Exeter’s growing speciality coffee scene is mostly concentrated in and around the centre, particularly since Darkhorse Espresso out on the Magdalen Road closed a couple of years ago. However, this is changing with the appropriately-named Magdalen Road Bakery, a bakery (the clue’s in the name) which doubles as a lovely café, serving breakfast, lunch and speciality coffee from Origin. There’s the ubiquitous Pathfinder blend, which is joined on espresso by decaf, while there’s also a single-origin batch-brew filter.
All the bread, as well as the cakes and pastries, are baked on-site, while all the food’s prepared at the back on an open counter-top kitchen. There’s not much seating, just two long benches, one at the front, where you get the smell of the coffee being ground, and one at the back, where you get the smell of baking in the morning and cooking throughout the day. Either way, you win.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Exeter’s Magdalen Road runs due east, slightly south of the city centre. It has a village feel, lined with small shops, restaurants and cafés, and well worth the short stroll from the centre. This is particularly true given the presence of the Magdalen Road Bakery, a modest spot on the north side of the road. There’s a recessed door on the left, with the remainder of the front taken up by three tall, wooden-framed windows, beneath which is a solitary bench.
Looking at the windows, you get your first clue: on the right, next to the stacked loaves of bread and trays of pastries, there’s an EK-43 grinder and a La Marzocco Linea espresso machine. Stepping inside, you’re assailed by a wave of competing odours: freshly-baked bread mingles with freshly-ground coffee, while from the back, whatever’s cooking sizzles away on the counter-top hob.
Behind you and to the right, the window doubles as both display area for the bread and coffee station, with the till in between, where you pay on your way out. More goodies, including cakes, are displayed along the wall to your left, while the middle of the room is occupied by two long, communal tables, each with a bench on either side for seating. Finally, at the back, there’s a counter-top kitchen which is where all the food is prepared, behind which are the bread ovens, although you’ll need to be in by 8.30 if you want to catch the bakers at work.
Grab a seat and the staff will come to take your order. There’s unlimited toast (an excellent idea if ever I heard one), with breakfast served until noon (two o’clock at the weekend), while there’s lunch and a choice of three sourdough toasties from noon until three o’clock. The menu largely bread-based and almost entirely vegetarian, while those craving meat can add bacon to various dishes. I had avocado, tomato salsa and poached egg on granary sourdough toast and it was excellent. The egg was beautifully poached, while the toast was nice and crunchy.
The coffee is from Origin, with the Pathfinder blend in the Mythos 1 grinder, while the EK-43 handles decaf and the single-origin option, which is available as a batch-brew filter. I was on a day-long tour of Exeter, so paced myself with a decaf flat white, which was also excellent, the coffee coming strongly through the milk. This, by the way, comes from Bruton Dairy in Somerset and was beautifully steamed, holding the latte art all the way to the bottom of the cup.
|59 MAGDALEN ROAD • EXETER • EX1 1TB|
|www.facebook.com/MRBExeter||+44 (0) 1392 273200|
|Monday||07:30 – 16:00||Roaster||Origin (espresso + batch brew)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 16:00||Seating||Tables, Bench (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 16:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||07:30 – 16:00||Service||Table|
|Friday||07:30 – 16:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||07:30 – 16:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||07:30 – 16:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||7th August 2017|
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