That’s The Way To Do It!

Chris:

This is an exciting looking event! If you’re in the Tiverton area, might be worth a punt :)

Originally posted on :

We are incredibly excited to announce that we will have a Punch and Judy show at our event on Saturday 1 August.

Our August event has a beach theme and in true seaside style The Puppetree Company will perform a traditional Punch and Judy show at 7:30pm to delight visitors both young and old alike.

Professor Davey with Punch Professor Davey from Puppetree with Punch

The event continues to promote local musical talent with Tiverton bands The Seagulls and Orange Flag performing at 6:30pm and 8:00pm respectively.  Local DJ SoundS Entertainment will play feel-good music throughout the evening.

There will be the usual array of delicious local food and drink from streetfood sellers:

  • Blueberry Brothers
  • Calaca Loca
  • Cockleshell Deli
  • Cracking Nuts
  • Deli Street Café
  • Devon Woodfired Pizzas
  • Exe Valley Brewery
  • Frandie Macaron
  • Go Local
  • Good Game
  • Ivan’s Coffee
  • Juice2Go
  • La Cantina
  • Little Van Rouge
  • Llemedos Catering
  • Posh Kebab Co
  • The Shack Inn
  • The Swan Inn Pop-Up…

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Problems with the Eating Exeter URL

Hi there!

Just to let you know that I’ve noticed our www.eatingexeter.co.uk URL isn’t redirecting to the blog.  I am not sure how long this has been like this, so I’m opening a support ticket with my provider to see if I can’t get this fixed asap.

Cheers,
Chris

Eating Exeter Update (August-ish)

I actually wrote this last night, but in its dying breathe my main PC froze completely and I lost theIMG_7574 text.  So I am having another go at telling you chaps what’s happening in the world of Eating Exeter over the next few weeks.

I’ve been having a bit of a holiday recently from all things food blog. I’m heavily involved in coordinating Instagramers Exeter (http://igersexeter.tumblr.com) and had the pleasure of giving a talk at the July meetup of Digital Exeter at The City Gate last night, so working on and rehearsing the presentation has taken a bit of time as well as formulating some plans for the future of the group.

But back to all things Eating Exeter briefly.  Facebook told me that I haven’t posted anything for six days, so I thought I better do an Update to allay any fears that I’ve dropped off the end of the Earth.

1. I have the pleasure of working with Will and John, founders of The Complete Diner’s Club, who are currently building interest and tweaking their website.  I know many readers to Eating Exeter will be interested in knowing about this project as it supports and promotes independent restaurants & producers in Exeter and Devon.  You’ll see more about these chaps as I am currently writing a promotional post on them that’ll publish next week on this blog. Follow them on Twitter

2. We’re visiting Circa 1924, located behind Boots (where Harry’s Bar and Grill was located).  I’m looking forward to reviewing and doing and Q&A with their head chef too in the near future!

3. Our roving cream tea expert has been at it again! Some more delicious reviews from Mr Ditch Townsend!

Cheers,
Chris

Q&A with John Magill, Owner-Brewer at The Powderkeg Brewery


You say Craft Beer is the future of beer in Britain and the fastest growing sector in the UK alcohol market.
Why?

You can compare craft beer’s potential with developments in the food industry. In many ways, Britain’s ‘real ale’ is still bedded in the 1970s, when food was still largely traditional English fare: pie and mash, roast beef and the like – tasty, comforting but unsophisticated. Access to authentic recipes and exciting ingredients from around the world has lead to a foodie revolution – the industry is booming, standards have skyrocketed, everyone’s interested, and we are all happier for it. This is the effect that Craft Beer has the potential to achieve for beer in the UK.

So how will Powderkeg be part of that?

Our brewery is built from brand new equipment, custom-designed to enable us to apply all the latest techniques. At Powderkeg we brew internationally-inspired beer styles. We will be launching with a German Pilsner called Cut Loose and an American Pale Ale named Speak Easy, but each will have a twist. For example, ‘Cut Loose’ is brewed using entirely traditional methods and ingredients sourced from Germany, but it will be brought bang up to date with a gentle ‘dry-hopping’ with a hop from New Zealand that will infuse a hint of lemon and lime.

What’s different about the hops?

New World hops from America, New Zealand, Australia, even Japan, are at the heart of our beers. We liken the difference to the terroir of wines. The climate and soil in which these hops are grown promote entirely different flavours in the hop flowers. With a skilled hand, we can draw out subtle hints of tropical fruits, citrus fruits, even white wine notes. This might sound a bit out-there for beer, but the results are stunning.

Aside from the brewing process, how is the company doing things differently?

We are making important progressions in the way we package our beer. For a start we are beginning the rehabilitation of the keg. Keg beers got bad press from CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) in the 1970s, but why hold a 40-year grudge against an inanimate object?  It was only ever the beer the breweries were putting in the kegs that was at fault.

