Cathedral Yard, Exeter (2006)
Exeter Cathedral is one of Britain's most treasured medieval cathedrals and is the city's most prominent landmark. Evidence exists of a place of worship on the site from as early as the 5th century but the present Cathedral was built and extended over a period from 1114 until 1375. The magnificently decorated Gothic style gives the cathedral a distinctive appearance, and despite attempts by the Luftwaffe to destroy it in 1942, Exeter Cathedral is still one of the city's most popular tourist attractions. The lovely green is a magnet for students to sun themselves and tourists to picnic lunch. There are a wealth of food and drink options too and here are six.
Michael Caines at Abode - Internationally styled fine dining
Michael Caines MBE has been an Ambassador for Westcountry food for many years and has developed a strong business empire. But he has never lost sight of his roots or the importance of remaining hands-on. He recently bought the Royal Clarence Hotel and through his partnership with Hotelier Andrew Brownsword has developed the successful Abode brand of boutique hotels. Here the hotel's refurbishment is now complete and it is the swankiest place in town. The fine dining restaurant within the hotel -- Michael Caines at Abode -- offers an affordable glimpse of the food being turned out at Gidleigh Park where Michael still cooks. Head Chef Simon Dow mirrors Michael's cooking ethos and has taken the menu to great heights. Lunch at £12.50 for two courses is fabulous value but its dinner that really turns it on. The a la carte menu is as good as it gets, with stunning presentation and a wine list that impresses.
Well House - Tradition meets modernity
The Well House Tavern in Exeter is part of the Michael Caines group. It's one of the best places in town to go for real ale and the food offering doesn't look much different from any other modern pub, but the quality of the ingredients are the same as used in his other restaurants and that's the difference. Some of the customers might not know what a treat they are getting -- the finest Arc chickens, the very best Devon Ruby Red beef. It's definitely a place to check out. Not a gastro pub but more of a reworked traditional ale house, no pretension but high quality renditions of pub classics such as beef braised in ale, fish and chips, traditional pies, excellent local cheeses and meat platters, all locally sourced, of course. Beer festivals and brewery trips are regular events.
Thai Orchid - A well-established Thai
A million miles away from the basic Thai cafes that you normally find, this is more formal and beautifully decorated with the building part of a row of 700-year-old grade II listed town houses. It has been providing impeccable Thai dishes for a growing, loyal client base of businesspeople and local professionals. There is a richly decorated private dining room accessed through a wonderful stained glass door, with views of the Cathedral. Upstairs they have recently opened 'Momo Spice', a grill and Suki Yaki (one pot cooking, usually at table) bar.
Al Farid - Taste of North Africa
An authentic, Moroccan restaurant and Meze Bar. Downstairs is where you go to meet, have a smoke on the Hubble-Bubble, relax into low sofas and cushions, and have a pre dinner drink or Meze. The Café menu features salads, wraps, meat, flatbread and dips, a selection of 8 items for two to share and a Tagine of the Day. There is a choice of some 15 teas and Moroccan coffee. The room is crammed with Moroccan artefacts and fabrics, colourful and warm, which creates a relaxed and romantic candlelit atmosphere. The décor includes intricately carved North African furniture, brass ornaments, rugs and other decorations. Upstairs is an intimate 25-seater dining room offering more substantial and traditional Moroccan food from a Moroccan chef. Starters such as Pastilla (Chicken filo parcel with almonds and dried fruit) and mains like Stone-baked sea bass complement the mixed grills and tagines.
Urban Café Bar - Cool hang out with good food
Annexed to the Urban Surfer shop, this small but perfectly formed café bar offers great coffee, the best hot chocolate in town and pastries, through to a 'Small & Large Plates' menu that features home made burgers, Thai Crab Cakes and Rib Eye Steak and chips. This place has a large al fresco area overlooking the green which is very popular with students and shoppers, inside there are some breakfast bar style tables with stools and a well stocked bar with all the best premium spirits. In the evening there is a proper mixologist at hand to create a full list of cocktails all at £5; the house wines are an incredible £7 per bottle. Good music is played and there is an open mic night every Monday. The space is free to hire for parties.
No 21 Cathedral Yard - Gourmet all rounder
Top local chef Andrew Shortman has bought the Carved Angel and reworked the interior to create a relaxed and informal café by day and soft and atmospheric fine dining restaurant by night. Set over two floors the ground floor restaurant overlooks the Gothic Cathedral. The inside features chunky wooden furniture, soft earthy tones of chocolate and cream and bold art. Open all day for breakfasts, coffees and pastries, at lunch there are salads, baguettes supplemented by specials such as proper sausage and mash and home-made burgers. In the evening more complex dishes are on offer from menus that feature local and seasonal produce, top quality meats and fresh fish creating exciting dishes with an international flavour.
The closest is the Guild Hall multi storey above M&S on the High St (access on Paul St)
All the majors have an ATM on High Street
Small rank outside Royal Clarence Hotel. Ranks on South Street and North Street
On High Street and in the Guild Hall car park
The Ship Inn -- good atmosphere, all wooden with maritime memorabilia and large upstairs dining area
Firestone has opened on the site of Brazz on Palace Gate, a very impressive place to meet up after work for drinks
Abode @ Royal Clarence or the Southgate Hotel at the other end of the green.
Try the visiting section of the Exeter City Council website.
Places to Visit:
The Mint: This former refectory of the Benedictine priory of St. Nicholas has now been lovingly restored to reveal a fascinating and varied past. This attraction can only be visited as part of the Red Coat Guided Tours. Tours depart from outside The Royal Clarence Hotel every Wednesday and Friday at 2pm between April and October.
More Cornwall and Devon Neighbourhood Watch Areas Braunton (2006) | Brixham (2006) | Bude (2006) | Cathedral Yard, Exeter (2006) - Chapel Street, Penzance (2006) | Dartmouth (2006) | Gandy Street, Exeter (2006) | Honiton (2006) | Kingsbridge (2006) | Launceston (2006) | Liskeard (2006) | Looe (2006) | Lostwithiel (2006) | Mevagissey (2006) | Perranporth (2006) | Princesshay Centre, Exeter (2006) | Shaldon (2006) | Southside Street, Plymouth (2006) | St Ives (2006) | St Mawes (2006) | Topsham (2006) | Woolacombe (2006)