From the sublime to the ridiculous. One my recent South West tour, I went from the Exploding Bakery to the Exeter branch of the Boston Tea Party, just two minutes’ walk down Queens Street. From the outside, it’s not much to look at (although the building is stunning) and when you get in, it doesn’t improve much. The ground floor is cramped, narrow and crowded, especially when the lunchtime queue is almost out of the door. But walk upstairs and you’re into a whole new realm of space and light. In a matter of minutes, I’d gone from somewhere with five chairs and two tables to, well, I’d hate to have to count them, so let’s say somewhere that could seat 100 easily…
I was there to try out the new food menu, having been prompted (ordered?) by the Boston Tea Party’s head of food, Anita Popham, and I wasn’t disappointed. As for the Tea Party itself, it’s like all the branches I’ve been to; each is recognisably a Boston Tea Party, but each is its own unique place. It’ll never surpass Park Street in my affections, but if I lived in Exeter, I’d spend a lot of time there.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The Boston Tea Party, the ever-expanding regional chain of coffee shops (a bit like my waistline as I selflessly sacrifice my figure in the quest for that perfect cake; all for you, dear readers), launched a new food menu at the end of 2012. Not that I can tell you much about it, since I’ve only had one dish so far, but it was excellent.
Following Anita’s recommendation, I went for the Kedgeree. For those (like me, before my visit) who don’t know what this is, it’s curried rice mixed with smoked fish and with a poached egg and yoghurt on top. I’ll be honest: on paper, that didn’t come across to me as the world’s most promising combination. However, it was delicious!
If anyone else has anything to say about the rest of the menu, please feel free to leave a comment. Personally, as much as I liked the Kedgeree, as long as the Boston Tea Party keeps Eggs Florentine on the menu, I’ll be happy. At heart I’m a fairly simple soul.
So, to the Tea Party itself. If this is your first visit, don’t be put off by the ground floor, or by the long queue (if there is one). When I was there, it was out of the door, but I waited no more than a couple of minutes before ordering. Once you’ve placed your order and collected your coffee, shoulder (I meant, make your way carefully) back past the queue and head upstairs, where a different world awaits you…
I loved the upstairs. The contrast from the somewhat cramped and crowded downstairs couldn’t be more vivid. From the moment you start walking up the broad, wooden stairs, you feel that you’re onto something special. There’s a well-upholstered comfy chair to greet you at the top and then you step in a large, square room, full of light and space, even though it’s packed with people. Maybe it’s the high ceilings and generous windows, or perhaps it’s the wooden floor (I love tiled floors but they really do echo, making any place that’s slight full sound much more crowded).
Whatever it is, I loved the upstairs space. Compared to the upstairs lounge at Park Street, for example, there are only a few sofas and comfy chairs, confined largely to the corners, while the main space is given over to wooden tables of all shapes and sizes. Although it was really busy, I didn’t have any trouble finding a spot to sit. There’s free wifi, of course, but only very limited power outlets, so that would be my only gripe.
Like the other branches, the artwork is unique. In this case, the Boston Tea Party was show-casing Joe Webster, who reminds me of the Impressionists at their best (for “best”, read “what I like of the Impressionists”!). The work was predominantly landscapes, mostly views of trees, orchards and forest meadows and I’d be very happy to have any of them hanging on my walls (although I might need a bigger house to do them justice).
All-in-all another excellent Boston Tea Party and worth a visit if in Exeter. I apologise, by the way, for the relative lack of photos. I had a train to catch and so my snapping was cut short!
You can also see what I made of all the other branches of the Boston Tea Party that I’ve visited.
|84 QUEEN STREET • EXETER • EX4 3RP|
|www.bostonteaparty.co.uk/our_cafes/exeter||+44 (0) 1392 201 181|
|Monday||07:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Extract (espresso + bulk-brew)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Comfy Chairs, Sofas, Bar|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 18:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 18:00||Cards||Visa, Mastercard|
|Saturday||07:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 18:00||Power||A few|
|Chain||Regional||Visits||31st October 2012|
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