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Mar 8, 2008 11:13 AM

[Exeter] Casual places for solo tourist in Exeter?

I think there is literally nothing on Chowhound about Exeter. Unless I'm searching incorrectly. I'm coming from Boston and would like to eat in cheap, casual places. I love Indian food (which isn't the best in Boston). I have already been to Gandhi twice, and Raj India once (although I panicked and had the Doner Kebab, which was fine). The food at Gandhi was quite good I thought, although a little mild. (I had vegetable malai korma (spelling?) and one of the chicken tikka dishes that wasn't masalla (sp?).)

Fish and chips?
Middle Eastern food?
Something obvious I'm not thinking of?

I'm open to almost anything where I won't feel awkward sitting alone and looking at a book or paper.

I have another ten days here, so help me out. I would like to make it the whole time without going to Subway, KFC, or Wagamama (which I like, but there is one by me in Boston. Are the ones in England better?)

I don't have access to a refrigerator, so I'm eating out a lot! (Anything good on the University of Exeter campus? The lunches have left something to be desired.)


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  1. I have a friend who lives not far from Exeter. She's mentioned a place called The Cat in the Hat. Apparently, one can get 2 courses for about £10. I can't recommend it personally, but maybe someone there will know if its worthy.

    I have a feeling that almost all Wagamamas are about the same. What you find at Harvard Yard is probably what you'll also see here in the UK. Just out of curiosity, what's the price for something like the yaki soba in Boston? I paid the equivalent of about £13 for it here the other night. Hmmm.

    1. No surprise that you havnt found anything on Exeter. The board is very London-centric and I suspect our membership in the south west is few and far between.

      It's not my part of the country either so I've no local knowledge to help. However, you may find this website useful for ideas which you can then ask locals about.

      Sorry not to be more use.


      8 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        There is very good food at Michael Caines Restaurant in his ABode hotel, The Clarence, set lunch is very good value.

        Further out of Exeter in Doddiscombleigh is the Nobody Inn, worth the trip for the cheese ploughmans alone.

        1. re: stanleyk

          I'm looking forward to ABode opening in Manchester, later in the spring. I'ev always liked the look of Caines' food when I've seen it on TV.

          1. re: Harters

            I agree about Caines' food. I'd love to try it one day. To succeed as he has, with such a handicap, is amazing and wonderful. Long ago, I knew the owners of Gidleigh Park, and they steered me to some wonderful places in Italy. Now that I live in England, they sold the Park... it's very bad timing for me. :-)

          2. re: stanleyk

            Is Michael Caines at the ABode still one of the best places to dine in Exeter?

            What other restaurants should I consider?

            1. re: prima

              It's the only Good Food Guide listed place in the city.

              I've only experience of the Manchester ABode but, assuming it's as good as that, you'll get a decent scran.

              1. re: Harters

                Thanks for your quick reply, Harters. ;-)

                1. re: prima

                  Here's a quick trip report of my experiences in Exeter and other parts of Devon.
                  All 3 breakfasts at Michael Caines Restaurant in the ABode hotel, which can be purchased at a discount, in advance, when booking a room. Good English breakfasts. A Vegetarian English Breakfast with vegetarian sausage was also offered. Their eggs benedict came with a non-lemony hollandaise, and ham that was more like bacon. Would stick with the English breakfast.

                  Day 1
                  Michael Caines Restaurant. http://www.michaelca...taurants/exeter Tried the prix fixe offered to the hotel's guests. Very nice cod, and good strawberry parfait.

                  Day 2
                  Attempted to dine at At Angela's, The Conservatory, and Michael Caines' Restaurant as walk-ins on a Saturday night, but each restaurant was competely full. We ended up ordering a casual meal at Michael Caines' cafe in the Hotel ABode http://www.michaelca...r/cafe-bar-menu , which turned out to be fine. I liked the pea and mint risotto with parmesan crisp, as well as the grilled asparagus with hollandaise. My friend was happy with his grilled lamb cutlets.

