Like a classic opening to a terrible joke, an English(wo)man, an Italian and a Frenchman walk into a bar... and discover that something very exciting has happened.

A little injection of Bristol cool has been deposited on Exeter's South Street. Boasting stripped concrete floors, bare filament bulbs and an effortless jumble of wooden and metal furniture, it seems that the big city has come to the little. Suitably intrigued, we visited on Sunday, only the second day of business for the brand new South Street Standard.

Our mission was to test the ropes and our goal was brunch. We achieved this with gusto, by ordering off the breakfast menu, waiting twenty minutes until midday and then repeating with the lunch menu. Those are brunch goals, if I say so myself (and rather inevitable standards when dining with a 6ft 5in Frenchman, as he liked to point out). 

Breakfast for Michele and I was a round of sourdough toast with salted butter and homemade strawberry jam. Thomas had the mushroom and halloumi breakfast bun with homemade tomato relish in a brioche bun. Unfortunately he neglected to share any with us but he enthusiastically proclaimed it a success so you can take his word for it. As for the toast? It was delicious. It was everything you would want (and expect) sourdough toast to be with lashings of butter and jam. The jam itself was a little runny but incredibly flavoursome. It was just good jam on toast. What more do you want?

The Standard opens out both onto South Street and the historic Cathedral Green. Light practically pours through the abundant windows, making it a thoroughly pleasant spot to sit and relax in (we spent around three hours there, sipping tea, ordering as many rounds of food as we could manage and discussing everything from science to philosophy to sexuality and the public sphere - needless to say, I was exhausted by the end but I guess that's what you get when you go out to dine with someone who's just completing his PhD in Philosophy of Science!). There are rooms upstairs too which have even more sunlight flooding in for those in need of a direct Vitamin D hit. There also appear to be meeting rooms on site - whether these are open to be reserved is a question to be answered but they looked rather nice.

So then it was time for lunch. I ordered the salt-baked celeriac with butternut squash puree, chestnuts, parsnip crisps and winter pesto; Michele ordered the ottoman wrap with dukkah, tahini, halloumi... (and, um, other tasty things which I can't remember? I mean, it tasted good, that's what counts right?) and Thomas ordered the beetroot carpaccio with caramelised figs. We also had a side of mac 'n' cheese because who can say no to mac 'n' cheese?

My celeriac was wonderful. It was warming and comforting, somehow balancing healthiness with substance (I know, it doesn't happen often). I found myself wolfing the food down in a slightly caffeine-frenzied state (I left my tea to brew for too long...) and had to consciously force myself to sit back and eat it slowly, tasting each flavour properly. Despite the butternut squash and the parsnip and chestnuts, it was overall a very savoury dish with a lot of flavour coming from the salt-baked celeriac. A wonderful healthy dish, redolent of a warming roast dinner, for those seeking comfort from the cold.

Thomas was so enthused over the figs that he insisted we each try them. They were rather lovely; I was expecting caramelised fig from a jar rather than properly, freshly caramelised fruit. In conjunction with the sweet beetroot and the salty feta and bitter rocket, it was as tasty as it was beautiful.

Michele's wrap was also a winner (as is anything that contains halloumi in my books), with a whole host of flavours jostling for top spot - there were discussions over whether we could taste mustard or nuts amongst other things (I really didn't get the mustard myself).

And then there was the mac 'n' cheese. Actually decently cheesy (unlike many mac 'n' cheeses I've known and eaten in my time) and very, very moreish.

So after that little feast, there was nothing left to do but try a pudding! I ordered the mulled wine poached pears with vanilla mascarpone and amaretti biscuits (which was spelled "amoretti" on the menu, much to Michele's dismay - although I don't get what his problem was because amoretti means little loves whereas amaretti means little bitters so I think the misspelling is much better). If you're a lover of mulled wine, this is the dessert for you - it was very very juicy and rather rich too. It may trick you into thinking it's light and easy as a fruit dessert but trust me, this is one to share.

And then finally, it was time for us to part ways!

We stepped outside onto the Cathedral Green to enjoy the sunshine (which lasted all of ten minutes before we were blasted with ice cold wind and rain).

(Not a bad view for a bar eh?)

And our final verdict? It's all good! We will 100% be going back. We were all very, very impressed and whilst my opinion might not count for much because I just love all the food in the world, please remember that I dined with an Italian and a Frenchman (and we all know that they have a refined palate in their very genes).

The South Street Standard is an absolute success. Their second day of business and not a hiccup in sight. Just three very happy, very full customers.