Paschoe House by Lauren Heath

There’s a new kid in town, well west of the city, and it’s called Paschoe House.

Having been a family home for the Amadors since 2000, daughter Tabitha decided the buildings future was as a hotel and wedding venue and, along with her father, has worked very hard for around 5 years to get it to where it is today with a bigger push over the last year. We recently shared their news of the appointment of Alex Gibbs as their head chef.

I visited in September to try their foodie offering on behalf of Crumbs Magazine (write up due out early October), for whom I am a guest writer.  The hotel had only been open a couple of weeks so I was open minded as to how the evening would go and what level of finish and service there would be. It was also my birthday so I felt very lucky with the timing!

With autumn fully on its way, the sun had already set by the time we arrived for our dinner but the warm glow exuding from the building gave me a good feeling inside of what was to come.

The open entrance hall with soft pink tones and beautiful grey geometric tiled floor caught my eye instantly along with the obvious connection to this Grade II  listed buildings heritage as well as the current outdoor pursuits on offer, thanks to the taxidermy animal heads dotted about.

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The ostrich on the wall in the gorgeous duck egg blue lounge bar is something to behold – ostriches are a firm memory of my South African childhood (my brother even raced on one once as a child) – and I was both taken a back and fascinated by this specimen coming out of the wall.  I guess it’s a bit like art – there to create conversation and a different interpretation for everyone.  In the end I grew quite used to him whilst we enjoyed our drinks and delightful trio of pre-dinner canapes in this comfortable and suave space, his black and white plumage proudly showing off.

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This may not be to everyone’s taste but I can assure you the dining room is animal free. The dining room itself is of a much more masculine stature; rich dark turquoise wallpaper with silver geometric design that bounces the light gently, matching suede chairs, original fireplace, understated chandeliers and crisp white linens bringing it together.

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Connected to the lounge bar was a sitting area with original fireplace, walls adorned in butterfly wallpaper with a fabulous purple settees. Certainly a room that would cheer you up on even the greyest damp winter day whilst cosying up to the fire with a good book and a drink. Saying that, with the outdoor activities on offer here, you could don your mac and head out instead and embrace it – it is amongst 25 acres of land after all, on the edge of the Two Moors Way footpath.

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A broad staircase crowned with antler chandelier leads you to 9 beautiful bedrooms, all with a different personality; it’s all about style and comfort for the staying guests but they are also geared up for weddings, boasting a lovely conservatory room for such event and plenty of lawns and acreage for exploration and photo opportunities. The venue is open to non-residents too of course, for lunch, dinner or even afternoon tea as a reward, for a special occasion, general good behaviour or to relax after a long walk.

Anywho – let’s get on to the good stuff – the food!

Evening menu choices include a three course a la carte menu for £50 with six choices for each course, or you could opt for the no holds barred six course taster menu for £65 where you can technically have twice the food (2 x 3 = 6 see what I’m saying?), maths aside, you don’t have to miss out and you can have a bit of everything.

We dived into starters of salmon mi-cuit with beetroot, horseradish, lemon and mustard  and Devon scallops with pea, bacon, black pudding and shallot; both fishy friends were cooked perfectly, surrounded by flavours that respected yet enhanced every mouthful, and I declare that I have found the best black pudding I’ve tried so far, thanks to local supplier Pipers Farm.

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Spiced Creedy Carver duck breast with heritage carrot, confit leg and duck sauce as well as lightly salted hake, clam, broad bean, sweet pea and beurre blanc were next in line. A plump duck breast and a crunchy bon bon were happily living side by side – until I devoured them with gusto. The hake was a delicate yet meaty dish that was respected by not being over complicated and was cooked beautifully.

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Pudding was described in four words – milk chocolate, banana and hazelnut; I was intrigued! A generous pudding of unctuous milk chocolate cream, with added textures of a mille feuille type pastry layers and sticky bananas – it was sooo good.

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I was then delighted by a little birthday treat of petit fours and birthday wishes – the macarons were delicately crispy , flavoursome and as light as air!

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I had a quick chat with Alex, who was happy to have some of his previous brigade with him, front and back of house, and it showed – service was excellent, relaxed yet professional and they really were a knowledgeable and smooth team for such a new opening. In this demanding industry, experience and good leadership really does show.

Sadly we couldn’t stay that evening, but it’s on my list for a child free night! Being only 20 minutes west of Exeter, you can find this new country house hotel retreat waiting to embrace you – and I urge you to let it.

Paschoe House, Bow, Crediton, EX17 6JT

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Wagamama, Weekday Work Lunch Style – by Lauren Heath

Many of you know that I am lucky enough to work in the city centre; surrounded by all these food options is both a blessing and a curse, as it can be hard to choose where to go for a catch up with a friend or have a business meeting over lunch.

The former is always time sensitive so choosing the right venue is important. I was delighted to be invited by Princesshay, as part of their #EatsForTreats campaign, to try Wagamama’s during my work lunch hour – I hadn’t thought of this for a speedy lunch destination, and yet it seems so obvious as everything is cooked to order and yet doesn’t take too long – fresh and fast!

I have been to Wagamamas quite a few times over the years, and it is one of my favourite chains; you know what you’re getting, it tastes great and with good portion sizes – their squid starter is one of the best, most consistent servings of squid I have ever had and consistency is something we want when spending our hard earned cash.

I took Miss #DevonFoodHour with me as my lunch date; we had much to talk about and she hadn’t been to Wagamamas for quite a while so was also intrigued about fitting this fast, fresh offering into her busy day.

We opted for some interesting juices to start, as it was hot outside; I chose the peach iced tea and my foody buddy opted for the positive fresh juice. Both were flavoursome, large and refreshing – perfect!

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Now for food – there were so many interesting dishes to choose from, and some old favourites I was honing in on but I wanted to try something new. Thankfully Miss DFH and I will eat most things so we agreed to share whatever we chose.

For starters we ordered the pork belly and panko apple hirata steamed buns and the lollipop prawn kushyaki. Cloud like buns filled with crunchy and slightly sweet rosti style fillings and the juiciest prawns on a stick you could ask for – look at the caramalised lime to sexy it up even further; both starters were really yummy and flavoursome.

