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Must-Visit Pubs in Exeter: the Taste of South West England

Must-Visit Pubs in Exeter: the Taste of South West England

by Sergio Santino a month ago
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Table of contents

  • 1. The Galley
  • 2. Dinosaur Cafe
  • 3. The Conservatory
  • 4. Rendezvous Wine Bar
  • 5. The Beer Engine
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The small city of Exeter and its surroundings are among the most vibrant and historically rich places in England. It has a 2,000-year history – which speaks volumes – you can explore at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum or by walking around the town and admiring the magnificent Cathedral, pleasant Quayside, or one-of-a-kind Underground Passages.

Cobbled streets, historical sights, and the freshness of a river town – all this attracts people from different parts of the country and world. For those who come to Exeter not only for the romance but for the diverse mix of eateries, there are a few catches like Devon’s oldest working brew pub, idyllic waterside restaurants, and boutique cafes that reimagine British cuisine.

1. The Galley
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The Galley Restaurant
#2 of 640 restaurants in Exeter, United Kingdom
41 Fore St, Exeter, England, United Kingdom
ClosedOpens at 12PM
Cod
Cod

Cod is a very popular fish, the most common species of which are the Atlantic, Pacific, and Greenland cod. The fish has a mild flavor and can be cooked in many ways.

In lovely Topsham, a town and historic estuary port in Devon in the district of Exeter, there is an award-winning fish and seafood restaurant called The Galley. Opened in 2010, the restaurant has built a loyal clientele both locally and nationally by developing a reputation and first-class service.

The strong maritime flavor of Topsham is reflected in The Galley’s menu, to which the management introduces daily changes, depending on local produce and seasons. Focused on sustainable and fresh products, the select menu goes with a curated wine list with recommendations for each course. The ingredients in the kitchen come mainly from small Devon suppliers, as the restaurant cares about minimizing its carbon footprint, as well as aims to show the diversity of the county’s produce.

Wandering the streets of Topsham and enjoying the sights of the town built up with tiny Dutch-style merchant houses, take Fore St. to spot The Galley for mouthwatering seafood like a chalk stream trout served with beetroot, lime, and candied peanut, or salted cod with baby leek, caper, and a caviar butter sauce.

2. Dinosaur Cafe
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Dinosaur Cafe
#3 of 538 cafes in Exeter, United Kingdom
5 New N Rd, Exeter, England, United Kingdom
May be closed
Baklava
Baklava

Baklava is a star of a rich sweet pastry. Delicate pieces of the dough and nuts are filled with honey. The baklava is very nutritious. The dessert first appeared in the Ottoman Empire and was presented to the elite infantry units every 15th of the month of Ramadan.

Dinosaur Cafe is located within walking distance of Northernhay Gardens, which site, in Roman times, served as a quarry for stone from which the city walls were built. The cafe specializes in serving Turkish and Mediterranean dishes and is valued for its friendly atmosphere and cheerful staff. Turkish cuisine is well-known for its variety of kebabs, mezes, and dough-based desserts.

After all the walking among colorful trees and Victorian and medieval gothic buildings in Exeter, you will probably want to sit down for a nice tea and traditional Turkish dessert, baklava. Considered a luxurious treat in Turkey, in the 19th century, baklava is homemade layers of pastry and grounded pistachio nuts, soaked in traditional sweet syrup, which is very tasty and filling.

Other than that, Dinosaur Cafe can please you with a variety of main dishes, including karniyarik consisting of eggplant stuffed with a mix of sautéed vegetables such as chopped onions, garlic, black pepper, tomatoes, green pepper, parsley, and ground meat, and kofte, which is ground meat mixed with crumbled bread, minced onions and spices, shaped into little cylinders and cooked.

3. The Conservatory
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The Conservatory
#7 of 640 restaurants in Exeter, United Kingdom
18 North St, Exeter, England, United Kingdom
ClosedOpens at 12PM
Venison
Venison

Originating from the Latin verb venari, meaning “to hunt,” the term was originally applied to different game meats including deer, rabbits, goats and pigs, but in recent centuries has narrowed down almost exclusively to deer. In terms of taste and texture, venison is quite similar to beef, but with some subtle differences: while beef is generally fattier and more succulent, venison has a richer, earthier taste because of the deer’s wilder diet of acorns, sage and herbs. Like beef, venison can be categorised into several cuts and categories, including roast, sirloin, tenderloin and ribs. It can also be ground or cured to make venison sausages, burgers and jerky.

