Bilby Bites - the food blog from Bilby Marketing

Boston Tea Party Exeter, New Menu

It has been some time since I posted to my blog. About two years ago life just got a bit tricky to juggle and as much as I enjoy writing and promoting local businesses (honestly), I just wasn't finding the time I needed to post on a regular basis. Having recently moved out to Crediton, I've had a re-boot having been inspired by some of the local cafés and restaurants in Mid-Devon, to start up again.

Co-oincidentally, during the week of our move I received a kind invitation to pop in to Boston Tea Party to review their new menu. I confess I'm a big fan of BTP already and have been for many years, so I was more than happy to kick start my 2016 blog regime with a visit to the Exeter café in Queen Street. Having visited Exeter countless times over the years, as well as the Park St. Bristol and Bath cafés, I am familiar with their ethos of good quality local and ethical produce, their sense of social responsibility (often difficult to sustain as a business grows), their no fuss, let the ingredients speak for themselves menu options and their thing for architectural gems and am right behind them on all of it. They even hold a 3 star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

So, JC and I hopped on the bus and headed into Exeter on a Saturday morning to do brunch. Manager Martyn greeted us, showed us the menu, and offered tips as to the current hits and winners. I have to say, one of the key selling points of BTP is the staff. Consistently friendly, laid-back and helpful, I haven't had a bad experience in 10 years. Martyn was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the history of BTP and the menu. Having arrived just after 10am we decided to choose from the brunch section of the menu - I have a few ingredients that I'm always drawn to on any menu including avocado and chorizo and these are represented solidly here. Personally, I find breakfast can be tricky to jazz up when you eat out as it's generally oh so toasty and eggy which doesn't do much for these tastebuds. BTP have always offered a strong range of breakfast options, but often with flavour twists and all focussed heavily on quality produce free range eggs, free range meat and organic milk for example. If you prefer something less traditional and more healthy, the new menu features a heck of a lot of lighter meals such as smashed avocado on organic pumpernickel rye, spelt granola with banana and organic milk or brown rice porridge with coconut milk, maple syrup, mango and blueberries.

I am a gluten free eater nowadays having had a period of dodgy health a few years back, so it can prove difficult to get the variety of choice of regular diners in many restaurants. I went for the kedgeree - apparently it was a BTP hit that was removed temporarily from the menu for a time, but after a few sad notes from customers who loved it, but has since been reinstated. JC ordered the sweetcorn hash which was a bit like a fritter served with halloumi (another of my favourites), poached eggs, avocado and tomato salsa. It's not a gluten free option sadly, although I did nibble on various elements of JC's dish which didn't go down terribly well with him, but went down well with me. The kedgeree was faithful to it's origins, consisting of rice, flaked smoked haddock, curry powder and topped with a perfectly cooked poached egg, but the flavours were fantastic. The inclusion of chopped orange gave it a sweet and sour element. Add to that the kick from the curry spices and the tang of a dollop of sour cream on top and I'd say this was one of the tastiest meals I've had out in a while. It certainly delivered on the flavour front. JC enjoyed his sweetcorn hash very much and I was disappointed I couldn't eat more of his.

To drink, we went relatively straight down the line, with JC ordering a Lapsang Souchong tea and me a flat white. As far as I'm concerned, Boston Tea Party deliver consistently on the coffee front. It's some of the smoothest coffee in town. Sourced from Bristol based set up Extract Coffee Roasters, they use speciality grade Arabica beans and roast them on a 1955 cast iron vintage drum roaster called 'Betty'. How can you possibly go wrong with beans that are roasted in a roaster called Betty?

I haven't mentioned the Exeter decor and building very much to date, both of which add to the BTP experience, but as atmosphere is so important whenever I choose to eat out, I've got to say BTP is looking good right now. I think there were new funky industrial lights everywhere (see the large yellow shades in the photos) and there are new display units behind the counter and up in the main dining room. It all looks fresh and different, but still very BTP. Finding the balance between staying current and true to your roots is always tricky for businesses, but I think BTP are getting it spot on. Tasty, ethical food and drink served in a warm, friendly environment. That's pretty much all I'm after.