Where do you go in Exeter for a great value express lunch menu? Skandel at Circa 1924 that’s where. A small menu of beautifully presented hot Nordic inspired dishes brought to Exeter by head chef Lauri Hilli. Using local ingredients and Lauri’s heritage to create some exciting and memorable dishes that make you feel like you are sitting by a crystal fjord in Scandinavia.
We started with some recommended drinks. Cloudy lemonade which was made at the bar using lemon juice, sugar syrup and dill. We also had a Scandi berry spritzer. A cocktail of blueberries, lingonberry powder, agave nectar and soda water. Both were wonderfully refreshing and got us into the Scandinavian flow of things. Both drinks were priced at £4.50. Up the anti a little and add Lakka (a cloudberry liquor) for a further £2.50. Had it not been lunchtime and with me having a meeting straight after then I might have taken the waiter up on this!
The menu is small with three starters and three main courses to choose from. To me a small menu shouts fresh, seasonal produce and I was correct.
The starters on Friday 19th February were Dagens Soppa (soup of the day) which happened to be pea. Gravid Lax which is cured salmon served with potato salad and pickled cucumber. Lastly there was Jägar Toast. Creamed mushrooms with Västerbotten cheese on toasted sourdough. I chose the cheesey mushrooms on toast and Steve had the Gravad Lax. The Jäger Toast was everything I had hoped it would be. I was hungry and craving something hearty as my starter and this fitted the bill. A creamy sauce covering sautéed mushrooms piled high on sourdough toast. A generous garnish of salad leaves dressed in a vinagrette cut through the creaminess of the cheesey sauce. Steve’s Gravad Lax was sliced so thinly it resembled stained glass on the plate. Beautifully presented with potato salad and pickled cucumber. The fresh green of the pickles and the peachy pink of the salmon looked stunning against the black background. Both dishes got our seal of approval and made us excited for things to come.
I had chosen the Lant Sallad. A salad of mackerel, beetroot, new potatoes, tenderstem brocolli, picked cucumber, carrot and red onion. Visually it was the most beautiful dish. The colour contrasts of the dark green of the tenderstem brocolli, the orange of the carrot and the pink of the pickled red onion really got my taste buds going! They say you eat with your eyes don’t they? Chef Lauri has got this dish visually perfect! Steve had the Köttbullar. Devon reared venison meat balls in a cream sauce served with boiled new potatoes, lingonberries and parsley. The meatballs were delicious and the combination of flavours from the sauce and lingonberries worked really well. The only criticism here is that it could have been hotter. The other main course choice was Kyckling and Rotmos. A chicken schnitzel with dill and lemon butter with a root vegetable mash. A table near us had this choice and I heard them say very good things about it. The two courses here come in at an amazing £10.95! Such good value for delicious food in an attractive setting.
Dessert is an optional extra at £6 if you fancy it. Obviously we did but its not compulsory. The two course lunch and a delicious non alcoholic cocktail is approximately £15.00. I think you would struggle to find such good value in Exeter.
Our very attentive and enthusiastic waiter said we had to try the lingonberry icecream so we took up his recommendation. I fancied the Västerbotten cheese with honey. Cheese and honey is my absolute favourite and I couldn’t leave without trying some of the the traditional Scandinavian cheese. It reminded me of a cross between Parmesan and a good strong English cheddar. Perfect with the sweet honey and sourdough bread. Our waiter was spot on with his recommendation too. The lingonberry icecream was exquisitely creamy and delicate. Served with a beautifully crunchy sweet rye bread crumb and caramel. Both dishes were decorated with delicate edible flowers. The presentation could not be faulted. Coffees and teas are also available to finish off your meal.
We both commented on the service being polite, enthusiastic and efficient. Very Scandinavian perhaps? The food was exquisitely presented and the flavours were outstanding. I would definately like to return and try the other things on the menu. Maybe upgrade my non alcohol cocktail with a little cloudberry liquor! I mean, cloudberry liquor! How perfectly wonderful sounding?
Skandel @ Circa 1924 serve their express lunches Tuesday to Saturday 12-2.30pm. I suggest you stop by to transport yourself off to the Nordic fjords for an hour or so.