What's on the menu?

What's on the menu?

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Taste Testing the Fox and Hounds, Blidworth

Sometimes you've worked up an appetite and simply can't stomach cooking at home. That's what happened for us today after heading out cycling. A cold and rather damp morning and a lack of wanting to stay at home lead to us saying "Lets go out for some Sunday lunch".

The toughest question was where to go. Usually at the spur of the moment we'll head up to the Woodthorpe Top, a JD Wetherspoon pub but one we've pretty much over indulged over the last year. We wanted a good hearty meal so the Fox and Hounds at Blidworth suddenly became a good idea as from experience their food is good and their portion size enough to satisfy even the hungriest of cyclists appetite on a Sunday afternoon.

On a dull, damp Sunday between Christmas and New Year we made our way the short journey North to Blidworth Bottoms to what must be one of Nottinghamshire's most isolated pubs. The pub itself is always somewhere you get a warm welcome and we've been happy to go back time and again over the years,

The Fox and Hounds at Blidworth Bottoms, Nottinghamshire
We've been visiting the Fox and Hounds for a good number of years although surprisingly haven't actually put together a review for the blog. Sometimes at takes a rainy Sunday afternoon trip for us to highlight what we like about a place as not everywhere we go gets onto the blog.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Visiting Thaikun Part 2- The Food Review

The Victoria Centre has changed quite dramatically over the last few months with the refurbishment and regeneration of the area around the old Clock Tower. What used to be Vision express, Farmfoods and a number of less glamorous retail units have been replaced by many impressive eateries. Thaikun has moved in upstairs directly above the entrance to the new Intu Victoria Centre in what appears to be a promising development of the centre as somewhere for more than just a visit to the shops.

We previously visited for their opening VIP party and were impressed with an ambience that brings the hustle, bustle and street food culture to Nottingham. So much so we were more than happy to accept an invite to return for a review. Thaikun has the atmosphere and decor of Khaosan Road in Bangkok, a kind of mixture of lively and yet laid back, and perhaps appealing to a crowd for whom the meal will feature as part of a longer night out or day than those who are simply just going out for a meal.

Thaikun Thai Restaurant Nottingham

Sukumvit 38 Platter at Thaikun

The Starters

Our Main Meals at Thaikun
Bringing something very different to the Victoria centre, Thaikun offers adventurous diners the opportunity to sample something a little more unique. Whether it's a meal with friends before a night on the town or simply refuelling ready to hit yet more shops.

Mark and myself decided to go with the Sukumvit 38 Platter.(£7.50 per person, minimum 2 people)

Mark: "This is a combo platter with four rather tasty morsels for us to try, Salt and Pepper squid, fish cakes, Chicken spring rolls, Honey pork.

2 of these dishes we tasted previously – chicken Spring rolls and the honey pork. Just as tasty and Moorish as they were the first time I tried them! You could serve them in a big bag like popcorn at the cinema for me. 

The fish cakes were unlike what I had envisioned – small and almost balls, red in colour with a nice spicy taste with herbs. At a risk of being a bit repetitive but they were really tasty and quite Moorish! Full of flavor these were unlike any fish cakes I have had before. Very tasty!

The Sukumvit 38 Platter at Thaikun

Next on the platter is the salt and pepper squid, we all know the bad Calamari strips you can get that have the taste and consistency of an elastic band.  These were nothing like that; tender and subtle flavor moist and tasty and if you are the one person who hasn’t had squid before then here is a good place to see what they are like.

All this was served on a raised up wooden board presumably because tables in restaurants’ are not the most spacious of places so in that sense it works as a unique and practical way to serve multiple starters."

For me the highlight of the starter was the squid. Beautifully soft so it almost melted in your mouth as you ate. Lovely with a dip of the chili sauce accompaniment. 

Liam opted for the Fresh Tofu Rolls (Por Pia Sod Tofu, £5.95)

The Fresh Tofu Rolls
Liam "The rolls could possibly be enough for two people. The mint is the first flavour which hits you, leaving a very fresh impression on your palate. There's lots going on with plenty of shredded carrot, lettuce, coriander and basil to hit your senses, I have also tried the Sweet Corn Cakes which provide a lighter starter if that is your preference."

