My first visit to Blackfoot in Exmouth Market, a restaurant specialising in all things piggy, wasn’t a hugely successful one; the staff were lovely but I found the food a tad disappointing. I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email inviting me back and I must say, our experience was the polar opposite of my original one.
We arrived to a packed restaurant; the atmosphere was really lively and buzzy. It used to be an old pie and mash shop and many of the original features, like the tiled walls and the large wooden booths, remain untouched, giving the place plenty of character.
We pigged out on the starters, ordering the sliced lomo (£5), the whipped lardo on sourdough toast (£4) and the pork rillettes (£6). They were all divine but the real highlight was the whipped lardo smothered over crunchy toast; its flavour was intensely porky yet it didn’t feel greasy. Proper comfort food.
We were intrigued to see half a dozen cherry stone clams on the menu (£12) and although I’ve eaten cooked clams before, these came out oyster stylee (raw, in their shell and on a bed of ice) which was unusual. They were light and delicate and couldn’t have tasted any fresher – I loved them. Being smaller than oysters, they were easier to eat too.
For main I opted for the Ibérico Pressa (£25) which was a marbled shoulder steak, served pink. It reminded me of the Ibérico pork I’d devoured at Foxlow; soft and succulent with a real smokiness from the grill. It was served with a wedge of lemon, which helped cut through the richness of the meat brilliantly.
My gentleman companion went for the spare-rib steak (£14) which was cooked to perfection. It was by no means a bland piece of meat; the flavour came through in every bite. Both had been simply prepared and cooked which allowed their quality to do the talking – and plenty of talking it did too.
From the side dishes section, we opted for a creamy and velvety colcannon mash, some kale and broccoli topped with melted, gooey cheese (which tasted as good as it sounds) and some chilli crackling (£3.50 each). Before trying it, I wasn’t so sure crackling needed any chilli, but in fact, it worked really well. If anything, it made it even more addictive – as if crackling could be any more addictive!
For dessert we went for the rum and coke baba (£5) which was a little dense for me. The rum and coke sauce was sweet and enjoyable but I found the baba itself a little bland. The chocolate éclair (£4) was a cracker; light pastry, bursting at the seams with fresh cream and topped with a layer of chocolate. I would have gladly eaten two to myself. It’s made from the scratch in the kitchen too.
So there we have it, a truly brilliant dinner and one which bore no resemblance to my first visit – I guess we just caught the kitchen on a well and truly bad day. I’m glad to say I got Blackfoot wrong; with lovely staff, a cute little restaurant and food that delicious, I don’t doubt it’s just what Exmouth Market needs.