Barista Brothers is a small Italian-orientated group of coffee shops with four outlets around southern England. The company's base is here in Plymouth, along with its flagship operation on Armada Way.
This is an atmospheric coffee shop with well-trained staff, simple but good eats (panini and cakes mostly) and when the sun's out the terrace is one of the city centre's most popular spots.
Unlike the Continent proper you have to order inside and wait for your coffees but food will be delivered to your table after ordering and paying for it.
Pic here was the optimistic setting up of the terrace in early March 2013 - it wasn't too cold and the location here is usually sheltered from the prevailing winds.
Many people knock Plymouth's Pannier Market for being drab and boring. But that kinda misses the point. The market provides everyday basics at very reasonable prices, along with freebie banter and excelllent service.
Whilst it's not somewhere where you'd expect to find culinary excellence it does have some very good, simple, eating places for both sit down and take away.
Thai Delight does both. This is a tiny corner stall, pretty much in the middle of the market hall, offering a short menu of wok and deep-fried Thai dishes cooked to order by their friendly cook. Green tea, canned and bottled beverages are available but no beer :-( Plus they stock a small range of authentic Oriental ingredients for sale at much better prices than you'll find in the local supermarkets.
Favorite Dish: Pad Thai with chicken worked for me on my last visit. Plenty of meat, ribbon noodles with just the right amount of bite, piquantly spiced, not too sweet and a good garlicky aftertaste.
Not particularly cheap at £5 per portion but substantial enough for a light and tasty lunch.
The bakery sells pasties including traditional and vegetarian. Prices range from 2 - 3.50 gbp. There is some seating inside and outside the shop should you want to eat your pasty.
Favorite Dish: I ordered a traditional pasty which was enjoyable and filling!
On arrival in Plymouth I stopped at Pizza Hut, an international pizza restaurant chain, on my to my guest house. Pizza Hut offers a variety of special deals such as 'Happy Hour'.
Favorite Dish: Pizza Hut offers a 'Happy Hour' menu from 3.00pm-6.00pm on weekdays. Happy Hour at 6 gbp offers the following:
Garlic bread or potato wedges
Pizza or pasta
Non alcoholic drink
I considered it good value for meal and had a satisfying meal.
I was recommended by my guest house to have a cream tea at this tea room and I was not disapppointed! It was nice spending time in this traditional tea room and housed in the Barbican, one of the oldest listed premises dating from 1640.
You can sit the gardens at the back which overlook the Elizabethan Gardens.
I, however, had to wait a bit before I was served but once I was my cream tea came promptly! I highly recommend having a cream tea or a meal at this tea room and I look forward to returning there on a future visit.
Favorite Dish: I ordered the traditional cream tea which consist of scones alongside tea. The scones were just freshly made (were still warm) and I had the scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream. I never tasted scones so delicious!
I'd been doing my undecided wandering around the Barbican trying to choose where (and what) I fancied to eat - I was sort of in a spicy mood, but maybe seafoody - when a rather attractive woman accosted me in the street. Well it's not the first time I've been accosted by a woman in Plymouth but on this occasion it was a more than welcome accostation.
"Do you like Indian food sir?" she enquired as she handed me a flyer advertising the Himalayan Spice.
Upon asking where it was she indicated that it was pretty much just round the corner and so thanking her I proceeded to investigate.
This turned out to be a rather interesting location for an Indian/Nepalese restaurant, residing an a listed former tavern on the idiosyncratically named "New Street" which is in fact one of Plymouth's oldest thoroughfares (formerly called "Rag Street").
The building dates back to perhaps the 16th century when this was Plymouth's main dock area and is an excellent example of the period architecture with its whitewashed rough-hewn stone construction, leaded windows and impressively timbered doorway. Inside the decor is as unIndian as unIndian can be featuring woodpanelled walls, open stonework and black and white beamed ceilings - a few discreet paintings and ornaments provide the only clues as to the restaurant's ethnicity (apart from the menu and the staff that is).
Service-wise I found the place a bit hit nor miss. Of the two waiters working the restaurant one was spot-on, friendly and attentive, whilst the other quite the opposite. It took an age to get a menu from the latter but once the former took over everything went swimmingly.
