We have often said that we’re both incredibly impatient people. There are things we know are going to happen, things we know we will end up buying or doing, and we ashamedly haven’t the will to wait; we want everything right away. Food and drink often lands into the same pitfall.
This impatience is a reason why we can only occasionally make ourselves endure the wait to relish the pay-off of the…
The Counter Cafe in #hackneywick - an Olympic brunch: http://bit.ly/1bZIzo5
A couple of months ago we ventured to Exeter to attend The Big Cake Show. The show was great, and what we found in Exeter was beyond expectation – fantastic architecture, an easy to navigate and clean city centre, as well as some top notch food and drink; we sniff that out wherever we go, naturally. Though it was a bit of a whirlwind three days, it was such a worthwhile journey and we cannot wait to return. Here’s our pick of the places we visited on a really quick trip, as well as some we spotted for the next trip we take.
We are two café fanatics, and we adore finding great coffee and a comfy corner to while away an hour or two in whatever city, town or country we’re in! We think we found a pretty much spot-on place in the surroundings of Artigiano.
Artigiano had impeccable customer service, and that’s what really stuck with us after visiting. We were acknowledged by virtually every staff member, whether that be by greeting, interacting with us or bidding us farewell, and the coffee was nothing to complain about either; nice to see a piccolo on the menu for sure!
We loved the fact it’s both a coffee shop/café and a bar in one, not to mention that there’s an array of food served too. Scanning the room during our afternoon visit, it was clear to see the locals do embrace every facet and function of the business.
We adored the colour scheme of the Exeter High Street branch – warm tan, light brown, whites and blacks, with splashes of blues, purples and yellows. The selection of seating is also worth noting, providing the correct seating for many a situation – cosy nooks with armchairs, large shared workbenches for singles, spacious tables for groups of four and some counter seating too.
We’ve also gone to a London branch of Artigiano, which was as good as Ex, but we prefer this branch on Exeter High Street – just a truly beautiful place to spend an afternoon, or even better – a place to meet for a coffee that may just then turn in to a drink or two if the moment grabs you!
The hotel we stayed in was the Mercure Southgate Hotel, which we cannot recommend enough. The attention to detail at the hotel is top notch, and the customer service is second to none.
We had great assistance from the reception staff, and had also unfortunately been nearby when an irate customer was disputing all manner of charges to their room in a very tacky fashion; the reception staff treated both extremes of interactions with confidence, ease and friendliness, they are a credit to the management. Check out their website for all the info about the hotel if you’re considering a trip to the South West.
Patrick: We had dinner in the restaurant of the hotel on our first night, and breakfast on both mornings. The buffet breakfast had an enormous selection, as well as a menu to order from to your tastes too. For dinner, I had the two specials on the day – the cauliflower and blue cheese soup, followed by the local gurnard, pan-fried and crispy-skinned, on a bed of pearl barley with a rich, but not heavy, butter and tomato sauce.
Russell chose the paté to start, followed by a steak and ale pie with mustard mash, and covered in thick and glossy gravy with roasted seasonal vegetables. The whole meal was dreamy, and the starters in particular were a delight; The little touches with the presentation gave an unexpected and appreciated special touch. Go and see for yourself if you’re in the area.
We’ve written about The Big Cake Show in our previous post on Exeter, but here’s a couple of more pictures from the weekend that we didn’t get the chance to share. We got to see Edd Kimber, Stacie Stewart, John Whaite, Mich Turner and Paul Hollywood strut their stuff on the stage and hand recipes, kitchen tips and culinary info to the thousands of food lovers who turned out to hear them speak.
Baker and Maker had, without shadow of a doubt, the most jam-packed and busy stall of the show. Not only are the kitchen e-tailer’s products fantastic, unique and really eye-catching, but their position towards the entrance doors of the centre meant that there was a constant crowd, at least four rows deep, at all times, and only one poor assistant to serve everyone!
We also loved the gorgeous porcelain tea cake stand stall, and our lovely friends at Daisy Bakes. Kate Allnutt and her husband John have some of the most delicious bakes that we’ve tasted at any of these kind of expos or exhibitions and they run a cute and homely bakery and café in Torquay.
