Monday 7 September 2015

Family Fun at The Countess Wear Beefeater, Exeter

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here on The Mad Mummy Musings and there’s a few reasons for that, which I will share with you in another blog post, however I’ve missed not writing here and now the girls are both at school I’ve a new found freedom with whole weeks to catch up on myself. It still feels a little strange but I’m looking forward to some much needed “me” time.

I was recently asked if we’d like to review the newly refurbished Countess Wear Beefeater in Exeter and with the past few months having been very stressful I jumped at the chance of some much needed family time together.

I remember eating out at Beefeater restaurants when I was younger. We had ‘The Saracen’s Head’ in the Old Town of Beaconsfield just up the road from where we lived, and I have fond memories of meals out with my parents and extended family. In those days (gosh I’m sounding old now!), we used to have chicken or scampi in a basket, which was very “en vogue” back in the 80’s and as always steak was very much a main focus of what Beefeater offered. ‘Surf & Turf’ or a ‘Mixed Grill’ was a popular choice on the menu, so I was keen to see what Beefeater offered us as a family now and as we’d not visited Exeter before, it gave us a chance to kill two birds with one stone and also pop into the centre for a browse too. We therefore hatched our plan and headed out for a day of fun.

Exeter is about an hour away from where we live and the restaurant was very easy to find being not far from the M5. There was plenty of parking and the weather was kind to us that day with sunshine and no showers – phew.

We arrived slightly earlier than our booked time slot in the restaurant so once we’d done the obligatory visit to the little girls room to powder our noses, we headed to the bar for a quick drink with the girls. The bar area is very spacious with 3 separate open plan areas you can sit in. It gave a lovely airy feel and I think even if it was very busy you’d still be able to find a quiet spot to chat.

We were greeted by James our barman who was very cheery and helpful. We were able to set up a tab for our drinks which we then transferred to the restaurant when we moved across later.

The girls had J2O’s and hubby and I had a cider and a bottle lager. I noticed they had some exclusive summer drinks available which looked great; Milkshakes, Cloudy Lemonade, Pimms and Gin Cocktail. The latter two being right up my street! The bar also had a separate food menu with their selection of ‘Bar Grazers’ which were priced at £7.49 for 3, £8.99 for 4 and £9.99 for 5 grazers. The choices included Beef Koftas, Spicy Chicken Wings, Mixed Olives with Feta Cheese, Camembert Bites and much more. Perfect if you were a bit peckish, but didn’t want to indulge in a full meal.

After we’d finished our drinks we headed across to the restaurant and I noticed ‘en route’ that there was a cash machine opposite the toilets which I thought was a great idea. There’s nothing worse than being on a night out and running out of much needed cash. You’ll be charged £1.75 for the privilege, however I’d quite happy pay this if it was a choice between my night continuing on or coming to a premature end.

We were greeted by a friendly member of staff who showed us to our table and were informed that Karen was looking after us that day. Our table was by the waiter’s station which I wasn’t sure I liked at first, as I prefer a table next to a window, however it came in handy when we asked Karen for her advice on where to pick up the nearest “park and ride” and what to expect in Exeter city centre.

The restaurant is a good size, open plan with several seating areas. Again, even when busy I don’t think you would feel overcrowded at all. Some tables overlooked the half open kitchen area which I imagine would be a good watch. I also loved the upside down large glasses on belts which made a fabulous chandelier on one of the round tables. I couldn’t get a decent photo of it due to the light reflecting from my iPhone, but it was a quirky addition to a tastefully decorated restaurant.

The girls were given a kids pack with activity book and crayons to keep them amused. I’ve seen some of the packs with a toy and a balloon given at the end of the meal, which we never received, however the activity book definitely kept the girls happy for a while as you can see from the photo.

Hubby and I ordered a starter each which came before all the mains, which arrived together. I had the Beef Koftas which were delicious and half were actually demolished by Tink and Belle ! Hubby had the Crispy Flat Cap Mushrooms which again the girls helped devour, so a thumbs up for the starters.

For main course I decided to have Oven Baked Sea Bass rather than a heavy steak or burger. Hubby had a Double Bacon & Cheese Steak Burger and the girls had Mr Perfect’s Popin’ Chicken with peas & fries and a 3oz Steak Burgar with 2 extras of Garlic Bread & Beans.

I really enjoyed my Sea Bass which came with new potatoes and a Greek side salad. The girls thoroughly enjoyed their main courses and not much was left over by the time they’d finished. Hubby was happy with his burger commenting on how tasty it was.

As it was a special meal out, we also had a pudding. Mine nearly always involves chocolate so I indulged in the Chocolate Melt in the Middle Pudding with Clotted Cream instead of the normal Ice Cream and Hubby had Sticky Toffee Pudding. The girls tucked into Ice Cream with strawberry laces & crispy coated mini chocolates and a Mini Chocolate Challenge which almost beat Belle!

All in all, we really enjoyed our visited to Countess Wear Beefeater in Exeter. One grouch I did have was that the ladies loo had toilet paper strewn on the floor of both toilets when we arrived at about 11.40am. At that time of the day, I’d have expected them to be in pristine condition and regularly checked throughout the service. First impressions are everything so I feel it’s worth pointing this out.

Apart from this, I really cannot fault the experience we had. The main menus are extensive and I feel most tastes are catered for. The kids menu offered 1 course (main and squash) at £4.49, 2 courses (main & taste tickler or pudding and squash) for £5.49 and 3 courses (main, taste tickler, pudding and squash) for £5.99. From the main menu, starters were priced from about £4.49, main courses varied from £8.99 upwards and puddings from £4.69.

The staff were really friendly and attentive. Karen was great at keeping us topped up with what we needed and if we’d wanted we could have had bottomless fries, which we didn’t take them up on but I’m sure others would.

We found our nearby Park & Ride with Karen’s help, and continued our fun family day out in the centre of Exeter.

It’s worth mentioning that Beefeater offer their Reward Club where you can earn rewards points on meals and drinks when you visit their restaurants. When you activate your card you get 300 free points and for every £1 you spend you get 5 points. You also get a free meal on your birthday and other special offers throughout the year. With restaurants all over the country, you really can’t go wrong.

Having loved Beefeater restaurant’s as a child, I was pleasantly surprised with what was on offer for us as a family now. The menu is extensive and I do feel most people would enjoy the experience. The food was good quality and I’d definitely return. We will probably check out one of our nearer restaurants to compare.

So, have you visited The Countess Wear, Exeter since its refurbishment? Do leave me a comment if you have.

Until next time x


Disclaimer: We were given £50 worth of gift vouchers to put towards our meal out at The Countess Wear Beefeater, Exeter. Our meal including drinks from the bar and what we ordered for the main part of our meal (including further drinks) was £72.00 for 4 of us. All opinions are my own and honest.

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