Writing a restaurant review can sometimes be a little tricky if the service, venue or food isn’t up to scratch. We owe it to our readers to offer an honest opinion, but at the same time it’s never nice to criticise someone’s business to so many people.

Luckily for me then that I was able to carry out a review at Zita’s Bar and Restaurant in Exeter. From start to finish the meal, drinks and service were fantastic and made for a really nice Sunday lunch for myself and my wife.

Located in the Old Malthouse, Bartholomew Street East, the restaurant is a little tucked away from the main town centre and unlikely to be stumbled upon by any but the most inquisitive, but with it being just across from Mary Arches Carpark and a short walk from the Guildhall shopping centre it’s ideally located for a quiet bite to eat or a pleasant cocktail to drink.

Arriving at the restaurant, my wife and I decided to start with a cocktail each. With a two for one offer on cocktails every day (usually £6.50 each), comfy chairs and good music on the sound system, Zita’s offers a great place to come and unwind. I chose the Classic Lime Mojito whilst my wife chose the Pina Colada. Both were beautifully presented, tasted fantastic and combined with the sunny weather we had that day it was almost like being on holiday.

With drinks in hand we decided on our starters, both opting for the BBQ ribs (£4.50). Now we both love ribs and have eaten them in many, many restaurants over the years but I can honestly say that these were amongst the best we’ve ever had. Sticky and tender, with a beautiful homemade BBQ sauce they were superb and a generous portion too.

While we decided on our mains we thought we’d try a couple of milkshakes. Again we both love a good milkshake and these certainly didn’t disappoint. I chose Strawberry and Cream and my wife chose Vanilla and Cinnamon (£4 each). They were thick and creamy without being too sweet or too rich and certainly hit the spot.

Moving on to our mains I ordered the Zita’s Chicken and Ribs Combo (£15.50) –– they were so good that twice in one sitting was not a problem – and my wife ordered the Lamb Striploin (£12.50). Both meals came with Rosemary and Garlic Fries and a side salad which were once again superb. The ribs, lamb and chicken were all cooked to perfection and the salad was fresh and crunchy with a lovely mustard dressing whilst the Rosemary and Garlic fries were just so very, very good with a subtle flavour that made it difficult to stop eating them even when full to bursting, which we really were by this point.

Being this full, dessert certainly wasn’t necessary, but with food this good, the temptation was too much to resist. Mitchell the restaurant manager recommended the Tarte au Citron (£4.50) to me and I’m glad he did. With just the right amount of lemon to give it a bit of bite and offset beautifully by a raspberry sorbet and coulis, it made for a refreshing end to the meal. My wife opted for the Lovingtons White Chocolate Honeycomb ice cream (£3), packed full of lovely chunks of chewy honeycomb and chocolate.

It’s also worth mentioning that Zita’s have recently started a lunchtime menu on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with a Panini and chips starting at just £4 – something that will definitely see my return when I’m out and about in the city. Zita’s will also be opening their function bar room downstairs at the end of July with live music on offer every weekend to provide a unique place in the city where you can enjoy delicious food upstairs before heading downstairs to dance it all off again.

So if you’re in town and you fancy somewhere a little bit quieter and off the beaten track, head to Zita’s Bar and Restaurant. You won’t be disappointed.

Words: Steve Fothergill

Visit Zita’s Bar & Restaurant online at: www.zitas.co.uk

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