Now to the mains; grilled duck donburi (tender shredded duck leg in a spicy teriyaki sauce – served with carrots, mangetout, sweet potato and red onion on a bed of sticky white rice, finished with a crispy fried egg, shredded cucumber and spring onions with a side of kimchee) and one of their new dishes, seared nuoc cham tuna (tuna steak on a bed of quinoa with stir-fried kale, sweet potato, edamame beans, red onion and peppers, garnished with coriander). Now – the descriptions are a mouthful in themselves, and thankfully so were the portions.

Both of these meals were so delicious and textural – crunchy, soft, savoury, sweet, spice, bang, pow – just so vibrant. The duck was soft and tender yet crispy in places and the tuna was cooked to perfection, ever so slightly under so it was moist, juicy and fell apart.

We actually left a little bit as we were full and, apart from enjoying a great double espresso each to finish, managed to say no to pudding…were were tempted but we were very content (and I didn’t want to go back to my desk and fall asleep!)

A really satisfying and swift meal, in an airy open plan restaurant – there are also benches to sit outside if you wish and of course you can sit for longer if you prefer.

With an open plan kitchen, not a microwave in sight, and fresh tasty asian style dishes in the middle of Princesshay’s shopping centre – I’d highly recommend them for any type of lunch or dinner outing but it certainly suits me for my weekday work lunch window.

Thanks to Princesshay, we also have a competition running to win a wagamama cookbook – check it out here!

And, if you eat out at any of the Princesshay restaurants from now until 26th August, check out the #eatsfortreats campaign competition on their website here where you can win a cruise just by tweeting and hashtagging as per their T&C’s!

Visit Wagamama in Princesshay, 16 Bedford Street, Exeter EX1 1LL – Exeter’s Website has the latest menu and offers!

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

Be one of the first to experience Lympstone Manor, Devon with 40% discount

Lympstone Manor, the most eagerly awaited hotel launch in 2017, is offering the limited opportunity to experience the hotel and restaurant at 40% off during its soft opening period from the 20th March to the 2nd April.

This soft opening will set the stage for Lympstone Manor’s grand opening, which follows on Monday 3rd April, and promises to be an outstanding showcase of the hotel.

Michael Caines MBE, Chef Patron and one of the UK’s most acclaimed chefs, has spent the past two years personally overseeing the complete transformation of the Georgian grade II listed mansion overlooking the Exe estuary into a luxury country house hotel and restaurant.

Dining at Lympstone Manor will be an exceptional experience in every sense. Michael will express his vision of modern British cuisine that is fresh, seasonal, original and exciting. Utilising the bounty of the Exe estuary, East Devon and the South West, his cuisine will be matched by wines selected from a world class cellar that contains over 600 bins.

Guests can choose from seven distinctive room categories including estuary suites, garden suites and standard guest rooms – all of which are designed in hues to mirror the surrounding estuary.

Heron Bedroom 3

The soft launch period will allow a limited number of guests to experience the hotel at 40% discount (room and food menus). This will enable those fortunate to get a booking (hotel as well as non-residential dining) to enjoy the Lympstone Manor experience, while allowing the team to train under the experienced senior management team.

To be one of the first to experience Lympstone Manor, call their reservations team on 01395 202040 or email reservations@lympstonemanor.co.uk.

*The Lympstone Manor soft launch offer*

Lympstone Manor are offering guests 40% off rooms as well as the food bill at lunch and dinner for residents and non-residents. Food offer is for the food bill only excluding drinks. Offer runs from 20 March – 2 April 2017 inclusive.

Turtle Bay, Exeter – by Lauren Heath

Guildhall, Queen Street, Exeter, EX4 3HP     Tel: 01392  690868

www.turtlebay.co.uk/locations/exeter

Turtle Bay is the first of the Queen Street Dining Quarter restaurants to open in Exeter’s highly anticipated new food destination; the Caribbean street food concept has been going since 2011 and has been the latest project for the man who co-founded Las Iguanas.

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Investigating what was on offer prior to opening, we noted the large menu consisted of starters including pulled pork salad, duck roll and garlic and herb flatbread to name but a few. Lunch ‘n lighter included salads and wraps with a variety of meat and fish fillings whilst dinner options are split into one-pots and jerk pit BBQ. There seemed to be 1 or 2 vegetarian options in each section, and if you are pescatarian, your choice does enlarge fourfold. A good selection of puddings and an even larger selection of cocktails await your arrival.

So after receiving our invite to come along and see what was on offer, we visited mid-week, mainly because they were already fully booked over the first few weekends.

On arrival, we were seated to the right of the doorway, in a ‘dog-leg’ section as it were. I was quite happy to be in the corner here so I could people watch towards the other way, but later on in the evening when I walked around to take some photos, I realised that actually we had missed out on being right in the thick of it in the main restaurant area. Nevermind – I must say throughout the whole evening, there was an excellent ‘marketplace’ buzz.

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We both ordered cocktails to start; Steve chose the Koko Colada whilst I went for my old favourite – the Espresso Martini (both £6.95 each). Mine was what you would expect in appearance, if a little too sweet though actually and not quite coffee enough for me. Perhaps I should leave this one to one of my other favourite local independents to rustle up for me in future. Steve’s drink was delicious however, an easy drinker – smooth, creamy and coconutty.

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The waitress was incredibly friendly, and also clearly knowledgeable, so well done to her and the assumed training she received.

For starters I chose Sweetcorn Fritters and Steve chose the Island bait (whitebait, both priced £5.10). Imagining flat pancake like fritters, I was pleasantly suprised to receive four big sweetcorn fritter balls; they had a lovely crunchy outer and a soft doughy middle, containing sweetcorn and cooked onions – the latter with enough bite to balance the textures. It had a lovely flavour with a bit of zing, although I indulged in mixing one if the spicy tables sauces with my mayo to create a spicy dip. The whitebait were a good size, a petite portion and fried perfectly with no oil left dripping in the bucket. Good start.

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Being chilli lovers, we were pleased to see the selection of spicy sauces at the table in order to up the anty on our food. We noted the cocktails were 2-4-1 before 7pm and after 10pm, and thought this was a good place for pre or post dinner drinks.

Now for main; Steve ordered the Fish Curry One Pot (£9.70) and I ordered the Red Snapper (£12.50), choosing the sweet potato mash as my accompaniment. We had seen some pots go out that looked like mussel pots so were suprised to see a glass pyrex dish arrive with the one pot in. Unfortunately the bowl was cold, so we had to send it back as the food was tepid. They did, however, make a new one fairly swiftly but my plate was cold too so this is clearly something  that needs looking at. Thankfully, the way my fish had been cooked, in a foil parcel, meant it was still hot.

