Oaks Restaurant – Local English BBQ cooked on the Embers

Oaks is Open

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

Beef Quail Scotch 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

Sharing platter at Oaks Restaurant Sharing Platter Menu at Oaks in Nottingham

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

The Beef Burger at Oaks Restaurant Burger Menu

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

Burger and Sausage Sausage Menu at Oaks

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

Oaks Chicken Chicken Menu

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).

Homemade Sauces

Oaks Homemade Sauces

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.

Doughnuts

Oaks Doughnuts

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. Oaks in Nottingham

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.

Inside Oaks Restaurant in Nottingham Oaks Fire place Music at Oaks

To find out more about Oaks Restaurant in Nottingham

just check them out on their Facebook Page and on their Twitter Feed,

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

  Click to add a blog post for Oaks on Zomato

Suede Lounge Bar and Pizza Kitchen for very good and very thin Pizza

Suede Pizza Bar

Suede Lounge Bar and Pizza Kitchen is located in Nottingham Creative Quarter down at far end of Heathcote Street. First impression were that I liked this place it is kind of quirky with old cassette taps stuck to the walls and outdoor tables inside to sit on. #

I am not sure what vibe they are going for, I think that they hope for hipster but its more like first year out of studentville in my mind.

It is kind of fun though and they seem to be pretty keen on their pizzas so I felt that it would have been a bit rude to walk on by so I stayed for a while, drank a beer, and ate a pizza.

It does seem that perhaps, on the odd occasion, some of us do lead charmed lives, or is it just simply luck and that when a pizza is on offer, a hungry man has to do what a hungry man has to do?

Pizza Menu Options

Suede Pizza Menu

They seem to be pretty proud of the way that they make their pizza saying that they use triple wheat in their dough which is slowly fermented over 24 hours. Is that a good thing? well when we take a bite we might find out.

They have plenty of interesting and mouth watering options on the menu. Their margherita with 100% Mozzarella (is there another kind?), their signature sauce (whatever that might be?), topped with cherry tomatoes and fresh basil was quite tempting.

More Suede Pizza Menu

Also tempting for all the wrong reasons was the pizza topped with ‘Jack Daniels Marinated Pulled Pork, Red Onion, and Jalapenos’. It sounds like a spicy car crash of  pizza, yet something to be tried or should I say devour.

Anyhow I didn’t go down that road instead I found myself drawn to order the eighth option or numero Otto.

With this topping array I was keeping it true to my Pizza Topping roots by choosing the one with most of those ingredients that I love; Chorizo, Pepperoni, and Spicy Beef.

“Otto (8) Chorizo, Spicy Beef, Pepperoni”

Chorizo, Pepporni and Spicy Beef Pizza at Suede Bar

I have to confess that I misread the menu a little, as I also thought that it came with jalapeno and chilli flakes, but that was £1 extra. Good job really as I was probably going to pick most of the chilli pepper off. I only realised that later when I read the menu properly online.

The picture really does not show you how big and how thin this pizza is. Its a good plateful and the pizza is so thin you wonder if they rolled out the base in a pasta machine or sliced a normal pizza base into three using some sort of awesome meat slicer. Neither of those things happened in the real world, but both happened just a moment ago in my pizza making imagination.

Stop the digression I hear you shout (again somewhere in my imagination as I type) just tell us if the pizza tasted good, already! Yes Ok I will, and it did. The base is very, and I mean very thin. Charred lightly to give it a nice toasty taste, but it is not baked enough to make it over crispy. This is essentially a bit of a floppy pizza slice, which is pretty much how I liked my pizza when I was living over near New York, Seriously, you know foldable slices are kind of the way to go, trust me! Other bonuses I just made up in my mind are that being thin it is almost a diet slice.

What did I have to say at the time as I typed away into the phone notepad? “Sounds spicy but actually quite a light mild heat” (that was because I misread the menu as I admitted) “Sweet and Spicy tomato sauce, very very thin crust” (it really is damn thin) “Not too much topping, so even though it looks big it is not overwhelming”

Looking back that seems fair. This is a really tasty and a really decent pizza, it is up there at the moment in my top three, the other two (just for the record) being Oscar and Rosie’s at Das Kino, and the pizza from the Ugly Bread Bakery.

So basically and simply I am an advocate of this pizza, so tasty and drool worthy.

