Restaurant quality ‘Meals to go’ from one of Exeter’s finest independents, Circa 1924 [AD]

I think I can safely say that Circa 1924 is one of my favourite restaurants in Exeter, so when they asked if we would like to try their new DIY ‘takeaway’ offering, we knew it would be rude not to!

During these COVID times, we have seen a lot of our independent businesses adapting and rethinking their offering, Circa 1924, one of Exeter’s brilliant independent restaurants is no exception. Opting to remain closed Circa have created a way to bring the food to us in the form of takeaway recipe boxes, so that we can eat their very awesome restaurant-quality food at home.

Excited? We are too!

We were gifted three-course meal including a steak box and a vegetarian meal box with two different desserts. 

What’s in the box?

circa 1924 recipe box takeaway exploring exeter 2020

All the food in the box comes in separate recyclable/compostable materials with minimal plastic, it’s all clearly labelled (except the salad dressings/labneh, hence my confusion further down in the post – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).

The kits come with easy to follow instructions on how to prepare the food, my only comment would be that it would have been handy to have a complete cooking time for each dish so that it’s easy to ensure it’s all ready at the same time. As it was, we cooked a main course each and the timing was spot on.

Starters: Courgette, Labneh and Radish Salad

Starters: Courgette, Labneh and Radish Salad Circa 1924 by exploring exeter

Now, my fella is a bit of a salad dodger so this course didn’t fill his heart with joy, I, on the other hand, rubbed my hands with glee to prepare this starter of courgette ribbons, radish and dressing (even if I had to Google what Labneh is – Greek yoghurt if you were wondering). 

The vegetables came into their own with the dressing. It was a lush was a simple summer salad to whet the appetite for the meal ahead.

The vegetarian main course: Lemon-Thyme Braised Hispi Cabbage

The vegetarian main course: Lemon-Thyme Braised Hispi Cabbage from Circa 1924 by exploring exeter

I’m not sure I can rave about this course enough!

Vegetarian courses in restaurants can often be disappointing – think sloppy unseasoned vegetables, chickpeas and the word ‘spicy’ added to everything, so much bloody falafel and boring pasta sauces. In my humble opinion; you can tell the calibre of a restaurant by the effort they put into their vegetable dishes and in my experience, Circa know what they are doing, so I was very excited to try this course.

I wasn’t disappointed, the lemon-thyme braised hispi cabbage and herb risotto came ready to heat up in the oven and on the stove, the instructions were super-simple and the dish was very easy to prepare and took around 15 minutes. The lemon/herb flavours combined with the fermented gooseberries lit up my tastebuds, the roasted seeds being the pièce de résistance, bringing the course together with a crunch.

I remember the first time I ate braised cabbage at River Cottage a few years ago, being pleasantly surprised at the sweet flavour, it’s such a simple option but SO tasty.

The veggie course (once again) got a massive thumbs up from me.

The steak: Ribeye, Beef butter, Peppercorn sauce and garlic butter

The steak: Ribeye, Beef butter, Peppercorn sauce and garlic butter from circa 1924 by exploring exeter

The ribeye was a good size and fresh, the instructions clear, with timings allowing for how you like your steak cooked.  The cooking process was slightly different from the lazy way we would usually cook it; with the inclusion of the beef butter and placing it in the oven after browning it slightly.

The result was incredible, a beautiful cut of beef oozing with flavour from the beef butter with the added option of creamy peppercorn sauce or garlic butter. 

The steak came with a simple salad and chunky chips that just needed heating up in the oven – we were a little concerned about how they would taste, chips/roasties can lose their texture/crunch when reheated but we needn’t have worried, they came out really well.

The Desserts: Sticky Toffee Pudd / Lemon and Elderflower Sabayon

The Desserts: Sticky Toffee Pudd / Lemon and Elderflower Sabayon circa 1924 by exploring exeter

The sticky toffee pudding came with 5yr Somerset cider brandy butterscotch and clotted cream, the perfect traditional British pudd to eat after a steak, the sauce was delicious and it took just one minute to heat in the microwave.

Lemon and Elderflower Sabayon from circa 1924 by exploring exeter

The Lemon and Elderflower Sabayon was ready to go and complimented by the raspberries, pinenut shards and pine sugar which added sweetness to the citrus and really made the sabayon shine. We enjoyed both desserts.


The verdict

We will definitely be ordering again. It made for the perfect easy date night dinner, there wasn’t much prep and there was time to drink lots of prosecco while we put it all together – highly enjoyable and highly recommended!

How to get yours and what they offer

  • The ‘takeaway’ menu includes a limited selection of starters and mains, sharers pies and Sunday roasts.
  • You can collect or have it delivered
  • The house menu “a three course set menu chosen & created for you, by head chef Rob” comes in at around £23.50 pp and the steak box is £40 for two people sharing.

See the ‘takeaway’ menu here.

See my Insta story here.

Read about our first visit to Circa 1924 here.

Disclaimer: We were gifted the meal box in exchange for our thoughts on it – all opinions are our own – if it was rubbish I would tell you.

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