Conference 2011: Eating in Exeter

Exeter has a wide range of restaurants, a number of which are well renowned. Did you know that Michael Caine (one of our local chefs who has two restaurants in the region) was rated as the top restaurateur in England by the Times in late 2010? The following information should offer you a guide to these eating places. This information should be especially useful on Wednesday 27th April, when you will need to find your own evening meal and explore Exeter. The Money Saving Expert (MSE) website can be used to find vouchers to eat at a reduced price at many of these restaurants


The Princesshay Centre

Just off the main high street you will find the newly built Princesshay Shopping Centre. This begins at Next/Topshop and ends at Barclays Bank. Within the Princesshay Centre you will find several restaurants (most of which are part of larger national chains) where you can eat at all times of the day. These include:


Strada is an Italian restaurant with a difference. This restaurant doesn’t just serve pasta and pizza and it tries to change the menu regularly. There is a huge glass wall across the front of the building which allows you to see out across the street as you eat. The prices are reasonable, with main courses at approximately £8.

Cafe Rouge

Cafe Rouge is a French restaurant serving a range of dishes, from steak to croque monsieur. The restaurant is relatively large and can accommodate some large parties. On week nights customers can often find a table relatively easily. You could also check the MSE website for voucher details, as there are often reduced priced offers at this restaurant


Giraffe is a cafe/restaurant which serves a range of meals, but specialises in dishes like burgers and fajitas. This is a relatively small restaurant but it also has some large tables. There is also a good cocktail menu available at this restaurant in the evening.


Nandos specialises in spicy chicken dishes from Portugal and not much else. But those who love these dishes go back there very often! Nandos is also a chain restaurant that can be found across Britain. Nandos is relatively large and it is rarely hard to find a table in this restaurant. The prices are very reasonable and the service is quick

La Tasca

La Tasca is a chain of restaurants offering Spanish-style tapas. The menu is wide ranging and interesting and the restaurant is relatively large. The prices are also relatively reasonable, with offers often available on the MSE website. La Tasca can be found towards the bottom of the Princesshay development, next to Cafe Rouge.


Carluccio’s is also an Italian restaurant chain. It is potentially the hardest of the restaurants in the Princesshay centre to get a table in, largely owing to its popularity. The prices here are slightly more expensive than the other chains, but there is a wide range of options and a take-out deli option. This restaurant is also at the bottom of the Princesshay Centre, near to the Post Office.


Coal is next door to Strada, in the centre of the Princesshay Centre (it also has a glass front). Coal is a grill restaurant – largely serving grilled meat dishes and speciality skewers. The prices are reasonable and there is a nice bar in the bottom of the restaurant.


Wagamamas is a well-known Asian food restaurant, serving a range of curries, stir fries and soups. The beauty of this restaurant is the fast service and the enormous tables (very suitable for large parties wanting to eat together at short notice). The restaurant is located near to Strada and Coal in the Princesshay Centre.


Other Chain Restaurants

Outside of the Princesshay centre, Exeter also has a number of other chain run restaurants which include the following:


Ask is a well-known Italian chain which specialises in pasta and pizza. This restaurant is well worth a visit because of its beautiful location on the Cathedral green and in a listed building. The prices are very reasonable and deals can often be found on the MSE website.


Zizzi’s is also an Italian restaurant and it is run by the same company as ASK. Zizzis offers pizza and pasta, but in a slightly different style to that which you would usually expect from an Italian restaurant.  Zizzi’s can be found in Gandy Street, a small street off the main high street. If you walk down the high street and turn right at the Tesco metro store, turn right again at the next corner and then left immediately you will be on Gandy Street. You will find Zizzis half the way down this road. This is a reasonably priced restaurant which often has offers on the MSE website.

Pizza Express

Pizza Express is another Italian chain offering pizza and pasta. This restaurant is also worth the visit for the location, as it is based on the Cathedral green in the centre of the city and in a listed building. The restaurant has two floors and can seat large numbers. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, which means that it is easy to find a table in the evening. The prices in this restaurant are reasonable and competitive and deals can often be found on the MSE website.

Pitcher and Piano

Just off the main high street, on Queen Street (towards the train station) there is another chain restaurant called Pitcher and Piano. Although it is primarily a cocktail bar, it does serve a wide range of ‘traditional’ British food. The restaurant is relatively large and tables can often be found quite easily on week nights.

Bella Italia

This is another Italian restaurant, also part of the same chain as Cafe Rouge. This can be found on Queen Street, just off the main high street, around the corner from Tesco’s and Marks and Spencer’s.