Our beer is a local artisan product – hand-crafted in small batches, naturally carbonated during fermentation, matured to its best at the brewery, then quality tested with friends.  There is nothing artificial or industrial about the process. Packaging in kegs is then the perfect way to make sure that the beer at the bar is the beer we meant it to be, because the beer will not change once kegged.

Another further innovation is our use of ‘one-way kegs’. These containers keep the beer in perfect condition but are light weight and can be simply recycled at the point of use. They offer an 80% reduction in packaging weight resulting in huge improvements in our fuel emissions when transporting the beer. They also eliminate the need for all of the energy and chemicals that might otherwise be used to wash dirty kegs. So despite being disposable, they are actually a more environmentally-friendly option than traditional steel containers.

Sounds good. Any other green credentials?

Based at Greendale, we are able to utilise green energy from the new anaerobic digestion plant: electricity is generated at the plant, so that the spent grain from each brew is used to power the next.

Catch them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/powderkegbeer

The Powderkeg Brewery: A Craft Beer Brewery for Exeter

This month sees the launch of Powderkeg, a custom-designed brewery based just outside Exeter, which produces remarkable craft beer.

Craft beer is the fastest growing sector in the UK alcohol market. This reflects the fact that thinkers and drinkers alike are appreciating the efforts of a growing band of passionate and rebellious artisan brewers who mix classic styles and exciting new ingredients to create contemporary, flavoursome beers.

Powderkeg Brewery is set to be Devon’s ringleader in this beer revolution, and will launch with a German Pilsner (Cut Loose) and an American Pale Ale (Speak Easy). Each has been lovingly infused with interesting hops which, combined with innovative brewing techniques, create a completely new beer experience. It’s what craft beer lovers have been waiting for, and a chance for everyone else to discover what the buzz is all about.

Powderkeg are also taking leaps forward in the way they package their beer, so venues will serve the beer from a new generation of kegs.  Once packaged in these kegs, the beer will remain the same until it is in your glass – there is no risk of it going off, no chance of over-conditioning and no possibility of yeast or other hazes. Put great beer in a keg and you are guaranteed great beer will come out. That is why Powderkeg say the ‘keg is king’. It also means there’s a new place to look for great local beer and that’s at the fonts, in amongst the commercial lagers (like a diamond in the rough!).

Powderkeg is a family-owned business based in Devon, whose emphasis is on quality – whether that be quality of beer or quality of life.

After years of working for other breweries, owner and head brewer John Magill wanted to push the art of brewing forward while running a business that works with family life.

He also, along with wife and co-conspirator Jessica Magill, wanted a business that would reflect his maverick streak and encourage people to ‘think while they drink’.

Beer can elicit such happiness. It brings people together to cut loose, have a good time and put the world to rights. It has inspired countless artists and great thinkers, fuelled rebellions and shaped English culture.  This great tradition – of beer as a source of courage and inspiration – is a major influence on what we do. 

“In turn, we try to sow a few seeds of rebellion among our friends and customers, a gentle reminder that life is not all about working and achieving – there is beer to be drunk, pleasure to be had and dreams to follow.”   This is the Powderkeg Plot.

Our core products, available very soon in keg and bottle …

 powderkeg5

Speak Easy – Transatlantic Pale,  4.3% ABV. A remarkable pale ale, dry-hopped to infuse big tropical fruit aromas while keeping the bitterness in check and the finish clean. A beer that stimulates the mind and loosens the tongue. In Cervisia Veritas.

powderkeg6

Cut Loose – Happy Pils,  4.6% ABV. A classic German pilsner with a rounded malt base and noble hop character, invigorated by a touch of citric fruitiness from the New Zealand ‘Motueka’ hop. Made for livening up and feeling free.

www.powderkegbeer.co.uk

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

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

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

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

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

The Cosy Club, Southernhay, Exeter

When it opened two years ago, The Cosy Club really changed the playing field for chain restaurants in Exeter.  It was a new, quirky and it did some amazing cocktails.  You can read our original review here, its a little old so it is in need of an update.

Entering through what had been the chapel entrance of the old hospital, you are presented with one of more unique bar designs in Exeter.  Lofty ceilings with walls adorned with large pictures, the bar area is filled with natural light during the day and fends off any feeling of claustrophobia during the busiest evenings.

Through to the dining area, the clusters of lampshades and the reclaimed lights from the hangar that housed Concorde, cast a yellowy glow across the tables. Two painting that stuck in my mind was the full length portrait of Lenin and another called Lenin’s Plans for Electrification by L. Shmatko, which dominate the walls they sit on. There is also a bookable room called The Snug which I wasn’t able to visit, but I will save this for another day. The interior is a fantastic cavalcade of stuff, it is interesting without being cluttered.  Varied, yet sticking to distinct style and variety.

Fun fact – The bits of furniture that are emblazoned on the front of the cocktail bar were original pieces of furniture from the original hospital, of which The Cosy Club occupies of the ground floor of one wing.

