A foodie guide to what's hot in Devon



Recently the hubby and I found ourselves locked in a cosy 1940’s styled Private Detective’s office in the middle of Exeter! Now I know what you’re thinking … but no this isn’t some kind of strange fetish we have. For some strange reason someone thought it would be fun to buy a slightly claustrophobic welsh woman and her control freak husband an Escape Room Experience for Christmas … thanks a bunch Guy!

In order to fortify ourselves for the ordeal we stopped off in one of the city’s hippest cafes – The Exploding Bakery. Situated right next to Central Station it’s definitely worth arriving early for your train so you can experience the fabulous coffee (both in taste and appearance) and their amazing cakes made by hand, in small batches by some very sexy people (their words not mine). While hubby plumped for their breakfast croissant stuffed full of ham and oozing cheese, I couldn’t resist the orange polenta cake which was melt in the mouth gorgeous.

It’s simple and eclectically styled with open shelves displaying kitchenalia to die for and kilner jars full of culinary delights such as kimchi and home-made jams. The open plan layout means you can see what’s cooking in the kitchen – great if you’re a bit of a food voyeur like me. We arrived as lunch was being prepared and watched as huge pans of tortilla were baked to perfection and rustic bowls were piled high with colourful and delicious looking salads.

After that came the making of the bread – clearly a beloved daily ritual. The 5 year old sourdough starter was gently lifted down from it’s warm and cosy home on top of the ovens and then mixed with flour and water poured from a well used vintage blue & white pitcher – no measurement necessary – this girl was a pro!

After spending the next hour or so defeating the most devious criminal mind known to Exeter and successfully proving the innocence of PI Jack Armstrong (just about) we thought we deserved lunch. After all it had been a couple of hours since breakfast …

The Cosy Club is situated on the ground floor of the old Dean Clarke Hospital and is a fantastic open and airy space with more than a touch of the theatrical about it. The high ceilings are strewn with clusters of vintage lampshades and the walls are crammed full of quirky art. I loved the nod to the original purpose of the building with anatomical charts and eye charts dotted around. I’m not sure where the stuffed animal heads fitted in or the enormous picture of Stalin … but it all added to the sense of fun.

The Cosy Club is a small chain which means that the menus are identical across venues. I’m always rather suspicious of a large menu and this one certainly had something for everyone – including burgers, steaks, brunch and breakfast items, salads and sandwiches – but everything looked fresh, portions were extremely generous and lots of empty plates made their way back to the kitchen. We opted for a few of the Tapas dishes including Pulled Chicken & Chorizo with Crispy Potatoes, the Mediterranean Sharing Plate and Crispy Chicken with a tangy soy and ginger dipping sauce and coriander, lime and chilli salad. These produced a riot of colour on the table and a riot of flavours in our mouths.

But the star of the show was the Melting Chocolate Bombe which consisted of a chocolate sphere filled with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce and topped with honeycomb. Hot chocolate sauce is poured over at the table resulting in a gooey chocolatey “mess” which we ended up fighting over. Food porn at its best, that pudding alone is definitely worth a re-visit. Check out their You Tube Video to get a sense of what you’re missing …

GO TO THE EXPLODING BAKERY IF … you fancy people watching with a deliciously smooth cup of coffee in your hand

MDD LIKES … the Mocktail menu at The Cosy Club – well we are doing Dry February …

PS … despite our initial reservations the Escape Room experience was FANTASTIC – we are definitely converts and contemplating a trip to Bucharest where apparently they have over 70 of the things!