Now, we need to talk about HubBox….
HubBox is right in the heart of Exeter, and we had been excitedly thinking about this place before and throughout our trip, and were delighted to get a table on the Saturday night to chow down. We first heard about it on the Eating Exeter blog. It’s ultra casual, quite a bit hipster, but there is serious substance underneath. Excuse the ultra dark pictures, lighting is not in abundance at this joint!
We were ravenous, or ‘ravishing’ as Kath & Kim so eloquently misspeak, after a day traipsing around Exeter like two cake-mad gypsies and had a little bit of a wait before getting a nice big spacious booth towards the front of the restaurant. We had to be fair, so one of us had a burger (the Hot Chick) and the other chose a hotdog (the Double Double). We shared a side of apple slaw and a meal-on-its-own-sized side of chilli cheese fries.
The Hot Chick burger was crispy yet moist and the Double Double packed a swift wack of pork, topped with some sharp sauerkraut, and was obviously crowned and dripped in mustard and ketchup, as is customary with any hot dog-eating situation.
The choice and diversity in the burgers is a great feature of HB and the taste was as fresh and enticing as the menu sounds. Paired with some nice craft beers or soft drinks (they even have root beer!), you can’t really go wrong here. We especially like the fact that on their menu they blatently outlaw taking to TripAdvisor to advise of a negative experience. See if you can spot it, while lapping up the drool, here.
The set-up and the layout would not be out of place for a second in the thriving and competitive London scene, and HubBox reminds us a little of Wishbone in Brixton, which we reviewed here. The guys behind HB have just two locations so far (the other being in Truro) but if done correctly and continuously, this could branch out all across the country.
All in all, HubBox is a restaurant that really speaks to us, it’s a very ‘us’ type restaurant from the laid-back atmosphere to the slap-up grub on the menu and to the overall casual and creative experience. The queuing system can be a bit hap-haphazard it seems (if it’s busy) but the staff are extra friendly and give exceptionally fast and efficient service.
We’re only raging that we’ve only gotten to try it once, as we usually visit any restaurant we review two to three times, so this is just on strictly first appearances, but boy was it handsome! Our meal cost £28 in total.
‘Cause our trip was so short and so booked up, we barely got a chance to breath, but we did have a nice little roast and an elderflower-flavoured cider (?!) in Tea on the Green for about £25. It’s in a lovely location just at the cathedral and has some pretty seating outside. This little spot came highly recommended to us and the cream tea choices looked amazing, we can’t wait to try that next time we’re down!
We also spotted Tyepyedong (just up the street from HubBox) for authentic and fast Japanese food. It’s a tiny location but apparently cannot be beaten for value and top notch food. We also passed by Lloyd’s Kitchen and kicked ourselves that we couldn’t drop in and stay for brunch or lunch. The breakfast/brunch options sound amazing and the interior is so well decorated with a soft, pastel palette and light vintage touches.
We also spied an amazing bakery/café beside Exeter Central Station that we wanted to try, but it was closed on weekends which absolutely shocked us and unfortunately meant we didn’t get to try it out. The Exploding Bakery is at the top of our list for the next trip, especially since they serve Monmouth Coffee – our favourite! Mama Stones was also suggested to us as a great place for a drink, dance and live music.
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Get to Exeter by train, bus, car or plane. We journeyed by train from Waterloo, which took about 3.5 hours. Exeter St. David‘s is the final stop of the train from London, but is somewhat beyond the city (and requires a walk up and down a hill to get back to town) so we would suggest getting off at Exeter Central if staying in the City itself.A Quick Trip To… #Exeter Ft. @hubboxexeter @artigianoexeter @southgatehotel @teaonthegreen @thebigcakeshow A couple of months ago we ventured to Exeter to attend The Big Cake Show. The show was great, and what we found in Exeter was beyond expectation - fantastic architecture, an easy to navigate and clean city centre, as well as some top notch food and drink; we sniff that out wherever we go, naturally.