The one pot was flavoursome with earthy and zingy flavours, that I haven’t tasted in other offerings around the city. Steve thought it was good, but not outstanding and it could have been a larger portion and spicier. My fish was nice, and the sauce was really flavoursome. Unfortunately the sweet potato and salad were a let down – the sweet potato was like babyfood and there wasn’t much of it, I wish had gone for a sturdier starch. The salad was just leaves with a dressing on and maybe one shaving of coconut, I think they could have done so much more with this on the side of a nice piece of fish.

As we looked up around us, the surroundings included tin roof walling, graffiti style art, mismatched old speakers, woven baskets, and industrial hanging lighting although they are too low, as staff kept having to duck which was a distraction – these are impractical and really should be pulled up a smidgen. It was quite dim, which hindered menu reading (& the quality of my photos), and perhaps this explains why they have the hanging lights so low, even the shorter staff would hit their head. The main area of the restaurant consisted of a circular bar, surrounded by a variety of table types, and with an open kitchen. Lots of string lights all over the place and plenty of colour – it is a vibrant design.

Thankfully, the puddings picked us up from imperfect mains; I ordered the rum and raisin bread pudding and Steve had the rum cake – both were delicious, moist and full of rum and even pleased my savoury loving husband (both £4.85).

Drinks wise, we ended the evening on a homemade ginger beer for Steve and a peanut butter and banana smoothie for me (both £3.60). The smoothie was very tasty and a good consistency and Steve loved the very gingery ginger beer and would buy it to take home if he could.

So our verdict on this eaterie was mixed really; a good start and finish, but a very average middle and fairly priced in places…I guess you’ll have to visit to find out for yourself. It is a very different beast, and if you’re going to be different you need to do it very well or not at all. We’ll see how they get on when the rest of the competition move in.

Firezza opens in Exeter The proper pizza revolution hits Exeter: Amazing pizza from £6

September 19, 2016: Firezza, the proper pizza company, will open in Exeter on Monday, September 19th with an opening party at the store on Wednesday, September 21st from 5-7.30pm. Come along for your free pizza and prosecco.

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Famous for crafting large 25cm hand-stretched pizzas “with passion”, Firezza only uses premium ingredients. Each pizza is handmade and fire-baked superfast in Neapolitan fire-breathing ovens by experienced pizzaiolos.

Although Firezza is high quality, it believes that proper pizza should be accessible with low and easy-to-understand prices. For instance, the price for a Margherita starts at just £5.95.

Amazing pizza at everyday prices is a big part of the “proper pizza revolution”, as is the fight-back against dodgy ingredients and marketing-driven features like greasy, stuffed crusts.

Instead, Firezza pizza is available at low prices, every day, all day. It’s that simple.

Customers also have the flexibility to add toppings to any pizza, or design a unique “Create Your Own” pizza, by selecting ingredients from Firezza’s considerable range.

With 17 locations across London in addition to Tunbridge Wells and Milton Keynes, Firezza’s brand of proper pizza has proved extremely popular with those who appreciate artisan food.

Firezza Exeter is open for deliveries and collections. Located on Sidwell Street and taking over the site from sister company Pizza Express, which is still available via Deliveroo. Firezza has already created 25 jobs, with more to come as the team grows.

Neil Lambert, joint managing director, Firezza, comments: “We’ve heard great things about Exeter from our sister company Pizza Express. Firezza offers the best of both worlds, amazing taste and low prices, and we’re sure the people of Exeter will understand exactly what we mean by ‘proper pizza’ when they try one of our handmade fire-baked creations.”

Edin Basic, founder, Firezza, comments: “Exeter is a beautiful city, full of history and culture. We’re excited about opening our first location in the South West and where better to introduce proper pizza than Devon’s proper capital. We look forward to being part of the Exeter’s growing foodie community.”

http://firezza.com/

The Salutation Inn, Topsham – Chris Gower

The Salutation Inn, 68 Fore Street,Topsham, Exeter, Devon, EX3 0HL – 

01392 873060
info@salutationtopsham.co.uk

http://www.salutationtopsham.co.uk/

Topsham is one of my favourite places.   It sits on a peninsular of land between the River Exe and the River Clyst, both opening out in to the magnificent Exe Estuary.  From Topsham Quay you can see right down to Exmouth with some of the nicest views in the area experienced from The Goatwalk or Bowling Green marsh.  It is dominated by the sea, its history as a port is evident everywhere.

This nauticality (I know it isn’t a word!) seems to infuse itself in to the way of life in Topsham.  Little reminders that the sea was one of the principle sources of income for many who lived and worked in the town, the bricks of the Dutch houses that line the riverside are made from bricks brought over as ballast in vessels from Holland, the numerous wharfs and quays used to house shipbuilders and rope makers, sail lofts and other trades related to shipbuilding were prevalent in Topsham’s hey-day.

And as you might imagine, there were a significant number of pubs for a town that had such large number of sailors.  Although the pubs have dwindled – the infamous Topsham Ten pub crawl is now moreso the Topsham Seven – one of these pubs got a new lease of life three years ago when it was taken over and renovated by Chef Tom Williams and his family.

Tom’s grandfather had owned Deller’s Cafe, a popular destination in pre-war Exeter known for its high-tea and music acts.  His parents used to run The Imperial Hotel before it became a Wetherspoon’s; and now The Salutation Inn continues this family tradition with this independent establishment showcasing fine accommodation and exquisite food

This was recognised when The Salutation Inn won Best Bed and Breakfast at the Food and Travel  Reader Awards 2016 that took place on the 12th September in London!

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Tom attended Exeter College as a chef trainee for three years graduating as Top Student then to Gordon Ramsey at Hospital Road in Chelsea.  After that he took up position at Petrus under Marcus Waring before returning to Devon and working his way up to Sous Chef at Gidleigh for Michael Caines.  During the refurbishment of Gidleigh Tom had a spell in France for the Rothschilds and immediately prior to The Salutation Inn Tom was at Abode in Exeter as Executive Chef for three years.

