Gastropub alert: The City Gate Hotel is putting fresh, seasonal, locally sourced food firmly on the menu.

If you’re tired of stock menus with frozen pies and vacuum-packed steak at brewery-owned pubs, then The City Gate Hotel in Exeter is the perfect antidote. Situated proudly on Exeter’s Iron Bridge, this Young’s owned venue is well-known for its boutique hotel, but the food offering deserves a spotlight.

The City Gate Hotel is led by Andy Phillips, who has worked in the industry for twenty years. Andy has a Michelin background and experience abroad and wants to make his mark with a well-priced gastro menu. Andy is committed to supporting local suppliers, sourcing West Country beef and working with local breweries such as Hankins and Otter. The menu’s focus on using fresh, local ingredients is evident and shines through in every dish.

Fowey Mussels

Great Food

During our visit, we started with Fowey mussels with wild garlic and cream (£8) and crispy braised Ox cheek with celeriac puree (£5). The mussels were plump and juicy, and the ox cheek was melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Crispy braised Ox cheek with celeriac puree

For mains, my husband opted for the sirloin with triple-cooked chips and peppercorn sauce (£35), while I went for the hake fillet with smoked bacon, fennel, and potato chowder (£18). Chowder isn’t something I would usually order – I am one of those weird people that can’t do fish if it’s too fishy! I was very pleasantly surprised; it was warming and delicious. The flavours were exceptional, and the food looked as good as it tasted.

Sirloin with triple-cooked chips and peppercorn sauce

What sets The City Gate Hotel apart is the care and attention to detail put into every plate. The food is homemade, fresh, and bursting with flavours that showcase the best of local produce. It’s clear that the chefs at The City Gate Hotel have a true passion for their craft. 

Hake fillet with smoked bacon, fennel, and potato chowder

Chef Al Morgan has an impressive culinary background, having worked for renowned chefs such as Marco Pierre White and Hilton Hotels. With his passion for fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients, the menu at The City Gate Hotel is a delightful mix of creativity and flair.

The City Gate on Iron Bridge, Exeter

Community Focused

The ambience at The City Gate Hotel is equally impressive. With gorgeous garden blankets, heaters, and flowers, the outdoor seating area is perfect for al fresco dining, chilling with friends, watching sports or partying at the weekend. The hotel also hosts book clubs, Spanish and French-speaking classes, and acapella groups, making it a true community hub. There is no charge for using the space for meetings, emphasizing their commitment to fostering a sense of community. Manager Andy Phillips says, “I am hoping to bring a sense of community and life to the area” – we think he’s doing brilliantly!

The hotel is located on the site of an old cotton mill, and the rooms are uniquely themed to reflect its history, adding to the overall charm and character of the place. We had a little tour after dinner and would gladly have stayed for a sleepover! Andy also showed us the cellar space they have at the City Gate. He hopes to turn it into a wine/bar/ venue (an exceptional party space).

Exeter City Gate Hotel menu

The Verdict

The City Gate Hotel is a gastropub gem in Exeter. With its fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced food, creative menu, and commitment to supporting local suppliers, it’s a must-visit for food lovers who appreciate well-considered menus and don’t want to spend a small fortune. The ambience, community-focused approach, and unique location make it a standout dining experience. Highly recommended!

The conservatory in City Gate Hotel, Exeter

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