Favorite Dish: The menu covers the usual Indian restaurant classics - kormas, dhansaks, rogan josh etc but with little individual touches and Nepalese dishes. As is my wont I went straight for the Chef's Specials section and decided on the "Khatmandu Lamb".
This turned out to be absolutely delish - wonderfully tender chunks of lean meat (obviously well marinated) cooked in a rich coconut-based sauce with a good chilli bite and plenty of softer back flavours. Good pilau rice, OK puppadums with dips (dips were a bit uninteresting). Washed down with a couple of bottles of imported Cobra resulted in a bill under of 20 quid and so I can forgive a touch of lackadaisical service and made for overall a reasonable meal.
Just as a little codicil: the woman who accosted me arrived at the restaurant just as I was leaving and so I mentioned that her marketing worked - that seemed to brighten her day up.
One of the things I love about Plymouth (as well as its pubs) is the variety of individual, owner-run, restaurants in the city, and especially around the Barbican. Often I just wander until a place piques my interest and it was on one such evening that I discovered the Thai House.
This turned out to be an excellent choice. The restaurant was busy on a mid-week June evening but I was warmly welcomed by a rather charming Thai lady and upon enquiring as to the possibility of a table for one was whisked upstairs to the slightly less busy room above the main restaurant.
This was still suitably atmospheric as I shared the space with a trio of slightly grumpy Americans and a small group of happy Spanish visitors. Even though upstairs was slightly out of the way service was smilingly attentive, the ornamental themed decor managed not to be too kitschy whilst the profusion of fresh flowers was a clear indication of a caring (probably feminine) proprietorship.
Favorite Dish: The extensive main menu covers most of the familiar Thai favourites, with a slight emphasis towards seafood, and the party menus look particularly impressive. For me though a quick glance at the small "Monthly Specials" menu was all the reading material I needed - The seafood coconut soup to be followed by the sea bass with chillies and lime sold themselves effortlessly.
The soup was a properly made one, having the depth of flavour that comes from having been begun by the sauteing of fresh spices and the generous portion of seafood (prawns, mussels and squid) had obviously been cooked in the liquor at the last minute. Subtly seasoned and finished with coriander made this almost a meal in its right.
The sea bass too was exemplar. What I like about Thai food is the cleanness of flavours and here the fish had a very robust chilli heat, partly offset by a light coating of ginger and the citric freshness of the thinly sliced limes. But despite the spice the sea bass flavour came through perfectly - that's the secret of good Thai cooking. The massive helping of accompanying green vegetables were perfectly al dente and the fragrant rice as good as it gets.
This isn't the cheapest restaurant in town but with a £30 bill for two courses and a couple of Thai beers was perfectly good value for money.
A dinky and cheerfully tacky little number, Arribas consists of a downstairs restaurant and an upstairs tequila and cocktail bar which has a downsized menu based on the food served downstairs.
The tequila itself ranges from £2.20 to £8.95, cocktails from £4 to £6. Longer drinks like Sangria can be bought by the glass or by the jug.
In the restaurant there is a lunch menu, an evening menu and a childrens' menu.
They sell exactly the kind of food one would expect from a faux-Mexicana restaurant - fajitas, enchiladas, steaks, nachos, chillis... you get the picture.
If memory serves expect to spend something in the region of £15-£20 a head. I'm being vague as I've only eaten here in a large group. In fact it's the perfect place for a youngish works-do.
Favorite Dish: I'd love to spend time extolling the virtues of the food but, alas, I spent a little too long in the tequila bar. Or so I'm told.
I do remember the food being good.
It's kinda difficult to pass this little pasty shop even if you're not particularly hungry as the smells from the fresh baking pasties are just too tempting. Here they offer a range of different fillings, from the traditional to the exotic, and different sizes all freshly-baked in small batches.
Service is swift and friendly, prices are reasonable and the pasties filling and tasty.
Favorite Dish: Despite being tempted by the more exotic offerings I stuck with a traditional "Steak and Vegetable" which for a couple of quid made for an ideal, and quite substantial, lunch to sit on the dockside to enjoy. Note that even though Plymouth is a stone's throw from Cornwall these are still Devon pasties, not Cornish ones!!
This is a relatively recent addition to the Plymouth takeaway food scene and a very welcome one too. The Royal Gurkha specialises in Nepalese cuisine with a few of the more commonplace Indian favourites thrown in for good measure.
