Restaurant 44 resides on Queen Street, Exeter. A short hop and a skip from Central Station and the High Street. Occupying the site of numerous restaurants over the years in many incarnations, I was intrigued to see what this newly opened, independent bar and restaurant had to offer.
When I was invited to Restaurant 44 I didn’t know what to expect. Normally on occasions like these, a friend has been or I have heard feedback on the grapevine but this time I was going in blind. Walking through the front door into the bar area you soon establish that this bar and restaurant is catering for a high-end clientele. The chic interior complete with dark wooden tables and velvet covered chairs sets the tone for the place. Specialising in champagnes, fine wines and cocktails I was spoilt for choice. My dining companion, on the other hand, is an ale drinker on the whole and the choices were far more limited for him.
Taking a seat in the bar we ordered our drinks. A glass of Viognier for me and a Meantime for Steve. Managing to claim a window seat we sat, chatted and watched the world go by whilst perusing the restaurant menu.
Cocktails were a popular choice at Restaurant 44 with most of the other clients taking up the offer of their “Happy Hour” with two-for-one cocktails. With a mix of couples and small groups, the atmosphere was buzzing.
After a short while, we were ushered to the restaurant area which is situated downstairs. A large space split into two halves with a more reserved decor. Fawn coloured walls with bright velvet cushions created a cosy atmosphere. Soft lighting and just enough background music to enable conversations from table to table to remain private.
Restaurant 44’s menu offers “unique dining with a twist” with many dishes from the modern European menu being cooked on an open coal barbecue. Orders were taken and starters delivered, I was happy with my choice. Crispy Baby Leeks, Blue Cheese, Smoked Crème Fraiche and Deep Fried Walnuts. The flavour combination was traditional but the crispy leeks added a new dimension to the dish. Steve ordered the Sea Bream Ceviche, Crispy Rice Noodles, Avocado Wasabi and Coriander. He found the dish lacked flavour. Of course, I had to try and I thought otherwise. The delicate fish with the crispy noodles hit the spot for me.
Next stop were the main courses. Hake, Crispy Mussels, Clams, Barbecue Lettuce with a Cider Sauce for me and the Sirloin Steak, Mushroom Cooked in Beef Fat, Triple Cooked Chips with a Cesar Salad. My dish was well balanced. The hake cooked to perfection and the creamy cider sauce that accompanied was divine. I loved the addition of the breaded, deep-fried mussels alongside. The combination of textures here worked very well. Steve asked for his steak to be as rare as the chef would dare. Unfortunately for his taste, it was a little overcooked but remained succulent, tender and full of flavour. The triple cut chips we both agreed were fabulous.
With no room for dessert, we decided to skip this course but there was plenty to tempt us. If only I had space for the “Rhubarb and Custard” Baked Custard, Rhubarb Donut, Poached Rhubarb and Crumble. That would have been the ultimate springtime dessert I am sure. Next time..
Overall we enjoyed our evening at Restaurant 44. Plus, it’s great to see a new and independent establishment giving the over-saturated chain restaurant market in Exeter a run for their money.
You will find Restaurant 44 at 44 Queen Street, Exeter, EX4 3SR.
To book a table visit their Website here or call 01392 982440.