Al Farid, Exeter
Hidden in the corner of Exeter’s Cathedral Green is the unassuming Al Farid – a Moroccan/Lebanese infusion restaurant, offering a dining experience that is both authentic and unique. It’s a real mainstay of the city’s dining scene, yet somehow still flies somewhat under the radar. Let’s change that.
Like the mystic Arabic poet Al Farid is named after, this fantastic restaurant is a talented storyteller – or more accurately, story creator.
From the moment you step inside, you are transported to a different world, with the rich aromas of spices and a warm, energetic welcome.
Once a place for storing materials and housing cathedral craftsmen in the 17th century, this narrow, blitz-surviving building, with its four quirky floors, are given new life.
Colourful lanterns, cushions and rugs, and beautiful artefacts adorn every wall. Ornate stools and tables – some low down, some more traditional – are matched with relaxed bench seating, flickering candles and an on-theme soundtrack. Lovely fabrics hang from the ceiling to create a cosy, intimate space.
It’s a mystifying adventure from bottom to top. We sat on the third floor, and navigating our way up through this charming building instantly made our visit a memorable encounter.
Ambience like this doesn’t just happen overnight – it’s cultivated, and earned. It’s further brought to life by friendly, welcoming staff who are always happy to recommend dishes and make sure that their guests are enjoying their experience – particularly impressive when you think they’re running up and down four flights of stairs all evening!
The menu consists of a wide variety of mouth-watering mains, and an extensive meze selection. Over 34 meze dishes make choosing a little tricky, but it’s a good problem to have and a great way to try new flavours, mix and match, and share with friends and family.
Each dish is bursting with its own unique combination of spices and ingredients, from the tangy and creamy houmous to the spicy Moroccan sausage, succulent minced lamb and the smoky baba ganoush. Your tastebuds will enjoy a real journey of discovery.
If you’re new to this type of food, the set menu for two or four is the perfect introduction – start with houmous, baba ganoush, falafel and fish cakes, and pita, followed by a showstopping mixed grill, layered between two portions of lavash (flatbread) with a variety of sides. Even the biggest of eaters will have some left to take home. There’s always room for the baklava…
Al Farid is vegan and vegetarian friendly too, given the nature of the dishes and ingredients used. A great choice for a group of mixed eaters.
I truly believe this is one of Exeter’s finest independent restaurants. Revel in the chance to travel across the world right here at home. Add this one to your list.
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This manageable there and back route offers easy walking and wheeling along the eastern side of the reservoir and to the dams, plus additional access to the wildlife trail in the Burrator Arboretum