Rugby star’s diner is a real winner

PUBLISHED: 10:13 09 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:59 09 September 2020

The Japanese spicy fries were the stand out of the evening. Photo: The Satnd Off

The Japanese spicy fries were the stand out of the evening. Photo: The Satnd Off

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Our Editor Andy Cooper enjoys a great night out at Exeter Chief’s star’s eaterie

Located just a short walk from Exeter High Street, The Stand Off is worth a visit. Photo: The Stand OffLocated just a short walk from Exeter High Street, The Stand Off is worth a visit. Photo: The Stand Off

It must be tough being a famous record-breaking sporting hero to thousands of fans, a local legend and a successful business owner to boot.

I’m serious. For Exeter Chiefs stalwart Gareth “Steeno” Steenson it’s a heavy burden to shoulder. But, bear with me, it’s only for one particular reason. And that is the perception of The Stand Off, the bar/diner he co-owns in Exeter with former player Carl Rimmer and local businessman Matt Reynolds.

I imagine for some, a bar called The Stand Off, with the connotations of the name and all the attendant rugby and sporting paraphernalia draped around the place, might mean if you are not a rugby fan (and apparently, these people do exist) then you might not see it as a place for you.

Well, think again dear reader and make it your business to visit when The Stand Off is not showing a Chiefs match or another major sporting event. Because if you are a fan of tasty, good value food allied with friendly and welcoming service then this is a place you should have on your own fixture list.

Comfortable seating booths line the walls of the venue. Photo: The Stand OffComfortable seating booths line the walls of the venue. Photo: The Stand Off

And there is even more reason to visit in September as the team behind The Stand Off is running its own Eat Out To Help Out scheme, meaning you get 50% off food throughout the month.

To try and see what the place was like when there wasn’t a major sports fixture being shown, we visited the Longbrook Street venue on a relatively quiet night on the action front.

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The Stand Off has a great atmosphere inside. Photo: The Stand OffThe Stand Off has a great atmosphere inside. Photo: The Stand Off

The first thing we noticed was the busy, buzzing atmosphere and the great mix of people in there. Young and old, families and couples, drinkers enjoying a post-work pint...all were in there.

Shown to one of the comfortable booths dotted around the place, we were soon seated, sipping on a snifter and perusing the menu. Plenty of choice stared back at us, but not too much as can often be the case in some bar/diners. Seven ideal options for starters and light bites, plus an equal number for main course meant the choice wasn’t easy. Or there was a trio of selections in the burgers and dogs section, including a veggie supergreen burger.

But, after deliberating the merits of starter such as whole baked camembert, a mini bucket of wings or garlic mushrooms, we actually just went for main courses. That meant a trio of Hartnell’s sausage and mash for Lady F alongside me, while I opted for The Stand Off’s classic burger, but asked if I could swap the standard fries for the intriguingly named Japanese spicy fries.

And wow, was I glad I asked for the fries change-up. Beautifully cooked fries with Sriracha mayo, parmesan, spring onion and crispy onion, they were actually the standout of the evening, although the burger was nicely complementary - moist, good-sized and drizzled with a slice of Monterey Jack cheese.

The sausage and mash (using bangers from Hartnell’s butchers just across the road, no less), was hearty fayre which tasted fantastic, apparently. One look around the room showed diners felt like we did...this is a place which has a lip-smackingly satisfying feel about it.

There was a method in our madness of swerving starters because we thought that meant desserts came into play. But, having dined heartily on our main courses, we simply didn’t have the room...a shame as the choice of churros, sticky toffee pudding, chocolate pudding or forest fruits cheesecake looked very tempting indeed.

Service was efficient, friendly and welcoming and it was clear The Stand Off management did not stint on the numbers of people serving, as is so often the case at other establishments these days.

All in all, an excellent evening all round and great value too. The Stand Off is no more than half the length of a Steeno kick from Exeter High Street, so next time you are in the area make it your business to try it out. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Find out more here about The Stand Off

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