On my first visit the chef (Savya??) greeted me with a genuinely enthusiastic welcome as he asked whether it was my first visit and whether I knew anything about Nepalese food. I replied that yes it was my first visit and no I knew nothing about Nepalese food but that was why I'd dropped in - to see what it was about.
"Then you must try our house speciality - the Nepalese Kutta."
"Strangely enough that's exactly what I came in to try!"
So as my meal was cooking - like any good chef he had his assistant doing the actual work LOL - we got chatting and he explained that Nepalese food is very similar in style to that of Northern India but that the spicing is more subtle.
It certainly smelt good as it was cooking and once ready my new chef buddy added a couple of freebie puppadums with dips and a couple of onion bhajis as he bade me: "Enjoy - We'll see you again soon. Everybody comes back once they've tried us."
Yep, he was absolutely correct. My meal was delish and two days later I was back for more and got welcomed like a long-lost brother.
This isn't one of these plush takeaways serving up plasticky food within seconds of ordering. In fact it's a little scruffy and service isn't particularly fast but it is real food and the open kitchen, whilst obviously a working kitchen, is perfectly clean. Even If the food does take a bit of time to cook the friendly staff will keep you amused and the end result is well worth waiting for.
Favorite Dish: For my first visit the aforementioned "Nepalese Kutta" turned out to be a lamb stew slow-cooked with a powerfully aromatic array of subtle spices and finished with fresh tomatoes, peas and a good sprinkling of fresh coriander. The accompanying egg rice was infused with just a touch of toasted cumin seeds and was an ideal foil for the richness of the dish. The freebie stuff was much appreciated and turned my main course into a veritable feast.
My second visit I left the menu to the chef to decide upon - I just said I fancied something light and maybe seafoody. I was treated to the "Tandoori King Prawn Masala". This turned out to be a dozen big, juicy prawns marinated and cooked in a definitively flavoured masala. I can't remember what rice I had but this time I got a freebie naan bread and a side dish of spinach which once again turned my simple meal into a full-blown repast.
Yep certainly worth seeking out and whilst not the cheapest takeaways in town is definitely the friendliest and the food is great!
From the outside this looks just like any other Chinese takeaway and at first sight the interior with its formica serving counter and cheap plastic seating serves to reinforce the impression. However once you've noticed the Hi-tech computerised system linked to the hands-free telephones you realise that this little place is geared up to do some serious business.
And serious business it does do, especially at weekends. Not surprising really as the food is excellent, the menu extensive (well over 100 choices of main course), service is swift and the staff are friendly - even the kitchen guys when they pop out the side door for their fag breaks say "Hi" to customers.
Favorite Dish: Well I've kinda given the game away with the title. It really is good with big juicy prawns, slivers of duck and pork, plenty of vegetable noodles and a sauce with a spicy kick. At under a fiver this is exactly what Singapore Noodles should be.
And the Cantonese spicy sweet and sour chicken is pretty good too.
The Monday night that I visited was one of torrential horizontal rain and the city centre was pretty much deserted. One thing Plymouth's post-WWII planners didn't take into account is the wind-tunnel effect of building wide streets with rows of multi-storey building on either side. Being a coastal city, when the wind's up and it's also raining not even the sturdiest of umbrella's can survive and so you don't get many locals out in those sort of weathers.
Which is why I chose the New China Garden as it was only a 20 yard dash from the city centre Travelodge where I was staying. From the outside the ground floor entrance is quite inviting (and would have been more so if the "New Chin" bit of the neon signage had been working), modern and not too kitschy and the displayed menu is a comprehensive tour of culinary China.
The ground floor lobby and stairway are compact but the first floor restaurant is surprisingly spacious, almost cavernous. The "Meeter and Greeter" was a friendly Chinese woman and I was given my choice of tables, there being only one other table in the vast dining room occupied (by a small party of eight or so).
My drinks order was taken as I perused the menu and service throughout was pleasant and prompt. The decor, mostly black and red, is modernish but a little austere and the place a little soulless - even the party were quite subdued.
Favorite Dish: My food was merely OK. A starter of steamed pork dumplings were a little soggy and chewy and the accompanying black bean sauce thin and lacking in character. My Singapore noodles were a substantial plateful but without a decent chilli kick and a bit skinny on the prawns. Nothing to actually complain about with either course but nothing to write home about either.
