Darts Farm, the gourmet grocer, has long been the Exeter smart set’s go-to for a basketful of epicurean delights, but it’s also worth staying for lunch while you’re swooping in for freshly-cut-from-the- field rhubarb and a rib of beautifully-aged beef, discovers Jo Rees
Bragging rights. We all enjoy asserting them now and then, don’t we? And Darts Farm yields bragging rights in bucket loads.
Since its inception as a hut on the Dart family farm, it’s flourished into a foodie bazaar that’s unrivalled in the South West for its abundance of quality local produce, gourmet miscellany and smart homewares. Tell foodie friends that you picked up your Devon smoked kippers or extra virgin olive oil with truffle slices at Darts and you’ll receive a knowing, insider’s nod that is best translated as “respect”.
VISIT to eat – as well as to shop. The caferestaurant feeds a buzzy crowd all day – from bacon butties and granola at dawn to the popular afternoon treats of loose-leaf tea, freshly baked scones, clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam, cakes and sarnies.
Head chef Paul Matthews has worked in the large open kitchen for 14 years, and has the enviable task of choosing produce from the working farm from which he creates daily changing, relaxed restaurant-style dishes such as maple smoked lamb rump on colcannon made with homegrown red kale, spring onions and local bacon.
DON’T VISIT for dinner. Hot food is served until 3pm, although light lunches go on until 4pm and high tea until 5pm. After that you’re going to have to pick produce to-go and liberate your own cheffy skills at home, we’re afraid.
WE LIKED finishing lunch with a coffee roasted by Exe Coffee Roasters. Darts serves its Neighbourhood blend of lightly roasted arabica that’s all dark chocolate and cherry. Oh, and mooching about the Fired Earth store, building an imaginary kitchen adorned with its shimmering gilded tiles.
INSIDER’S TIP Keep an eye open for well-priced specials on the top-notch butchery counter and fill your freezer for future feasting.
What we ate (lunch)
Maple smoked local spring lamb rump on colcannon mash, with spiced red cabbage and steamed leeks – served with a redcurrant balsamic and honey dressing, pea puree and beetroot crème fraîche
Main course specials from £12