Exeter is an historic Cathedral and University City. It is also the County town of Devon and is business, legal, retail, tourist and commercial centre for the region. The city has a population of around 111,000 but serves a 45 minute catchment of nearly half a million people. Exeter has a rich and varied heritage of buildings and townscape. It has grown from Roman origins and displays the benefits from long prosperity, particularly during the 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries. Despite the destruction of a quarter of the city during the Second World War, there remains much which is worthy of preservation and enhancement. Within the city there are 15 conservation areas of which the Central and Riverside areas are pre-eminent. There are over 1600 listed buildings and many more which are locally important. Exeter's historic core has been designated as an Area of Archaeological Importance.
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Michael Caines Restaurant at Cathedral Yard. Tel. 01392 223638
For exquisite food you’d have to go a long way to beat Michael Caines Restaurant at ABode Exeter. Beautifully prepared dishes using the very finest seasonal and local produce are what to expect, and it rarely disappoints. This is celebratory dining in style, but it doesn’t have to break the bank – the lunchtime special offers great value for money. The rest of the hotel is rather gorgeous too – from the sexy champagne and cocktail bar to the newly
The Well House Tavern, 16-17 Cathedral Close. Tel. 01392 223611
You might call this a ‘quality boozer’. It’s a proper pub alright, but with the added extra of Michael Caines’ food. Not that you’ll get foie gras and the like – Michael's created a menu that makes a fine accompaniment to the real ales and spirits on offer. Go for a pint of prawns, roast Red Devon beef sarnies, the deliciously retro chicken chasseur with local Ark Chicken or homemade pies. There are some changes afoot to accompany the smoking ban, including limited table service starting in the summer.
The Thai Orchid Restaurant Cathedral Yard. Tel. 01392 214215
For classic Thai food in a fine setting you can’t go wrong with the well loved Thai Orchid restaurant, which features a wide menu and a range of well-chosen set menus for two or more, taking the agony out of the choice. However, if you’re in the mood for something a little more funked up, head upstairs to Momospice, the contemporary sister restaurant which gives the Thai Orchid chefs the chance to show off their creativity. You’ll find a Thai chargrill menu, platters to share and dips such as the Momolicious honey orange dip. Yum.
Juice Moose, 1B Station Buildings, Queen Street. Tel. 01392 424645
Our favourite juice bar keeps the quality up year on year with a creative list of energising, cleansing, and soul satisfying fresh juices and smoothies. Even if you’re not a juice moose, you won’t want to miss the cakes, pastries, sarnies and coffee. Situated just outside Exeter Central it’s perfect for a breakfast or end-of-day pick-me-up.
Wagamama, Princesshay, 16 Bedford Street. Tel. 01392 274810
Wagamama continues its world domination with a restaurant in Exeter – as well as Dubai, Antwerp, Sydney, and a zillion others in the UK and beyond. That’s not to knock this Asian fusion eatery though, because for noodle slurpers and miso lovers everywhere it offers fresh, zingy, healthy food and efficient service. From dishes such as the creamy coconut chicken etame which practically sings with bright corinder and lime flavours to the huge soothing bowls of clear ramen soup with noodles, veg and grilled meats, there’s something for everyone. Even the kids are catered for with mini spiced-down dishes and chopsticks for little hands.
The Conservatory, 18 North Street. Tel. 01392 273858
This intimate restaurant has the feel of a friendly neighbourhood eaterie but one with exceptionally good food. It’s regularly frequented by the local food industry professionals and it’s easy to understand why. Chef Tony Gudgin turns high quality local produce into a remarkably wide range of delicious dishes. Great care goes into the preparation of the food, such as the home smoking of chicken and duck. Very seasonal, very local and with an excellently priced lunch menu of £11.95 for two courses it's too good to miss. A relaxed hideaway for lunch or romantic spot for dining a deux.
Hansons Coffee House Cathedral Close. Tel. 01392 276913
A favourite for morning coffees and afternoon teas, Hansons is also a restaurant, offering lots of traditionally English fare, such as cottage pie and homemade raspberry trifle, with great views from the upstairs dining room over Cathedral Yard. Alternatively, make the most of the sunshine and enjoy a seat outside. Visit for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
Herbies, 15 North Street. Tel. 01392 258473
This cosy, boho veggie restaurant offers herbivores food and drink from all over the globe. You’ll find a Moroccan tagine, Mexican nachos, Greek vegetable pie, Caribbean black pea and coconut 'rundown', Indian dahl and chapatti to name a few dishes. For for something a little closer to home, order the Pebblebed rosé or Heron Valley organic Devon cider to accompany.
Michael Caines Café Bar, Martins Lane. Tel. 01392 310130
The Caines empire is further expanded by the relaxed café bar which sits adjacent to the ground floor of Abode at the Royal Clarence Hotel. It’s young, relaxed and vibey with a wide menu including mixed grills, locally produced venison and beef burgers, and fajitas to share. There’s also a new cocktail menu and champers by the glass to help lunch go with a swing. A fine place to meet after work, and there’s live music every Friday night and a DJ on Saturdays.
No. 21 Restaurant, 21A Cathedral Yard. Tel. 01392 210303
Well known local chef Andrew Shortman’s restaurant is situated on the site of the old Carved Angel Café. It’s found a loyal customer base of foodies looking for top quality dining in the city centre. Andrew uses the best West Country produce including local fish and meats and drinks from the range at Luscombe. Check out the summer evening menu this season, which you can enjoy on the new alfresco seating with those fabulous views of the cathedral. For dinner on a budget there’s also an early evening menu which runs from Tuesday to Friday 6pm-8pm. Two courses are £15.50 and three course £19.95.
