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When a pub is this great there's no need to change a thing
For students of engineering and science, the Adelaide UniBar is a useful haunt for after-uni drinks and a serving of schnitzel. But for students of arts, music and law – whose hallowed halls are located far closer to the North Terrace intersection – the real university bar is, and has always been, the Exeter Hotel. Probably the one true must-go pub in Adelaide, the Exeter is a triumph of unpretentious drinking.
The beer garden is merely a concrete shed covered by sails; the dining room is a small rectangle with white walls and a wooden floor; the front bar is a long corridor with a single table and a fireplace; and the front room, now the band venue, boasts not much more than a few tables and chairs. There is nothing fashionable about the place, which is probably because there’s nothing impermanent – even the Champagne bottles on the top of the bar’s shelving are covered in decades of dust. As everything around it modernises and gentrifies, the Exeter has stubbornly escaped renovation. The wonky wooden tables are losing their bearings, and the toilets feature a (perhaps handy, perhaps outdated) guide to all the locals with whom one should not share one’s bed.
Yet despite of, and because of, all these things, the Exeter is truly charming, and absolutely vital to the Adelaide pub scene. For one thing, the dinner menu is brilliant. Jugs of beer are a common order, but carafes of wine also hit the spot – the red has a reputation for being particularly potent, and carafes of rosé are quite the fashion for young locals to be seen with. There’s always one bottled drink special, and it’s often cider. The pub is always bursting full of creative, pleasant, talkative types; as tables inevitably come together, it’s almost impossible not to meet new people. Bands in the front, benches out the back, smokers on the tables outside, the Exeter is a gateway to everything that is good about Adelaide, smack in the thriving east end. It really should be the first place you visit, and the pub you come back to for years to come.