The Salutation Inn, a Grade 2 listed property, was previously a bit of an old man pub – there was a lot wrong with it.  It was owned by Punch Taverns and provided a rather sedate pub menu with a range of ‘the usual’ beers on draught.  It wasn’t particularly memorable.  When the Tom’s family bought the Inn on new years eve 2010, the long process of turning an empty shell into a fine dining 30 cover fine dining restaurant with accommodation and 45 cover glass atrium began in earnest.

A lot of hard graft went in to getting what it looks like today.  Working with English Heritage, the Salutation Inn’s unique features have been sensitively preserved; this includes their porte cochère’ (carriage porch)  which has been described by English Heritage as, one of the largest single leaf doors in the country.

I have been eager to dine here since it opened so when were were invited along to see The Salutation Inn for ourselves, I was over the moon!

Our tasting menu tonight had been carefully put together by Tom and cooked by himself personally – it was a showcase of this chef’s talent and exacting nature with the dishes that leave the Salutation’s kitchen.

Arriving through the historic single leaf door, we were greeted by Amelia (Tom’s partner & Hotel Manager) and her team. Taking a comfortable seat in the modern and tasteful drawing room, we selected our wine on recommendation, which was a delightful 2014 Banfi, Toscana San Angelo Pinot Grigio which was the perfect accompaniment to our meal.

Before our meal though were three delicious canapes, perfectly balanced morsels presented tastefully on slate.

The duck liver parfait and celeriac was presented in a tiny jar with an even tinier spoon to scoop.  Both being fans of parfait and small spoons, we were excited when we were presented with this lovely selection.

With our parfait we also had a Cheese Choux Gougere and Tomato & Basil Arancini as well, both delicate and quite delectable.

Our table ready, we were moved into the main restaurant for the first course in our tasting menu.  The restaurant is tasteful, modern and relaxing without too much distraction from the main pieces of artwork that were plate-based.  The seats were particularly comfortable, the cutlery was clean and the glasses shone.  The attention to detail is not just reflected in the food.

On route to the restaurant, Tori had remembered how much she loved Tom’s scallops having had them previously at an event last year.  Two things she loves is scallops and peashoots so imagine the joy when the apperitif appeared.

Just as we had both remembered, the scallops had a soft silkiness to them and with the earthiness of the peas and the savory palette of the bacon; it came together.  Having never had a seafood item with bacon, this is something I would love to try again.

Our next course was a Beetroot Salmon Gravadlax with Horseradish Ice Cream.  A colourful cacophony visually and in its taste.  Gravadlax is cured Salmon; typically buried in salt, sugar and dill – this is a Scandinavian method of curing fish which I’ve never tried before – which was delicious.  The River Exe salmon that The Salutation Inn serves is one of the few places in Exeter serve this rarity, given the fishing of these fish are controlled so strictly.  During the season Tom’s father, Ed Willams-Hawkes catches the fish and walks them up to the restaurant freshly caught.

Lightly curried Monkfish, mussel and apricot cannelloni served with leeks and saffron sauce was our first main.  Perfectly presented, the saffron sauce and monkfish worked together with the earthiness of the mussels.  The mussels were silky and expertly cooked.

Our final main was Brixham turbot, lobster, asparagus and wild mushrooms.  A beautiful buttery sauce and the richness of the lobster certainly had me.  We had previously seen Tom cook a lobster at the Food & Design Festival at Sapphire Spaces last year, so this was a definite highlight of the meal.  Lobster is tender and sweet, a meat that can take a bit of getting used to if you’re new to it, but very rich in taste and not ‘fishy’ like some seafood can be.

After such a variety of dishes we finished off the meal with a White Chocolate Granny Smith, white chocolate ice-cream with a wall of apple crumble lining the perimeter.

After the meal diners can retire to the drawing room for tea and coffee.  We received Petit Fours as compliments from the chef, which included macarons, fudge and a wonderfully refreshing iced mint glace.

This is what The Salutation Inn is all about.  Luxury, local produce in a menu that changes dependent on season and ingredients cooked by a talented chef who healms one of the most desirable places to stay in the UK…

After our petit fours I caught up with Tom and his talented team including Ethan (right) and Jack Sharland who is going to be competing in South West Chef of The Year semi-finals in October (Good luck Jack!).  Their passion and expertise is evident just talking to these guys.

The Salutation Inn is a local benchmark for fine dining for me.  Steered by a select team whose passion for what they do is evident in conversation and in a much deserved award.

If you fancy experiencing it for yourself, there is a special evening coming up hosted by Liam Stevenson called

“A journey through the Languedoc-Roussillon… with a Master of Wine”

http://www.salutationtopsham.co.uk/liam-stevenson-wine-dinner-a-journey-through-the-languedoc-roussillon/

It sounds like a fantastic experience for wine lovers and is definitely worth considering as I doubt this will be repeated.

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Circa 1924 Express Lunch – by Lauren Heath

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

Open Tuesday to Saturday 12pm – 2:30pm and 6pm – late. (Food serve 12 -2 and 6 – 9:30pm). Express lunch 2 courses for £10.95

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Circa 1924 is 1 years old – Happy Birthday! A great achievement for a bar and restaurant run by two young friends Rob and James. It is city centre but slightly back from the high street which affords it a great location but with a slight air of secrecy and exclusivity to it and on a quiet street. I have enjoyed post-dinner cocktails before and Chris (head honcho here at EE) tried their pop-up lunches (Circa 1924 presents Skandel@Circa1924 ) earlier this year with much delight.

So when Rob invited us to try their current express lunch offering, I jumped at the chance to experience their food for myself. Working in Exeter city centre, the choices are quite endless, if not, a little overwhelming. Express lunch appeals to me as, like anyone with a 45 minute lunch, it’s nice to know you can eat restaurant food without worrying constantly about the time and actually enjoy the experience.

The concept of the express lunch is simple, honest, tasty and local food served in good time. The menu changes every few days or even daily depending on what their local suppliers have available, dictated slightly by seasonality too. The menu is handwritten, it is that freshly put together and can change at the swipe of their pen. I started off by choosing a drink that was under the cocktail section, but clearly non alcoholic – so I assumed it would be something a bit different, and I was right. Temperance Cloudy Lemonade (£5), which would not be my top choice, but I was intrigued by the flavours of lemon, vanilla sugar syrup, and dill. I was presented with a lovely large icy glass of cool, sweet and slightly sharp lemon heaven, a great drink do go with lunch.