My final bill was a tad over £20, including a couple of Tsing Tao beers and so it wasn't particularly cheap either and so overall I was kinda disappointed but then that rainy Monday wasn't doing the place any favours.
Plymouth certainly has a lot of "Institutions" as my previous tips sort of imply. Piermasters is no different - it is a local institution. This boldly claims to be "Plymouth's oldest seafood restaurant." Well I suppose it wasn't called "seafood" 30 years ago when Piermasters came onto the scene - it was called "fish and chips"!
Now that Plymouth's Barbican is becoming a "Gastro-city" I suppose it might just be allowable to let Piermasters in as the original "seafood" gaff.
This is a smart, modernly-revamped, buzzy place and when it's busy it rocks. The intelligently-written menus focus on local produce with obviously a bias to what comes off the boats. They don't neglect the "pied a terre" as evidenced by the lamb and beef dishes but for the best of the best check out the blackboards.
This isn't the cheapest restaurant in town, but then it's not the most expensive. It offers thrills and frills without pretentions and even the full-price options are value-for-money.
Service is professional, and friendly with it. The wine list is well worth a proper perusal and you can trust the staff to guide you through it. Also don't dismiss out-of-hand the house wines as these are individual to the establishment.
Favorite Dish: The best value for money option though has to be the "Early Evening Special" - two courses for £12.95 including in-house baked bread and a glass of wine.
The last time I ate I had the melt-in-the-mouth "Wild Mushroom and Chicken Liver Parfait" starter which came with crispy toasts and piquantly-offsetting chutney. Did the biz for my taste buds.
For main the steamed fillets of plaice were freshness personified. The garnish of greenery, which included local samphire, added to the healthy aspect whilst the crushed potatoes gave the whole thing substance. A drizzle of herb beurre blanc added a touch of moisture which rendered the dish complete.
The freebie Chenin Blanc was so good I just had to pay for a second glass!
PS Almost forgot to mention the buckshee amuese guielle - last pic lol ;0
SLOW SLOW SLOW service - pleasant staff force woefully mismanaged so that, even though there were more staff than customers, it took 15 minutes to place an order and another 40 for the food to arrive.
However, the pub itself is quite nice. The seats are comfy and they have a good little wine list. The Guinness, however, was not good although this is not unusual in a pub that relies on lunchtime trade. It's one of the mysteries of the universe. (Okay, not so mysterious then. Guinness can't hang around in the pipes for long and, as it's a heavy drink, people tend to steer clear of it at lunchtime - especially if they have to go back to the office)
THIS IS NOT A FREEHOUSE BUT IS PART OF THE BREWER'S FAYRE CHAIN.
It is also quite firmly of the nouveaux-olde school of interior design. You have been warned.
Favorite Dish: To start we shared a tomato, basil and mozzarella salad with balsamic vinegar which was fine but how hard is it to slice things and put them on a plate?
We also shared a baked brie which was excellent but again hardly rocket science. It was served with bread and (very hard) butter and a 'caramelised onion and balsamic vinegar chutney' which was too much like Branston pickle to my mind.
For main course Pie had battered fish and chips - the batter being a beer batter and much better for it. It was nice and light and didn't ooze grease when cut into. The fish was perfectly cooked - flaky but moist.
I had a three cheese linguine with grilled king prawns. The linguine was great but the king prawns a bland disappointment and the garlic bread with which is was served dry AND greasy which was a clever if inappropriate combination.
The meal as a whole was okay. Perhaps a little expensive for glorified pub grub but it's not as though they don't tell you the price until after you've eaten. Including tip we spent £16 per head for 2 courses and a drink.
A Plymothian institution, Cap'n Jaspers is a glorified burger stall on the dockside in the Barbican district. Now, they don't just serve burgers, but instead foot long hot dogs, burgers with half a tonne of various meat substances in "Jasperizers" - massive burgers with 1lb of beef, bacon, cheese, tomato, onion and tonnes else you can't beat it, especially for the cheap price.
Alongside the grease-fest you can get a mug of tea for 40pence, and for a 20p deposit you can have it in a mug filled to the brim, now where can you beat that!
Not for the health conscious mind!
Favorite Dish: Jasperizers - Meat, beef, bacon, cheese, tomatoes, onion, cheese, ketchup, mustard, relish, etc. etc. etc...........