The other day I received an email from someone at The Boston Tea Party letting me know about their updated menu and a new Vegan option. They asked if I would like to go and try it and provide some feedback.
In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t pay for the meal as it was provided free of charge, but I will be honest and open, as I always am with reviews whether they have been provided for free or I have paid for them.
The Boston Tea Party have places all over. There are four in Devon so I chose Exeter. I hadn’t been to Exeter centre for years so it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
As it was a free meal (two free meals to be precise) I thought I would take my mum with me! I told her I would treat her to lunch in Exeter. She sounded suspicious and when I told her why, she said that made more sense 😛
The place itself is cool and quirky. It has cool wooden floors and stairs. Upstairs is very open and welcoming with high ceilings, tables for 2, tables for 4 and long tables where you could get a party of people sat or, as the mood and atmosphere being as it was, could just join others already there. There were also some sofas and low tables. It did feel a little like a school hall or village hall in that it was very informal and relaxed. People on laptops and groups chatting. It was like a coffee shop mixed with a quirky cafe. If I had to compare it with anywhere it would have to be Lowe Mill in Huntsville, Alabama. I know that may not help many of you, but it was my initial thoughts when I was in there. Very friendly, quirky, artsy and a kind of old building that had been repurposed. (Btw, if you are ever in Huntsville, Alabama, you should take a look at Lowe Mill http://www.lowemill.net/ its awesome).
I took a look at the menu before getting to Exeter and already knew I wanted the Vietnamese Banh-Mi Sandwich which is “a toasted Hobbs House bakery baguette, stuffed with pulled jackfruit, pickled veg, cool vegan mayo and spicy Sriracha, served up with our new house coleslaw.” I had never had jackfruit before but have always wanted to try it in a pulled pork style so that was what I was looking forward to. My mum, not being vegan or even veggie (yet….she is so close if I am honest. She doesn’t really eat meat, she doesn’t like dairy and I don’t think she eats eggs…so but for the odd thing here and there or those damn trace ingredients of milk powder etc, she is nearly plant based at least), had the veggie burger. I think she thought it would be vegan as she asked if I wanted to try it and when I told her it wasn’t vegan she looked a little sad. She is sweet my mum, she even took some pics of what she was having! (I would include a picture of her here taking a picture of her food, but I think she would not be best pleased).
(The Boston Tea Party, Exeter)
We grabbed a table and had a look through the menu, there are some other vegan options, or options which can be veganised which was good and also a vegan coffee and walnut cake which sounded amazing and really encouraging to see. You can take a look at the menu here.
(I was persuaded by the subtle suggestion :P)
(There is even dessert for Vegans)
Once we had our table and decided on our foods and drinks, I went downstairs to place the order and give the table number, the staff were really friendly and polite, told me to grab the drinks and they will bring the food up when its ready.
The whole atmosphere was great there, it was the same day as Exeter Pride 2017 parade through the city so everyone was relaxed and enthused after seeing so many people marching, dancing and skating down the high street, the flags flying, the rainbow colours everywhere. It was awesome. Mum had been dancing and clapping along with them and I think if someone had handed her a boa she would’ve been marching down the street with them! It really was so cool, police, fire brigade, police cadets, the mayor….so many people with flags and smiles parading down the street. That atmosphere had carried over into all the stores and everyone was just buzzing. It was awesome.
(A few images from the parade)
Not long after getting back to the table one of the staff brought over an old tomato tin with the cutlery in (thats the sort of place it is, cool and quirky) and me and mum were chatting and it felt so relaxed. It wasn’t noisy, but at the same time you felt comfortable talking without feeling like you were being listened to or were being loud. After a short wait (shorter than I was expecting) the food came out and it looked amazeballs. It looked so so good.
(Quirky cutlery holder)
At first I attempted to eat it like a regular sandwich/baguette and quickly realised that unless I wanted to walk around the rest of the day with pulled jackfruit all over myself, I was better off with with the knife and fork.
(Vietnamese Banh-Mi Sandwich. Tastes even better than it looks)
I’m not normally a spicy/chilli/hot kind of guy. I like my food like me, bland. But this was real good. I have had BBQ pulled pork once before I was vegan and I wasn’t a huge fan, it was ok, but not as good as I was hoping. But this, BBQ pulled jackfruit is amazing. Mum tried a little and said it was amazing and she would definitely order it if (when) she goes again. She was amazed by it being a fruit and we managed to have a chat about veganism and vegan food and how there is a substitute for pretty much everything. Get the right texture and then its just the flavouring that is needed.
The carrot and cucumber on top was a pleasant cool against the spicier chilli, the vegan mayo (first time I have tried vegan mayo) was real good and creamy. The pickled veggies went so well. Overall, I would definitely go back, try some other things but it would be hard not to order the Vietnamese Banh-Mi Sandwich again, because it was so so good. The staff kept walking around and checking people were enjoying their food or needed anything, a friendly smile as they went passed. It was just a really nice and pleasant place. The food was presented so well and tasted even better. The vegan options were good and hopefully with this new addition, are growing. If you live in any of the following places, head down to your nearest one and try it yourself, you wont be disappointed.
They have places in:
- Bath Alfred Street
- Bath Kingsmead Square
- Bristol Stokes Croft
- Bristol Cheswick Village (Stoke Gifford)
- Bristol Clifton
- Bristol Gloucester Road
- Bristol Park Street
- Bristol Whiteladies Road
- Salisbury (Thats where I used to live!)
In summary, amazing food, great atmosphere, cool decor, friendly staff and a (hopefully) growing vegan menu!
Had to add this because I loved it. The sink in the Gents. (I made sure I was the only one in there first!) Love the taps!