Priced at £10.95 for two courses, this seems extremely reasonable and almost too good to be true. The small menu read well, with fish, vegetarian and meat options. I have said before, I am terrible at choosing. So even on a starter menu of 3 items, I couldn’t decide between two – so I was pleased to be allowed both, for research purposes of course!

I chose the Heritage Tomato and Mozzarella Salad and the Venison Carpaccio. Both were presented beautifully. The salad had very tasty tomato slices, a lovely and generous pesto drizzle, a light textured mozzarella and some really tasty crunchy bread for texture. With lemon balm micro herbs this just gave it another interesting angle – it was delightful. My second starter came with the same tasty bread, layered slices of venison, again generously drizzled with dijon mustard sauce and atop with cornichons (small pickled gherkins for those who don’t know). The meat was so incredibly soft, the dressing was slightly creamy, and the vinegar of the cornichons cut through perfectly – another wonderful little dish.

Now for my main of Fillet Mignon with Skin on Fries and Garlic Butter (£2 extra supplement). Now…I am not particularly keen on set price menus having an upgrade price for an item, but I have to say, even at £12.95 for one of the starters and then this main would be totally worthit. I imagined thin slivers of meat with maybe half a dozen stacked chips, but what I got was so much better. 3 beautiful well proportioned pieces of fillet, cooked to perfection; the meat was cooked medium and was so succulent and tender, accompanied by plenty of thick well seasoned skin on fries and with a blob of fabulously garlicky butter which just pulled it all together. I felt as if I was on the continent. I absolutely loved this dish, it was a triumph. I almost wanted to tell some customers that had just walked in that they must choose it. All served on a hot plate; a simple touch yet often overlooked in some establishments and I am not sure my photo does it justice.

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I would say this was one of the nicest lunches I have had in a long time –  just spot on, delicious and unfussy food that tasted so good and at a price that you can barely get a main dish for in Exeter. Even with me eating an extra item or two, I was in and out within 40 minutes. Of course, if you’re not in a hurry, then relax and stay awhile.

There are 3 tables in the bar area, another half dozen or so a bit further on in their ground floor area and then 3 tables out the front if you wish to dine al fresco. A great wine menu, an excellent beer, ale and stout menu and of course, their excellent cocktail list too. If you’re circumnavigating town for the best lunch your money can buy, whilst wanting to support an independent, head to Circa1924!

Competition! Win a meal for four at Turtle Bay’s new restaurant in Exeter.

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Exeter should prepare for a big slice of sunshine – as Turtle Bay Caribbean restaurant and bar prepares to roll into its first city in Devon! It’s all about rum, reggae and jerk this summer!

Turtle Bay is set to open its doors to Exeter on the 23rd August, bringing a new, vibrant and delicious Caribbean dining and drinking experience to the city. Think jerk chicken, spicy, slow cooked curries, rice and peas, dreamy desserts and blissful rum cocktails!

We’re offering one lucky winner a free 3 course-meal for 4 with a drink!


Because we love competitions here at Eating Exeter, simply head over to Twitter or Facebook.  Follow either Eating Exeter on Twitter or Eating Exeter on Facebook and share the competition.  This includes any reposts throughout the competition duration.

You have to do both to qualify for entry to the prize draw (literally names in a bowl) which will be held on the 24th August.  The winner will be contacted privately.

 

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.

Cheese and Pickled Onion Sandwich

We’ve been busy coming up with sandwiches for Burt’s Chips Ultimate Crisp Sandwich project. Some have been disasters (you won’t read about those!)  The second one we had great fun making was a classic with a modern twist.  Search for #ultimatecrispsandwich on Twitter and get the latest on this excellent summer campaign.

Yes, its a Cheese and Pickled Onion Sandwich.  The culinary heights we go to at Eating Exeter eh?!

This has a nifty trick in it though, where you marinate the onions in balsamic and sugar in a bowl. This adds a whole new onion based dimension to the recipe.  If you’re worried that Eating Exeter’s recipes are a bit weird, fear not! Tom Allbrook has created us a lush lamb recipe.

If you want to try these crisp recipes for yourself, head to the Burts website and take your pick! 

INGREDIENTS (makes 2 sandwiches)

  • 2 x 40g bags Burts Sea Salt and Malted Vinegar Crisps
  • ½ red onion peeled and sliced into rings
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 ripe tomatoes sliced
  • 150g mature cheddar cheese grated or sliced
  • 2 tbs mayonnaise
  • 4 slices thick wholemeal bread buttered on one side

METHOD

  1. Place the onion rings into a bowl along with the vinegar and sugar and leave to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  2. Start to build the sandwiches by spreading the mayo onto two slices of bread, lay on the sliced tomatoes in a single layer then pile on the cheese.
  3. Divide on the red onions then finally add on loads of Burts Sea Salt and Malted Vinegar Crisps.
  4. Pop on the second slice of bread and steam in.

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!

 

Hanlon’s Brewery, Half Moon Village

Hanlons Brewery, Hill Farm, Half Moon Village, Devon EX5 5AE 

http://www.hanlonsbrewery.com/

Talk to any ale fan in the Exeter & Devon area and you won’t find many that would not class Yellow Hammer as one of their favourite ales.  For as long as I can remember this beautifully light and golden ale has been a staple in various pubs around Exeter.  It is produced by Hanlons Brewery who are based out at Half Moon Village in between Cowley and Newton St Cyres on the A377.  Sounds far away? It is less than two miles from the centre of Exeter, nestled in the rolling hills that surround the city.

Some long-term hardened ale fans might remember a few years ago, Hanlons used to be based out at Whimple.  After some financial difficulties the company went in to administration but partners Dan Taylor and Jim Bungard swooped to the rescue and bought the ale-ing (sorry) company, relocated it to a purpose built brewery building and the rest is history.  Dan and Jim’s families invested heavily in the business, as a result the company is has a distinctive family run feel to it.

Not too long ago, Hanlon’s opened their doors to the general public on a Friday night serving top quality food and of course their own beautiful ale from draught.  Living less than a mile away, I was ashamed to say that I hadn’t been to visit sooner but was over the Half-Moon (as they’re located in Half Moon Village?…I’ll get my coat) to be invited over to see what has made this hidden gem so successful.

The whole building is wood clad, a distinctive design hidden behind the hedgerow from the A377 which it sits close to.  A whole selection of buses pass here, and there is one every hour generally, and with ample parking it is easy for the designated driver to rock up and find somewhere to park.

