In the ‘real world’ my job requires me to work opposite Exeter Central at the large unnamed successful award winning educational institution that lies opposite the station, so The TABAC wasn’t a huge surprise for me as I watched with sadness as Whistle Wines became an ‘online only’ company. But was delighted to hear that Hamish Lothian, owner of The Fat Pig et al. was expanding his portfolio by establishing TABAC in Whistle Wine’s place. The Express & Echo ran a story on TABAC which I urge to go and read (just make sure you have your adblocker on!) as it gives you a context to what the future holds and where the TABAC has come from. Over the last few weeks, its been fascinating watching it come together and slowly emerge in to a new establishment, ready for customers.
Its interesting how popular TABAC has become recently, the sunny afternoon’s have seen groups of people basking in the evening sun outside the bar since its opened last week, so after work we met our good friend Lewis (owner of OMG Comics in Fore St., Exeter’s BEST comic book shop) to try it out for ourselves.
As this is technically owned by The Fat Pig Brewery, they sell their own creations on draft. For a half its £2.00 a pop, which given a) location and b) potentially what it could be, wasn’t too bad. Given it is a bar that is situated in, what I suspect, is a unit owned by Network Rail which has infamously high rents, then I was expecting it cost more. The journos and PR peeps who might read this will cringe, but it made me do this (:-D). There is a large selection of wines available as well, and as they have an off-licence as well, you can take some home too, I believe.
The seating arrangements were a little tight given it was quite busy when we got there. We were able to share some table space with a lovely couple who offered it to us after we dragged some stools and sat by the vintage foosball machine (yes they have Foosball!). The rustic reclaimed stools and decor makes TABAC one of the most hippest spots on Queen St. and perfect for travellers who are waiting for that ‘missed train’ or that ‘cancellation’ that might crop up in future excuses to why you were late home.
Walls are lined with clusters of vintage photographs, a large menu board showing what food they have (a small but well thought out menu) and the talking point of the evening, for us, was the Engaged/Vacant lights that are situated above the door to the toilet. A simple mechanism allows a red light to appear once the door is locked, and a green light to appear when its vacant. But it has to be said, this seemed to work correctly when the user had locked the door properly, which was about 40% of the time.
I’ve not been to The Pig & Pickle Taphouse in Heavitree yet, and to be completely honest I haven’t been to The Fat Pig in recent years, but my experience with The Rusty Bike and certainly this latest visit to The TABAC Taphouse makes me think a visit to one of these is definitely needed.
I didn’t have my DSLR with me so I only have a handful of phone camera photos which don’t really do the place justice. Its unique surroundings, the ‘only in Exeter’ beer that is available and the fact that multiple Tweeters have decided that this place is definitely a new favourite drinking hole says to me that Hamish and the team have got this one right. Would I recommend it? Yup. Deffo.