Review: Sacred Grounds
Online Lifestyle Editor Amy Butterworth visits Exeter’s best kept (vegan) secret
If you’re yearning for an escape from the claustrophobic hustle and bustle of Exeter’s city centre, then amble over to Fore Street to find Foodie Exeter’s best kept secret. It’s neatly tucked away in the quaint yet concealed McCoy’s Arcade, which makes it’s name, Sacred Grounds, a fitting moniker for this vegan sanctuary.
Clean food meets clean conscience at this all vegan, plant-based brunch café, as the owners succeed in “filling your bellies and your soul”. They do this by harnessing the power of nature, and transcribing this into their food and decor (the place is adorned with plants cascading from the ceiling), thus celebrating nature’s breadth and diversity, all under “one sacred roof”. In fact, you may also recognise McCoy’s Arcade as housing lifestyle shop No Guts No Glory (Nathan and Hayley Maker own both, alongside Becca Allen who designs the layout of the menu) so, like the roots of a tree, they have expanded their ethos, translating messages of sustainability and well-being into lifestyle and the kitchen.
Accompanying the plants are warm, exposed brick walls which inject the surroundings with an organic yet homely aura, as you can choose to seat in the heart of the café or the Atrium out at the front, in which the glass ceiling only enhances the eating experience. And on the topic of food, the menu celebrates the most seasonally appropriate ingredients, all which can be attributed to Ben Cottam, the chef and food creative in charge of menu design. This means that today’s menu may be tomorrow’s memory, and loyal guests (myself now included) are already anticipating the next season’s delights.
My enduring sweet-tooth begged me to try the sweet waffle (sugar is my Achilles’s heel), in which a crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-in-the-centre waffle is enveloped in a luxurious chocolate sauce, topped with decadent caramelised bananas, and textural additions of pistachios and praline, and served aside a refreshing banana ice cream. And skimp they did not on the chocolate sauce; I find myself admitting that I would very happily bathe in the stuff.
If savoury trumps sweet, then the toasts may be your jam (pun most certainly intended, as they also offer a host of local preserves) – tangy sourdough chock-a-block with imaginative toppings, from avocado to beetroot to kimchi. Their Smørbread 1 is a celebration of local produce meets Korean fusion; novel meets timeless.
If the current menu entices you, wander on over to Fore Street to marvel at the hidden café harnessing plant power every step of the way.
McCoy’s Arcade, Fore St, Exeter EX4 3AN