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During the week their in-house bar hosts corporate and private events.  But on a Friday night, the menus come out, the reserved signs are placed on the table and diners come down to eat a menu incorporating Hanlons products created by Chef Tim Ware (Jack In The Green, Digger’s Rest).

The room itself is decorated with lots of Hanlons marketing and photographs including the most amazing illustrated diagram that adorns the wall which was created by a local illustrator.  The place mats on the tables replicate this artwork, and there are colouring crayons on each table for big and little kids to colour in (excuse the fuzzy photo!)

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As we arrived, we commenced proceedings with a half of Firefly Bitter; a member of the Hanlon family that I don’t often see in the pubs I visit.

The menu changes each week, follow Hanlon’s Facebook page to see what each week holds in store and keep up to date with brewery tours and other exciting events.

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We decided to share our starter.  A delicious baked Camembert served in fresh Yellow Hammer bread with a side of Stormstay Chutney (£9).  There is something so delectable about fresh bread and melted cheese, and this dish punched straight to the heart of what makes this comfort food a firm favourite in restaurants across the country.

Our main course was a choice, but I had to go for the Sticky Pork Tenderloin with Thai Slaw cooked in Yellow Hammer (£10) as well as Tori.  The fusion worked fantastically, the Yellow Hammer addition shows that this ale is very versatile, not just to drink but to cook with too.

This is fine dining quality for fantastic value but keeping it very much in tune with Hanlon’s tune.  Using ales and beers that Hanlons produces is a great showcase for the other ways that their products can be incorporated into cooking.

The meal was topped off with some locally produced dairy ice-cream, a very simple yet satisfying end to really good meal.

After the meal, we were lucky enough to be taken down to the brewery floor by Dan Taylor to have a brief tour of the facilities.  Yellow Hammer is a beautiful traditional ale that has a special place in the hearts of ale drinkers across the county and to finally visit its birthplace was a definite culinary highlight.

Hanlons has invested in new equipment to help improve consistency and make things more efficient, the shiny vats holding a vast amount of liquid that would eventually be served across pubs and supermarkets.

I love the ethos of this local company and I am a definite fan of their products.  I want to write what I thought of their food in terms that would make readers of this blog cringe or squirm uncomfortably whilst I use words like ‘lush’ and ‘om nom’. But as with any review, you need to try it for yourself.

Follow Hanlons on Twitter and Facebook

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GET READY FOR A TASTE OF THE CARIBBEAN EXETER, AS TURTLE BAY ARRIVES IN DEVON

Exeter’s Met Office should be forecasting for sunny times ahead as Turtle Bay Caribbean restaurant and bar prepares to roll into it’s first city in Devon! It’s all about rum, reggae and jerk this summer! 

Turtle Bay is set to open its doors to Exeter on the 23rd August, bringing a new, vibrant and delicious Caribbean dining and drinking experience to the city.

The 215 seat, £800K, 4015 sqft Exeter restaurant will be located in Guildhall Shopping and Dining Centre.

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The new venture is to create over 50 local jobs. Team Turtle Bay is still recruiting; so local hopefuls should visit https://turtlebayjobs.clickandhire.net to register interest.

Turtle Bay is all about celebrating the lively, colourful, soulful and, above all, delicious experiences that the Caribbean has to offer  – from rich and explosive flavours to laid back ‘liming’. Their mission is to capture the spirit of celebration that the Caribbean is famed for around the globe – making customers happy by delivering a hedonistic combination of joyous food, wicked drinks and a fun, laidback atmosphere. It’s a welcoming and sociable destination.

The restaurant is designed to create the perfect atmosphere for enjoying bold, spicy food and drink, and its ‘look’ is as vibrant and lively as you might expect, with each restaurant designed bespoke for its location.

The Exeter restaurant will be no exception. In fact the team have pulled out all the stops for their first restaurant in Devon, which will be a beach-shack-inspired ray of sunshine. The bold, bright, joyful interior will be designed to transport Exeter guests to sunnier climes, but will feature a smart, urban edge befitting the city’s status as a cosmopolitan, innovative city.

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As well as the stunning ‘island hut’ bar, there’ll be a special veranda dining areas, plus a vibrant, open ‘street kitchen’.

High-impact colour schemes and bespoke wall murals will be in abundance, as well as Turtle Bay’s trademark use of reclaimed materials. Exeter customers can expect to see repurposed shipping containers, oil drum lampshades, reclaimed wood and chequer-plate and disused speakers… all making up one totally unique restaurant.

Food is at the heart of the Turtle Bay experience – just as it’s central to the heart and soul of Caribbean culture. An eclectic cuisine that is influenced by a rich tapestry of ethnicities, the food at Turtle Bay offers a vast choice of bold flavours and rustic dishes, all inspired by the laid back, social outlook of the Caribbean. The menu is meticulously researched and lovingly created.

Dishes are brimming with zesty flavours and spicy hues – there’s plenty to share or dig into alone.

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The offering includes ‘Cutters’ (inspired by Beach Shacks and Street Hawkers of the Caribbean Islands  – perfect for sharing over cocktails); the Jerk BBQ Pit (which is exactly as fiery as it sounds); ‘One Pots’ (rich, slowly simmered and uniquely Caribbean) and Lunch and Light (a briefer encounter with the Caribbean). Signature dishes include their famous Jerk Chicken and Curry Goat.

This is fuss-free soul food for individuals that love, and live, to eat!

The bar offering is something to behold with a menu of more than 40 Caribbean rums to choose from, all used to create a cocktail list that’s as cool and credible as you’d expect from a culture that brought us Bob Marley.

Turtle Bay’s happy hour lasts from 11.30am – 7pm and then starts up again at 10pm! This makes it the happiest happy hour in town with ALL of their cocktails available at 241 during that time – it’s a must for cocktail lovers and rum enthusiasts all week long.

Visit the website www.turtlebay.co.uk/exeter

Send them an email! exeter@turtlebay.co.uk

BLT & Chorizo Club Sandwich

#projectcrispsandwich continues and this time we present one of our own creations.  Head over to Twitter and search under the hashtag #UltimateCrispSandwich and you’ll see lots of people either making some of the sandwiches that were suggested by Chef Dean Edwards who is working with Devon based Burts Crisps for this summer campaign.