Local Restaurants

Exeter also has a few local restaurants which are not part of national chains. These include:

Thai Orchid

This is a lovely (though slightly pricey) Thai restaurant which is located on the edge of the Cathedral green. There is a wide range of food served here in a small but comfortable restaurant.

Al Farid

Next door to the Thai Orchid restaurant is a traditional Morroccan restaurant. This restaurant serves a range of mezze or main meals. You can choose between the downstairs restaurant where you sit on cushions or the upstairs restaurant where there are tables and chairs. The food is very good and quite competitively priced. There are also some good options here for vegetarians.

Old Timers

Old Timers can be found just off the main high street. If you take a left just off the top of the high street (towards Boots) you will be in a square where there is a McGahey’s cafe, a Micheal Spiers jewellery shop and a Natwest cash point. Continue ahead, to the right hand side of the Micheal Spiers shop. Turn right almost immediately after the shop and you should see the Old Timers restaurant and the Timepiece nightclub on the right. The restaurant has a bar area downstairs serving substantial snacks (pizzas, pies, etc) and a restaurant serving very good meals upstairs.

The Old Firehouse

The Old Firehouse is a three story building where many live bands play. A number of our students spend a lot of their time in the firehouse, drinking local ales and ciders and eating the lovely home cooked food. There are a range of dishes available – sandwiches, pizzas, pies, salads, etc. The tables are large and can seat a number of people. The Firehouse is also just off the main high street. At the top of the high street (by Waterstone’s book shop) you need to turn left onto New North Road. The Firehouse is in the right hand side, just a short walk down the road. There is also a nice cocktail bar opposite called ‘Oddfellows’.

The Phoenix

The local arts centre also has a cafe/restaurant which opens in the early evening and serves a range of meals (from fajitas to sausage and mash). The food is reasonably priced, often locally sourced, and large in portion size. You will need to check the website for opening hours. The Phoenix can be found in Gandy Street, which is just off the main high street (please note that it is right at the end of Gandy Street, past Zizzis).


Fine Dining

Michael Caines Restaurant at ABode

Michael Caine is a well-known TV chef who has gained two Michelin stars at his restaurant in Dartmoor. He also has this restaurant in the Royal Clarence Hotel on the Cathedral green. The hotel also boasts Exeter’s only champagne bar. The restaurant is in a fantastic location and the food gets good reviews, but it is often fairly pricey (unless you can get an early bird deal before 6pm). There is a good cafe bar next door which is also run by Michael, and which serves slightly cheaper food.

The Conservatory

This is Exeter’s best kept secret – a very small but lovely restaurant – serving excellent food. The restaurant is fine dining in style, but not so small in the portions! The restaurant can be found on South Street, just off the main high street (down from Mcdonalds). It is advised to book at this restaurant because of its size. The food is on the expensive side, but a very reasonable two/three course menu can be had if you enter the restaurant before 6.15pm in the evening.

The Cat in the Hat

This restaurant is the closest to the conference venue as it is located on Magdalen Road, just a few minutes away from St Luke’s. It is a small, locally run, fine dining restaurant with some relatively expensive meals (mains from around £16). The restaurant does offer some cheaper menus from time to time. Booking is advisable because of the size of the restaurant (it is also not open every day in the week).

The Puffing Billy

This restaurant is located outside of the city centre in a small village called Exton. It is a fine dining, gastro pub that can easily be reached on the local train service. There is a small station in town ‘Central Station’, which runs a regular service to Exton (heading towards Exmouth). The food is amazing, as is the location. A good choice if you want to get out of the city!

The Galley

This restaurant is also based outside of the city centre, but this time in the village of Topsham. Topsham can also be reached by the same train from the city centre, being just a ten minute train ride from the centre. The Galley is a small restaurant in the centre of Topsham with an award winning chef. The food is amazing and the restaurant cosy. The food is also on the expensive side, but well worth the cost. Booking is strongly advised, given the size of the restaurant. The Galley is primarily a fish restaurant, given its location by the estuary.

The Rodean

The Rodean is also a fine dining restaurant just outside of the city centre, but unfortunately this restaurant can only be reached by road. A twenty minute taxi ride could get you to the restaurant. Alternatively there is a regular bus service from the main bus station to Dawlish which stops in Kenton (the village where this restaurant is based). The food is fantastic (as are all the extras!) and well worth the price. There are some cheaper menu options available in the week. Booking is strongly advised.

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