When we visited last year, the food was safe yet imaginative – classic British cuisine with a bit of a spin, some friendly service and the sort of thing you expect from what I class ‘mid-casual dining’.  You won’t get chucked out for wearing trainers, but the prices and standard/quality of food surpass your average ‘pay-at-the-bar’ kind of establishment.

I didn’t give it a rating at the time as I was part of a large party and this isn’t really fair given the fact that I tend to rate places on there being two people.  But had I rated it, it would have been a solid 4/5 and under out new rating system I would recommend this restaurant as a place for a meal out in Exeter.  They coped with our large party really well last time.

I like the atmosphere and everyone is friendly, the staff are always eager to please and the food has always been very good.  Last week, we were invited over to have a look at their new summer menu.

We were served by Dan, who had this amazing Death Head Moth tatoo on his arm.  He was friendly and attentive, he chatted to us about the food and the interior decor (which has to be one of the best interiors for a restaurant in Exeter!), everyone made us feel quite at home throughout our visit.  We latched on to the English Garden cocktails that had been recommended to us by multiple friends and relatives, and I could genuinely see why!

Given we had already had a lot of food over the course of the day, we were not massively hungry, so we shared a starter.  We kicked off with Asparagus wrapped in Serrano Ham with a poached egg (£6.50) a beautifully cooked bed of asparagus with a strong ham and egg combination was lovely.  This is a new addition to their menu, so I was keen to try this given I love ham & egg as a combination.

In comms before out visit with Ed, one of the managers at The Cosy Club, he recommended the Seared Yellowfin Tuna Steak (£14.95).  I’m always up for taking recommendations, so I was quite determined to go for this. Tori went for the Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Triple Fried Chips.

The Tuna was very nice, seared and bedded on a bed of aloo gobi, onion bhaji and mint & cucumber raita on top.  It was seared well (its easy to overdo a seared fish steak) and the aloo gobi had a good spice to the flavour which went really well with the tuna.  It wasn’t spicy, but had a gentle heat which was complimented by the raita.

Tori’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken (£9.95) was a damn good dish, the triple fried fries were of an epic size but the coating of the chicken was very spicy.

OK OK, this is a Deep South traditional fried chicken recipe and scooting around the internet, if you want to make it yourself then it does have cayenne and paprika in varying quantities.


I fed this back to the manager (lovely lady called Sarah) that this wasn’t evident from the menu.  This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as we are both spice lovers, but had we been averse to spicy food, it would have been an issue (the title Buttermilk Fried Chicken led us to believe it wasn’t going to be spicy, although it was served chipotle sauce which could denote that it might be hot one…??)

Regardless I would have this dish the next time we go, as despite the heat, was a really well fried piece of chicken, and for a tenner it was excellent value.  It was moist and had a good flavour to it, which suprised me as so often chicken is normally dry when eating out – Too many bad experiences at Wetherspoons methinks…

The desserts looked appealing enough to ignore the fact we were already full.  Out came a Salted Caramel Cheesecake (£5.50) with sweet and salty popcorn and for Tori a Sorbet made up of orange, mango and blackcurrant (£3.95).  The cheesecake was more creamy and mousse-like, this was nice a light and it didn’t feel like I was stuffing myself silly.  Tori’s sorbet was fruity and refreshing.  It was a perfect end to a really enjoyable meal.

The Cosy Club has cemented itself in the dining scene in Exeter.  It has a vegan and gluten free menu as well, and commendation to those behind the menus as this is such a rarity.

I would recommend The Cosy Club as a place to eat in Exeter.  Its a great place for romantic meals, family celebrations, cocktails and definitely somewhere a bit special.

www.cosyclub.co.uk

The Cosy Club
Halford Wing, Dean Clarke House
1 Southernhay Gardens
Exeter
Devon, EX1 1SG

01392 848744
exeter@cosyclub.co.uk

Harry’s Restaurant, Exeter

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Eating Exeter Update – July

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers,
Chris

Beer, Burger and Beyond: No longer updated

0e390-beerandburgerbanner

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

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

Cream Tea At The Prince Hall Hotel

Guest blogger, Ditch Townsend, takes tea for us on Dartmoor

On the site of a 15th century house, the current mansion was rebuilt in 1787 after being destroyed in the English Civil War. ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ was allegedly inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stay here. Being outside offers a stunning view (it can often be glimpsed through the windows), and the drawing room, with its wood burner, is comfortably and pleasingly, if eclectically, furnished.

The scone was cooked to order, so it took 10-15 minutes to come; an acrid oven cleaner-type smell kept intruding into the parlour, which was unpleasant. Anyway, I had enough time to explore my loose leaf Earl Grey tea choice, which arrived a few minutes after ordering: The bergamot oil only made the vaguest of ghostly swirls on the surface, with hints of orange blossom as it evaporated; I didn’t expect too much citrus and was justified when I sipped it. But it had a good flavour, with quite clear smokey traits. Plenty was supplied, with extra water, but without a removable in-pot filter, it stewed a little harshly.

