Some of the more astute of you will remember a few years ago I wrote a review of Starz Bar and Restaurant in String Beans/Veget8 which you can read here. Initially I was quite scathing about the lack of vegetarian options, the oppressive surroundings and well pretty much all of it. In fact I was so scathing I felt guilty and decided to withdraw it on the basis that I would one day revisit it.
I did revisit it on Friday and I am glad that I did to be honest, the overall experience of all in my party was positive, but there are a few things to pick up on.
Starz Bar is an American Themed restaurant with creatively titled American Dishes and American sized portions. A flip through the menu will show you that this place isn’t cheap in the slightest, the cheapest main on the menu was the burger at £7.20 but this was incredible value given the amount of food on the plate (see right).
Before the meal.
Booking a table at Starz is relatively easy although I was annoyed at the online form on their website, having tried to use it a few times it crashed. I assumed that my booking had gone through but three days afterwards I had not received a confirmation so I rang up but to find out that it hadn’t been received. OK, *deep breathe* so I spoke to a really nice guy who booked the table and explained about having to pre-order our meals given there were over 10 in the party. Go to the website, download a form, get everyone’s orders and fill it out. Simple.
After getting everyone to choose what they were going to eat on the night, I took in the form and handed it to someone at the bar. He explained that if there was anything that needed changing it would be fine to either order it on the evening or let them know before we arrived. This was reassuring, as some of the guests were still unconfirmed.
The big night
Starz is located in what used to be an old brewery on one of the ground floors. Starz also owns an award winning cocktail bar on the very bottom floor which we went to after the meal. Disabled access is really good when entering the bar but once you’re inside the tables are incredibly close together, should one of our party had mobility issues we would have been shafted. After telling us where our table was, and a worrying moment when I was convinced the waiter I was talking to was not going to find our booking, we sat and waited for our drink orders to be taken. And we waited a little longer, until one of the brighter and more soberer sparks amongst our party realised that here, the drinks are ordered at the bar. This was a good idea, alas it would have been better had someone actually told us.
So we carried on, ordered drinks and sat and squeezed ourselves amongst at least three other large parties over 10 people. The feeling was that the money was really being squeezed (quite literally) out of the punters in that room.
The starters came out first, and here we realised that the non-existent service and the initimate surroundings were worth it after all. Those in the party that had starters were very happy with the quality of the food and the portions. So far so good.
Service appeared, whisked away the food and out came the main courses, and boy were they MAIN courses. They all came out on time, at the same time and all the meals (twelve in all) were very warmly received. I had an 8oz chicken burger with chips and twirls and added bacon and Monterrey jack cheese with some salad. The chicken was dry but not inedible, the fries were perfect and the portion was immense. The value for money (VFM) ratio was pretty high, and if I could rate it purely on this factor I would say this is the best restaurant I have ever been to, purely on VFM.
On the right, you will see Polly’s portion of American Ribs. Quite literally half a cow covered in BBQ sauce. This was reportedly really nice, but alas Pol didn’t finish all of it!
After the meal everyone felt thoroughly stuffed, we paid and went down to the lovely cocktail bar. The bill was for a party of 12 £168.50. Given the service was speedy but mostly non-existent we felt we could only give a meagre tip.
The cocktail bar was generally nice, however the point where I went to order a Cosmopolitan cocktail, I was presented with an Italian (who is actually Greek I have found out! Sorry!!) barman who was nattering with another Greek and a blonde lady who was quite obviously learning the trade. This was fine, although coming from a customer servicebackground and suffering this lack of service really put me off coming here again, the lady behind the bar however produced a really lovely cocktail.
On the website, the banner is large and obvious. It says Exeter‘s Number One Celebration Destination. That is what it is, they are there to accommodate parties and celebrations. They are not in it for fine dining, but they are there for good tasty portions and damn good steaks. Every member of my party that had a steak said it was one of the best they had tasted.
My own food was great and the value for money was staggering, but, the whole experience was let down by the surroundings. Too many bodies crammed in to a small venue, friendly yet scant service and expensive drinks make Starz a place to go occasionally but not regularly.
(Please read the comments left by Christo Archer, General Manager for Starz in the comments section)