I like to think that this blog resides in a happy corner of the internet. The internet is not always a positive place and it can be easy to drop into negativity, join the band of naysayers and add to the collective heap of online bile, insult and misery. I try to add to the sum of happiness on the internet, rather than subtract.
So I was a bit surprised the other day to find myself half way through a blog post that was overwhelmingly negative, downbeat and, let’s be honest, a bit moany. One bad meal out and I had found myself unleashing my frustration on my keyboard. But to what end? I sat back, thought for a while. Then deleted the post and wrote this one instead.
What I realised is this. If you are a fan of the place I was half way through laying waste to, then you are unlikely to be swayed by my arguments. You will probably just get angry and then you might shout at me. You might leave an angry comment IN CAPITAL LETTERS. With lots of exclamation marks!!!!!! This blatant disregard for grammar will, in turn, make me upset. We all lose.
On the other hand, if you agree with my assessment, you may nod sagely and leave a nice comment. We can virtually pat each other on the back and agree never to go there again. But then we have to find somewhere else to eat. We know where not to go, but not where to go. If we’re not losing, we’re certainly not winners.
But there is a third way. Let me turn this tide of negativity into a surge of positivity. Instead of telling you where I don’t like to eat, why don’t I suggest some places that I really enjoyed? Perhaps you might enjoy them too. And then, just maybe, we might all be winners.
We love Hubbox. In particular, their food. You might think this a silly thing to say about a restaurant, but there are many other things that could endear Hubbox to you. They are a pop-up burger and beer joint in Exeter and the slightly temporary, just-sprung-up vibe is probably a big part of the draw; they exude an urban chic that is a bit new for Exeter. Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh on poor old Exeter there, but a bit of contemporary cool probably goes further down here than it would in some of larger cities in the country. Not only that, but they also serve a pretty mean selection of bottled beers. We spotted the Bristol Beer Factory, Harbour and Brewdog on their shelves and that is a good set of beers to have to pick from.
But I have to turn your attention back to the food, as that is simply the biggest and best part of their offering. They could deck the place out in formica and only serve John Smith’s and I would still go back there, just for the food. If you give her the opportunity, Mrs RB will extol the many virtues of their pulled pork. I, on the other hand, have yet to venture beyond the Classic Cheese with Cornish Blue. It’s too tasty to risk trying anything else.
I once had a friend who, when in McDonalds, would only ever eat Big Macs. He had tried one the first time he went into McDonalds and had liked it so much that he was afraid that, were he to choose something else and it turned out to be not as good, he would have wasted an opportunity to have a Big Mac. At the time I thought him mad. To be fair, I still do; I mean, McDonalds? A Big Mac? But I can now at least appreciate the logic behind his madness. The thing is though, I’m pretty sure that I will enjoy everything on the Hubbox menu. I’m not sure I could say the same for a filet-o-fish.
As you may have gathered, I am not sitting on the fence with this one. We were very impressed with Hubbox. It’s not going to be the cheapest place in Exeter to get a burger, but you will be hard-pressed to find a better one. And even if you have to pay a pound or two more, you still won’t have to break the bank to eat there: the Classic comes in at under a fiver and you can add a portion of chips for £1.50.
We stumbled upon this alfresco cafe on the Barbican after our trip to the Plymouth Gin distillery. It was a grey Devon day but it was just about warm enough still to sit outside and enjoy a cup of coffee and a very tasty late lunch. The Real Food Kitchen has a real focus on using west country produce and run a lunchtime delivery service in Plymouth, as well as their waterside cafe and outside catering service.
As I warmed my hands around a cup of Devon Coffee and waited for my falafel wrap, I could look out over the moored yachts, watching as seagulls the size of eagles fought each other, beak and talon, for a dropped chip or a discarded pasty. This was not unlike the scene that unfolded when two plates of food were delivered to me and Mrs RB, as we scrambled to claim our lunch.
The falafel wrap itself was not only tasty but also warming, taking the edge off of any chill that might have come from sitting outside in November. The only word of warning I have to offer, is to watch out for the baby carrots. They have been pickled so, whilst delicious, it is not recommended that you pop the whole thing in your mouth in one go.
You have been warned.
And there you have it: a blog post about two eateries I think you might like to visit, instead of one about a restaurant I didn’t like. Are we all winners? I’ll leave that to you to decide. But I’m pretty sure I’m not a loser. [Insert your own joke here]