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I always worry that Eating Exeter gets a bit unbalanced towards my end of Exeter. But the urge to write about Brody’s has been with me for months now, ever since I saw the poster and put a post on Eating Exeter counting down the days till it opened, it has been the most popular post on this blog. Everyone wants to know about Brody’s! Given this, I broke my ‘three month rule’ and came a bit earlier then I thought I might do.
It used to be, years ago, an arcade. Lines of fruit machines lined the walls with lots of unconvincing prizes in the window. Then it closed and turned quite rapidly in to a Starbucks. For a couple of years, this Starbucks made the coffee life in Queen St. an interesting one, torn between corporate goodness and independent niceness. But then, mysteriously it closed. And for a while, it laid unoccupied and unloved. Until a few months ago when it started the transformation in to a unique addition to the Exeter food scene.
Bouncing off the success of their Torquay restaurant, the owners have decided that expansion in to virgin territory is the way to go. An independent business, this breakfast bistro is a welcome addition to the dining life of Queen Street.
I couldn’t help but ask the question though. Is it actually any good? Is it worth the price? Because the first thing you notice on the large boards in the window, is the price. Before we start picking at this, remember, it is unlimited. The more you eat, the better value it will be.
Readers will know that I quite like buffet style eating. You can eat as much or as little as you like, you can create combinations and tastes that you would not have been able to achieve with a set menu. Your freedom goes beyond conventional dining, you are given buffet aided wings to have whatever the fark your heart desires. Is it really mass catering, catering for the masses though?
Brody’s doesn’t feel like that, although it is a buffet it isn’t all about food being kept hot under a warm lamp or a hot cabinet, this really feels more like a cafe than a buffet restaurant.
The young man behind the counter greeted us warmly, his mid-western American accent was a welcoming one. You pay before you eat here, which makes sense but I would be interested to see how they deal with complaints. He explained the set-up and off you go.
Pricing is pretty easy, you have five options. Starting at £2.99 for unlimited toast and cereal, you can move up to have a Pancake Breakfast which is £6.49 right up to The Legendary Breakfast which is £9.99, which gives you free reign to have whatever you want. The English Breakfast is £7.49 which consists of an unlimited English Breakfast, and then unlimited drinks which are £2.49 or there abouts. Brody’s has a Facebook Page but no website as such? The menu on the Facebook page doesn’t tally with what the prices were in the Queen Street bistro which is quite confusing.
I had the unlimited English Breakfast and Tori had the Pancake Breakfast, as she wanted to see how authentic they were to the genuine American article.
The quality of the English Breakfast was really good, even for a buffet style arrangement. Chefs busy cooking things behind the hot counter, make sure that there is always freshly cooked items on the go. Never at any point did I find that something had ran out, the staff here seem pretty on-the-ball and very friendly!
Locally sourced where possible, and very tasty. The chef behind the counter struck up conversation, he seemed amiable and we had a short but pleasant exchange. I piled up my plate and toddled back to my stool. There was quite an impressive range of items to have with the English Breakfast. Fried Eggs (that were not hard, but done exactly how I liked them), Black Pudding, Hash Browns, Mushrooms, Baked Beaks, Sausages, Bacon etc. Plus you can have your DIY Toast too. The different sorts of breads seemed quite impressive, ranging from tiger loaf to bog-standard wholemeal.
Tori went for the Pancake Breakfast. This was a pleasant surprise, given she came with high standards in mind. They were, according to her, the most ‘authentic pancakes outside of the US’ that she had tasted. The Pancake Breakfast is a great idea, but my one criticism would be that the Pancake machine most probably needed to be faster, or another one provided as it was very slow. And on occasion, it would seem to produce mini pancakes for no apparent reason (not a reason that we could work out anyway).
The range of sauces that you could use with your pancakes was to be commended. You could have them with pretty much anything, Nutella, Maple Syrup, the list goes on.
The unlimited drinks option was also something which was worth writing home about too, they have Energy Drink and Vimto on tap, not to mention the other favourites. Downside was that the Orange Juice wasn’t fresh, it was some sort of concentrated concoction which was a tad disappointing. But they had PG Tips and Yorkshire Tea, I ended up having three cups in the end.
Past the niggly things, like the orange juice, this is a great place and is somewhere I’ll be visiting again and recommending too. But not to those people with small appetites or with personal space issues. Given the seating is arranged ala ‘Wagamama’ where you are forced to eat with strangers if its really busy. Some people like this, but I have to say I am far too English for such things :)
I got my money’s worth. But only after feeding myself like a bucket monster. If you want an English Breakfast and you have a small appetite for instance, then you might be disappointed given there are cheaper places to go for the same thing, however, less choice. It is a balance that is hard to strike, especially if it is an ‘unlimited’ business model. How can you afford to maintain a profitable business by underselling yourself? You can’t. But, if you need your fill, then this is the definitely the place.
The service was incredibly friendly (I can’t say that enough), and although they don’t have free wifi (and have no plans to get it by the sounds of it) it is a good place to meet friends for coffee or for some people watching. However, the seating is not designed with personal space in mind, and if you have problems with sitting on high fixed stools, you might have issue with the majority of the seating as well as there was only one bank of seats at a standard level. I am wondering how they would cater for wheelchair bound or those of limited mobility.
To conclude. Great food, alright value given the fixed price and buffet arrangement, awesome service but intimate seating arrangements. This Bistro would be a brilliant venue for a post night-out review or some serious eating. Just make sure you’re very hungry when you visit to get the best out of your experience.