Eating Exeter Update – July

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers,
Chris

Beer, Burger and Beyond: No longer updated

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

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

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

Chef Rob Dawe – Still tickets left for 8th June Pop-up at The Salty Pigeon

There are still tickets available for Rob’s next Pop-up at the Salty Pigeon restaurant in Magdalen Road on Monday the 8th June.

Starting at 7.15pm with canapes and then a new summer six course tasting menu using the best of the local and seasonal produce.

It’s £35 a ticket and you may bring your own drinks to this venue. If you would like to book a table please text Rob on 07745438481.

HUBBOX wins The National Burger Awards with The Big Kahuna

This is a little out of date in terms of ‘latest news’ but via a new #burgerlove website that I have discovered called AbsoluteBurgers, I found out that HUBBOX Exeter won a national award back in February.

You can see how we found The HUBBOX in Exeter here.  Thanks to Kathryn Lewis for the images!

Did this just completely miss my meat radar? Or did I have my head in a book? I’m not quite sure.

Read the full story here via HUBBOX’s website

So a massive and belated congratulations to Alex Towill and the team for proving how awesome their burgers are, and adding an extra reason why Exeter has a fantastic casual dining scene.

Las Iguanas, Abbey Sands, Torquay

I am genuinely happy to report that Las Iguanas has landed in Torquay; you can read the review for the Exeter branch here. We were invited down to see the latest addition to the Las Iguanas family which is housed in the new Abbey Sands building that has appeared on the seafront. This new build is the resort’s latest move to gentrify itself, smarten up some of the crumbly bits and put it in line to being THE British resort to go to.

And this also includes introducing a 24 hour charging period on the car parking along the seafront which, to be honest, is absolutely insane.  Thanks Torbay Council *slow clap*, thanks.  After driving around in circles and realising that there is a helpful and handy car park right behind Las Iguanas that we had driven past three times, it didn’t seem that bad after all.

The modern exterior of Abbey Sands is reminiscent of a luxury resort, somewhere nice like Monte Carlo or possibly Barbados. Not being an expert on Coastal Resort Architecture of the early 21st century, whether Monte Carlo has a Costa Coffee is a mystery so don’t quote this article.

The restaurant sits at the end of the row of some smart eateries, its glass front exterior lets light flood in. It is crisp, colourfu and airy, allowing a panoramic view of Torbay.  You can see right over to Brixham on a clear day, and during the sunset the horizon is transformed in to a blaze of orange and reds as it hits the buildings across the bay.

Las Iguanas has redesigned its menu since I last visited.  New dishes have appeared (these are handily shown on the menu by the big letters that say ‘new’) which increases the esoteric nature of the selection of food and drinks.  They still have the Happy Hour cocktails, there are still things on the menu that I really liked in the Exeter Las Iguanas and I am happy to say that there are still a huge range of drinks too.

The restaurant was busy. It was a Friday night, there is a light samba soundtrack floating in amongst the laughter and jive of the Friday night revellers.  For some, this is just a meal out and then possibly a drink afterwards and for others this was the embarking point of an epic night of alcohol, frolics and partying.  That is the one thing that appeals to me about Las Iguanas, it can be many different things to different people. It is a party, it is also a lively meal out, it doesn’t fit a narrow stereotype.

We kicked our meal off with a couple of Corona’s, coming with a lime (needed and expected!) we decided to try the new Quesadilla starters.  Tortilla, filled, folded, pan-fried & served with tomato salsa.  You can go for garlicky mushroom, chilli, thyme & cheese or spicy chicken, peppers, onion & cheese both for £4.90.  I liked the idea of this as a starter, definitely could have done with more filling though, but then I have an appetite of a small buffalo.  My able assistant found them a perfect portion.

The main course wasn’t a hard choice for me being the massive burger fan that I am.  I went for the South American Dream, a new addition to their menu.  Lightly spiced beef patty in a toasted bun stacked with fresh herb chimichurri, slaw, sliced beef tomato, baby gem and a creamy tomato & gherkin sauce.  It was a good patty, very dense.  Interestingly I couldn’t tell whether this was a ‘handmade’ burger and I would question whether it was, but then this isn’t a burger bar, its Latin American restaurant and I’m not marking anyone down for this fact.

The chimichurri and the sauce worked together really nicely and yes…I had curly fries. And this leads me on to one thing I admire about Las Iguanas.  They make what could be a really exotic menu quite accessible to the British public, yes you can have curly fries with your flame grilled Latin American burger.  The Brazil and Beyond section has names that you would not find on a pub menu, but the Mexican menu has favourites like Nachos, Burritos, Tortillas, things which would not be out of place in the usual ‘British-ness’ of our collective national psyche.  The balance between the exotic and the familiar is one that could be either too much or too safe, and I think Las Iguanas has a good balance in that respect.

So lets talk dessert.  Again nothing too exotic for me, nothing beyond the Creamy Caramel Cake. I enjoyed it so much last time I was at a Las Iguanas it was perfectly accompanied by two coffees and further fantastic service from Jodie our waitress.