Our Main Meals at Thaikun

For our Main Meals we opted for the classic vegetable Thai Green Curry (£8.95) Panang Goong, a creamy red curry (£12.95) and the Pla Pao- a sea bass fillet filled with lemongrass. galangal and lime leaves served in a banana leaf (£16.25) served with a portion of Coconut Rice (£3.25)

Liam "Our mains followed on swiftly from the starters.  For those of you who have eaten Thai before, you are no doubt aware that a Thai Curry uses coconut milk as the main constituent of the sauce which gives it more of a soup consistency than an Indian Curry.  The Thais also like their chillies, using them not just as a spice but serving them sliced in the curry itself.  All their curries come with Jasmine rice as standard and the dish did not disappoint.  The blend of heat, flavour and a hint of sweetness is what makes a Thai curry the dish it is, all of which were present here.  If anything, it perhaps could have been just a touch hotter with the spice, although I would urge caution with making any such request as the Thais tend to prepare their food much hotter and spicier and probably temper it a little to the tastes of Europeans like ourselves.  If you ask for it a little hotter, you may end up being surprised by the results"

The Thai Green Curry which came with Jasmine Rice

Mark (who's not usually someone to go spicy opted for the Panang Goong which didn't have a chili scale showing hotness on the menu. 

"Large, juicy, King prawns cooked in a creamy red curry sauce with Jasmine rice. This was a spicy dish with rough chopped chili’s and green beans. This was one of those dishes that builds in temperature as you eat, a very tasty and flavoursome dish that gives you a great taste of authentic Thai cooking- I loved it – even if on balance it was a challenge for me on the chili side of things, but then I am a bit of a wimp on the hot curry scale.  The inclusion of the fragrant Jasmine rice served slightly sticky made a great accompaniment to the curry which had a reasonable amount of sauce but not so much as to drown the prawns. The mixture of spices and the herbs bringing the dish to a great flavor. Though the dishes used to serve the food were not overly large, I was left feeling that I had eaten enough – except for the desert to come! (we all know that goes in to the desert stomach not the main one!!)

The Panang Goong at Thaikun

My choice was the sea bass fillet. This was beautifully cooked in a banana leaf. Having never actually had anything cooked this way previously I had to ask the question "Can you eat the banana leaf?". I little bit of running round by the waitress and we now both know the leaf isn't for eating.

The sea bass, whilst cooked over charcoal was so soft it could almost have been steamed. I loved the additional elements of the lime leaves and galangal at first but over time the galangal did get to be rather harsh on the palate. It may have been that it's something I'm not used to but it does have quite an overpowering element to me.

The Pla Pao- Seabass fillet cooked in a banana leaf thai style
I complimented the sea bass with a bowl of coconut rice. I was rather surprised that at such a price the sea bass doesn't come with a portion of rice as fish and a small amount of salad is not going to satisfy many people. I'd certainly like to see it offered with rice as standard. 

Desserts at Thaikun

When you think of pancakes you generally think of Shrove Tuesday with nice big golden round discs around 5 mm thick drizzled with whatever your topping of choice is. The pancakes at Thaikun certainly didn't quite meet up to our usual expectation in a very different way.

Mark "So what do you get when ordering the Pancake Sankaya (£5.95)? Well for a start its green, I mean really green! And the custard is green as well! Normally they come with vanilla ice cream however they had run out as a very apologetic member of staff advised so what would I like instead? Well coconut of course!- the pancake was on one  side with ice-cream on a slice of orange – a very attractive looking dish.

Mark's Pancake Sankaya

In terms of taste it was quite different to anything I have had before the pancake looked half cooked but that is judging by how we do pancakes! So it was almost certainly cooked correctly and the custard was a good custard consistency. As for taste it was very subtle to me and difficult to determine any particular flavors. On its own I am not sure I would have this again as the flavors were not that bold, unlike the other dishes of the night. The coconut ice-cream in contrast was full of flavor and tasty, not to sweet but clearly made with shredded coconut and on balance I think worked better with the pancakes than the vanilla would have.  I did grab a taste of the mango sorbet that my friend had with his desert, this was Really good! A strong flavor that cut the palate like a sharp knife, this was tangy and refreshing I would almost advise having one between courses to cleanse your taste buds in preparation for the next course!"

As a contrast I opted for the Khao Niew Moon Pancake (£5.95), a Pandan pancake made using a south-east Asian leaf which sends the pancakes green due to it's chlorophyll content. The pandan leaf adds flavouring although the pancake itself had the consistency of a fine sheet of cake icing.

