Monday, 14 April 2014

Axminster: River Cottage Canteen & Deli

A weekend away in Devon allowed a visit to a favourite haunt of ours, the River Cottage Canteen & Deli in the market town of Axminster. Built on a hill overlooking the River Axe, the town still holds a weekly market and gave its name to a type of carpet which is now made all over the world. Entering the deli we chose a table along the wall and plonked ourselves down. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's fantastic approach to offering the very best in seasonal, local and organic produce is immediately obvious as we browsed the breakfast menu.

Run by a fantastically friendly and chipper team, our drinks order was taken whilst we pondered our choices of grub on the clean simple menu. Being a Sunday morning, we went for a couple pots of English Breakfast tea and ordered a Banger Sandwich for him and the Dorset Mushrooms and Poached eggs on brown toast for moi.

Whilst the kitchen team rustled up our breakfast, we browsed the great selection of books on display along the wall. Being a chicken fan, I flicked through the Chicken Handbook divulging snippets of poultry related facts whilst drinking tea from chunky white china. The seats are very comfy, padded bench seats along the wall with old fashioned farmhouse style chairs as well.

Breakfast arrived promptly, the banger sarnie made with chunky wholemeal bread on a rustic wooden board and my shrooms and eggs on a massive round plate.

After a generous dollop of locally made tomato sauce, the banger sandwich was polished off within ten minutes. Mine was equally as good, the mound of mushrooms complementing the poached eggs perfectly on a slice of brown toast, heads above the dismal breakfast we had at Bay Laurel Brasserie. Being strong believers in using local good quality seasonal ingredients, the menu is ever changing with the seasons and we truly appreciate what they are doing here.

Serving breakfast until 11.30 am, this spot is very popular with locals popping in for their morning brunch, local staff on their breaks stopping off for coffee and cake as well as curious visitors coming to see what all the fuss is about. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, with a buzz of conversation from the open kitchen. You can easily sit as a group happily chatting or sitting solo sipping on a latte doing a spot of people watching. The layout is open with a selection of seating from a large farmhouse table to smaller tables and cosy corners.

Happily the prices are all very reasonable for the seasonal, local, organic and wild produce used and our portions were of good size. Only ever having had breakfast here, we cannot comment on the lunch or evening meals but the menus look very tempting. In the evening, an area at the back called the canteen is open for business with its stripped wooden floor and metal ceiling beams, so another visit is on the cards to try this out.

Every nook and cranny here has been thought about, even down to the loos. I loved the mismatched vintage mirrors adorning the wall above the exposed plumping of the taps, similar to the loo in Miss Mollet's High Class Tearooms!

At the front of the shop is the deli counter with a large range of pastry goodies, dairy and cheese products, cakes and brownies, meat, beer and wine. Again everything is locally sourced and reasonably priced. Stocking up for the journey home I picked up a massive sausage roll, a steak and ale pie and a chunky slice of coffee cake along with the chicken book and got 10% off as we had eaten in the cafe. On later consumption, the sausage roll was middle of the road and disappointingly the cake was little dry and not as delicious as the coffee cake at The Dolls House.

The Verdict? Thumbs Up!
Putting our admiration for Hugh aside, this place offers decent food along with great atmosphere. If you haven't already gathered, we love that all produce is local and seasonal. There is a good choice of food, the serving times are very generous and the overall atmosphere is informal and relaxed. All staff were brilliantly friendly, attentive, smiling and chatting as they went about their jobs. We really enjoyed the hour or so that we spent here, this is a brilliant stop off if you happen to be in or near Axminster.

Trinity Square
EX13 5AN

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