So we thought we could do one better.  The BLT & Chirizo Club Sandwich, a simple addition to the classic BLT that you can pick up in shops, but with the added layer of Burts Spicy Chorizo Crisps and Fried Chorizo.

This is based on the Spicy Chorizo Club sandwich that we made last week, replacing the Chicken Breast and Mayo with Bacon so can’t really take a huge amount of credit.


So what do you need for this crisp sandwich?

Handfuls of Burts Sea Salt or Spicy Chorizo Crisps

1 Large tomato

Lettuce, depends on personal preference for quantity

Mayo – 2 tbsp

6 Slices of bacon – preferably Pipers Farm Smoked Back

Fried chorizo – preferably Good Game, but if you must cheat then 14 slices for two

6 slices of white bread.
Method:

Cut the bread.  This is important as you won’t be able to do much else with it.

Build the sandwich from the bottom up – start with tomato, lettuce then bacon.

Then add the extra layer of bread, smother with the Mayo…

Add Burts Spicy Chorizo Crisps and finally add the chorizo.

Deviously simple but very tasty!

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The hunt for Exeter’s best veggie breakie (part deux) by Stephanie Darkes

84 Queen St, Exeter, EX4 3RP – 01392 201 181

Last week it was my birthday and post-party night I was desperate for a top drawer veggie breakfast. So I turned to the oracle that is Twitter for some suggestions and plenty came back including: The Cosy Club, Tea on the Green and Bills, all of which have been added to my ‘Breakfast List’ – which is a bit like a ‘Bucket List’ but is made up purely of vegetarian breakfast eateries!

After some post-Prosecco faffing and website hopping we opted for Boston Tea Party, an eatery that was also recommended to me in my early days of moving to Exeter but I had never made it to.

BTP seem to be part of the new wave of indie eatery chains that recognise the need to act local and think Global. On their site, they describe themselves as a Funky cafe chain serving up breakfast, burgers, salads and baked goods with sustainable ingredients, they also say that they recognise bigger isn’t better and that they design each cafe to be a one off cherished local – a return to the tradition of the UK cafe as a social hub, and what a great ethos that is!

Downstairs is a bit like Pret takeaway, with places to eat, a quick grab fridge and busy tills to buy coffee and order. But that is where the Pret similarities end, BTP doesn’t feel generic and plasticised, it’s organic, wooden and wholesome.

That morning BTP was bustling, seemingly a favourite haunt for students, it was graduation weekend and all the students in town seem to be here with their parents. We hustled in, chose our food and ordered very quickly at the bar. Sweetcorn hash for me, with a soya milk cappuccino and a green vegetable juice smoothie. Espresso and stacked pancakes with bacon and maple syrup for the hubby. I headed upstairs to get a table and they were almost all taken!

Upstairs, the room was vast and very blue with mis-matched wooden furniture ranging from – what looked like – wallpaper pasting tables to little wooden chairs from church. There were some comfy padded chairs all of which are very brown.

I like the ‘reclaimed’ look and I love seeing venues that promote recycling and reuse, I also like an eatery with soul and BTP’s values – never compromising on quality, honouring collective social responsibilities and dreaming of a better world – sing to me in a big way.

I sat down and people watched and felt very at home.

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Cutlery, water and condiments are all self served and hubby returned with our table number and bits and bobs and sat down to read one of the cafe’s papers. On one of the walls there is a massive notice board where people are allowed to pin posters for events around Exeter, this was full to the brim. As someone who has previously run a local music venue, this is that kind of thing that really appeals to me, I’m very into giving local artist, groups and events exposure – keeping it local, supporting the community. The drinks came quite promptly and I drank my green veg smoothie in one go, it was a delicious combination of spinach, cucumber, banana, chia seeds, apple juice and lime, simple and refreshing. The soya cappuccino was also yummy and gave me the caffeine kick I needed. About 10 minutes later the food arrived, I was starving and not really sure what to expect, but the presentation was brilliant and world away from a bog standard, heavily greased cafe breakfast (not that the occasional greasy spoon fry-up is a bad thing mind).

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On my plate I had small balls of fried sweetcorn hash, slices of nicely grilled Halloumi, and two perfectly poached eggs placed lovingly on a mound of avocado smash with tomato salsa, drizzled in what I think was maple syrup and sprinkled with coriander and fresh mild red chill (not too much of the latter), it looked and smelt delicious.

I have to admit I was a bit concerned at the idea of Halloumi for breakfast and how it would taste with eggs but tucking in I revelled in the various flavours and textures, it was delicious, the softness of the eggs, the crunch of the hash and the chew of the halloumi combined with the sweetness of the syrup and the kick from the chillis was a taste sensation. I ate it as slowly as possible so that I could make it last for as long as possible and when I’d finished I wanted to eat it all over again!

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At this stage I’d like to point out that I am not exaggerating or being paid to write this, this was a seriously divine vegetarian breakfast! Hubby’s stacked pancakes and bacon also went down well but – on this breakfasting occasion – I had no bacon hankering and actually, I think he wanted to eat my food instead of his. It was that good. My breakfast verdict: This one will be hard to beat, it’s a great, imaginative, tasty and healthy vegetarian breakfast that a lot of thought has been put into (not a Quorn sausage in sight).

Boston Tea Party is a lovely eatery, with great staff and a great atmosphere, I was very, very impressed!

You can find Exeter’s very own BTP here and check out their website here.

Boston Tea Party also have restaurants in Barnstable, Bath, Birmingham, Briston, Cheltenham, Harbone, Honiton, Plymouth, Ringwood, Salisbury, Stratford-Upon- Avon and Worcester.

You can also read about my first veggie breakie in Exeter at Base & Barley here

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.

Tantalising tastes of the summer in Princesshay this August

Tantalising tastes of the summer in Princesshay this August

Tasting station dates: 6th, 13th & 20th August 2016

This August, tasting stations will pop up in Princesshay for visitors to sample a taste of summer from Princesshay’s cafes and restaurants*. From pan Asian tastes at Wagamama and Japanese delights from YO! Sushi, modern European dishes from Jamie’s Italian, Café Rouge and Carluccio’s or a proper burger from Byron, Princesshay is the place to dine this summer.