                  Day 3
                  Lovely dinner At Angela's. First time I've tried Grouse, and very nice summer pudding. If I return to Exeter, I'd make reservations At Angela's.

                  Budleigh Salterton
                  Premier Cafe for Fish and Chips. Lovely haddock and tasty chips. My friend enjoyed the sardines. Friendly service. Neat little place to visit.

                  coffee, devon cream and chocolate fudge from a fudge shop- not sure of the name, but the fudge was pretty good.

                  decent Cornish (pixie-sized) pasty and a cappuccino from an Oggy Oggy location. Surprisingly good cappuccino. Very friendly people at the counter.

                  tea and cake at the Tudor Rose. Victoria Sponge for me, and Banoffee pie for my friend- better than we expected, and no commercial taste to the cakes, despite the Tudor Rose Tea Room's location in a tourist district. A good option if you're looking for tea and cake in Plymouth, in a nice enclosed garden setting.

                  1. re: prima

                    This is so helpful, prima. I'll be staying at ABode so your comments on the breakfasts are useful. Also the mention of Angela's. I'm going to look into that. Thank you.

        2. The Good Pub Guide, which has never let me down, shows 10 pubs in Exeter. Would definitely think if any of them appeal to you they'd be worth a try.

          Please report back at the end of your trip for the good of all!

          1. Sorry, this is going to be a lazy summary of my 2.5 weeks in Exeter. By far my two favorite places to eat turned out to be Gandhi and Imperial (pub, a branch of Wetherspoons), which were both quite close to the University. I especially liked the curry night at Imperial, and in general they seemed to have good specials. Gandhi was good, standard Indian food.

            Other places which I remember:

            Red Rose was the other nice Indian restaurant I tried. I had their "Chef's Sampling" or something like that. It was fun but nothing blew me away. The staff was really nice.

            Batter Place: Small Cod and chips with vinegar and salt. Fish was good both times. Chips were good the first time.

            India Gate is casual Indian food and I returned there twice. I liked the chicken tikka wrap.

            Pizza Express: Didn't seem that great to me, but I guess it's a popular chain.

            Juice Moose: Their juices were great when I was feeling unhealthy from a month without my own kitchen.

            When you go out of Juice Moose and turn left, you almost immediately come to a cafe (there are some video games inside, not much seating). It had a great sounding list of ingredients to put on grilled sandwiches, although I went on a Sunday and they only had ham and cheese. But the bread was quite good.

            I liked the breakfast at Sunnymead Bed and Breakfast.

            Actually, by far the best place I ate was "Bistro 46" in Brixham. Although we ate there after a long hike, so that certainly made the food taste better. I had a brie sandwich with onion jam and toffee pudding for dessert.

            I'm sorry I didn't try more of your suggestions, but many of them sounded higher-end than I wanted. Of the places listed in the Good Pub Guide mentioned below, "Nobody Inn" intrigued me the most, but was a little out of the way.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jtw

              I’m an infrequent visitor to Exeter (my sister lives on Dartmoor) and, whilst I’ve heard good things about Michael Caines’ place nowhere else in town has really got me enthusiastic.

              But, as others suggest, there are some decent places outside. All about 20-30mins by car, you might try

              - The Old Inn at Drewstainton (Duncan Walker’s place – no village this small deserves cooking this accomplished!)

              - 22 Mill Street in Chagford (where Duncan used to be after he left Gidleigh Park, but a rare example of a treasured local maintaining high standards on change of ownership).

              - Ziggy’s Italian Restaurant in the White Hart (Best Western) in Moretonhampstead. I know, if you asked me to put those three things together (so it’s an American owned, Italian, Devon joint, yes?) I too would run a mile. But it works. Unpretentious, good value and a team who give a stuff about what they’re doing.

              - Ship Inn, Noss Mayo. The food is perhaps a notch or two above the pub standard but it’s the location which makes this. Beautiful little inlet harbour.