Mutant Ninja Turtle at Suede

Pizza Poster at Suede

If you venture down the stairs towards the bathrooms you will see a wall covered with 6 foot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I guess they like Pizza too just like all my friends at work who have told me to come here and try the pizza.

Check them out at the Suede Pizza Bar site, and on Twitter and Facebook

 The only downside was some mention of hipster on the menu!

 “extra hipster points” might have been the phrase.

 

 

Homeboys by Pete Hewitt at The Taste of Rushcliffe

Homeboys Sign

This last weekend I was fortunate enough to bump into Pete Hewitt from Clifton of recent BBC Masterchef fame and his “Homeboys” chicken stall at the Taste of Rushcliffe in West Bridgford.

I love a chance to eat a bit of Streetfood, and I love that even more when that food is being prepared by one of our own in this great City of Nottingham.

Tatsuta Slider

I was eating one of the Tatsuta Age Fried Chicken Slider, a relatively small bite in the hand for the princely sum of £3.50. This is basically a Japanese Fried Chicken slider which is no surprise given that Pete spent most of Masterchef cooking Japanese inspired food and that he plans to open a Food Truck selling the same.

I am not sure what Petes recipe for the chicken is, but from what I understand this typically is made by marinating chicken thigh meat in a mix of Mirin, Sake, Ginger juice, some garlic, and Soy sauce before deep frying in a light batter of corn starch, potato starch or if you can get it katatkuriko flour.

I understand that this is also sometimes known as Chicken Karaage, a bite that I had recently at the Time Out Café in Nottingham where they serve up Japanese street food snacks.

Tatsuta Age Chicken Slider

“Homeboys” are serving up their Tatsuta Age Chicken in a lightly toasted slider bun, topped with some tangy pickle, a bit of kimchi? Some spicy mayo on the top of the bun and some nice hot sauce just dribbled over the chicken with the sole intention of dripping down your chin and onto your fingers.

I kind of wished that I had been listening properly to Pete as he was making my slider up, as he did give us a run down of exactly what was in there, my bad.

In the end I will say though that I don’t really care what was in there, it was simply a lovely, delicious bit of street food.

Crunchy well seasoned crispy chicken, topped with some crunchy pickle bits, a spicy and tangy sauce, and just the right ratio of bun to filling.

Good Job Mr Hewitt!

Looking forward to eating from the Truck

 

The Menu Board

Homeboys Menu Board

 

You can follow Pete Hewitt on Twitter and on Facebook, and you may also see him popping up at various Food Festivals near and far as he gets his Food Truck on the road

The Avenues Café at Sneinton Market

The Avenues in Sneinton

The Avenues Café in Sneinton formally known as ‘Tasty Bites’ has apparently been in the market area for around 20 years. It is right next door to the GB café, so close that when you are inside at the counter you wonder if they are sharing a kitchen. I don’t think that they are, I am just saying how near they are. It is really friendly inside, and not just from the lovely staff who were waiting to greet. I was offered a random copy of the Sun to read from a fellow diner when I sat down and I didn’t even ask or look for a paper. I will note that I read the sports pages as one does, skipped from the cover straight to page 5 to avoid any suggestions of impropriety, found the cartoons, read them, and after I had eaten the meal I am about to describe I handed the paper on to the next person who looked like they needed it. It just seemed to be the way of the world at The Avenues Café. Ok so that was a massive digression, back to eating some food at the Café!

Got to love a Chalkboard!

The Avenues Chalk Board

I cannot resist the lure of a chalkboard that mentions an ‘All Day Breakfast’ and I don’t really need to see arrows pointing towards a door to tell me which way to head to get one of those ‘All Day Breakfasts’ either. I do love seeing one though and as always when I see one, or today when I saw this one, I am lured, hook, line and sinker. Happily I stroll in through the door to find myself a plate of that lovely filling all day breakfast.

What was on the Breakfast Menu? 