Not only will Princesshay be alive with tastes of the world but buskers will be on hand to entertain visitors throughout the summer creating a hive of activity that will keep visitors of all ages entertained. Along with music, Princesshay will play host to outdoor games, a gorgeous green lawn and go karting, not to mention the vast amount of summer activities planned for the summer months. Activities include an interactive rocking chair, Dancing in the streets in July and Exeter street arts festival, taking place on the 27th August. As well as all this, Silk Estrella, an aerial silk dancer will be performing in Princesshay this summer.

With views of Exeter Cathedral while you dine and the city’s historic Roman wall, Princesshay is the perfect place to visit this summer. With a fantastic range of family friendly restaurants, cuisines from around the world and plenty of alfresco dining, there is something for every taste.

Tasters available while stocks last. For more information on EATS! At Princesshay, visit www.princesshay.co.uk/eats

To make the most of dining out this summer, sign up to EATS! At Princesshay, a fun and informative newsletter packed with discounts, offers and all the latest menu news from all of Princesshay’s fantastic eateries. Being part of EATS! At Princesshay is perfect for any discount diva or foodie fanatic who wants to be in the know when it comes to dining out in Exeter.

Princesshay restaurants and cafes include:

  1. Nandos
  2. Giraffe
  3. Carluccios
  4. Byron
  5. Café Rouge
  6. Jamie’s Italian
  7. Coal Grill & Bar
  8. Wagamama
  9. Yo! Sushi
  10. Coffee #1
  11. Costa
  12. Chandos Deli
  13. LTG’S

10 Questions for The Poltimore Inn, North Molton

Situated on the edge of Exmoor, The Poltimore Inn has risen from the ashes after a year-long refurbishment.  This cracking independent pub is a definite desitination if you’re visiting Exmoor.

1. How would you describe The Poltimore Inn? What makes it special?

The Poltimore Inn is everything a good village pub should be, with a varied menu of delicious home-cooked food and a wide selection of local beers. It is located in a picturesque village on the edge of Exmoor. You can be sure of a warm welcome here. You can enjoy a bar meal or dine in the lovely spacious restaurant which overlooks a beautiful pub garden and the Exmoor hills beyond.

2. A smoker in your beer garden? What was the inspiration behind this?

Ah, the smoker. This was built by landlord Alan Boddington with help from a local engineer Jack Reed. It is a wonderful contraption, weighing around three quarters of a ton. It is a sort of cross between Stevenson’s Rocket and something from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Alan was keen to offer customers something different, and the smoker is used regularly to smoke our own meat and fish which is then served in the pub and restaurant.

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3. It looks like a spectacular beast, is this a custom build?

Yes, a complete one off! Alan and Jack made it from all sort of bits and pieces, some of them from scrapyards. There’s even parts from a submarine compressed air system and a car axle from an Austin A2. It is quite an impressive machine, and a great talking point among the locals. What’s more, the smoker works really well, and there is loads of space to smoke a wide variety of food.

4. Your pub has been on quite a journey. What have been some of the challenges?

The pub was closed for a year before Alan took it on, in August 2013. He completely refurbished the building and added a large new restaurant, and created several guest rooms. It involved a lot of hard work, but Alan and his team have done a fabulous job. Alan is a great foodie, and wanted the pub to be known for its good food. He and his staff have worked tirelessly to build up the pub’s reputation for delicious home-cooked meals, and were rewarded in 2015 with a Gold Taste of the West Award in 2015.

5. Pubs are often the heart of the community, have you found that the pub is once again becoming the heart of the community?

This has been Alan’s mission – to put The Poltimore Inn at the heart of village life. The pub is situated in the centre of the village, by the main square, and is involved in all sorts of community events. For example the pub runs an annual competition, Boots in Bloom, to encourage local residents to plant flowers in boots. So in the summer time the whole village is full of flowers which is a lovely sight. There is a very active skittles team at the pub, and also magic evenings and regular folk and jazz evenings. The Poltimore also gets involved in a lot of charity fund raising events.

6. I love real ales, what sort of offerings have you got for the real ale drinkers?

A wide selection of great real ales from the South West, including Otter Ale, Exmoor Ale and St Austell Tribute.

7. What is your food philosophy at The Poltimore Inn?

We aim to offer our visitors the very best home-cooked food, which includes tasty traditional pub meals and some more adventurous dishes, and smoked foods, meat, fish and cheese. One of our specialities is the popular ‘Poltimore Inn Platters’ or PIPs, sumptuous selections of smoked fish, sausage, salami and vegetarian treats. Our menus change seasonally and there are daily specials, with vegetarian and gluten-free options. The pub uses locally sourced foods whenever possible.

8. I heard on the grapevine that you like to offer some international foods too?

We do enjoy providing something a little different for our guests. So we often have weekends with themed food from a particular country. For example this year we have had a Spanish tapas weekend, with some authentic dishes such as nachos con carnie, chorizo and tomato and potato bravas. Our highly experienced chef, Lynda Festa, was lucky enough to spend some time working alongside a well-known Spanish chef, Pedro Gomez, and she likes to recreate some of the meals she learnt from him. Another weekend this year, to coincide with American Independence Day in July, the pub hosted an American weekend. The menu included seafood chowder, buffalo chicken wings and sweetcorn fritters. Lynda and the catering team, Stephen Newall, Louise Wilson and Shelly Thorne, are always full of ideas for interesting and unusual recipes.

9. …and Gin tasting evenings?

Oh yes, we like our gin too, so we host gin tasting evenings which are always great fun. One of ourfavourite gins is locally produced on Exmoor, called Wicked Wolf.

10. Finally, what sort of attractions are nearby? Yo’re in such a lovely part of the world!

The Poltimore Inn is on the edge of Exmoor, which is wonderful for walking and riding. North Molton is an excellent spot to start your walk from, and then you can treat yourself to a meal at the pub when you return. We are only 45 minutes from some of the best surfing beaches in the South West, including Croyde, Saunton and Woolacombe. North Molton is a good stopping off point for ameal on your journey to the North Devon coast or further on to North Cornwall. North Molton is easily accessible, (less than 3 miles), from the A361 North Devon Link Road, the main road linking

North Devon with the M5 motorway Junction 27. There are signs to the pub from the Link Road. We look forward to welcoming you to The Poltimore Inn!

For more information contact The Poltimore Inn on 01598 740338 or visit

http://www.thepoltimoreinnnorthmolton.co.uk or

www.facebook.com/PoltimoreInn or Twitter @PoltimoreInn

 

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