The Plant Café Deli, 1 Cathedral Yard. Tel. 01392 428144
This gorgeous deli café is a home from home for Exeter’s coffee heads and good food lovers. Drop in for breakfast of Persian baked eggs or pastries and muesli before noon, then move onto lunch from the deli counter. Stuffed full of fresh salads, beany pies and bakes, everything is 100 per cent veggie. The café also sells loads of other goodies from chocolate to local Midfields Granola and Tea’s Me teas. Kids do well here too – there are even organic fruit purees for tinies. Book for dinner on Friday nights and take your own wine.
Tyepyedong Noodle Bar, 175 Sidwell Street. Tel. 01392 251888
Exeter foodies are spoilt with two good noodle bars in the city; Wagamamas with it’s glossy, international feel and the small and friendly Tyepyedong. Diners sit cheek by cheek on canteen style tables to wolf down steaming bowls of noodle soup, stir fried udon and yakisoba noodles, seafood tempura and luscious edamame squeezed from the pod. This is fast and freshly cooked oriental fusion food.
The Hourglass Inn, 21 Melbourne Street. Tel. 01392 258722
When you're searching for a decent dining option, sometimes you just want a cosy pub with a laid back atmosphere and great food. Look no further. Just off the beaten track of Topsham Road, The Hourglass Inn is a 'lived-in' pub with a hotch potch of interesting ephemera carefully scattered about. Try steak and homemade chips or a peppery saffron risotto with ricotta and chervil with one of the 100 wines on offer, or an Otter bitter in the bar or the back dining room. The excellent cellar restaurant downstairs is open on Friday and Saturday nights.
Strada, Princesshay Square, Bedford Street. Tel. 01392 432727
Another new Princesshay offering is Italian chain Strada. Included for its simple, quality dishes, you can feast on linguine alla pescatora and salmone con lenticchie.
Alias Hotel Barcelona, Magdalen Street. Tel. 01392 281000
One of the hippest hotels in the South West, Hotel Barcelona gets it right. It’s got great food in a relaxed setting, a very funky cocktail bar, über stylish rooms and friendly staff. With all this plus retro furnishings, classic film posters and live music and events, you’ll never want to go home. Visit this summer for live jazz in Cafe Paradiso on Sunday lunchtimes and Tapas on the Terrace on July 28 and August 25.
St Olaves Hotel Mary Archers Street. Tel. 01392 217736
With 15 ensuite bedrooms, St Olaves is an attractive Grade II listed Georgian mansion originally built in 1827 by the merchant James Goldsworthy. It's a small, boutique hotel with a beautiful spiral staircase and a great eaterie in the form of The (2 AA rosetted) Treasury, named to mark the fact that Charles II's coins were minted close by.
Queens Court Hotel, Bystock Terrace. Tel. 01392 272709
A Georgian town house hotel, Queens Court is set in a quiet leafy square, yet near the town centre. There are 18 comfortable rooms and a great dining option in the form of The Olive Tree - a restaurant and bar that serves the likes of rilette of pork with homemade quince jelly, and grilled fillet of red mullet on potato and parsnip mash.
Exeter Farmers' Market, South Street/Fore Street. Tel. 01392 665480
Exeter farmers' market is a successful congregation of fabulous local producers selling their wares, right in the centre of town. On Thursday mornings, you can't miss it, and you wouldn't want to either, as Combe Estate red Devon beef, Flying Fish Feasts, Linscombe Farm organic veg and Moorlands Farm Shop pork and organic meats are all regulars.
Gibson's Plaice, 38 Magdalen Road. Tel. 01392 495344
Another find in the foodie quarter that is Magdalen Road, is Gibson's Plaice - a quality fishmonger complete with the obligatory pun. Rick Beynon says he's unique in Exeter in that he personally buys all his seafish every morning from Brixham. "I tend to buy off the small day boats - the local trawlers," says Rick. "I don't know what'll be available until I get there." Visit this summer for mackerel, seabass, sardines, squid, scallops, monkfish, and Rick's recommendations: wild salmon, red mullet, john dory, crab and lobster. Call for details of the daily catch and pop down to Magdalen Road to pick up your order - there's free parking - or, if you live in Exeter or one of the surrounding villages, get it delivered to your door free of charge.
Bon Gout Delicatessen, 45 Magdalen Road. Tel. 01392 435521
Nicola and Tristan Clements have great taste. Take a trip to their Bon Gout Delicatessen (early if you can, to make the most of freshly baked tarts, pastries and breads) for your next foodie fix and you'll find every possible space crammed with local produce and international finds. Hampers, online shopping and special occasions are catered for too. Top tip: try one of their strawberry tarts, pictured above - the best we've tasted.
Winedrop, 3 Alphin Centre. Tel. 01392 203019
Winedrop is a friendly and prompt online wine merchant based in Exeter offering suggestions for food and wine matches, country of origin listings as well as a 'search' box option, so you can find exactly what you're after. You'll also find a list of wines under 'region' and 'grape variety' too. Delivery can be arranged for all over the UK.
Coming soon, the Devon and Cornwall Accommodation Directory......
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