Lympstone Manor Review – Not your everyday lunch

We were lucky enough to dine at this restaurant before it officially opened, whilst staff were finding their feet. That meant that the first time we ate at Lympstone Manor, we were able to dine for 40% off of the usual price. Since tasting the equisite offerings that day, we’ve looked for any excuse to go back. So far, we’ve managed to return twice to dine from their set lunch menu, and, honestly… the only fair way to describe the food at Lympstone is perfection. Of course, it is not just the food that is so admirable here. The surroundings contribute to the whole experience and the dining rooms and views are beautiful. This isn’t the kind of place you ‘pop out’ to for lunch, this definitely feels ‘special occasion’, and everything (and everyone) looks very smart. Lunch is £60 per person, although there is occasionally an offer on, making it around £48 instead. What feels special to me about the dishes here, is that each dish is the kind of dish that you think “I have no idea what this flavour is, but it is delicious”. I love that. The dishes are never over complicated but they are always perfectly balanced and still somehow completely unique. I wanted to give as many examples as possible, so have included pictures from both of our visits. I’m hoping to return for my birthday at the end of the month.

Michael Caines, we salute you.

Canapes on both visits, including a carrot veloute, beef carpaccio with sesame and crispy chicken skin, pea (of course it wasn’t just pea, but I have no idea what else was in it that made it so delicious), and a beetroot mousse.

Appetizers on both visits, one was a goats cheese mousse with jasmine raisins and candied walnuts. The other was a velvety smooth duck liver parfait with a sauternes jelly and hazelnuts. I absolutely loved this duck parfait.

Starters on both visits, one being a beautiful salmon roulade with wasabi mayonaise, pickled cucumber, dill and caviar. The other starter was a chicken (and I think partridge) terrine wrapped in charred leek with toasted hazelnuts.

Mains on both occasions – I couldn’t tell you which I liked better as they were both perfect. One was partridge (leg and breast) with braised chicory, plump raisins, quince and a rich and slightly bitter jus. The other was pork tenderloin with pea puree, a potato gratin, perfectly sweet roast baby onion, asparagus and a sweet jus.

Okay yes, I had soufflé both times. But they were different flavours! One was a rhubarb souffle with a rhubarb and rose sorbet. The other was an armagnac and plum soufflé with an (I think) armagnac ice cream.

I hope you try it (and love it as much as I do)!



Cote Brasserie Review – Set Menu

My best friend and I have found ourselves at Cote Brasserie in Exeter quite a few times. It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure for us, and linked to some good memories of evenings spent chatting and drinking too much wine. However… we have always opted for the A La Carte menu and, until last week, had never tried the ‘set’ cheaper offering. On this menu, two courses are £11.50 and three are £13.50 (as long as you eat between 12pm and 7pm). It definitely seemed like good value, so we thought we’d give it a try before heading out to see a film that evening.

Cote are great for gluten-free and they always have quite a few options to choose from. There’s nothing worse than being told what you’re going to have because it’s the only thing on the menu that is suitable. Anyway, we had quite high hopes based on what we had eaten at the restaurant before.



Dean opted for a warm flatbread with caramelised onion, camembert and thyme. Obviously this was not gluten free so I didn’t try it myself. Dean thought it was okay but wasn’t overly impressed – the camembert was a little thin and dried out and there was too much fresh thyme. I opted for the Smoked Salmon Tartine, described as coming with capers, dill and a creme fraiche dressing. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed with this. It felt more like something i’d knock up quickly for breakfast. As you can see from the picture where my ‘gluten free’ flag was stuck in – my toast had been burnt. There was no creme fraiche dressing as promised on the menu, and the salad had no dressing. This is the kind of thing that really annoys me, a little bit of effort with a dressed salad, maybe some toast that had been charred with some olive oil on the side, and that dressing to bring it all together – I think I could have really enjoyed this starter.


For our main courses, Dean and I opted for the same and both chose the Poulet Grille. This was described as chargrilled chicken breast with gratin potatoes, watercress and veal and thyme jus.


I have to say, neither of us had anything to complain about with this. It definitely didn’t have the finesse of the mains we had ordered in the past from the A La Carte menu. But, the potatoes were good, the chicken was succulent (although could have been chargrilled a bit better – I like to see the ‘char’ lines, ours looked a little pale), and the jus was flavoursome. There was nothing on the dessert menu that tempted either of us, so we left it at that.

Overall, I don’t think either of us would return to Cote for the set menu. I would rather have a main course from the A La Carte menu for around the same price, than two (more mediocre) courses from the set menu. However, I still think it was pretty good value, the food came quickly and the staff were friendly and efficient as always.


Salmon BuddhaBowl

I love food like this.

I made this up but it’s not really a ‘recipe’ as such… more of a load of my favourite things chucked together. It feels really healthy…actually it is really healthy. The roasted chickpeas are great because they provide a bit of crunch and almost turn into roast hazelnuts. The avocado is creamy and makes the whole thing taste ‘richer’ than it actually is, and the tahini dressing is delicious (if you love sesame like I do). I cook the salmon for around 10-15 minutes because I like it to be a bit pink inside. If you prefer it a firmer texture then just cook it for 20.