Khao Niew Moon Pancake (£5.95)

The pancake wrapped a portion of sticky rice which was flanked by a beautifully refreshing mango sorbet which to me worked will to add extra flavour to the pancake. Without the mango sorbet the dish would have been a little on the bland side but it was subsequently transformed as a result into a very nice dessert.

One of the best things we noted of Thaikun were the staff. Extremely friendly and seemingly forever smiling without it seeming forced. It seems that Thaikun appears a nice place to work. The staff were attentive and informative as well as being a real pleasure to deal with. 

The amazing staff at Thaikun
Unit R7Victoria Shopping CentreUpper MallZone DNottinghamNG1 3QN

For more info visit http://thaikhun.co.uk/and book your table online

Thursday, 3 December 2015

VIP Opening Night at Thaikhun

Nottingham has had an influx of new Thai restaurants with two opening in the last couple of weeks. Having visited Zaap we sent Mark to visit Thaikhun, which forms part of the new food development within the Intu Victoria Centre.

The intriguing decor of Thaikhun, Thai Restaurant Nottingham

Mark's VIP Night at Thaikhun

On Wednesday 25th November saw the VIP launch of a new Thai restaurant in Nottingham, The Thaikhun. Situated in the newly refurbished Victoria centre by the old clock tower with easy access to the restaurant from lift or escalator taking you practically to their front door!

Thaikhun Nottingham- Upstairs in the Intu Victoria Centre
On arriving I am greeted by the staff and the organiser with a traditional Thai greeting. The decor is styled on eateries in Thailand even to the extent of importing everything that is used in the decorations.  Due to this kind of detail the ambiance leads you to almost believe you are actually in Thailand on one of the streets famous for its street food-which is the aim of this restaurant.

The restaurant has a wide range of seating on split-levels – I was advised by the host  that this is unusual as they usually have a single level. However this floor plan creates little dining areas that if you want are much more intimate and private for that romantic date! If you want that sort of thing! Along with a lower area that can be a private dining area or hire for parties and is a bit more secluded.

Down one side is the kitchen area, an island bar and lastly an out side area that will have great sun coverage in the summer- assuming we get any that is!.  All in all it is a casual looking restaurant centred on the street food style of Thailand. Having received their  “Monks Blessing” that day meaning they were set to open, So I was advised they don’t open properly until they have been blessed!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Zaap Thai- The Streets of Bangkok Come to Nottingham

One of Nottingham’s latest restaurants to open in the city centre is Zaap. Offering Thai street food in a unique setting modelled on the streets of Thailand. The environment feels almost like you could be in the hustle and bustle of downtown Bangkok among the alleyways riding on a Tuktuk. We love our South-East Asian food and the excuse to try something new for a bit of a review

Zaap- Thai Street Food, Nottingham

The menu takes you through a selection of Thai curries, soups, noddles and varieties that should give everyone plenty of debate on what you’re going to eat. With Krib Krub promising to work well as finger food for dipping and devouring

Last Wednesday saw the Nottingham Food Lovers invited to visit Zaap for a VIP Preview night and as suckers for trying something new we jumped at the chance. Invites for drinks and nibbles are always nice and we hoped for the chance to see just what the menu offered. With the chefs being bought in direct from Thailand it's going to be hard to find more authentic food in Nottingham. 

Looking Out From the Teaq Garden at Zaap Thai, Nottingham

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Sampling the New Menu at Revolution Cornerhouse

Growing up Revolution was all about Vodka, Vodka and... I'm sure you get the picture. I've spent plenty of nights in there (Knowingly and unknowingly) so I have to admit that when Revolution at The Cornerhouse invited us along to sample their new menu I was more than a little intrigued as in the past I'd never considered it for their food.

Gone was the dark, late night drinking den, replaced with a light, airy environment that makes you feel much more at ease. The restrictive booths have been replaced by more 'open-plan' seating and it really feels like the kind of environment you could settle down to get to know someone on a date or get-together with a bunch of friends.

