OAKS in Nottingham finally opened its door to the general public on the 16th July and I for one was quite excited. I had read about its concept and plans a couple of months ago in the Nottingham Post, and since I have been waiting for ages to come and dine there.
More recently I had been fed titbits of information through the usual Social media and from Tank PR, who along with Oaks, had helped me with the chance to come along to try out the food.
The press release told me that Oaks will be “serving locally-sourced produce, cocktails and craft ales”
and that “OAKS specialise in home-made sausages and meats cooked over wood embers”
with all of those logs being the “natural by-product of sustainable coppicing by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust”
Local food, Local produce, and even locally sourced cooking materials? Sounds good to me already. This I have to see, or rather taste for myself.
Beef Scotch Quail Eggs
Now many of you who have followed this and my other blogs will know that I have a bit of a penchant for a Scotch Eggs, so it would be no surprise that they would be the first thing off that menu at Oaks that I would order. So glad that I did, I could eat these babies all day long. Man alive! these beautiful little nuggets of joy were quite simply amazing.
There really is nothing like getting a Scotch egg hot from the kitchen, it is a game changer. What makes these so good and different from all the other Scotch Eggs out there? Well to start off the meat is a beef mince and not your usual sausage meat, so you get a much more powerful taste and a better more solid texture. The coating is crisp, and as you tuck into each half, it has a really great crunch of a bite. To add to that you have a lovely rich and silky yolk from that soft and perfectly cooked quail egg.
The last piece of the jigsaw is that perfectly balanced seasoning which just tips the whole thing over the edge from a scotch egg ‘life less than ordinary’.
Sharing Platter at Oaks
So just so that we could both sample as much as possible of what was being cooked up at Oaks we chose to tuck into one of their Sharing Platters that would cost you £30. The platter is made up of your selection of one beef or fish burger, one half chicken, one sausage and two sides. Thinking about it since, it did seem a bit strange having to share a burger between two, a couple of smaller sliders may have been easier to juggle between two hungry diners fighting over the pickings. Having said that we often share burgers, but usually that is when we have ordered two different ones though.
You could if you so choose and were really, and I mean really hungry take on their larger platter for £59 which is; Two sausages, a Whole Chicken, some King Prawns (not sure if they live locally in the Trent :-) ), Two Bavette Steaks (I saw someone order one and they did look really good), and Four (yes I said 4) sides. That is a lot of food!
Angus Beef Burger
Lets start with the story of the Burger, mainly because that was where we started, as we were cutting it into two to share, and also to open up a nice photo opportunity. I liked the combination of ingredients with the bottom bun layered with lettuce, tomato, and pickle. Some people might say that the burger patty is not cooked enough, but I personally like the patty to be cooked medium rare, so I liked it like this.
In the states they would treat you with disdain if you asked for it well done. Having said that we are not in the states we are in the Midlands of England so I can kind of see where they might be coming from, its just not so normal, but luckily with the invasion of so much BBQ it is becoming the norm. I am sure though that you can have it cooked however you want at Oaks.
It was good to see a decent vegetarian option on the menu with a Portobello Mushroom as the burger. I reckon that is going to be a big juicy, and meaty affair, I love that mushroom and it can easily give you everything that the meat lover loves in a burger, the avocado and aubergine will be interesting. Another great vegetarian substitution for a meat burger is a big slice of beetroot. I might suggest that to the Oaks Team.
The Sausage Link on the Platter
The star showing on the platter for me was the sausage link. We chose the one filled with a mix made with Beef, Gruyere Cheese, Red Onion, and Red Wine, and we made a good choice. I don’t want to sound like I am overselling it but the best way I can describe this is like a beef, onion casserole in red wine gravy inside a sausage. If it was a casserole in a bowl I would be in dream land, stick it into a sausage with cheese oozing out of it and I am getting to be a pretty happy chap.
I loved this particular sausage and would like to try it with a side of mash potato and some gravy, not sure I want to pay £7 for a regular sausage, but you know what? I actually might for this one.
We found out that all the sausages are being made locally at Tuxfords butchers in Netherfield, so the next day I drove over to the butchers to see what was going on. In the back there were chains of links of sausages all glistening waiting to be collected and on their way Oaks. Love that they are being made so locally.
Honey Dew Beer and Black Pepper Chicken
I was pleasantly surprised on the Chicken front as the half chicken we were served was really moist and juicy even the breast portion. The only slight downside is that on the platter, the flavours of the chicken do not see to compete well with the stronger flavours of the sausage and the burger meat. Now that is not a bad thing, it is great chicken and I would personally suggest not having the platter and instead having the half chicken with a side of the chips (which are really good). As the chicken cooled down you could really taste the beer and the pepper in the skin.
Now my advice would be to take advantage of one of the homemade sauces to dip your moist and juicy bits of chicken in to. With the chicken I would recommend the Smoked Chili Brown Sauce (well that worked for me).
Just like any good BBQ the sauces should compliment and here at Oaks they certainly can. I tried, used, and was happy with all three of their homemade sauces. I tried not to talk about them too much until now so that I could give more focus on them, as with all BBQ joints, they should, can, and do add a lot to the experience. I was advised to try the Mustard and Horseradish sauce with the Scotch eggs, and that was a good shout. I do find that Scotch Eggs and Mustard do pair well together, this one at Oaks is quite powerful of you taste it on its own. It is fine with a strong meaty partner. Just keep it a light smear.
The burnt tomato ketchup was good with the hand cut chips that they serve here at Oaks. It is not like a traditional ketchup, it is a bit more grown up, yet still is good as a chip dipping condiment.
The star effort in the box is the Smoked Chili Brown Sauce, I really liked this for dipping my chicken in. It was really hard to pick out the flavours, it was tangy, sweet, burnt, spicy, and a bonus mystery flavour lurked, they was something else hidden. What was it? I really wanted to know so I asked the waitress what was in it, and she bought me a piece of paper (still in my wallet) with the ingredients in it.
I won’t give too many secrets away but the key thing I was getting on my palate was toasted cumin, garlic paste, soy sauce and miso (there were at least 5 other thing in there as well). I would buy this sauce.
Now after eating just half of that platter, most of the fries, some of the rather good naked coleslaw (no mayo),and drinking my pint of Harvest Pale Ale, I was kind of stuffed. So stuffed that I really did not need to have a pudding or a dessert. That was my plan, but not the plan of the executive chef who wanted us to try the doughnuts. To be honest they were actually quite light, and quite delicious.
They are a sugar coated treat filled with a Marsala sauce. The recipe apparently comes from a small village near to Venice. I like to imagine that. More seriously, if you can, and I know it is really unlikely, leave a little room to eat just one of these doughnuts.
I really enjoyed my meal at Oaks and not just because it was complimentary. I would happily have paid for everything on the plates that we ate. Next time I dine here I will be eating a bowl of those Beef Scotch Quail Eggs, followed by a Sausage link with a side of Truffle mash, or I might have the Chicken and Chips, or maybe the Steak? Oh I don’t know. Just loads more English Ember cooked BBQ.
To find out more about Oaks Restaurant in Nottingham
Or just walk in through the doors and sample their food, the local beer, and maybe listen to some of the live music that they offer.
You can find them at 2 Bromley Place, just off Maid Marian Way
I am really glad to see the English BBQ fight back against the USA BBQ invasion