Salmon fillet

Avocado avocado_1050x700

Vegetables to roast (I use sweet potato and red pepper)

Half a tin of chickpeas IDShot_540x540

Kale (or cavelo nero)

Tenderstem (or purple sprouting) broccoli

Tahini sauce (tahini, lemon juice, water, maple syrup)

Coriander Fresh-Capsicum-Green-1

  • Coat your chopped (fairly chunky) vegetables in olive oil and roast them in a preheated oven (180 degrees) – they will take around 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile,  make your tahini dressing by mixing half of the juice of a lemon with a tablespoon of tahini paste, a splash of hot water and a few teaspoons of maple syrup.
  • When your vegetables have been cooking for 25 minutes, season your salmon fillet with salt and pepper and pop it on one end of an oiled tray. Empty half of the tin of your chickpeas on to the other end of the tray and stick the tray in the oven.
  • Use the next 15 minutes to steam your broccoli and kale and chop your avocado.
  • Get everything out – assemble.. drizzle with tahini sauce and a sprinkle of chopped coriander!



@34 Restaurant Review

This is one of my favourite secret restaurants in Exeter. ‘Secret’ because barely anyone seems to know about this place, or how good it actually is. @34 sits inside of Exeter College and is a training restaurant for students that are learning food preparation, cooking, or hospitality. The restaurant is only open in the evenings on a Wednesday and Thursday (and not every week). Menus are usually set (or have a choice between two options) and are usually five courses. The main thing though… most of the time it’s just £17.00. The price for the quality is incredible. Okay, you have to be prepared to lower your expectations a little bit with the service. They are practising and are sometimes nervous and a little bit forgetful. But it’s all part of it, and I will continue to go back to @34 time and time again. You can find their website (with menus and online booking)… here

This review covers two separate occasions at @34, just to give a better overall picture. I’ve been to the restaurant over 10 times!

22nd February 

Canapés to start…

Consisting of a tomato consommé, a red pepper soup, whiting with wild garlic, a very mini mushroom risotto and a chicken mousse.


The Starter…

Was a very refined tuna Niscoise salad, with roasted tomato, fresh griddled tuna, perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg, baby new potatoes, olives and a parmesan crisp.

Tuna Niscoise Starter

The Main…

Next we were presented with pork two ways (pork belly and pork tenderloin). This was served with kale and purple sprouting broccoli, some rounds of crispy roast potatoes and an apple compote. We all thought that this could have done with a touch more of the sauce, easily rectified by a jug of it on the table though!

Pork Belly and Tenderloin Main

For Dessert…

Finally, we had an apple stuffed with caramelised walnuts, poached raisins and a toffee sauce. Now, this isn’t the most inventive dessert we’ve had here. But bare in mind that the choices on the menu were between a lemon tart and a tarte tatin. Both of these are notoriously difficult to do a gluten free version of, and so the fact that the young chefs came up with a ‘special’ gluten free dessert, I was actually really impressed with and my plate was completely clean by the end of it!

Baked Apple Dessert



8th February 

Appetiser/first starter…

This was a very creamy and rich mushroom soup with chive oil and truffle. We thought this was delicious and both of us (I went this time with my dad) were wiping the mini mug with our bread (gluten free bread provided!).

Mushroom soup

Second starter…

Next was an octopus ragout. Tender pieces of octopus in a kind of spicy tomato reduction with roasted vegetables, with quite a bit of spice to it and charred bread on the side. I was really pleased that they thought to provide me with my own bit of crispy gluten free toast.

Octopus Ragout


Third starter (I know!)…

This was a pigeon panzanella salad. Basically, pigeon breast with a herb oil and bread that had been soaked and fried, served with crunchy vegetables. We both thought this was really fresh and delicious, and promised ourselves we would try to recreate it at some point.

Pigeon Panzanella Salad

Main courses…

For our mains, dad decided on a chicken supreme with polenta, charred leek and arabiatta sauce. I chose the lamb rump with ratatouille, with mint and hazelnut pesto. We were both very impressed with our mains. The chicken and the lamb were tender and perfectly cooked and the flavours were really interesting in both of the dishes.



For dessert, the tiramisu option wasn’t gluten free (not that I like coffee anyway). So my dad had the tiramisu and I had the other option which was a rosemary panacotta, served with fruit coulis, orange segments and a gluten free crumb. Dad said his tiramisu was light and very good. My panacotta was full of interesting flavours and I though the sweet rosemary worked really well.


As I mentioned, this is one of my favourite restaurants for fine dining at a very reasonable price. You have the option to look at the menu online when you’re deciding which evenings you want to book, so just choose the menu you like the sound of best (or go to all of them like I do)!

Thanks for reading, let me know if you try it!