Tag Archives: Exeter

The HH Restaurant – Broadclyst – Exeter – Restaurant Review

This well known restaurant has been situated in the village of Broadclyst for many years, many more than I have been blessed with on this earth.  It has taken different names and themes over the years and changed with the times, but not always with great success.  Most recently it has been known as the “Coachman’s Rest” which was known for serving “international” based cuisine from old British favorites to the odd curry dish etc.  Although successful in its final days it did struggle with very little business, which from the location of this restaurant should not be a problem based directly in the centre of town and on a very busy through road.

The restaurant was then purchased by new owners with the intension of completely rebuilding and refurbishing the tired looking building, bringing life and freshness back into its history.  The refurbishment took from September until the restaurant opened at the end of November/Start of December, they had also decided of the name of the establishment which would be based on the owners surnames and hence the “HH Restaurant” was opened.

I had to hold back from rushing to the telephone upon opening as I do think no matter how experience head chef you have (Thiers coming from a well known back ground of “Jack in the Green – Exeter), it takes time to familiarise yourself with the menu and your new surroundings.  I decided to wait until they did a menu refresh as I thought this would give them enough time, and through the wonderful world of Twitter and speaking to Darren who is one of the owners he kindly informed me the menu would be updated on January 8th, so I quickly booked a table on the evening of 13th January at 7pm.

Upon arriving the external of the restaurant does have a very fresh look with clean white walls and a large dark brown sign indicated the name and details of the restaurant, the conveniently placed car park is right on the side of the building and saves the annoyance of hunting a car parking space on the small streets of the village.

Upon entering we were immediately greeted by the front of house team and with our coats taken shown to a small sitting area and menus provided, our drink orders were then quickly taken and served.  Darren was then kind enough to come over and chat for a small time about the refurbishment and general chit chat etc.  First impressions of the internals of the restaurant are good with clean white walls, dark brown and black leather chairs and small bits of structural wood placed around the area, which all make for a pleasing environment.

Looking through the menu which was presented in a very large and I must say unneeded wooden folder, it is a mix of traditional English with a slight French influence thrown in for good measure.  I was quite glad to see there was not an abundant use of different mousse’s/gels/foams etc which can show a chefs need to show off in this sort of place, gladly though each dish was described well.

After making our selections and a short wait we were then asked to the table, where we were then greeted by a young waitress.  Any long term readers of my blog will know there are 2 real loves of mine when it comes to dining out, 1 being the dessert (It is the best part…. Period), and the second would be the offerings of different flavour/types of bread.  Luckily the HH restaurant did not fail on the bread front with our young waitress presenting us with a large basket of bread rolls, of which there was 3 different types which were:

  • White Buttermilk Loaf
  • White Poppy Seed Loaf
  • Country Fennel Seed Loaf

These all looked great and were served lovely and warm, my first selection being the White Buttermilk roll which was in a shape of a spiral, which as you unwound it released large amounts of steam which and just emphasized how fresh it was.  Being the child like person I am I could not decide how to easily cut the roll as it being in a shape of a spiral it would have just fell apart, so I proceeded by carefully unwinding the bread which allowed me to lather it with ample amounts of butter, then I was easlier able to roll it back up into the original spiral shape, this made for one of the nicest pre-dinner bread eating’s I have had, with the bread being soft and flavoursome, the milk and butter flavours being strong and complimented well with the butter, unfortunately at this time I was so enticed by the now dripping roll filled with butter my camera seemed a distant thought.  Next was the fennel seed loaf which had a strong hard crust but being nice and firm on the inside, the fennel came through well but I found it lacked some flavor and some additional salt could be used here, but this was resolved easily due to the ample use of butter! Unfortunately I did not make it to the try the final bread offering as the small loafs were quite a large size.

Amuse Bouche – Celeriac and Truffle

Just after the bread was presented a small bowl of soup was given to us, this had a wonderful rich flavour with the sweet, creamy flavours of the celeriac coming through which mixed with the taste of truffle made for a very very good soup.  This was indeed very rich and a small portion is only needed.