The interior at Revolution, Cornerhouse Nottingham- No longer the dark drinking den
With a menu featuring a selection of traditional pub style meals but with more modern twists Revolution Cornerhouse seems to have a number of bases covered. The menu is varied yet features a selection of burgers and pizza's with twists to keep us all interested such as Vodka Chicken which gives a nod to the chain's heritage.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Beer and Pizza at the Eagle's Corner, Arnold

We've been a bit spoilt in the Arnold area over the last year or so with a good number of new pubs and restaurants opening. The newest of those is the Eagle's Corner on Front Street. Offering up freshly baked pizzas it seemed worthy of a mid week meal for us this week.

The interior at the Eagle's Corner

Arnold was originally known as Ernehale (Hence the local JD Wetherspoon's The Ernehale) which translates from Anglo-Saxon as the valley of the Eagles so whilst initially the name Eagle's Corner may seem a little peculiar it does have local significance.

The pub's interior is clean, fresh and very Italian orientated. Plenty of Italian adverts adjourn the walls highlighting the prominence of the pizza's and flatbreads on the menu. Plenty of signs and showcased Birra Moretti highlights this aspect too.

Pizza options at the Eagle's Corner, Arnold

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Himalayan Inn Arnold- Great Curry Shame About the Chicken

A Himalayan Restaurant in Arnold as we Search for Nottingham's Best Curry

We've been wanting to try Nepalese food for quite some time. Intrigued at the Nepali take on a curry and how the food might differ from what we usually expect from a local curry house. We're on the quest to find Nottingham's best curry so when the Himalayan Inn opened a couple of weeks ago we knew we had to head in to try.

The Himalayan Inn, Arnold, Nottingham
The property itself has been a number of restaurants over the years. It was previously Piccolo's although every so often a new restaurant popped up to be replaced some time later. In honesty this used to be a less popular end of Arnold when it comes to eating and drinking but with the emergence of the Robin Hood and Little John across the road more late night drinkers will head their way with an appetite.

On entering we were greeted with a friendly handshake from the staff. We'd bought the camera and they were more than happy for us to take photos within the restaurant, As the Nottingham Food Lovers blog has slowly expanded we still are apprehensive asking people if they're happy for us to take photos- usually we just stick to the food but in reality we do need to start adding more as popularity increases.

One of the things we love to try when we're at a restaurant is the beer. Local beers for where we're eating is always a priority so we started with a Gurkha Beer. Very light and very easy to drink this makes an excellent beer for a curry. 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The UK's Best Sunday Roast Right Here in Nottingham

Whilst we never created the Nottingham Food Lovers Blog as a news site we sometimes come across a little piece of information that we feel we need to shout about in celebration of food in Nottingham and the surrounding area.

The Larwood and Voce in West Bridgford has been awarded the Best British Road Dinner crown at the recent British Roast Dinner Week which ran from into the first week of October. It's a great award to celebrate local food and we'd like to offer our congratulations.

Larwood and Voce's Award Winning Roast Dinner

The title celebrates the quintessential British dish. Whilst once upon a time it would have been known as "Sunday Dinner" a roast dinner is a real pub classic which many of us enjoy no matter what the day or time of year. British Roast Dinner Week is an annual event sponsored by Knorr Gravy and Colman's Mustard to celebrate the dish. This year there were 447 entry submissions from pubs and restaurants across the UK of which the Larwood and Voce came out victorious.

The team at Larwood and Voce with their Best British Roast Dinner Award 

West Bridgford's Larwood and Voce sits at the back of Trent Bridge Cricket Ground and has rapidly become an integral part of the West Bridgford dining scene thanks to it's choice of quality food. If you wish to sample their roast on a Sunday booking is advisable (More so after this award). Prices are around £13 for Sunday dinner with excellent portion sizes (as pictured above)

As part of their service for large groups they will even bring out your meat to carve in front of you at the table and are in the process of installing their own dry-ageing fridge to further enhance flavours. Definitely worth a visit.

For more information please visit the Moleface Pub Company or call the pub on 0115 981 9960

The Larwood & Voce Pub & Kitchen
Fox Road
West Bridgford
Nottingham NG2 6AJ 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Tasting the New Menu at Marco Pierre White Steakhouse @ Alea

Reviewing the New Menu at Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Nottingham

We love great food and when we were offered the opportunity to visit Marco Pierre White's Nottingham Steakhouse within the Alea Casino we jumped at the chance. Alea is more than a casino offering a broad entertainment experience for those of us not usually of a gambling persuasion. Sitting in the old Co-op building on Upper Parliament Street it's a brief walk from Market Square and the Theatre Royal Tram Stop with access via Wollaton Street if you'd prefer not to have the temptation of the roulette wheels on your way to dinner.