Back to the largish, sugar-dusted scone which had now arrived. It was warm, obviously, with a glaze, and flexible but friable crust. The inside was a very pale yellow, somewhat like dense cake, but soft and not heavy or stodgy. It was also  soothingly fragrant and flavoured.

The Cornish cream came firm, as I like it, and in a reasonable volume, but cold and with a very mild taste that was only really accessible on its own.

The locally produced strawberry jam was all that was available. Be that as it may, it actually tasted strongly of strawberry rather than sugar, and wasn’t over-pectinated.

In conclusion, a single scone doesn’t comprise the base for the largest (nor even the norm) of Devon cream teas, but this was still a very pleasant session. It will cost you £8.00 to repeat.

You can follow Ditch’s blog about his anonymous, self-funded, ‘mid-range’ cream tea exploits via www.devoncreamteas.info and be kept up-to-date on Twitter @DevonCreamTease. He hopes to offer us occasional reviews about his ‘high-end’ cream tea peregrinations here at Eating Exeter, so keep a look out. (NB: The ones here are complimentary, but neither paid for, nor edited by the venue.)

© Text and pictures by Ditch Townsend (6 June 2015)


The HH Restaurant, Broadclyst

I like discovering the hidden gems.  There are always some culinary pockets of the unknown in any part of the world, and the latest discovery for me is The HH Restaurant in Broadclyst which, for me, is one of the most underrated fine dining restaurants in Devon.  That was a statement wasn’t it? But I hold to it happily.

Years ago back in my yoof, I used to attend Clyst Vale Community College and each day we’d drive past The Coachman’s Rest (as it was) as part of our bus route.  A strange and quirky tea-room, it never seemed to be open but had been on this spot for absolutely years.

When it was sold, I was intrigued to hear that it was going to be turned in to a restaurant, and since it opened I have heard from other foodies it is actually really good.  How good is it? It is Taste Of The West Gold standard, having won a gold award in 2013.  It has won or been short listed for a raft of other commendations as well such as:

Michelin recommended 2013 and 2015
Best Fine Dining Restaurant” Food & Drink 2013
Devon Life Best Restaurant Runner Up 2011

And a quick look at Trip Advisor shows the usual spread and variety of comments that any restaurant tends to get, but a strong consensus on the fact that this is, according to TA, a fantastic restaurant.

So I was quite excited to have been invited over to see what they do well, and after a lovely evening I really want to help this place gain the recognition that it deserves amongst foodies in Devon.

The day-to-day operation is headed up by Head Chef, James Nightingale who met us and had a quick chat with us before the meal.  Having started off at The HH Restaurant, he left to hone his skills at other fine dining restaurants before coming back as Head Chef a few years ago.  Since James returned he’s been skillfully and carefully creating seasonal menus using fine local produce from producers near and nearer.

The menu changes regularly, a nice touch is that they put a recommended wine with each dish.  It is a really good British menu with a nice variation with fish, pork and a vegetarian option all included.  Fancy something off the menu? Then given everything is from scratch, they are accommodating to all tastes and diets.

The HH Restaurant is also doing a Steak Night on a Wednesday night which is really staggering value! and a Sunday Lunch offer too.

We kicked our meal off with a complimentary Beetroot Velouté with Fresh Bread. A delicious and complex palette, the sweetness and the earthy tones balanced nicely and contrasted well with the fresh bread.

For starters I had the Ham Hock Terrine accompanied by a Pea Puree (not avocado Chris..), my able assistant going for the Mushroom Velouté which was scattered with tiny mushrooms and edible flowers.  The Ham Hock Terrine was full of lean cuts of ham and a wonderfully colourful puree was blended and presented wonderfully. As with these sorts of dishes, the presentation itself is an art form.  Tori’s Mushroom Velouté inspired many satisfied noises from the other side of the table.

For the mains I had to go for the Devon Day Boat Fish, which today was Bream with tomato & caper dressing.  I’m really becoming quite a fan of Bream, which for me is quite an achievement as I really am not a fan of seafood.  Given I don’t eat fish at home, its always a treat to come out and have it cooked expertly.

But Bream? I would happily choose this again, a lovely fish that wasn’t too fishy (those who are like me about fish will know the score) but had a good texture to it. It flaked like soft pillows, the potato puree underneath gave it a diverse palette that resulted in a gorgeous sauce with the juices mixed in by the end.

My able assistant went for the Pork Loin served with haricot beans, bacon, mushrooms & tender stem broccoli.  The meat was tender, the vegetables were beautifully steamed and the whole thing looked amazing.

Dessert is always, for me, one of the highlights of any meal. But go to a chain restaurant and you’re faced with a disappointing affair, often bland and overpriced so often I don’t even bother.  But this is fine dining, and there is no such thing as ‘pre-made’.

