Menu Review – Hubbox Exeter

Menu Review – Hubbox Exeter

Written by Joff Alexander-Frye

Photography by Nick Hook

In a buzzing and growing city like Exeter, it could be argued that we run the risk of being a little spoiled. There doesn’t seem to be a week that goes by without the opening of a new shop, the launch of a new exciting business or –  the real star of the show – a new restaurant. Arguably, it is even more exciting when an established restaurant that you know is a corker, moves premises and refreshes it’s offering. And so, feeling well and truly spoiled, I recently went along to Hubbox at their new premises on Catherine Street with Grow CCO Llew Nicholls and freelance photographer Nick Hook to see what their new menu was made of.

Mouths watering and with previous experiences of their American inspired street food in the backs of our minds, we were welcomed by their front-of-house team who, with a spring in their step, showed us to our seats in the open-plan second floor restaurant area. In full view of the pass and with all sorts of tempting smells wafting over towards us, we did our best to stay cool and not outwardly show the fact that we very well could’ve jumped into the kitchen and started sampling our food before it had the chance to make its way to our table.

Chicken burger in a brioche bun at Hubbox Exeter.
The Kim Yum Chick; crispy buttermilk fried chicken breast with Korean BBQ sauce, shredded lettuce and Gochujang mayo at Hubbox Exeter.

As with any menu tasting, we wanted to order a range of dishes – some of their ‘old faithfuls’ as well as some of the newer additions to their repertoire. In Hubbox’s case, the fresh dishes included ones from their new ‘Deep South West’ Charcoal Grill menu.

So, we went about ordering our starters and sides. For me, this was where some of the best dishes of the afternoon ‘entered stage right’. Particularly their Boston Fries (Skin-on fries, topped with Slow-n-Low smoked pulled pork, BBQ sauce and ‘slaw) and their Mother Clucker Fries (Skin-on fries topped with buttermilk fried chicken, cheese sauce, Korean BBQ Sauce and sour cream) reached down into my soul and gave it a big ‘food hug’.

Fries topped with buttermilk fried chicken, cheese sauce, Korean BBQ Sauce and sour cream.
Mother Clucker Fries; skin-on fries topped with buttermilk fried chicken, cheese sauce, Korean BBQ Sauce and sour cream at Hubbox Exeter.

Moving onto mains, we tried a real variety including vegetarian, seafood and meat-based dishes. The burgers were, well…if you’ve had Hubbox burgers then I need say no more. Their reputation precedes them. The HBX Spatchcock Chicken, a half free range chicken, with spiced rose harissa & lemon marinade, served with chargrilled corn, slaw and wild rocket was a well-seasoned and unique offering with a nice kick of spice at the end of each mouthful. Also, the Dirty 6oz Cauliflower Steak – a slow roasted cauliflower with thyme, garlic, butter & turmeric, served with charred greens and roasted beets – was a revelation. I never thought I would call a dish with the word steak in (but no beef to be seen), a revelation. Bravo Hubbox!

Dirty cauliflower steak with charred greens and roasted beetroot at Hubbox Exeter.
6oz Dirty Cauliflower Steak at Hubbox Exeter.

Moving on to desserts, we filled the part of our stomachs which always has room for a little something sweet with the Skillet Cookies and the humourously named Eton John, Oreo Speedwagon and Whippy Goldberg puddings – vanilla soft-serve ice creams with a selection of tantalisingly sweet ingredients and garnishes.

Vanilla soft-serve ice creams at Hubbox Exeter.
Vanilla soft-serve ice creams at Hubbox Exeter.

And what to wash such a veritable feast down with? Well, with neither me or Llew ‘on the sauce’, we tried a can or two of Free Damm (Estrella’s 0% beer) as well as their Hub Cooler (a citrus and mint taste explosion) and Hub Raspberry Lemonade (both sweet and tart at once). As it had passed midday, Nick thought he’d be polite and balance out our tasting by trying an alcoholic beverage, the HBX Session IPA, which I enviously eyed up as he drank every last drop with great mirth. A bit of an expert on these sorts of things, Nick commented that it was one of the best IPAs he’d had for some time – high praise indeed from Mr Hook.

Hubbox Session IPA in a brown bottle.
Hubbox Session IPA

Of course, no restaurant experience is absolutely perfect and, with so much change since their recent move, I think Hubbox still have a little way to go before their new menu is properly honed and refined. That said, the stand out dishes on the menu have certainly won over my taste buds who, even as I type this, are telling me not to wait too long before going back for some more of those Mother Clucker Fries. And maybe a burger. Oh, and one of those ice creams too.

Check out the full menu on Hubbox’s website.

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