The launch of a new menu at the steakhouse sees Marco wanting to provide the best possible dining experience in the city.
 "I want to make sure my restaurant offers the people of Nottingham the best dining experience there is - delicious, seasonal meals that really deliver on quality and taste at an affordable price. The new menu combines our customers’ firm favourites with some exciting new dishes such as Macaroni of Lobster with Fresh Tarragon ‎& Smoked Salmon, caviar and creme Fraiche, that are sure to impress"

The interior of Marco Pierre White Steakhouse within Alea Casino Nottingham
We love a good piece of anything that's been clucking, mooing or bah-ing so an invite to a steakhouse for the blog was always going to go down well. Having never visited Marco Pierre White Nottingham before I was certainly intrigued by what would be on offer and how it would fare when compared to other options within the city.

A Little Munch on the Table- Pork Scratchings

Having perused the menu before our attendance I knew exactly what I wanted to try as a pre-meal snack. Marco's Pork Scratchings. Whenever we go to the pub it's hard not to order a pack. Our pork scratchings were absolutely beautiful. A lot more subtly flavoured and much less salty than we're used to but that made them a great accompaniment as you weren't left feeling full. I'd definitely order them again. Alternate options included bread and chorizo bites but give us a portion of pork scratchings and we're happy!

Beautiful Pork Scratchings. 

Our Starters

For our Hors D'Oeuvres (as the menu states) we opted for the Baked Camembert with Crusty Bread and Lobster Bites with Onions and Grilled Cheese.

The Baked Camembert and Crusty Bread

Baked Camembert is a classic on a pub menu so I was intrigued at what additional twist it could have and just what would justify it's £9.50 price tag. On my plate came a generous sized Camembert with two gently toasted slices on bread drizzled with a balsamic dressing and topped with cherry tomatoes. As a starter it was lovely. The crusty bread worked well for dipping into the cheese and I couldn't make a case that not enough cheese was on the plate.

Lobster Bites with Onions and Grilled Cheese
We also opted for the Lobster Bites with Onions and Grilled Cheese which was a very nice, mourish starter with succulent lobster pieces complemented well with the grilled cheese. For the finicky amongst us it was hard to tell that there was onion in there. A seeded cob worked well for soaking up the last of the juices from the plate at the end.

Our Main Meals at Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Nottingham

Having a main meal at the steakhouse is a little bit different to what you would normally experience. Prior to ordering you're greeted by a member of staff to showcase the steaks available. Whether you go for a simple rump, sirloin or a more choice cut like a fillet steak, it's all right in front of you to see exactly what you would be getting. An intriguing choice is the Tomahawk steak for two which we'd like to have tried but we're always looking to sample and share so the same meal twice was never going to be a suitable option for us. 

The selection of different steaks to choose. (Left to right) Sirloin, Rump, Tomahawk, Fillet, T-Bone

Steaks viewed we posed the question of whether the veal on the menu was 'Pink' veal. Pink veal indicates a better welfare of the animal. Once again a steak came out the restaurant to showcase the quality of the veal with the knowledge that it was indeed pink.

The Veal. We were happy to know it was Pink Veal
As a result of what we had seen we opted for the 10oz Sirloin cooked rare and the Entrecote of Veal with Pommes Frites, Roast Vine Tomatoes and a Bearnaise Sauce. (Both £27.50). We also opted for an additional side of garlic mushrooms. (£3.75)

Marco Pierre White's Guide to Ordering Steak- Adapted from the menu. 

After ordering, we got a little bit of a shock when we were presented with a tray of knives to choose from. This was a touch we loved and gave us the chance to choose a blade we thought would suit our cutting although we did describe this as our chance to "Choose your weapon of mass destruction".

Choose your weapon of mass destruction. Choice of steak knives at MPW
My 10oz Sirloin Steak at Marco Pierre White Steakhouse

The 10oz Sirloin came out looking like twice the steak I'd receive on many a local pub menu. A
beautiful slab of meat cooked perfectly rare as requested with chunky chips. They must have been cooked at least twice as the inside was tender with a lovely crisp to the outer. As an addition I'd asked for the blue cheese sauce as an accompaniment. I was offered the choice of a sauce or a slice of blue cheese and opted for the cheese. It's no secret I could be Wallace in human form.