My dessert was a luscious Ginger Loaf served with butter scotch sauce and homemade vanilla seed ice cream.  It looks gorgeous in the photos, and it was as delicious as it looks.  The warmth of the loaf and the coldness of the homemade ice cream was sweet but not overly sweet, a well balanced dessert with a variation of temperature that really worked.

Tori went with the Homemade Rhubarb Crème Brulee, a brulee that kept its shape, crunchiness and texture beautifully on the plate.  This for me, really showed the technical skill that James Knightingale posesses as a chef, given this is one of the harder desserts to get right.  It wasn’t just right, it was pretty much perfect.

Fran, the waitress has to get a special mention as she was brilliant.  We had a good conversation with her, and she’s quite the artist too!

http://www.the-hh.co.uk/

Tel: 01392 461 472

Exeter Road,
Broadclyst,
Exeter,
Devon
EX5 3ET

Rob Dawe’s Pop-up Restaurant – July dates

Tuesday 7th July –Heart of Oak pub at Pinhoe, Exeter.
Please buy your drinks from the bar at this venue.

Monday 20th July – Rodean Restaurant in Kenton.
Please bring your own drinks to this venue.

Both events will start at 7.15pm with canapes, followed by a six course summer tasting menu. With coffee and petit fours to finish.

Tickets are £35 each, please text Rob on 07745438481 if you would like to book a table. Please inform him of any special dietary requirements when booking.

Cream Tea At The Magdalen Chapter – (4/5)

Guest blogger, Ditch Townsend, takes tea for two in Exeter

Tastefully renovated, decorated and furnished, we chose to sit in the light and comfortable lounge, but we could have used the darker, sparklier bar, the generously plush library, or a spacious patio. Music was soft, lilting, and predominantly instrumental, with some lounge jazz. But you just can’t escape the fact that the hotel is nesting in the armpit of one of Exeter’s more unpleasant main road junctions. Still, it’s a short walk up to the Roman wall and Cathedral, or down to the quayside.

We caught the scones freshly baked – one with raisins, one without. They were a moderate size, warm, sugar dusted and firm to touch and cut. But the crust wasn’t too thick or hard and was pleasingly biscuity and sweet. The centre was very light, soft, slightly yellowish, cakey, sweet and tasty. I couldn’t taste an underlying difference between the scones, and the raisins were few and far between: more for interest than flavour I guess.

The cream came from a Devon creamery in a good volume, was quite soft but lightly crusted, pale, and very mildly flavoured.

I’m not a lover of strawberry jam and it’s a pity when no pleasant choice is available (and I don’t mean plastic contingency breakfast blackcurrant or marmalade packets). Still, this one was quite manageable and not congealed with too much pectin.

Plenty of nicely mixed black leaf tea and extra hot water proved very refreshing and tasty, although I hadn’t come across the swivel-type tea strainer before (not posh enough ;) ?) and nearly got tea leaves and tannin up my sleeve.

Overall, this has been a really pleasing experience (4/5). It’ll cost you £7.50.

You can follow Ditch’s blog about his anonymous, self-funded, ‘mid-range’ cream tea exploits via www.devoncreamteas.info and be kept up-to-date on Twitter @DevonCreamTease. He hopes to offer us occasional reviews about his ‘high-end’ cream tea peregrinations here at Eating Exeter, so keep a look out. (NB: The ones here are complimentary, but neither paid for, nor edited by the venue.)

© Text and pictures by Ditch Townsend (6 June 2015)


The Red Deer, Crediton – (2/5)

Can I start this review by saying that I don’t have a vendetta against Marstons Inns.  I didn’t go in to the pub preparing to pick at the service or criticise the meal and the fact that they own The Waterloo Cross (where we had a disastrous meal last year) does not sway me in one direction or another.

But I went in, willing to give a Marston Inn another go…

The outside of the building is clad in that doctor’s surgery chic, a bland and apathetic attempt to make it less of an eyesore than it could be. But there isn’t even a hint that its trying to really look anything but aesthetically acceptable.  Its not overtly offensive, in some lights it might actually be quite nice.

Despite the modern ‘housing estate’ feel of the outside of the pub, the inside is decorated with wood cladding. It’s tasteful, with a strong theme of deer and antlers throughout the pub.  Had the pub been included in A Game Of Thrones, it would be the pub that Stannis Baratheon would nip out to for a quick pint in between burning pagans and marching on Winterfell.  And if you hadn’t noticed that the name of the pub was The Red Deer, there is a massive deer on the wall as you enter the pub.

As we seated ourselves, almost instantaneously a sour
faced waiter came over to see if we wanted any drinks. I’m not a fan of being asked even before we have sat down, as I have no idea what they have and I generally want to look at the menu first so we asked the waiter to come back as we didn’t know what we wanted to drink, to which he turned on his heels and stomped off impatiently.

This is, I have to say, was the general theme of the service.