Starter – Ham hock terrine with seared foie gras, apple gel and black mustard seed and turmeric dressing

When Darren brought me this dish and his first words were “Ah sorry need to move your cutlery due to the different sized plates your having this evening”, now I am all for having different styles of plates etc and do appreciated how these add to the impression of the food, however if you are going to do this, please make sure you have spaced your table settings appropriately as it gives a feeling that the meal no matter how well done is just pretentious.  Onto the food, the presentation was good with each of the elements spaced out on the plate, on first glance I was disappointed at the size of the serving of the terrine, but this turned out to be a lot thicker than I had expected and quite filling.  The flavour of the terrine was good with the strong flavours of pork coming through, and surprisingly this was not salty at all as is the case when using ham hock, it was nice to see a good selection of root vegetables packed densely into this square and made for pleasing textures.  The apple gel I found paired perfectly with the ham hock adding the sweet element which tied and partnered these 2 different items perfectly, there was just the correct amount as well of this to allow for the gel to be tasted with every bite of the terrine.  The foie gras was very very lightly seared and placed in a pool of oil which I found gave to abit of a overally slimy texture to the entire piece, and due to the very light searing and the already “soft” centre of the liver, I found this texture just to much and slightly dampened my enjoyment of this.  The mustard and turmeric dressing which was dotted around the plate did not add anything special to the dish at all, and due to the very little amount use was very hard to sample on the palette, in the end to try and get the taste I used my knife to sample this individually and although the flavour was good, it was just overpowered by everything else.  I would say the dressing is used as more of presentation item than a item of substance.

Main – Fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef with braised shin faggot, dauphinoise potato and baby carrots

This dish was presented in my opinion perfectly with a slightly rustic approach that this countryside retreat from the city of Exeter needs, there were gladly no small dots of jus or mousse’s etc, everything was plain to see and easy to identify.  The steak was obviously the first item I sampled and asking for the meat to the be “rare” this was cooked just to my liking, the meat was incredibly tender with a wonderful taste and good sear on the outside, the accompanying sauce also added a wonderful taste and balanced the seasoning perfectly.  The dauphinoise potatoes were very densly packed thin slices and had a dense texture, with the rich garlic and cream flavours given a great sensation, however it would have been nice if this was abit more moist with the addition of more cream.  The shin faggot on this plate though stole the show with such great strong flavours of beef, and a very rich binding sauce making for a wonderful item to try, I only wish there was more of this on my plate, the meat within the faggot casing was moist, tender and succulent without being too salty and the seasoning balance was wonderful.  I did really enjoy this main course and really approve of the slightly more rustic approach to the plating of the dish, the flavours all worked well and complimented each other, being not too overpowering and ending up fighting on your palette.

Dessert – Hot chocolate fondant with salted caramel and praline ice cream

Now don’t act surprised that I ordered the chocolate dessert, it was bound to happen.  When Darren took our order for this dessert he was kind enough to let us know it was fresh and that would take up to 20minutes to prepare, not being in a rush and having thoughts of gooey chocolate on my mind, I really did not mind the wait.  As the minutes slowly ticked by my tapping feet got faster and faster the dessert arrived, the plating of this was gorgeous with the simple pudding easy to identify, everything look fantastic, my only disappointed thought at this time was that surely the salted caramel was not this small scraping on the plate.  Moving on to the pudding through both myself and my dining partner held our breaths as we cut into the cake to see if this was a true “Hot Chocolate fondant”, needless to say I think a picture tells a 1000 words.

The inside was incredible with the chocolate being moist, gooey, liquidy, and very runny, the outer cake had a slight crust which combining the 2 different texture was brilliant.  At this point I will say this was the best chocolate fondant I have every tasted, with the rich dark chocolate working well on the palette, and when combining this with the praline ice cream which was surprising light and refreshing it just made for a fantastic combo.  I can safely say that if you order this dessert you will not be disappointed, it was that good!  Overall I loved this dessert (if you didn’t already get it… I really did like this), my only disappointed however came with the salted caramel, as sampling this on its own was amazing with the sweet taste of caramel offsetted with the strong salt flavour work well but where was the rest of it? There was such a small amount on the plated unless you actually made a point to only pick this item up alone on your fork you couldn’t get the taste with the other items.