I genuinely like Las Iguanas a lot. This is ‘casual dining’ and it can be as expensive or cheap as you make it.  They have branches across the UK and there are more than likely going to be more in the future appearing, and its easy to see why they have a bit of a cult following too.  With the the happy hour cocktail offer and various other offers that they run, it is definitely Mexican/Latin American with a friendly and accessible twist.

Scroll down for photos of the meal and the new restaurant!

4 Abbey Sands
Abbey Crescent
Torbay Road
Torquay
TQ2 5FB

Tel: 01803 297 053
torquay@iguanas.co.uk

ORGANIC FARM LUNCHES OPEN FOR ALL AT TRILL FARM (AXMINSTER)

Trill Farm, the 300 acre organic farm and education centre in Axminster, is now hosting delicious weekly organic lunches for local residents and visiting guests, prepared in the Old Dairy Kitchen by Chef-in-residence, Chris Onions and his team.

Since the beginning of May these informal lunches take place every Wednesday at 1pm. Each meal is a seasonal celebration of the freshest produce from Trill’s wild larder and organic gardens.

ORGANIC FARM LUNCHES OPEN FOR ALL AT TRILL FARM

Lunches are communal affairs, eaten at large tables so guests have a chance to talk to the staff and volunteers and find out what life is like on this working farm.

After lunch optional informal tours are offered to discover a little more about the farm, the workshops and courses that are run by the Trill Trust, the education charity based on the farm. And of course there is the chance to see where the lunches come from by visiting the Trill vegetable and herb gardens.

Farm lunches are priced at £8 for adults, £4 for under 12s and free for under 4s. To book contact Chris Onions on 07478 733677 or email chris@trillfarm.co.uk

Product Review: Shaldon Bakery Artisan Bread

Shaldon Bakery (The Surfing Bakers) lies at the heart of the sleepy village/town of Shaldon. Shaldon is like the poor relative of Teignmouth, which it overlooks from across the Teign estuary.  But despite being much smaller than its big brother, it has a charm and quaint-ness all to itself that lends it a ‘St Ives’ like atmosphere.  Come summer, its tiny little streets are chocked full of tourists and day-trippers, all part of the rather unique bubble that lends itself to a sleepy part of Devon I thoroughly recommend visiting for any foody. The Guardian reported that Shaldon is ‘the place to go’ for those who loved food a few years ago.  Read the article here.

It so happens that some of the best bread in Devon is baked here (yes I did just declare that!) by Shaldon Bakery.  And it is here at the heart of Shaldon that the bakery is open six days a week selling bread and sandwiches made fresh on the premises.  But you can find them plying their trade at the various Devon farmer’s markets too, and it was last Saturday I bumped in to Ally at The Exmouth Spring Fun Day who stocked me up with a number of bits and pieces.

Opened in 2009 by Simon Hacking and Steve Morgan after a year of travelling around Australia, the bakery specialises in artisan bread using traditional methods and slate bed peel ovens, crafted with over 60 years of industry experience.  The success of the business has risen (pun intended) over recent years, supplying local businesses with sandwiches and bread.

Their recent creation, the Uglibun, has been quite a hit, even boasting its own Twitter account, they are normally the first things to sell out!  They also produce morning goods, tray goods and a range of ambient deli items are available from their shop as well, including ice cream during summer.

Bread is often something I have trouble with.  I am quite fussy about these sorts of things, and the sad fact of the matter is that there is a glut of cheap mass produced bread that is produced in miserable stainless steel factory cathedrals, shipped out en-masse, baked without passion or soul. So it is evident and obvious to get your teeth in to a loaf that tastes completely different from the Warburton’s and Hovis of this world.

Their Honey Granary loaf is a delightfully salty-sweet bread, soft as a pillow and went very nicely with peanut butter.  The texture was soft and went brilliantly with fresh butter.  It toasted evenly and did not instantly turn to charcoal which to me was an indicator of its moistness.  I have three other loaves in the freezer now and enough bread to keep me going for a while.  All of which won’t last long as it is consistently lovely bread.

The Shaldon Bakery,
16 Fore St
Shaldon
England

Tel: 01626 872401
Visit Website

Spring Launch Party: The Gatehouse Bar and Restaurant at The Southgate Hotel

The part of the invitation that led me to believe that I should have dressed in something other than a shirt and my combat trousers was ‘Drinks Reception’ and ‘Southgate Hotel’.  The part of my brain that led me to think that this would be appropriate should really be scooped out, as this was definitely an event for a suit & tie. Thankfully I wasn’t refused entry, and asked to leave quietly.

The organisers also managed to get the name of the blog wrong on our name tags, I only realised halfway through the evening.  So, for the duration of this post Eating Exeter is now ‘Exeter Eating’.

So what are they launching?

I had the honour of being invited to the Launch Party for The Gatehouse Bar and Restaurant on Thursday evening.

