Review

@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.

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Canapés

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.

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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!

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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!

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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!).

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Desserts…

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!

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