Fountain House, Western Way, Exeter, EX1 2DE
Mains: £6.95 – £16.50
Desserts: £4.95 – £6.55
Dahhan’s Café & Barbers, Exeter
Tropical inspired styling surrounds a tiki-themed, intimate seating area, lit up by neon signage and quirky artefacts to satisfy curious eyes. Through the doorway and large dividing window, an automotive, 50s-diner-style barbershop busily operates next door.
It’s an assault on the senses that, on paper, shouldn’t work. But somehow, it does. And boy does it make an impact.
Welcome to Dahhan’s Café & Barbers – the creation of Syrian born Sami who, along with his family, moved out of the country in search of safety during the war.
Two years on, after achieving his dream to open his very own barbershop but now with lockdown in effect, Sami teamed up with his chef brother, Mohamed, who joined the business in pursuit of the next step for Dahhan’s. With help from their dad, the family team worked away entirely themselves to design and build Dahhan’s Café.
“Exeter is like paradise to me”, explained Sami. “And so the interior design of the café reflects that”.
The goal: provide an inclusive barbershop experience so families and friends can hang out and enjoy great food and tasty smoothies while getting a haircut, but for the café to also stand alone.
Brother Mohamed’s menu is a mouthwatering infusion of Syrian and Romanian dishes.
It’s a confident mixture of slow-cooked, seasoned grilled meat platters (served with rice and salad), flavoursome wraps and burgers, salads, and middle eastern classics such as hummus, labneh and batata harra. It’s so confident, that when I asked for recommendations from my server on what’s good, I was assured: “It’s all good!”
The response stuck with me. It summed up the entire vibe of Dahhan’s – laidback, chilled and stress-free but with a dedication to succeed and attention to detail in every aspect.
Its tucked away location between Sidwell Street and Western Way is helping to keep it a secret, but word is getting out – pulling in diners who are here for the food alone.
Not surprising with such a wide range of dishes, all offering carefully crafted flavours and plentiful portions. I’ll be returning very soon to try the Syrian Meatball Stew, and the intriguing traditional Syrian breakfast.
There is talk of creating a new entrance on the other side of the building, but for now, as Sami says: “Thanks to the support of the great people of Exeter, my dreams have been achieved”.
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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