What's on the menu?

What's on the menu?

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

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