Since returning to Exeter on Saturday, I have handed in a 3000 word essay and sat the last exam of my academic career. I have also embarked on the first of my New Year’s Resolutions: to go and experience more of the “hidden gems’ (and not so hidden gems) that our gorgeous little city has to offer!
So, on Saturday evening, we headed to the Magdalen Chapter hotel to meet my parents for cocktails. The Magdalen has just recently re-opened (it was previously known as Hotel Barcelona) and although I didn’t see my parents’ room, I was very impressed by the downstairs. It used to be an eye hospital and so it has a very Downton Abbey-esque feel to it, and inside it is all fireplaces and indoor/outdoor features.
The cocktail menu is small – there are around 8 offerings on it – but unusual: only the “cocktail of the month,” the White Russian, was what I would call a “standard.” Judging by the winter-y twists on many of the drinks, I would imagine they change it up fairly regularly or at least seasonally.
I opted for the Honey Plum Margarita (at the front): tequila, honey syrup, and muddled damsons. The first couple of sips were very strong, almost unpleasantly so, but once I got past that the combination of the plum & honey sweetened things up a little! Sophie went for the Hendricks Martini (centre), which is gin, cucumber, lime juice and elderflower liqueur: an English country garden in a glass! I really liked this one and would have ordered it myself for round two had I not opted to move onto wine. And finally, we sampled the Magdalen, which both Kate and my mum ordered. According to the menu, it has muddled blackberries as its “heart,” which explains why it didn’t taste so strong as the others, along with lemon citrus (what does this mean?!) and raspberry vodka. This one was also very nice, and we made up our minds to return to the Magdalen bar one day very soon to sample some of the others!
Later that evening we returned to one of our new favourites, Bill’s, for dinner. I’d never been for “real” food before, only Christmas dinner and brunch, but I’d been lusting after the menu for so long that I hardly even needed to look at it. We got the antipasti between all of us to start. It disappeared way too quickly for me to get a picture but it consisted of truffled salami, prosciutto, coppa, goat’s cheese, and focaccia, which is basically my weakness in life.
My picture of my peri peri chicken didn’t come out well at all and for whatever reason I didn’t take another one, but trust me, it was delicious. The dish was really made by the rice, lemon and coriander “salad” it came with; I would happily have eaten that alone! Instead, here’s a picture (Instagrammed, natch) of the Eton Mess my mum ordered for dessert:
I don’t even like Eton Mess – not a fan of all that cream – but that looks delicious, no?