Petite Fours – Home Made Fudge, Chocolate Ganache and a Chocolate filled cylinder

When coffee arrived these items were also presented, and again the question instantly comes into my head…. Why give 1 item of each to a table of 2 people? This means only 1 person is able to sample an item, we attempted to cut the chocolate ganache in 2, but this failed and resulted in a mound of disfigured chocolate.  All of these were good (except for the fudge which my partner sampled and I cannot comment on) with the chocolate cylinder having a good thick shell and having a great crack upon biting upon.

Service – This was brilliant and considering they are still learning the ropes of the restaurant everything went smoothly, with both the owners being present on the evening in question im sure everyone was trying to impress.  It gives a great impression though for the whole team and our young waitress really looked after us well, and supplied me with ample amounts of bread.

Overall – 7.5/10

I did really enjoy the food here on this visit, and would love to give a slightly higher score, but there are some small little things which im sure over time will be address by the team.  A slight disappointment of the evening was the price of the starter and main course being £8.95 and £21.95 respectively this is quite a high amount and certainly for the starter would have expected abit more.

Personally I would love if they kept their food plating and styling like the main course I sampled tonight, the location of the restaurant, decoration and warm interior gives for a great rustic clean feeling, I didn’t feel there was a great need for the different size and styling of plates and gave abit of a over pretentious feeling to the evening.

I will be returning in the Spring for sure, hopefully to sample a new menu when it is released and knowing that this place has only been open for a little under 2 months, im expecting fantastic things to come.  I think it would be good to see maybe a mid week 3 course dinner special with a set price of £30-35 as this im sure would tempt people to visit and sample the wonderful food.

I would recommend the “HH Restaurant” for a intimate gathering with a partner, or makes for a great first date sort of environment as its very open and gives a fresh feeling without being too overbearing and fussy.

 

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Rodean – Kenton – Near Exeter – Devon – Restaurant Review

I have heard about this establishment a few times from different circles, however nothing really came from it, it was always “Oh I know someone that went there” or “I have drove past that” and no one seemed to have firm reports.  Having noticed this trend I started looking around and found their website with a small sample menu, the website did seem very outdated.  Once I started digging around though I found an updated website, but finding this is no easy task, so to help anyone the address is:

http://www.rodeanrestaurant.co.uk/wordpress/

Having now found this site the sample menus were impressive with such dishes as

  • Darne Of Hake & Prawn Served On Roasted Bok Choi & Pommes Sautee
  • Duck Leg Confit Coated In A Cider And Apple Sauce

The food is mainly French based with small hints of modern English cuisene from the online sample menu.  Also looking through the website I immediately noted pictures of freshly made/baking bread in the oven, for me this immediately shows abit of class when a restaurant make the effort to serve home made bread.  This would need to be tested though, as previously seen in other high class establishment this can sometimes be a sin rather than a blessing with some of the poor samples I have experienced of late.

The restaurant is located in the small village of Kenton which is a 10minute drive from Exeter, and easily accessible from the M5, and is on one of the main roads leading to Dawlish.  I managed to book the table through their Twitter page, this is becoming more and more common at the moment and is such a easy way to book etc and I do encourage other restaurants to get on Twitter asap to spread updates etc.

From the externals, I would immediately pass this due to thinking it was your local “Ale House”, however just turning around the corner from the main road you notice a large glass window showing the internals of the restaurant and dining area.  Parking is very easily found with on street and pay and display just opposite the restaurant.

Luckily enough arriving at 7:15pm I found parking directly outside the front door which was brilliant as it was extremely cold and frost already starting to form.  When entering we were immediately greeted by “lizzie” who is head of front of house, and Matthew Tilt’s (head chef) partner.  We were asked if we would like to sit in a small lounge/bar area before going through to our table, we declined the offer of a pre-meal drink due to one of my other dining partners needing to be up early the next morning.  We were then led through the dining area, which is extremely dim lit with only a few small wall lights providing a subtle background and the use of candles everywhere.  Unfortunately this is a bloggers nightmare as no matter how much you play with camera settings you will get that awful orange tint unless you use artificial lighting and the flash, which I refuse to do in a restaurant, due to other people.  So I do apologise now for the poor picture quality which I doubt does do the food justice, however my nice new DSL c/w Macro lens its winging its way on Santa’s Sled so not long to go.