The Garlic Mushrooms looked to be an excellent addition to the meal. Steak and mushroom usually works well and we received a generous number to share between us.

Our side of Garlic Mushrooms

The Veal came out looking a little more interesting. Served on a wooden board the veal came out also cooked to perfection with a little more in it's presentation. Portion size was something that would work into the traditional 'A big meal is a good meal' approach whilst the food served was of exceptional quality cooked consistently throughout.

The Entrecote of Veal at MPW Nottingham Steakhouse

Wine to Accompany our Meal

Alongside our meal we took advice from Panna, the duty manager on a good wine choice for with our
steak. Her recommendation was to go with a Malbec so we opted for the Trapische Malbec (Oak-aged Cask, Mendoza, Argentina, £10.20 for 175ml) which was a hearty, light red, oak aged and with elements of damsons it worked very well with both meals with a smoothness meaning you could easily finish a bottle without realising.

The Amarone Cantina with the Trapische Malbec in the background

We also opted for an Italian red. The Amarone Cantina (Di Negrar, Italy, £17.50 for 175ml) which was a beautiful, full bodied red. Not as smooth as the Trapsiche but with lots more body and robustness to satisfy ourselves ahead of the following weeks trip up to Speyside on the Whisky Trail where we like something to enjoy that also keeps our senses alert. Whilst we went for wines off the Steak Lovers Delight section of the menu there are more options at higher and lower price points to satisfy anyone's budget.

If you asked people if Marco Pierre White had a restaurant in Nottingham I'm pretty sure that about 8 out of 10 people wouldn't know it existed. Set within the Alea Casino on Upper Parliament Street you'd only really know it was there if you looked hard at the sign as you walked past and that just shows some association with Marco Pierre White. Sadly this edge of Nottingham city centre is one where you tend to walk pretty fast along. It's no wonder the old Co-op that Alea replaced disappeared with the standard of what's outside their front door. The area is trying to change with a number of modern eateries moving in but many of us will always see the area as grotty and it's going to take a lot to change that. Alea might be another step up the area needs but with the standard of shops facing there needs to be some serious investment to make this area of Nottingham desirable for us to spend money.

On to Dessert

By this point in time we were well and truly full and have to admit we don't think we could manage another morsel. Therefore we declined the offer of dessert which I have to admit is a personal rarity. We did have a little view of the desserts menu and have to admit that it was the only area we felt that the restaurant was lacking. There were just 5 choices and all of these were what we would usually expect to see on a menu with the exception of Cambridge Burnt Cream which is very similar to the standard Creme Brulee. Whilst from our experience earlier in the evening we expected the desserts to be fantastic, had there been something a little different on the menu we might have been able to make room for dessert.

After dinner we were given a selection of chips to go and try out the casino for ourselves. We're not really gamblers but it was interesting heading over to the roulette wheel to sample this side of Alea.

What We'd Really Like to Try- Sunday Lunch

I'm always looking for somewhere to take Mum out for Sunday lunch. Her current favourite is the Lion out at Farnsfield although I now have a new suggestion. Sunday Lunch at Marco Pierre White. For £17.95 for 2 courses of £20.95 for 3 if it's anything like what we tasted it will be absolutely fantastic and is very reasonably priced.

Our Experience

We had a wonderful meal at Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Nottingham. The dining experience from start to us leaving the restaurant (with some chips to try out the casino) was fantastic. Staff were attentive and the food was awesome. We'd be happy to go back at some point, especially to see what we missed out on by not having dessert. The atmosphere was one you'd go back to, even if you're not a gambler using the casino. 

For Reservations- Book online or call 0115 8713 862

Alea and Marco Pierre White have gone for a very subtle frontage. If you drove past Alea on Upper Parliament Street you would be hard-pressed to tell there was a steakhouse there at all. Many eateries want a prominent place and showcase but it seems that if you're going to Marco Pierre White you're part of an elite that don't need the glitz of a giant advertising board. It's also nice to eat somewhere that the world isn't walking past peering in on you.