Breakfast Menu

Price

 Hungry Man  2 bacon, 2 sausage, 2 eggs, 2 hash browns, black pudding, mushrooms, beans and tomatoes, fried slice  £6.00
 Mega Breakfast  2 bacon, 2 sausage, 1 egg, mushrooms, beans and tomatoes, fried slice  £4.00
 Large Breakfast  1 bacon, 2 sausage, 1 egg, mushrooms, beans and tomatoes  £3.60
 Small Breakfast  1 bacon, 2 sausage, 1 egg, mushrooms, beans and tomatoes  £3.30

The Mega Man Breakfast

The Mega Breakfast at the Avenues Cafe in Sneinton

In my heart of hearts I really wanted to stand at the counter and say that “I need a Hungry Man for a Hungry Man” but I knew that I would not be able to eat it all so I moved one rung down the menu ladder and ordered the “Mega Breakfast”. To be honest it sounded just as cool and awesome as I said it.

This is not a gourmet breakfast in any sense of the word, but it is a substantial belly busting feast on a plate filled with enough food to keep anyone going all day. Individually nothing on the plate was shouting out any kind of claim for fame, but in combination as almost any all day effort can, it was greater that the sum of its breakfast parts.  The sausages were on the cheaper side of breakfast life but today I didn’t mind that. they had been fried in enough oil to make them kind of yummy in an arterial clogging way. The bacon had been fried in the pan and it seemed that the fried slices had been in that same pan as they had a really good breakfast pan taste to them. The beans, mushrooms, and egg had been cooked to make sure that they were cooked. Together with the tinned tomato their main role was to be something to put on top of the fried slices and the accompanying plate of toast.

Verdict: ! “Yum to the extreme”

The Avenues Café is located on Gedling Street, Nottingham NG1 1DS

The Kitchen at NottCutts – some occasional lunching

Pulled Pork Baguette at NottCutts

The last week or so I have been partaking of quite a few lunches at The Kitchen at Notcutts. This is also known as The Street Kitchen and is formerly know as the café at Harry Wheatcrofts’ Garden Centre. I first came here to their new café back in November when I wrote about “Fish and Chips at The Street Kitchen Restaurant“. I recall that I said that they were really good if a tad on the pricey side. Since then I have been back and eaten here quite a bit, but often fail to get that camera out to take a picture to show you what else they have on offer.

Cheese and Onion Pie

Cheese and Onion Pie at NotCutts Garden Centre

I have on more than one occasion been tempted by and drawn in by their Pie. They often have this on the counter in a great big cast iron skillet sitting there screaming out ‘Eat me!’ It is a darn pretty goddam beauty of a pie as well. I have had the Cheese and Onion pie which is a jolly solid and comforting plateful. The pastry is great all buttery, flaky and crisp. The cheese and potato filling sticks to your ribs in a good way. I find that it goes pretty well with a side of chips and gravy (more on that in a moment). The only sad thing is that you just get a slice not the whole pie, but then I suppose that if you did that would be some sort of Man vs Food Challenge that I probably would not be able to complete during a steady luncheon sitting.

Chips and Gravy

Chips and Gravy at NottCutts

Alongside that Pie or even on its own I can recommend a plate of their lovely chips smothered in gravy. This might not be the healthiest lunch on the planet or even in the city, but you know what? it is so nice and comforting. You know you want it!? The chips are nice and crispy in the outside with lovely pillowy soft potato on the inside. Just how I like them.

Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry at NotCutts

I know that this next suggestion is not being served up at one of our excellent local Indian Restaurants, and it is only a garden centre café and so you might not be expecting too much?

But if you fancy something a little spicier or a with a bit more zing on your plate or on your bowl then might I suggest that you try the Chicken Curry? I had a bowlful and I was pleasantly surprised at how much flavour they had packed into the dish. Plenty of chicken breast, fresh tomatoes, onion, and coriander seemed to be the basis of the curry. The gravy was thick and tangy, not too spicy but spicy enough to make me blow my nose. It is certainly one up from a standard pub curry, but not quite at the level that you would be looking for up Maid Marian Way.

Pulled Pork in Onion Gravy Baguette

Pulled Pork Baguette at NottCutts

Last time out at the NotCutts Kitchen I had one of their pulled pork in onion gravy baguettes from the big red van in the Street Kitchen section of the café. I enjoyed the flavour of the meat in the gravy and I quite like the big side salad that accompanied it. The baguette itself was a bit disappointing the bread was a bit soft and a bity sweet, but hey you cannot win every time. Overall I have had some pretty nice things to eat at the garden centre café formerly known as Harry Wheatcrofts.