Lizzie was very talkative and instantly put you at ease considering we were the only diners in the main restaurant area, and had a good chat about general life.  During chatting the other out of house waitress brought to our table a small pot of olives and took our drink orders.  Within minutes our drinks were placed onto the table and menus handed out.  The small olives which were slightly different than you average fare, were black and already pitted and soaking in what seemed a very sweet chutney/oil based chutney.  These were lovely and soft and extremely sweet with a light kick of chilli towards the end, and a great way to start the meal.

Looking through the menu’s you are offered the “House” menu which had offers such as “3 courses for £19” which on first glance seemed great value for money.  Having seen the A La Carte though we all decided to go for this choice, having such great diversity and different combinations on offer.  I noticed on the base on the menu that the chef is also advertising the restaurants twitter account, which I hope means in the future they will have some great offers and maybe some theme nights coming up.

Lizzie soon returned to take our orders and again was a great highlight to the calm dining room which at this time only had 1 other couple who had now been seated.  With starters and mains ordered, soon appeared a small “Amuse Bouche” of Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup, this was extremely thick and for the more lady like diners, maybe a spoon could be a useful addition.  This had a deep strong flavour of blue cheese, but this was not overpowering due to the subtle flavours of the broccoli calming the flavour, and with the use of good seasoning was a brilliant start to the meal.

The table was then quickly cleared, the front of house are very good at being out of sight yet still knowing everything that is happening within the room, they stay within the bar area but are forever keeping a keen eye on the diners through the small walkway, this works well and due to the small area if they were based in the room it would be abit too much.

A few moments went by and a sense of worry was quickly dawning that no bread was in sight!, now having followed the head chef on twitter for a while, I was always very amazed by the large amount of different bread he is constantly baking and posting photos etc and was getting more and more worried that this would not appear….. However these worries were short lived as the waitress then appeared with a wonderful basket of homemade bread complete with a small plate of butters.  A large sigh was released when these did appear and I was thankful I had built my hopes up regarding this.

We were served 1 slice of bread which was cut from a small loaf for each diner of each flavour of which there was 3.  The three breads on offer were:

Granary – Lovely and served warm this bread very dense and had a great chew yet still being light to eat and not like a heavy stone hitting your stomach, the crust were not crusty and instead chewy which I love for my granary bread.

Pesto – This lightly green tinted bread was sampled next, again this was so fresh and warm it was excellent with the pesto flavour being subtle but still evident.

Sun Brushed Tomato – This was the star of the offering with the crust being crunchy to eat and a particular highlight, this red tinted bread was the best on offer with the strong tomato flavours exploding in your mouth and partnering lovely with the butter.

The above went brilliantly with the selections of butters which three were your standard fare, but the other three balls of rolled butter were each rolled in separate items which were –

Poppy Seeds

Sesame Seeds

Chopped Chives

I found the chopped chives worked brilliantly with the granary and I quickly used the whole amount of this one on my single slice and was brilliant.  If I could base the score of this meal on the bread alone it be an instant 11/10, and the bread is easily on par with the “Walnut and Raisin” bread I sampled at “The Square – London” a few months back.  I only wish Matthew Tilt could mail order this stuff as I would be first in Line.

Unfortunately however I will note that when the bread was served the starters were then served, within the next 2 minutes so myself and my other diners had not enough chance to even butter our first slice by the time our starters were served.  This made for the bread experience to be abit downgraded as the flavours of these beautiful loafs need to shine for them selves and would have liked abit more time between this course.

Starter – Warm Goats Cheese & Hollandaise Sauce, Resting on balsamic roasted vegetables.

Normally I will very rarely go for a starter which does not have a meat element, I do not know why this is but I will always tend to go for a duck/pork starter for no apparent reason other than my brain being lured by crispy cracking etc.  This evening though I went with a firm purpose of trying something different to start with and I can happily say I will be doing this again!.  The dish looked great with the pale goats cheese which was a large stacked portion, which was smothered in sauce and resting on a small toasted piece of bread with the vegetables placed around.  The goats cheese was great and smooth to cut, and when placed in the mouth it was just warm and incredibly dense, at first I was slightly worried about the richness of this, however due to the acid in the balsamic vegetables and the hollandaise sauce having a strong base of lemon, it worked brilliant to cut through this rich cheese and was some of the best I have sampled.  The vegetables were a mix of onions and aubergine and still had a good crunch, which combined with the good crunch of the bread on the base added a great change of texture which the clogging cheese can cause.  This dish however was incredibly filling but was worth it as the flavours were brilliant and strong.