The only sign you'll see that Marco Pierre White is associated with Alea Nottingham

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Celebrating Taste of Nottingham with a Food Tour of the City

We Send Mark on a Food Voyage of Discovery Around Nottingham's Best Eateries to celebrate Taste of Nottingham 2015. 

Nottingham BID recently put together a promotional event to showcase some of Nottingham’s best eateries as part of the 2015 Taste of Nottingham event. Mark was treated to a culinary tour of the hottest venues in town and it was a thoroughly amazing night. It was all put together to celebrate the upcoming Taste of Nottingham 2015 event which offers visitors to the city chance to try something different with many establishments putting on special dine for £10 menus and other promotions

If you're out and about in Nottingham and sample something you'd like the world to know please use the #TASTEOFNOTTS and share it with the world

During the week of 21st to 27th September (Next week) a selection of the city’s must-eat establishments are taking part in a special Dine for £10 schemeYou can get your fill of Nottingham’s offerings at 4550 Miles from Delhi, Chino Latino, Carluccio’s, Harvester, Patisserie Valerie, Rub Smokehouse, Wildwood and World Service. 

For more information visit itsinnottingham.com

The evening featured four choice venues with a course in each to tantalise the taste buds and wow our senses with great food and so to the point of this little article!

Starting Our Tour- The Bear and Lace 

The Bear and Lace on Maid Marion Way

We started our tour in the Bear and Lace, a new champagne cocktail bar on Maid Marion way. A 2 minute walk from the city centre the bar has a clean and modern exterior on entry. As you enter the bar you enter a classy and well set out bar modern but also classy at the same time. In the main entrance way 9 great chandeliers hang giving a warm glow and feel to the place.

Inside the Bear and Lace

With introductions made to a couple of the organisers at the door I am shown upstairs – closed to the public for the event – for our first treat – The Bear and Lace signature cocktail the “Angel de la Muerta”

I am not a cocktail kind a guy, give me a good beer or a solid red wine and I’m happy- So when passed a champagne glass with a strawberry on the edge of the glass I am wondering what I am In for!

The Angel De La Muerta in the Bear and Lace

So on the first taste you get the classic taste of champagne then you begin to get subtle taste of cognac and schnapps. It’s a subtle flavor enhanced by the strawberry. For those that don’t know, Strawberries serve to enhance the flavor of champagne.  All in all it’s a great drink simple but enjoyable. It was also a nice informal way to get to know the other guests on the nights tour. So for a good and classy beginning to your night out a good place to start would be the Bear and Lace.

Beer, Sausages and Quail Scotch Eggs in Oaks

All to soon we are ushered on to our next venue- Oaks.

We enter the bar and are greeted by the warm and unmistakable aroma of oak fires and grilled meat.  The decor is all natural wood panelling and then the oak tables. It’s a classic decor for a grill type establishment but well done.

By this time my taste buds having been awakened by the cocktail are beginning to salivate! With the prospect of truly delicious grilled meat!

But first things first, Drinks! From a choice that was selected for our sampling, they had a beer by Nottingham’s own Castle Rock Brewery Harvest Pale – a just simply great flavoursome IPA not too heavy and for a person who likes lager as opposed to beer this is a great beer full of natural flavor and in my view correctly served in a pint jug not a straight glass!

Oaks then start warming up our taste buds with quail egg scotch eggs and the lightest pork scratchings  (with a little kick of chili) I have ever had the pleasure to devour. There were marinated olives – all most a taste overload – then came the home made sausages!!

Quail Scotch Eggs in Oaks

Beef with Gruyere cheese, Chicken with asparagus and ricotta, wild boar with purple broccoli and smoked mozarella, Lamb with aubergine, tahini, rosemary and garlic and by far my favorite of the night pork with pancetta and smoked paprika.

Chicken sausages with Asparagus and Ricotta
Lamb with Aubergine, Tahini, Rosemary and Garlic
Pork sausages with Pancetta and Smoked Paprika in Oaks
Each sausage had its own character, a course texture with great flavors some on the slightly sweater side like the chicken or a richness like the wild boar.

These sausages were simply full of flavor and whether you like all the individual ingredients or not no one taste over ruled another – such a great and delicate balance of flavors’ that will simply leave you wanting more.