Just as it used to be in the old café the general consensus from my friends and I is that the food is good, wholesome, but a little bit on the expensive side for what it is.

If I have one thing to recommend? Well that would still be the Fish and Chips that I ate here when it first reopened.

The Wheatcroft Garden Centre, or The NotCuts Garden Centre as it is now known, is located at Landmere Lane in Edwalton just off the roundabout on the A52

Check out the site and direction here

Annie’s Burger Shack for a light bite on a Friday Night?

Inside Annies Burger Shack

This Friday we were out and about in the Lace Market and somehow perhaps by some kind of divine dining intervention we found ourselves at Annie’s Burger Shack. Now I have dined here before on many an occasion, and it is pretty well established that I find Annie to serve the best goddam burgers in the City, and almost everyone tells me the same thing too, so what stops us dining here more often?

Well tonight I was to find that two of the reasons for not frequenting her doors more often were in fact false, just myths. perhaps whispers that we had heard on the wind or hot air drifting across the public bar.

What are those reasons? those common things people tell me when talking about Annie’s?

You can’t get a table and it is always booked up” and “The burgers are just too big”.

Well here is the thing, I realised that is just ‘hokum and bunkum’!

I have never booked, and even on a Friday night I have just walked in around 6-7 o clock and been able to get a table for two. OK sometimes I have to wait at the bar for 15-20 mins but hey they serve excellent beer here so that is not a great hardship. Note I am quite lucky :-)

Yes if you do choose one of the burgers with a lot of toppings it will be huge, but you know if you want a burger with your Sunday dinner on top of it what do you expect? I mean its not rocket science to imagine that it might be rather a lot of food to eat.

The key then must be to choose sensibly from the menu? So this time I did and you know what it worked, as I ate comfortably and was gently replete as opposed to being stuffed.

It was a straight choice between the Bacon Blues, the Bacon Cheddar, and the Mushroom Swiss, all classic simple variations on the cheese burger.

The Mushroom Swiss won, just as it did on my first ever visit to Annie’s at the Navigation back in 2012

Mushroom Swiss

Mushroom Swiss with Cajun Fries

The Mushroom Swiss is one of my all time favourite burger toppings. It is clean and simple, with well balanced, and time tested, flavour combinations. With all of the other ‘in your face’ combinations that you can choose from at Annie’s it is sometimes just too easy to over look the classics.

Lets not forget that this is a classic burger, the simple description on the menu of ‘sautéed mushrooms and melted Swiss cheese’ is an understatement in itself. It just does not fully express the joyous way that it makes my tastebuds sing as I eat one. Having said that it does not need a clever name as it is just good as it is described.

Truly a delight to eat.

The Thin Lizzy

The lemmy burger at Annies Burger Shack

OK so we had the classic and then now it was time to play in the fun section of the menu with The Thin Lizzy which is an Annie’s classic in itself. What you have here is a burger topped with Guinness soaked sautéed red onions and mushrooms in a home made gravy topped with melted cheese.

Yum juicy and flavoursome, this could be a messy affair with gravy dripping down your fingers and cheeks. If ever there was a 5 napkin burger this could be one.

Size wise this also is quite a sensible choice here at Annie’s as you can eat one, drink a pint of one of their excellent real ales and still be able to waddle walk away from the table with your waistline an belt-buckle relatively intact .

The Menu Temptation

Annies Burger Shack Menu

So did I learn anything new today? Yes I learnt that usually when I have dined at Annie’s Burger Shack my eyes have been bigger than my belly! Although I do like to tuck into one of her larger more expansive combinations, it may well be that the key to surviving without needing a really long lie down with your top belt buckle undone is in fact moderation. Is that as much fun? well maybe and maybe not.

Just for the record I had to hold firm and strong with my mental resolve as I just settled for that modest Mushroom and Swiss burger. Just below her on the menu The New England Yankee Brisket lay in wait trying to tempt me in with it’s stack of ‘slice tender homemade brisket beef topped with melted American cheese’ and just a few inches further I my senses were being pelted with the offer of The North Carolina ‘topped with 8 hour slow cooked BBQ’d pulled pork’.

Christ on a bike, it is not easy writing this food blog with some much temptation on offer!

Annies Burger Shack

Annie’s Burger Shack is located at 5 Broadway in the Lace Market in Nottingham.

