Bilby Bites - the food blog from Bilby Marketing

Lloyd’s Kitchen, Exeter

I’ve known about Grazing Kate and her Westcountry food blog for many years. There aren’t many of us around. I’d wanted to meet with GK for a long time and we toed and froed on dates and venues, until we finalised a face-to-face conversation date and agreed on Lloyd's Kitchen as the place to have it. A conversation that wasn’t on Twitter. How novel. GK is a veteran blogger who shares a love of food (of course), in particular local, sustainable food, as well as a love of the beautiful area we both call home and Australia, my birthplace and a holiday favourite for GK.

So, on to Lloyd’s Kitchen. Tucked behind House of Fraser and near to Exeter Cathedral, this refurbished and rebranded restaurant is really starting to make waves, with their bistro-style interior and very tasty food. The new-look operation, previously Lloyd’s Cafe which I had never managed to visit, opened it’s doors in October 2013 and, as is the way with most eateries, especially those that make radical changes to their offering, it has taken a little while for the word to spread on just how good it is. The location means you have to duck out of your way a tiny bit, but if you are a regular shopper in Exeter you probably use this lane as a through-route from Princesshay to the Cathedral regularly.

We arrived at 12 noon and had limited time due to other engagements. Also you cannot book on a Saturday for lunch so it was a wise move, given that when we arrived the brunch crew had already taken over. The breakfasts looked to be a smash hit with, what seemed to be, every other table dotted with them. There are three variations on the Full English breakfast - Farmhouse (traditional), Allotment (with halloumi cheese, spinach and sauté potatoes) and the Exe (a smaller version of the Farmhouse). The standout feature of these, as far as I can tell, is that the produce is local, the eggs are free range, the bread is top-notch and the kitchen cares. After a bit of an introductory chat about all things culinary, GK and I launched further into the menu. My gluten-free lifestyle tends to dictate what I can and can’t have to a large extent, but the menu was clearly marked with vegetarian and GF flags so it wasn’t a hardship to find something. I plumbed for the grilled halloumi salad, whilst GK ordered the Allotment breakfast which also looked great. For the GF crowd, there is a seasonal risotto option, ham, egg & chips and a pan-fried polenta cake on offer, but some of the dishes simply had toast in them which I’m sure could be removed.

As far as drinks go, I was very excited to see a Luscombe juice (£3.15) that I had never seen or tried before. It was apple and apricot and I am happy to report that it was gorgeous. Apricot is an all-time favourite fruit for me so this delivered on a flavour level as well as a nostalgia level. It is a popular flavour on the continent and in Australia, but I don’t see it in the UK very often - this may well be to do with apricots not being a native fruit or perhaps it’s seasonality. The halloumi salad (£8.95) was outstanding and I don’t say that lightly either. A salad is a difficult dish to make an impact with - so often you eat salads that just don’t have any pizzazz, but the kitchen did a fine job. It consisted of chargrilled halloumi, beetroot, baby spinach, shallots, toasted almonds and a house vinaigrette that was truly memorable - how often can you say that? The balance of sweet from the beetroot, salty from the halloumi and just a smidge of sour in the vinaigrette was perfect, with the crunchy almonds the ideal texture boost. I really loved this salad. GK’s allotment breakfast (£7.65) also received a ‘delicious’ verdict.

On this, our first time at Lloyd’s Kitchen, GK and I enjoyed good food, good company and a lively environment that is testament to the effort, talent and energy that Lloyd and his team are putting into the business. They are churning out some sparkling dishes and I am very much looking forward to my next visit. With quality coffee, cake, breakfast and lunch available Monday to Sunday, as well as dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings, there will be plenty of chances to go back and work my way through the menu.