Sneak peek! Mickey’s Beach Bar, Exmouth
Muddy had a look inside celebrity chef Michael Caines' shiny new Exmouth beach bar before its unveiling on 17 May. Fancy a nosey?
Say the name Michael Caines MBE, and fine dining and Michelin stars spring to mind, so when Muddy heard the celebrity chef is opening a casual beach bar and restaurant in Exmouth (not trendy Salcombe or Dartmouth?) I was in the car and off for a nosey faster than a kite-surfer in a force nine gale.
Which, as it happens, sums up the weather the night I swung by, but while this two-storey glass-sided venue would be heaven for snifter at sundown, it looks pretty darn-amazing even when it’s blowing a hooley.
It’s two-storeys, with a walk-in bar for light bites, drinks and cocktails on the ground floor, and an upstairs restaurant with two outdoor terraces – all with fantastic views of the waves.
Caines’ Michelin-starred Lympstone Manor it is not but as he told us on the night, nor does he want it to be. Inspired by a beach bar in the South of France called Nicky’s, this casual dining venue and cafe – with his childhood nickname as its moniker – is his way to inject some much-needed fun into the East Devon town, which he sees as an emerging destination for the county.
Here, you’re invited to walk in off the sands in your shorts and flip-flops, take a selfie in a swing seat, meet the gals for a morning coffee or book in for a romantic date night, then head downstairs for a boogie till 1am with a cocktail. Muddy ticks all round.
It’s located halfway down Exmouth’s seafront, before you reach the RNLI Lifeboat station, with panoramic views of the beach and estuary (Exmouth is blessed with two miles of golden sands).
Here’s one of the few places on the south coast you can watch the sunset and there’s year-round ocean action, being a base for windsurfers and kite surfers. So, lots to keep you entertained if the conversation runs dry, though with that well-stocked bar downstairs and three bar stations upstairs, I doubt your glass will.
Think classy beach shack, with sand-coloured flooring, reclaimed wood, ocean-blue chairs and bench-seating, warmed up with pops of orange.
The decor gels with the seaside setting: cool rope lights, gentle blues and pebble-greys, artwork from local contemporary artist Salt + Land, and antiqued mirrors to bounce the natural light around.
Get a selfie on the swing seat in the entrance under the neon sign (that’s Caine’s motto carved into the wood).
It’s no-expense spared with a retractable roof over the covered terrace for when the sun shines and overhead heaters for when it doesn’t. And given that they’re yet to open (17 May) the service is already pretty slick too.
All the windows are front and side-facing, designed to give you 180 degree views to bring the natural drama outside in.
Friday and Saturday nights are Mickey’s Beats – DJ nights when the furniture can be pushed aside and you can strut your stuff to some dance toons. If you’re a local DJ, send them a sample and you might get a slot.
They haven’t skimped on anything. No wonder one local I spoke to has already booked a corner table every Friday for the next six months.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The full menu hasn’t yet been revealed but, this being Michael Caines, you know it’s going to be quality, local-sourced and handmade. The meat is from Dart’s Farm a few miles down the road in Topsham, mussels from Lyme Bay, fresh fish landed at Exmouth.
Price-wise, you’re looking at starters from £8 and mains from £15 in the restaurant, to £30-60 for lobster and Tomahawk steak for when you want to push the boat out.
There’s a veggie and vegan menu, and downstairs you can tuck into lighter bites, like pizza, fish gougons and burgers, or grab an ice-cream churned on site from Caines’ newly-opened Café Patisserie Glacerie next door.
Drinks-wise – there’s everything to play for: beer, all the wines, cocktails, including local Powderkeg, Otter Brewery, Luscombe soft drinks and Michael’s own branded gin.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Love it, love it, love it – have told all my friends about it and booked a table to go back for the full works. And I’d advise you do so too, as the night I went, it was already fully booked for the first week.
Good for: open all day every day, there’s likely to be a good time for everyone whether you want a romantic corner table for two early evening, an apres-beach snack or some banging tunes and pizza at midnight. Upstairs is accessible via a lift. Dogs allowed on the ground floor only.
Not for: it’s the antithesis of a cosy traditional pub with fireplaces.
The damage: Starters from £8; Mains from £15 up to £30-£60 for local caught lobster to share and Tomahawk steak.