ordering point a little odd.  But, this was my only picking point as it was not immediately obvious.
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3. Food Court

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There is a mind blowing choice of stuff that you cannot often get anywhere else.  For instance, the pasta shown above is speciality pasta that I have not seen in this part of the world before.  London Deli’s are full of the Vallebona brand, but this was the first time I had seen it down this part of the world.

They also seem to be one of the only places that you can buy Korev Cornish Lager. I bought some… it is deelish.

4. The Fish Shed
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The Fish Shed always always smells nice each time I walk past it.  Although I did not stop to eat, I have been here previously.  Hint. Check the opening times, because they are sometimes open later then the shop.
To quote the website: The Fish Shed is highly regarded as one of the best Fish and Chip and wet fishmonger’s shops in the country. We serve delicious crisp and crunchy chips with a wide array of different fish, which can be cooked in the traditional batter or grilled as a healthy and tasty alternative.

I came away very happily with a bottle of Korev and a bottle of Green Valley Cider’s ‘Temptation’, a sweet variety of cider for pussies like me.

korev

 

Website: www.dartsfarm.co.uk 

Twitter: @dartsfarm

Lots of telephone numbers here.

Special Dispatch: Seaview Diner, Teignmouth (4/5)

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Eating Exeter likes to push boundaries sometimes, and we really have this time.  We’ve been to Teignmouth.  The heart of the bit between Torquay and Exeter.

Due to failing finances and the urge to get out of Exeter we ran away for an afternoon by the seaside in order to inhale some sea air and go for a bit of a walk to observe the tracksuit clad wildlife and to watch trains roll by as they traverse the sea wall, before diving into the first of five tunnels that Brunel built when he constructed the Great Western back in ’em Victorian times.

Teignmouth is a small town with a port and a lovely Georgian seafront.  It has a train station, a port and it was officially the last place in England that was invaded.  During the 1600s some French troops whilst moored in Torbay sailed up the coast and had a bit of fun by plundering, looting, vandalising and generally causing mayhem.  Eager to find out more about Teignmouth’s history we headed straight for the museum  which was shut.  In fact a lot of Teignmouth seemed to be shut, which was odd for a Saturday.

And so we plodded along the seafront and plodded back, by which time it was time for my obligatory afternoon cup of tea.  Phased by the sheer number of choices that we had for a place to grab a cuppa, we ended up in SE4 Lite Bites just next to Courtenays Theatre.  Perfect Clipper Tea and lovely coffee was the order of the day here, and I will write a separate little review for this cafe itself as it was truly a delight to dip in to.  Friendly service, great value with a quirkyness all of its own.
After feeling thoroughly revived with went to peer at the Estuary and soon enough we were hungry.  Earlier in the day I had set out with the need to eat Fish and Chips, so it had to be one of Teignmouth’s many Fish n Chip shops which would satisfy the gaping hole in my stomach this time.

Central Fish Cafe seemed the first place we were drawn to, adorned with Pukka Pie adverts and a nice smell from outside we wanted to eat inside.  The welcome from the staff was subdued to say the least and the cafe was dark and completely empty.  The smell, the feeling and the whole atmosphere led us to quickly run away and instead we ended up in the originally titled Seaview Diner.

Seaview Diner

The Seaview Diner has no website or twitter account, and like many of these small places there doesn’t seem to be any back history to when it was started and who owns it now.  But what I can say is that the current owners are friendly, Chinese and have a good idea on how to run a restaurant.  Give the diners an incredibly cheap menu which caters to a large variety of tastes, put them in small seats designed for Chinese proportioned people and watch the diners come.
When we walked past earlier in the day, we had earmarked it as a potential place to return to as it was full to the brim with people.  Even when we were running away from the Central Fish Cafe the cafe was still quite busy.

Online the diner has only got three reviews on Google and Qype, and they are all five stars.  This diner has a charm to it, which must be the same sort of charm that 6 All Day has and I can’t quite place it.   So what adds to this charm, what exactly is its attraction?

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I have made this pretty clear.  The prices are incredible.  Yes yes, I know its a small cafe in a small town but it is still something you don’t see very often.  Certainly not in the sprawling metropolis of Exeter.

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The most expensive thing on the menu was the Mixed Grill at £8.90, it would be easy to come in here and have a lunch for two with drinks for under a £10.  And I nearly did, but I wanted Fish and Chips, I was at the seaside and you cannot come to the seaside without having Fish and Chips as it is quite literally the law.

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And this is what appeared. With a mug of tea as well, a very filling meal for under £6.  The surprising thing was that you also got a salad AND peas, in many cafe’s it would be one or the other.  The portion size for the price paid was incredible value for money, given this whole plate cost just over £5.

The fish was clearly over-cooked but it was not dry as such, it looked very much like a frozen bit of fish you’d get from a supermarket but it was very tasty.  Although it was cooked to an inch of its life, it crumbled and melted beautifully.  The chips were freshly cooked and although the peas were hard (across the table her peas were lovely, typical), the whole thing was incredibly satisfying.

The decor of the place was an interesting one as the walls are adorned with the menu, but no prices.  Just empty pound signs.  Apart from that the entire cafe is surrounded by windows which means maximum light and ideal for watching the world go by.  It was the standard ‘Fish and Chip Cafe Blue’ which never gets boring.  There were a few standard sea ornaments and the usual sort of thing adorning the wall, shells etc.

The service was pretty non-existent however, being served by what seemed like a sullen Chinese teenager who didn’t say anything apart from the necessary statements of  ‘can I help you?’ and ‘is that everything?’ after we had ordered our food.  When she brought out the food it was quite literally plonked in front of us without even telling us where the knives or forks were.
The feeling of powerful resentment against being made to work on a Saturday seemed to ooze from her, and unfortunately this really ruined the general ‘experience’ of our visit. But it was salvaged by the friendly chef who upon clearing away our plates accidentally cleared away a half finished can of coke.  When we realised I headed to the counter to retrieve it.
Peering down the long corridor to the back office, I spied an elderly Chinese gentleman who clearly couldn’t speak any English.  He beckoned the young man to come out front, and when he appeared and I told him he had cleared away the can he gladly gave us another one for free and off we toddled on our way, feeling quite satisfied.

I shall return to this place of wonder and delight, only hoping that the waitress is having a better day and that I have lost enough weight to sit at the seats without wearing the table.