West Magazine, September 24, 2016

Page 42




can’t help but find it surprising that the country that gave the world such great seafarers as Francis Drake, James Cook and Captain Pugwash doesn’t have more floating eating establishments. No, a scotch egg on a crosschannel ferry doesn’t count The River Exe Café, a gastronomical pontoon that lies in the mouth of Devon’s Exe Estuary, is one of very few British water-based eateries. For a confirmed landlubber like me, a trip to the café wasn’t just an opportunity for a bite to eat. Oh no, it was a water-bound adventure. From the moment I embarked from Exmouth


Marina, the whole affair felt reassuringly old fashioned. We chugged towards The River Exe Café in a small river taxi – a functional craft that was far from being a pleasure cruiser. Refreshingly, there was no attempt for this journey to be slick: no commentary, just stunning views – anything else would have been overkill. It all seemed so gloriously British, like the type of low-fi trip I might have taken with my parents in the 80s. Only back then there wouldn’t have been gourmet food awaiting us, we’d be tucking into the rather unappetising contents of a Tupperware lunchbox. By the time we arrived at the café, I felt like

Lord Nelson: I was in my element (coincidentally Lady Nelson lived in nearby Exmouth). I had saltwater in my blood, anyone could see that! I sprang aboard the pontoon waving away the offer of a steadying hand and surveyed my surroundings with all the vigour of maritime explorer. The first thing that hit me was the smell wafting from the kitchens – amazing seafood – the perfect greeting for my party of hungry voyagers. Tables were either outside (placed along the deck) or undercover in the main body of the restaurant. We were seated in the latter. The interior was reassuringly simple – no pretensions



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