A definitive list of the best places to go for graduation dinner in Exeter

There is no better way to celebrate than a glass of Prosecco at The Ivy

Graduating this summer? You’re likely all too familiar with the challenge of securing a reservation at one of Exeter’s top post-grad dining spots. The moment the graduation timetable is released, tables at Exeter’s finest restaurants are snapped up. You might find yourself settling for a 3:45pm reservation at Mill on the Exe, left wondering whether it’s lunch or dinner, or worse – braving the Nando’s queue.

For those of you graduating next year – do not fear, I’ve prepared a definitive ranking of the best places to celebrate your years of hard work (or those mornings missed due to hangovers) and the optimal times to secure your booking . For some of you, this dining experience might mark one of the last occasions to indulge in the “bank of mum and dad” before reality sets in, so why not make the most of it?

1. The Ivy

Nothing screams “Exetah” like a family meal at The Ivy and so, naturally, it tops our list. Its sophisticated atmosphere provides the ideal setting for a premier dining experience, and the gorgeous interior presents a picturesque backdrop for some insta-worthy grad-pics. If mummy or daddy were among the fortunate ones to secure a booking, you’re in for a treat.

2. Harry’s

Whether you’ve visited for a friend’s 21st birthday, a date or even if you’re a Harry’s virgin, you’ll know that Harry’s is an Exeter classic. This family owned gem, nestled in the heart of the student neighbourhood on Longbrook Street, boasts a menu filled with decadent dishes and an impressive wine list that’ll make you question why you ever settled for instant noodles and squash-ka. During graduation week, Harry’s will be bustling with Exeter students and their families, all celebrating this special milestone. It’s warm and inviting atmosphere ensures a culinary experience that’s as unforgettable as your time at university—minus the student loan debt.

3. Mill on the Exe

If the sun decides to make an appearance for your big day, then Mill on the Exe is the place to spend it. With a variety of indoor and outdoor seating, rustic interiors and a menu with a range of cuisines, this upscale pub offers a perfect blend of comfort and culinary delight. For those who can’t imagine celebrating without their furry friends, you’re in luck—certain areas of the pub are dog-friendly, making it a great spot to include your pets in the festivities.

4. Al-Farid

For a change of pace, Al-Farid is the go-to spot for hummus enthusiasts. This award-winning Moroccan and Lebanese restaurant, located near the Cathedral Green, offers a Mezze selection that’s practically a cult favourite. Its delectable small dishes are perfect for sharing—or hoarding, no judgment here! The inviting ambiance pairs beautifully with the exotic drinks menu featuring Moroccan cocktails and beers that will put your regular TP Venom to shame. So, whether you’re there to relish the hummus or just to impress your parents with your sophisticated palate, Al-Farid promises a graduation celebration that’s as memorable as your Freshers’ Week—just with fewer regrets and a lot more flavour.

5. Sabatini

What better way to celebrate your university days than with pasta? After all, it’s probably been a staple of your diet for the past three years. Located in the city centre, just a short stroll from your beloved Timepiece, this family-owned Italian restaurant offers a delightful menu featuring pasta, pizza, and risotto – the holy trinity of Italian cuisine.

6. On the Waterfront

Nothing screams summer term in Exeter quite like the Quay, and this gem has front row seats. With a vast menu offering generous portions, it’s the ideal spot to satisfy your hunger after working up an appetite collecting your graduation certificate in the great hall. Indulge in tasty tapas, gigantic pizzas, and, of course, toast to being a graduate with one of their many cocktails. Whether you’re craving a leisurely meal with friends or a celebratory drink overlooking the picturesque Quay, this place has it all (except maybe a cure for the impending post-uni existential crisis).

7. Rockfish

Also located on the Quay, Rockfish offers a delightful range of fresh, locally sourced fish dishes. Embrace a Devon classic with their perfectly crispy fish and chips, a great way to pay homage to your Devon days. Plus, here’s the best part: The chips are bottomless.

8. Côte Brasserie

The self titled “home of French dining'”will remind you of those Summer’s in the South of France with your uni housemates. Another great location overlooking the Cathedral, this restaurant also offers breakfast and brunch which is perfect for those of you with early graduation times. Bon appétit!

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