20 years ago, The Conservatory received its first visitors and has since become one of Exeter's most well-known and popular restaurants. Located in the very heart of the town – just a few minutes on foot from Guildhall and Exeter Cathedral – The Conservatory offers its guests a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, emphasized by creamy wooden furniture, white silk cloth, and soft lighting. Remarkably, the dining room features an original Tudor Wall located in situ.

The Conservatory serves British cuisine, mixing classic cooking styles with modern techniques and adding elements that make the dishes more luxurious. Chef proprietor Mike Barry brings the best produce the West County has to offer to the table in a signature style. The restaurant has lunch and evening menus, from which you can choose a set of two or three courses, as well as wine, local beers, ciders, or spirits, if not soft drinks and coffee.

Do try a classic British meal reimagined like a pan-fried fillet of cod served with warm tartare sauce, crushed new potatoes, and beer batter scraps, or a bacon-wrapped venison fillet with Dauphinoise potato and butternut squash. To finish, the menu offers a Dead Man’s Fingers raspberry rum liqueur, smooth and velvety with aromas of fresh raspberries, served simply over ice.

4. Rendezvous Wine Bar 
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Rendezvous Wine Bar
#5 of 423 pubs & bars in Exeter, United Kingdom
38-40 Southernhay E, Exeter, England, United Kingdom
ClosedOpens at 12PM
Crabs
Crabs

It is a popular seafood meal with a buttery savory flavor. Crabs may be boiled, grilled, deep-fried, stewed, or steamed. There is a wide range of dishes with crabs.

In Exeter's Southernhay area, near Cathedral Yard and Princesshay, hides a charming Rendezvous Wine Bar, where you have an occasion to drink something seated in the walled backyard gardens. There, you can relax after a day's sightseeing and taste a large selection of wines from around the world and delicious foods.

The bar offers lunch and evening menus that change daily and focus on west-country produce, fresh seafood, and high-quality meat coming from local suppliers. The main menu features intriguing positions such as a Broadclyst lamb rump and braised shoulder with fondant potato, courgette, roast parsnip, and onion jus, and spiced butternut squash served with red onion, spinach, and smoked cheddar filo parcel with basil pesto.

For those who seek a reserved and intimate atmosphere, the bar offers an interior space that occupies the lower ground floor of a beautiful landmark building. The ambient lighting and simple, yet cozy, decor, which features exposed brick walls and rustic furniture, deepen the relaxing atmosphere. The Rendezvous bar also hosts special events, such as wine tastings and live music.

5. The Beer Engine
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Southwick Beer Engine
#2 of 255 pubs & bars in Hove, United Kingdom
2 Southwick Square, Hove, England, United Kingdom
ClosedOpens at 12PM
Kare-kare
Kare-kare

It's a classic slow-cook stew that originated in the Philippines. It's cooked with simmered oxtail, ox tripe, vegetables and thick savoury peanut-based sauce. Kare-kare is named after the curry dish, however, the taste differs from Indian curry.

If you have decided to explore the surroundings of Exeter, on the way to Crediton, you can stop by The Beer Engine. Located in Newton St Cyres, a picturesque village and former ecclesiastical parish in Mid Devon, The Beer Engine is a Victorian pub nestled in a building that dates back to 1850.

Being Devon’s oldest working brewpub, it serves seasonal food, five home-brewed ales on its hand pumps, local ciders, lagers, gins, malt whiskeys, and a wide selection of wines and spirits. All the on-tap beers are available to take away in various sizes. The Beer Engine’s menu consists of home-cooked food made with locally sourced produce, which is served at lunchtime and evenings, while snacks are available throughout the day.

The pub is extremely popular in this lively neighborhood. Its dining room provides visitors with a quieter and more intimate dining experience, while the downstairs area has been transformed into a second bar to accommodate sports fans. There, you can also find the working brew house.

Surrounded by miles of countryside, Exeter provides numerous panoramic views of the hills and a rocky coastline, with restaurateurs taking advantage of this attractive feature. If you happen to travel to Devon, there is little to no possibility that you will not enjoy the area full of history, with a high concentration of bars, pubs, and restaurants.

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