The Rusty Bike, Exeter

Last week I went to visit my cousin in Exeter. The Rusty Bike is her favourite place to eat so I was really excited to see what all the hype was about. Conveniently a five minute walk from her house it is tucked away from the normal Exeter visitor. I love The Rusty Bike’s ethos; “our aim is to minimise the distance from producer to plate” by maintaining good relationships with local landowners and game keepers and even foraging for goods such as wild garlic.

 

The atmosphere here is great. A mixture of dedicated locals and students fill the pub with mix-matched furniture and board games to play whilst you’re waiting for your meal (not that you’ll be waiting long).

 

Starters:

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“Pan fried squid” with feta curd, pesto, tomato relish and chilled tomato consommè

This starter was truly delicious. It was the perfect portion size with for a starter and everything was balanced beautifully. It was a fresh and light dish which left me hungry for my main! My cousin had the gnocchi which was just as wonderfully presented. It came with a cloche on it, filled with smoke which looked great but left the meal tasting purely of smoke which was so disappointing considering how lovely it looked. We raised the problem with the waitress and we were delighted with their response; a complimentary meal another time. The Rusty Bike is not only passionate about great quality, local food but their customers and this really came across during the evening. Since our meal the gnocchi has been taken off the menu but I wanted to share the beautiful presentation with you:

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Mains:

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“Rusty bike fish and chips” – line caught pollock fillet, homemade tartare sauce, chunky chips, shoots, mushy spring peas and purée

Never have I seen such a beautifully presented plate of fish and chips. Come to that, never have a tasted such a delicious plate of fish and chips. It almost feels wrong calling it “fish and chips” because it felt like it was so much more than that. Everything on the plate was absolutely delicious, I loved the tartare sauce and capers, a classic combination but taken to a new level of excellence. I’m not usually a fan of mushy peas but I really enjoyed these! The chips aren’t pictured but let me reassure you… great chips!

My cousin had the burger which she was really happy with:

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I can completely understand why The Rusty Bike is a favourite for my cousin. Beautifully presented food that really does take your breath away and tastes equally as good, if not better. I could not recommend this place enough, it is reasonably priced, you will not be left disappointed as it is staffed by a great host of people dedicated to great quality food, beverages and service. Lastly, my cousin went back for the complimentary meal, here are a few pictures to get the tummy rumbles going…

 Starter: “Ham and peas”

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Main: “Ragout of locally shot rabbit” risotto

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Pudding: “Dark chocolate and passion fruit”

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Opus at Cornwall Street, Birmingham

I visited Opus at Cornwall Street to celebrate the end of final year exams. I had heard lots of great things about the place and so wanted to check it out for myself. With it being a 2 AA Rosette restaurant with some of the finest, seasonal ingredients it is a top end restaurant with prices to match, but we were celebrating so decided to take the plunge.

 

We were greeted by a gentleman who took our coats set the standard for the service to come. Not only are you paying for the food here but a seamless and professional service. We were offered two menus: the Market Menu and A La Carte. The Market Menu consists of 2-3 dishes per course for a reduced rate that changes everyday. The A La Carte had considerably more choice with 6-7 dishes to choose from. Both menus are tweaked daily to make the most of seasonal produce which I love. After much consideration we decided to go for the A La Carte because after all we were celebrating and several things jumped out at us.

 

We began with a few oysters each. Served with shallot vinegar and fresh horseradish, they were delicious. Wonderful and fresh, they slipped down without a second thought. The dish they were served in (pictured below) meant the table remained clutter free. We had some bread at the same time, which was served warm. The butter was perfectly soft and easily spreadable. A touch I really appreciated; I hate spreading butter fresh out of the fridge onto bread because it doesn’t spread!

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For starters, Danny and I went for the same, pan-fried breasts of quail, confit leg, fresh peas and watercress salad. It was wonderfully juicy and tender. I love the combination with the apple which gave it a really light and fresh taste. My favourite part of the dish was the centrepiece of the dish (see picture below)which was nice and crisp on the outside yet still juicy on the inside. A wonderfully light dish which set the path for the star of the show.

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Now the main… the main was delicious, John Dory, scallops, crushed salad blue potatoes, spiced cauliflower fritters and a spiced cauliflower purée. The John Dory was perfectly cooked and the skin was beautifully crispy. The scallops were huge and meaty and lightly browned on the outside and the curried parsnip purée and fritters were sensational. Finally, the potatoes, were lovely and soft and more BLUE (how exciting!). This dish really was delicious and I will be dreaming of it for weeks to come; an ideal dish as summer draws closer.

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Overall, I really enjoyed this extravagant evening (for a student). I would love to head back soon but fear for my bank balance. Nonetheless, this is not to say it is overpriced, you pay for what you get and that is brilliant service, delicious food and an upmarket but relaxed atmosphere. I would really recommend Opus and would love to go back to try something from the Market Menu.