Café at 36 was the last stop on my mini coffee-tour of Exeter. It’s somewhere I’ve been aware of for a long while and have long wanted to visit. The other side of the River Ex from the city centre, and a stone’s throw away from Exeter St Thomas station (first stop south of Exeter St David’s on the line to Plymouth), it’s an easy, if not particularly pretty, 15 minute walk from the centre.
However, it’s definitely worth the walk (or the short train ride). Best described as a neighbourhood greasy spoon with excellent coffee, Café at 36 is worth a visit for the food, the cake or for the coffee (or any combination of the three). The menu is typical café fare: cooked breakfasts, panini, sandwiches, jacket potatoes, plus flans and various platters. One of the things that helps Café at 36 stand out from the crowd is a commitment to local sourcing wherever possible. The other, is, of course, the speciality coffee, which comes from Cornish roasters, Origin.
It’s a friendly, down-to-earth sort of place. You’re not going to find the latest single-origin pour-over filters on the menu, but that doesn’t stop it being an excellent spot.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Like everywhere I visited on my short tour of Exeter, Café at 36 is long and thin (Darkhorse Espresso was long, L-shaped and thin). There are a couple of high tables in the window and then two rows of round tables marching towards the back where you’ll find the counter. Those on the left are mostly two-person tables, while those on the right are four-person. Just for variety, half way down on the left, the room narrows a bit, only to widen out again when you get up towards the counter.
You could comfortably fit 40 people in if they were willing to share tables, which is just as well since it was constantly busy for the hour and a half that I was there. It was never so full people couldn’t find a seat, but empty tables were frequently at a premium, making getting good photographs rather tricky (I don’t like sticking my camera in people’s faces if I can help it!).
Café at 36 is full of little touches, such as fresh flowers on every table. I know they were fresh because the flower lady came in and changed them while I was there. The walls were full of various paintings and photographs, along with a fair few community notices.
Right at the back is the aforementioned counter, with cake in the centre and espresso machine on the left. The cake was tempting, but I was here for a late (3 o’clock) lunch and was pleased to find that the breakfast menu was (after some deliberation) still available. I treated myself to a vegetarian cooked breakfast with extra toast (my normal order under such circumstances) and then, when that was dealt with, went back to tackle the coffee and, belatedly, the cake.
Café at 36 deals with a mixed customer-base, with all ages represented when I was there, from six months to sixty years and counting. The coffee reflects this, with some fairly mammoth mugs catering for those with chain-like tastes, while for the more discerning (picky? Awkward?) such as me, there were espressos, macchiatos and flat whites on offer. I was a little bit espresso-ed out at this point, so decided to have a flat white, which came in the perfect-sized cup.
Café at 36 is another outlet for Cornish roasters, Origin, so this meant that during the day I’d managed the complete Origin set: espresso (Artigiano Espresso), piccolo (Devon Coffee) and flat white (here). My flat white was excellent, the coffee blending well with the milk, the fruity/sharp notes I’d detected at Artigiano complimenting the sweetness of the milk. Of course, I should’ve tried all three at all three places, just to be on the safe side, but you can’t have everything!
I was still full from my brunch, so wimped out on the cake front, but then felt guilty and compromised by taking an Ugly Bun to keep me company on the (very) long train ride back to Guildford. An Ugly Bun, for the uninitiated such as myself, is a cross between a delicious thing and an even more delicious thing (a rich dough, laced with raisins, described as somewhere between a Chelsea Bun and a Lardy Cake). It was, as I discovered, very sustaining and the ideal companion for all long train journeys!
|36 COWICK STREET • EXETER • EX4 1AW|
|www.cafeat36.co.uk||+44 (0) 1392 410352|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Sandwiches, Cake|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Saturday||09:30 – 16:00||Power||Yes|
|Sunday||10:00 – 15:00||Mobile||3G, Voice|
|Chain||No||Visits||23rd January 2014|
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