Like a troupe of bad actors, moving around a large stage they stomped around quickly, delivering the food, running off, taking an order, replaying the same automatic phrases to diners.  With little passion and no soul. It wasn’t that they were in panic mode, it just seemed so…flat.

The waiter returned, he took our drinks order, made no eye contact, came back with our drinks, took our food order with no eye contact and that was it.

No pleasanteries, no passion, just the feeling that the relentless march of people who wanted their BOGOF meals was wearing him down.  One positive I had picked up was that Brakespear Oxford Gold was on draught, which was my tipple of choice for the meal.

The Red Deer proudly states on the outside that all main courses are buy-one-get-one-free.  This includes everything that comes to you as a main course.  If you want to go and eat on your own, you’re stuffed, because the prices don’t match the portions and definitely don’t match the quality.

We went for a 10oz Gammon Steak and a Chilli Beef Burger both of which were passable.  In fact the chips were really nice, freshly cooked and really crisp.  But it stated that it came with coleslaw.  A small (I estimate it to be about 4cm in diameter) plastic ramiken of catering discount coleslaw, I would hazard to say that it was a ‘sneeze’ worth and a measly portion of chips, all topped off with the most apathetic, ‘gourmet burger’ that I have had the pleasure (because it tasted quite nice despite the crap presentation and accouterments) of eating.

I realised that actually, had we paid £4.99 for the burger meal, it would have been an alright meal.  A small portion of chips, a large but sparsely decorated burger and a sneeze of coleslaw would have been passable.  But had we paid £10.60 for this I wouldn’t be so forgiving.

I find this method of marketing deceitful, and if you are going to promote a BOGOF offer, then at least give the diner the meal that you would have paid for.  And the meal I received was not even worth £4.99.  So on this level, it is hideously overpriced for what you get.

Would I go back, I expect so. But not if I was hungry.  Am I being mean? Only as mean as the portions served.

The flatness of the service, the food, the children running around semi-clothed (yes I know this is a family pub…) the limited range of Ales available from such a large brewery pub and the deceptive offer make me wonder what we are really going to get from The Pinhoe Hoard (the new planned Mega-Pub on Pinhoe Road) I want The PH to be so much better than this, and I really hope it is.

Eating Exeter Update – June 2015

At the beginning of the year I said to myself “I must try and do other things other than Eating Exeter…” and I can safely say that like most new year pledges, that has gone firmly out of the window.  June is shaping up to be a busy month on the blog, but it certainly is the most exciting one so far!  So much so I just had to post some photos of Devon Coffee for no apparent reason, but to say that they are opening a second shop in Heavitree :) and that makes me happy.

I’m excited to be working with one of my new favourite bloggers, Ditch Townsend, who writes Devon Cream Tease; an exploration in to Cream Teas that are served throughout Devon and possibly beyond.  Ditch is the subject of an Eating Exeter first, an interview which I am currently preparing and could very well be up as soon as tomorrow.

He has already been busy reviewing some Cream Teas for Eating Exeter, and over the next few weeks we’ll post them every so often.  I’d encourage everyone to go forth and have a look at Ditch’s blog!

We are also visiting the HH Restaurant in Broadclyst, Harry’s Restaurant in Longbrook Street and The Red Deer in Crediton, all of which will be reviewed and digested.

Along with reviews, I have started working with our in-house graphic and illustrator Tori Dee on a new Eating Exeter Guide to Eating in Exeter (catchy title huh?) which might or might not materialise at some point and be in for sale via the blog as an ebook/pdf file thing.

So lots to come, many things will appear which will hopefully be enjoyable to read and inspire you to eat out in Exeter and Devon.

Cheers,
Chris

10 Questions for Ditch Townsend: A Devon Cream Tease

Ditch Townsend

10 Questions is a new concept for this blog.  If you wish to be asked 10 Questions and you are a food lover, chef or producer, please contact me via the contact page.

Eating Exeter accepts contributions from seasoned bloggers, aspiring journalists; pretty much anyone who wants to have a go. Our newest contributor is Ditch Townsend who writes one of my favourite blogs ‘Devon Cream Teas’ which reviews and rates Cream Tea’s that are available in the Devon area, hence the title.

I first heard of Ditch’s blog through Twitter, but had heard of a ‘man writing a devon cream tea blog’ via a friend’s significant other who works in a cafe that was reviewed by Ditch.  The blog is intriguing and enjoyable to read, this fascinating insight in to the life of a cream tea blogger was certainly a bonus start to the beginning of a format that I’ve been wanting to start on Eating Exeter for a while now.

Over the next couple of weeks, Eating Exeter will be publishing some exclusive reviews of some of the high-end cream teas that are available.  But Ditch is adding new reviews regularly so I would urge you to head over to devoncreamteas.info and have a look at what he is up to.