It is self described as “The original taste of New England in Nottingham”

You can follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook

You can also go old school and eat a burger there as well!

Note: although I did say that I had never booked. If you have a larger party you probably will want to make a booking (if you can)

Older Posts by MyFoodHunt

Annies Burger Shack

Other MyFoodHunt at The Nottingham Food Blog love for Annie’s

Annie’s Burger Shack in the Lace Market – New Location, Continued Burger Excellence!

Annie’s Ocean State Tavern at Annie’s Burger Shack

Old School at the Navigation

Annie’s Burger Shack Revisited

An Authentic Amercian Burger in the UK? Come to Annie’s Burger Shack

 

 

 

 

Georges Fish and Chip Kitchen – Feeding my American Friends

Georges chalkboard

Whatever the weather I can not resist the lure of a decent plate of Fish and Chips.

When I am in the City Centre I am increasingly finding myself drawn in to eat at Georges Fish and Chip Kitchen on Queens Street in the old Post office building. Back in December, when it was just opening, I visited (read about that here) and at the time I did say that it will be interesting to see how the Nottingham Public take to the place. It did seem quite expensive and there is plenty of competition either side as it is wedged in between Reds True BBQ and Bills.

“It’s a bit ‘fancy pants’ for some (in a good way), and I would like to think that it would be somewhere to come for a nice treat once in a while. I will be back myself, and already have plenty of people who want to come with me to try it out”.

In that sense I have been true to my word as I have been back and brought some of my ‘out of town’, ‘out of state’, and most recently ‘out of country’ friends from North Carolina to eat here.

Those Americans do like a plate of Fish and Chips, and while I have tried to extol the virtue of Red True BBQ and Annie’s Burger Shack, both of which I find to be quite excellent, well lets be honest its a hard task when they want to try English Food.

What I am saying really is  can they get good Fish and Chips back in the States? hell no, well not often anyway. I have found some gems on my travels including the excellent ‘A Salt and Battery’ in New York’s Greenwich Village.

But I digress we were not in NYC we were walking down Queens Street into the Square and my mission (which I had chosen to accept) was to feed them bountiful plates of Fish and Chips and any other yummy British treats that I could get away with.

Starters for Conversation

Georges Scotch Egg Menu

 

In the past I have tried to persuade my American visitors that they HAVE to try a Scotch Egg. I am biased as is it one my most favourite snacks. When I was living in New York I would ride the subway down to the village to buy one (or maybe three) from Myers of Keswick and when in Chicago for a while we could get them as a bar snack in The Globe Pub a regular haunt for the expats looking to watch football. I spent a lot of time seeking them out is the take home message here.

Anyway I have (not for the first time in this post) digressed quite badly, lets get back to the Scotch Egg or as my Friend Cindy from the States called it ‘Scottish Egg’, and see if it was actually any good?

Scotch Eggs at Georges Fish and Chips

 

Now more often than not the Scotch Eggs we get to eat in the UK are served cold and they have solid hard boiled centres. Here though at George’s we were getting them served hot and freshly cooked from the kitchen, sliced in half with the yolk all gooey and runny.

Just look how golden that yolk is and if you are not smitten with the beauty of this, well I just don’t know, I am not sure that we can be friends anymore. Sorry? what was that you said? Are you offering to eat the pickle for me? OK then lets call it quits we are friends again.

Seriously though, served like this, these are some of the best Scotch Egg I have eaten. They almost feel decadent! The Wild Boar meat encircling the soft boiled egg was a nice light juicy wrapper and the contrasting flavours of the ginger and the leek piqued the interest of my taste buds.

It may be a tad overpriced at £5.95 for just one egg, but worth it for the quality.

Verdict from the guys from North Carolina was mixed. Thumbs up from Cindy! A begrudging ‘well it was better the last one that you tried to make me eat’ from Mike, however, he did say later that they were ‘quite decent’ so I think that was progress!

Verdict from myself? heck you already know don’t you? “Somewhat Awesome

The Main Event

Haddock and Chips at Georges Kitchen Nottingham

So I did hint that we had been here to Georges Fish and Chip Kitchen a couple of times, Mike and I twice, and this visit we both wanted Cindy to try.

I am very much a traditionalist and on both occasions I had Haddock and Chips with Mushy Peas.