But I have to point out two of my favourite dishes there; the Quail egg scotch eggs and the pork and paprika sausages. The scotch eggs were small with a crispy exterior the egg was just cooked with a softer but not runny yolk – a testament to the chef’s skill- was simply full of flavor and the creamy yolk adding subtle tones to the flavor of the herbs and spices. A great starter that left you wanting more!

Now for me what was probably the star of the night, the pork and paprika sausages! On the first bite there was the explosion of flavor from the hot spice of the paprika to the blend of the pancetta and pork. The additional seasoning gave a great flavor while the smoked paprika didn’t make the sausage to hot – enough to know it’s there but not over power the flavors. I would have happily tucked in to a large plate of these with possible little else other than maybe a bit of coleslaw to lighten it all up a bit.

All these great flavors the beer and general feel good atmosphere willing and helpful staff make this a must go again place to visit for a proper blog review. 

Going Greek- Moving on to Yamas

Moving on to Yamas in the Lace Market

So onward bound we are ushered on to the next venue Yamas.

The disappointment of having to leave Oaks and move to Yamas was lessened on discovering it is a Greek restaurant – I love pretty much all things Greek – food, wine, culture to me its all good and so diverse.

Again, we`re ushered upstairs which had been held for our sole use. In general appearance it wasn’t as …slick or polished as The Bear and Lace or Oaks but it had character.

So to drinks – I was pleased to see that they have 2 Greek beers Mythos and Keo and a couple of Greek wines- I went for a glass of the Makadonikos a nice red wine fruity with out losing substance and with subtle oak flavors – a great accompaniment to what we were about to be served.

The what was now effectively the main course, was in effect a mezze a buffet of traditional Greek dishes Lamb kebabs, rice pasta with peppers and garlic, garlic prawns, Greek salad, then there were the toasted pitta bread with Tzatziki, a blended feta and chilli dish called Tirokafteri and Houmous.

Part of our Mezze at Yamas, Nottingham

As ever I quickly tucked into the various dishes all I have had in one version or another on my trips to Greece. I would have liked to see a souvlaki or a stifado but there was little room left on the table for more food! It was packed with the tasty Greek morsels.

Kebabs at Yamas
The familiar dishes brought back fond memories of previous trips to Greece, Tzatziki cool creamy and fresh tasting great with the kebab or with Pitta.

The Tirokafteri nice and spicy but again not to much, a great accompaniment to the meal.

The staff were really friendly and so we started talking about my favourite pastries Backlava was one, other I found out was called Karidopita!.

Technically we were not having the sweet here but when offered to try some from Yamas I was delighted. What is Karidopita? I hear you say – well its walnuts, cinnamon and cloves soaked in lashings of honey. A traditional Greek sweet I can highly recommend. I loved it!

The hubbub of conversation that was present all night between the invited guests bringing a great atmosphere to the evening, a sharing of experiences and tastes and a common interest- FOOD!

Our time at Yamas came to a close and we moved to the final destination of the night, Rub.

More Great Food on Our Tour- Rub Nottingham

Here came the gut busting sweets and I mean that literally! so much so they included the kitchen sink! No really! they did!  Not a sink but a stainless steel hand-washing basin used in kitchens complete with taps! It was 4-5 inches deep 8-10 inches wide and the desert was piled 4-5 inches high! You would need an army to eat it! 

Dessert at Rub in a Stainless Steel Basin Complete with Taps
Filled with ice-cream, waffles, cream, sweets and cookies, it was a diabetic attack waiting to happen! It is Weight watchers arch-enemy!

Another looked like a waffle burger doughnut with chocolate fudge sauce, waffles ice-cream and so many other goodies only held together by 2 strawberry topped skewers.

More of the Dessert Selection at Rub, Nottingham

The last was a take on the Italian folded pizza a Calzone! I have to say I never found out what was in that, by this time I was beat and on the verge of collapsing into a food coma! But all around I could hear exclamations to the size and sheer extravagance of the sweets. A truly great outing.

So my take on the evening, all credit must be given to the organisers Nottingham BID and Gemini PR marketing. This was a well run, slick and fun evening out. In my opinion, what a great way to get local people who love food and writing about food together. My thanks also to the venues for making us feel welcome and showing us the delicious fruits of your labours.

Next week sees Taste of Nottingham (21st -27th Sept) it will be a great opportunity to try something new, so go on let your hair down forget the diets and get experiencing some of the venues above and of the many more restaurants that grace Nottingham city.