1. Why Cream Teas?

Ever since I first tasted one in north Devon as a teenager, and was momentarily rendered speechless by its sensuousness, I’ve had a love affair with them. Growing up in southeast Asia, there was very little so rich except for coconut cream, and the ubiquitous condensed milk in tins. Much as I love Asian cuisine, it was wonderful to find something so different in the UK – I remember too my aunt saving the ‘top of the milk’ for my cereals when I made the occasional pilgrimage back to England as a child. Maybe its a Freudian thing? Either way, at this point in my life, I just need to re-wire my pleasure circuits, which have become in danger of burning out.

2. What did you do before you started this blog?

I’ve spent most of my adult life living and working in often remote and difficult places (for me) in Asia and Africa, generally with extremely marginalised people (e.g. drug users, and people affected by leprosy). Since returning to the UK with my family in 2009, I’ve worked in community development, most recently at the Hospice in Weston-super-Mare for a couple of years, trying to help families work out ways to strengthen and use informal networks of support. To be honest, I needed a break from all that, and am now on an extended ‘sabbatical’ – and who knows, maybe even a new career path…

3. Have you ever had High Tea at Claridges? Is there anywhere in particular you’d like to have a cream tea?

I’ve had the chance to take afternoon tea at Raffles Hotel in Singapore, and with the British Ambassador’s wife in Yangon (Rangoon), but neither had clotted cream… I’m not really into opulence however, but I am into self-help therapy: I did a summer as a student working as a volunteer in a clinic for undocumented people in Amsterdam’s red light district. I was continuously being shocked, and sought refuge in an English tea room in the basement of a book shop on odd afternoons off. There I could get Earl Grey tea, and a scone with cream (not clotted) and jam. I needed to reconnect myself to a gentler reality, and the taste sensations were usually a great help in rallying me. But for me, the best cream tea would be the one produced at the least expected moment, in the most unlikely place possible, at the time when it would be most therapeutic.

4. I really like your writing style, surely you’ve done this before?

I’m glad you like it. I’ve written before, for magazines, promotional stuff, personal blogs, and I really enjoy it. I’m nearly four months into writing a daily experimental Twitter Fiction feed called ‘Dissonant Dan’ at present. I tend to write observations better than stories, so I’m more suited to snap-shots like food reviews, than to narratives like novels.

5. Clotted Cream or Jam first?

That’s like beating a straw man isn’t it? The traditional Cornish way is to use butter first, then jam; a dollop of clotted cream is just a tasty extra. But I have a moustache and have to be pragmatic: to avoid cheesiness (see my rather gross explanation at http://devoncreamteas.info/curdling/), I prefer to turn my scone upside down. This is fine if thick cream is applied, like plaster, to the scone first, but is horribly dangerous if jam underneath provides a Teflon layer to prevent cream adhesion! Anyway, cream first tastes better ;)

6. Has there been any challenges you’ve faced whilst writing your blog?

Money! Apart from more expensive ‘high end’ boutique cream teas, which I’m not blogging about on my own site, I’m trying to pay for myself or get completely unvested sponsorship… anyone? b) Cream from the average cream tea will have 50% of my recommended daily fat allowance. I try to eat just one eighth of a scone with cream and one eighth without, at any given venue… unless it’s just too gorgeous and I give in. (This also means that I shiftily shuffle away from most places with half a scone crumbling in my pocket, because I don’t want chefs and waitresses to think that I hated it all so much, that I left most of it!) c) Pounding caffeine headaches if I drink 6 cups of tea in one afternoon whilst researching… d) I try not to comment on service – the Trip Advisor world seems to major on that and it tires me; anyway I suspect I’m as much of a difficult customer as anyone is a difficult member of staff: maybe they’re legitimately just reacting to me!? Anyway, a couple of times, I’ve had to mention some mishap which spoiled a cream tea, but felt so sorry for the person concerned, that I didn’t want to write anything… in the end, both times I have, but with lashings of sympathy offered in one case, and a re-review allowing for an upgrade a month later in another case. e) I hadn’t thought that a relaxing pastime would upset people quite so much sometimes. I know I wouldn’t like to be criticised, and some people mistake my wry comments for snide comments (I’m really not a sarcastic person), but… c’est la vie, it’s just my style. Anyway, I have redoubled my efforts to be constructive and where possible, focus on things that can be changed, without cringing from being authentic for my readers. Too much that is written nowadays is about selling rather than participating.

7. Is it scone as in cone, or scone as in gone?

Tricky. I was brought up to say scone like gone because it was more ‘proper’. But it was recently pointed out to me that it’s often an accent thing in the southwest, rather than a cultural thing. I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t call it a scone (like loan) when I’m in Devon.

8. Do you have any long-term goals for the blog?

I’d like to cover the whole of Devon; to keep it updated; to map seasonal closures; to track changes in cream and jam sources; to explore local cream and jam supplies; to understand the art of scone making; to understand tea; to understand some of the business issues; and to rid our cream tea landscape of its red-flavoured sugar-gunk cankers. Ultimately, I’d like to see that EVERY DEVON CREAM TEA SHOULD BE A GREAT CREAM TEA (and cream first).