Main – English Beef Fillet & Beef Bourguignon with Lavender scented creme potato with Pancetta & Morels.

The presentation of this dish was superb with the large fillet placed on a small mound of creamed potato with the beef bourguignon placed around the sides.  Firstly I sampled the brilliant and crisp pancetta which was so brittle it was hard to pick up, this had a lovely salty taste and provided an almost crackling flavour with the hint of dense fat.  The beef fillet itself was large and sliced directly through the centre horizontally which when moved showed the lovely perfectly cooked rare meat, this was very tender and provided good taste.  The creamed potato was slightly disappointing due to the lack of flavour however this was due to the incredibly strong powered bourguignon, which had an incredible flavour with chunks of beef that just melted on the tongue.  Due to the use of Pancetta/bacon again this did have a very strong salt flavour which unless paired with the potato would have been overpowering.  This was a great dish with everything cooked excellent and I truly find it hard to find fault with any element, the only thing that comes to mind is the dish which it was served in made for cutting the meat quite difficult and a slightly shallower bowl would have been more convenient, however this is really trying to find fault.

Also vegetables and more starch was served in a side dish if the potato on the plate was not enough!.  The vegetables were great with good flavour and although I didnt sample the new potato’s and sweet potato was told by my other diners were great.

Dessert – Chocolate Two Ways, Chocolate Pyramid filled with a dark chocolate mousse, with Homemade chocolate ice cream.

When this dish was served this is one of the most dramatic use of sugar art ive seen and when the waitress was walking to the table, it instantly caught everyone eyes with small whispers are aspiration at this stunning looking dish.  When placed in front of me I was stunned with just not knowing where to start with everything looking pristine on the plate, the sugar art globe which was made from 2 half’s I quickly dismantled and sampled, it had a lovely toffee apple taste which will bring back your child hood memories.  The ice cream which lay below was sitting on a small base of shortbread/biscuit and had a great texture with small lumps of biscuit spread throughout, this had a great flavour, however the chocolate didn’t come through as strong as I had thought but when looking at the pyramid placed next to it I think I can understand the reason for a subtle flavour.  The pyramid which at first glance I thought was just a moose with alot of gelatin used to allow such a wonderful mould, I was soon impressed to find this was a true solid chocolate pyramid which upon cracking revealed a thick chocolate moose.  The pyramid it self had a very strong flavour due to the dark chocolate used and complimented great with the ice cream and sugar.  The moose it self I think was a mix of Milk and Dark as the flavour had a great sweetness to it and lacked the bitter tastes normally found in high percentage dark chocolate.  Overall this is the most striking dish visually ive sampled of late and was a great end to the meal.

Coffee and Petit Fours were then served which were the form of –

1No. Lemon Tart

2No. Chocolate Truffles

1No. Caramel Tart

Now unfortunately due to being 3 diners I could not sample the lemon tart due to diner A quickly taking that, diner B being quite full settled for the chocolate truffle and allowed me to sample the remainder and the caramel tart.  The chocolate was great with a crisp external and deep chocolate truffle ganache inside.  The caramel was also good with a good base of pastry and small biscuit shards placed on top.  I would like to see 3 of each petit four’s served as this would allow all diners the chance to sample them, and this is normally what I would expect.

The bill was then provided which came to £102.00 with no automatic service charge added.  I think for an A La Carte menu selection complete with drinks, 3 courses for 3 and coffee is great value for the standard on offer

Overall – 9/10

This was a great meal with some excellent service, brilliant food and set in a great location for a good price.  I was pleasantly surprised with this as I was not expecting such high class food from such an unheard of place.  It is difficult to find any major faults at all, with only small niggles remaining such as the lack of time to sample the bread and the serving of only 4 petit fours between 3 people not allowing us all to sample.  These are such minor things though and don’t detract at all from the overall experience.

I would recommend this place for anyone who wishes to spend a lovely evening with their partner in a romantic environment and also for any celebration.  If you can try and sneak out a loaf of bread when you go as I wish I did!!! (Yes I did think the bread was that good!!).

Hopefully I will be returning for one of their 5 course dinner nights shortly.