Mercure Hotels who own The Southgate Hotel have just refurbished the hotel, and most importantly they’ve refurbished the restaurant and bar.  Serving contemporary British cuisine including seafood, they are catering for a wide range of tastes.

The decor is inspired by Exeter’s history with The Exeter Book playing a key part in the inspiration of the design of the glass panelling and the carpet.  The comedy moment of the evening was learning that the carpet was ‘multi-lingual’ (spot the plebs in the corner chuckling to themselves at this fact).  But no less respect for the design and thought that went in to the interior.

Otter Brewery, Luscombe Drinks and Pebblebed Wines were represented, giving out free samples to party guests (Otter Bright is still my tipple of choice at the moment).

Was there food?

Absolutely; and if the samples were anything to go by, then we are going to be spoilt with having an amazing restaurant on our doorstep.

Personal favourites were the Creedy Carver Chicken Skewers with a BBQ sauce and the Jack’s Burgers sliders.  Also Saffron seasoned Chilli Shrimp was to die for and they even had oysters, but alas I am not the world’s biggest seafood fan so I veered away from them and the sushi.

And the macarons….oh those macarons…

The Gatehouse Bar & Restaurant is open for business now, its a definite opening highlight of the year for this blog and deserves a good go.

Product Review: Morrison’s ‘Signature’ Pork and Chorizo Burgers 4/5

From one end of the meat spectrum (Piper’s Farm Unsmoked Back Bacon) to the supermarket end. Like most foodies I don’t have the luxury of a food budget that stretches to being able to shop at Deli’s and Organic food shops constantly, and for the basic average ‘day-to-day’ stuff myself and my able assistant, who I am luckily enough to be married to, swap between Tesco’s and Morrisson’s for our weekly shop.

So whilst gliding around the aisles, not thinking for a minute I would find anything worth reviewing on ‘The Blog’ as it is lovingly known, I found these in the meat aisle and thought it would provide an excellent contrast to Piper’s Farm’s lovely bacon. For £2.00 we were able to pick up four large burgers.

This offer might not be forever, but the lure of cheap meat is enough for me to hang up my morals and indulge a little bit. No idea where the meat comes from, it says a British Farm so I am assuming that this might meant that its good quality but given the recent scandal over the tractor symbol and Tesco’s, I am not really convinced. I will hang up my Food-Snob hat and say for once I really really liked these despite the fact the meat isn’t overly ethical.

Given they were Pork, there was going to be less fat spillage, but they tasted nice.  The wonderful thing about chorizo is that it can be used to hide a multitude of taste sins, but it wasn’t bad at all. The value makes them a good option for budget meals, the meat itself doesn’t seem massively ethical given they don’t even list where it was reared, just ‘UK Pork’ is as much description as we’re given. Excellent burgers overall, hang up your ethics at the door though especially if you’re farm-to-plate sort of person as yes, its cheap meat.  But tasty.

We’re looking at 80% Pork, 5% Chorizo and a whole bunch of wheat based additives to stick the whole lot together, not great if you’re gluten intolerant or just anti-wheat.

Whistle Wines in Queen St. to become Fat Pig Tabac Bar

Its always a nice suprise when you get wind of change.  It appears that Whistle Wines is going to become the Tabac Bar, run by The Rusty Bike/Fat Pig/Pig & Pickle owner Hamish Lothian.

None of this is confirmed so I might be completely wrong but take a look for yourself and see the Facebook page.

There will be craft beers, they might be cheaper than the wines in there currently? But one thing is for sure, the beer with be crafted and locally brewed.

pig

Waffles at The Glorious Art House Cafe

You might remember a few months ago, I reviewed a new cafe that had opened in Fore Street. That cafe was called The Glorious Art House Cafe, a bohemian paradise that brought together fantastic coffee and art via their 2nd floor gallery which has regular exhibitions of local artist’s work.

They’ve had a tweak and a shuffle of their menu.  Printed on recycled material, I love their new menu which includes more substantial food (Thai Green Curry anyone?).  Recommended to me by a good friend of mine was a new addition as they’ve started doing WAFFLES. I LOVE WAFFLES…

We were impressed at the fact that, despite the menu, they are easily accommodating with their toppings.  I went for the Maple and Honeycombe Waffle, my able assistant who was allergic to bananas was able to have a Fruit Salad and Dark Chocolate sauce waffle which wasn’t on the menu.

For £5.75 you get a freshly cooked Belgian waffle with a choice of toppings and a free hot drink.  All served on their Anthropologie crockery, which is always adds a touch of colour to any cuppa.

The Glorious Art House Cafe continues it’s journey as a bohemian coffee sanctuary in a city full of clones and wannabes (with notable exclusions, you know who you are…).  If I gave awards for cafes, this colourful establishment would have won an award or two by now.

120 Fore Street,
Exeter
EX4 3JQ

01392 490060

http://www.theglorious.co.uk/