9. Would you say that, like me, you’re a ‘tea-snob?’ Any favourite blends?

I don’t understand tea very well at all. But I love a pungeant, fresh Earl Grey (see http://devoncreamteas.info/tea/) – the best ones shouldn’t need lemon, because bergamot oil is a citrus oil already – hence why I have milk with mine so as to retain any unevaporated fragments of bergamot and not smother them with a different, stronger citrus. One tea I watched at all stages of production, as I went to primary school where it was grown, is the mostly unblended, and phenomenally fragrant (if a little bitter and grassy from my recollection) Cameronian Gold from the Boh tea estate in Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands.

10. Are there any particular food writers or bloggers who you admire or read regularly?

Can I say you? Not that it’s necessarily true (let’s pretend it is), but I’m new to this foodie world and haven’t yet been socialised to recognise its most mythical figures ;) You tell me..

Exeter Night Market @ The Quay – Not a definitive review

If you head down to the Exeter Guildhall on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday you’ll spot a cluster of street food stalls in the centre, surrounding the chapel.  This was the beginnings of Street Food Exeter, and with its popularity they opened a second event down at The Quay.  Called Exeter Night Market, it follows a similar thread with street food stalls but some live music too but happening less frequently.

Given the fact I’ve been such a fan of the Guildhall Street Food market I thought I’d give it a go and see what was making this event so popular.  In fact the Night Market must be popular as they’ve added an extra night too.  Full details can be found on their website www.streetfoodexeter.co.uk

The event itself is brilliant.  World food traders, local food traders and Otter Brewery were all represented under the transport shed on the Exeter Quayside. The sun shone, the Otter Amber flowed and we had a lovely evening generally.  Unfortunately, and this goes for anything that happens on the Quayside, there are cobbles and cobbles don’t generally bode well for people in wheelchairs.

Although we didn’t get to eat at this event (other reasons that I won’t go in to in this post), there are other events on the Exeter Street Food calendar to try, and its Friday today so I might head over to the Guildhall later and get my Hog Roast fill (they ran out last night)…

GUILDHALL SHOPPING CENTRE, EXETER – FRI(9-5) SAT(9-5) SUN (10-4)
NIGHT MARKET @THE QUAY – 1st THUR OF THE MONTH (5:30-9:30pm)
NIGHT MARKET @PIAZZA TERRACINA 3rd THUR OF THE MONTH (4:30-9:30pm)

Product Review: 28 Day Aged Rump Steak – GT Orsman, Shaldon

Please note the following blog post is not Vegetarian/Vegan friendly. May contain pictures of succulent meat that might offend some.

You’ll notice that my previous product review was Shaldon Bakery and their divine artisan bread. Sticking with the Shaldon theme, the next product review is going to be 28 Day Aged Rump Steak from Phil Beatty and his team at GT Orsman, the butchers who just happen to be right next door to Shaldon Bakery.  Phil has owned the business since 2000 and continues to run it with a small team of experienced butchers.

A small traditional west country butcher, this little shop sells some fantastic meat from west country sources including Venison products from Powderham.  This multi-award winning butcher has won a Taste Of The West Gold award two years running including Taste Of The West Butcher of The Year and a few other accolades.

As butchers go, this is a small village shop who provide really good meat for a good price.  They also sell pre-prepared meat ready to hit the BBQ.  Everything is clearly labeled with ingredients and prices clearly marked.  Available are a range of Deli items too including cheese from Quickes and other cheese makers and an extensive range of Hogs Bottom Delights chutneys and marinades.

As well as being recognised as Flavour Champions, this business if part of a cluster Shaldon businesses that really make this town a destination for those who love food.

A few months ago we had been to Darts Farm and bought Rump Steak, so we thought it’d be interesting to see how well we got on with some Rump Steak from Phil and his team.  We managed to get a larger piece of meat for a better price (but can’t remember the weight…??)

So how do you actually cook steak? And what is the best way to do it?

Well my question was answered by the butcher himself and was replicated here on BBC Good Food.  My able assistant is the better cook, and has produced some amazing steaks in the past, so naturally I handed it over.

The meat itself had a fantastic colour to it, the marbling and texture had me staring at it for at least 10 minutes. Hypnotised by meat. Sad really…

Letting the meat stand for a good while to get it down to room temperature is important. It shocks the meat a lot less and you find it doesn’t go tough as easily when you cook it.

Although the end result is down to the skill of the cook, the flavour of the meat and the end texture is very much down to the quality of the cut.  It melted softly on the palette and didn’t need too much seasoning either as it had a fantastic seasoning, the one thing both myself and my able assistant noted was how lean the cut was with very little fat.

If you are in Shaldon, pop in and say hello. Buy some of their BBQ meats, buy some of their deli cheeses.

http://www.shaldonbutcher.co.uk

Follow them on Twitter: @gtorsman