I am putting up the best picture, although I will say that the second time I had chunkier chips and a bigger bit of fish!

Haddock and Chips at Georges Fisha nd Chips Nottingham

Perhaps that was my imagination, but then again perhaps not. I really do quite like the Fish and Chips here, my preference always being the haddock with its chunky flakes of fish. The batter is generally pretty decent too at George’s although on one occasion it was a little soggy and soft on the inside. It didn’t detract from the enjoyment though, I just add plenty of squeezed lemon and copious vinegar onto my plate most of the time so I like it. I like it to all start of crunchy though.

Paprika battered Fish and Chips

I will be honest and say that I WOULD not have ever contemplated ordering the Haddock and Chips in a Smoked Paprika batter? but hey what do I know? Both time I have brought Mike here he has ordered this and both time pronounced it to be excellent and very tasty. I think it is the red wine and honey drizzle that makes the dish.

This last visit he did try some of the ‘plain’ or shall we say ‘traditional’ style and he liked it a little better as you can ‘taste the fish and the seasoning’. All I can say is that if he orders the one with the onion bhaji batter next time I will make him eat the bubble and squeak! :-)

Mushy Peas

Mushy Peas at Georges

The last word on the food front at Georges Fish and Chips Kitchen has to go to the Mushy Peas. I really like their efforts here it is nice and creamy and they pair really well with the fish and chips. I am not going to forgo my sampling at Goose Fair yet in preference, but they are still quite excellent. But perhaps I could be in luck? in another menu twist, there is an homage here to the famous Nottingham Fair. They have on the things in buns section of the menu The ‘Goose Fair Dip’, which is a saveloy in a brioche bun topped with sage and onion stuffing and mushy peas.

Sadly though I may never eat that as when I come here all I want is a lovely big plate of Haddock and Chips!

Georges Fish and Chip Kitchen is located at Queens Street in Nottingham, NG1 2BL

Contact them at 0115 950 5521, email  letusknow@georgesfishandchipkitchen.co.uk or on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

 

China Fu at Canning Circus for some Ma Po Tofu

China Fu in Nottingham

China Fu Restaurant up at Canning Circus on Alfreton Road has that ‘authentic’ or should I say ‘slightly worn out’ look about it when you walk on by. I had often looked curiously at the menu as I was heading into out of the Organ Grinder pub on the other side of the road and wondered if I could get some ‘real’ Chinese food there?

China Fu menu

China Fu Pug Head  Menu section

The menu certainly does imply that this a place for the diner seeking authentic local Chinese dishes as opposed to the bastardised versions typically served to the hungry westerner. Just a quick glance down the cold starter section tells us that with the offerings of ‘Marinated Pig Ear with Chilli Oil’, ‘Pig Feet Seasoned with Soy Sauce’ and ‘Pig Head with Chilli Oil’. They do know how to use the whole animal and they know how to use it very well indeed.

China Fu Pork Dishes menu

China Fu Menu

I myself have indulged in those dishes in the past, but will admit that I also am more familiar and happy with the other pork dishes on their menu such as the Gulaoru (essentially Sweet and Sour Pork with Fat), and the Braised Dong Po Pork (basically braised pork belly)

This time though I was looking for one of my ‘go to’ favourites the Sichuan classis Ma Po Tofu. I was in luck and it was their on the menu, so I ordered that

Ma Po Tofu 

Ma Po Tofu

Ma Po Tofu is essentially Stir Fried Tofu in a Hot Sauce. It is often mouth numbingly spicy and can be both a joyful and somewhat painful treat to eat. That sounds like the words of a sadomasochistic diner perhaps, but far from it.  The truly Authentic Mapo doufu dish is described as being powerfully spicy with both characteristic of the flavours of Sichuan cuisine. The feel of this particular dish is often described by cooks using the seven specific Chinese adjectives: 麻 (numbing), 辣 (spicy hot), 烫 (hot temperature), 鲜 (fresh), 嫩 (tender and soft), 香 (aromatic), and 酥 (flaky).

It is a complex beast that when done right can be quite a breathtaking experience.

Ma Po Tofu at China Fu

OK so does the dish here at China Fu match my hopes, dreams, and expectations? Well yes and no, it was good but not as good as the Mo Po Tofu that I ate at Shanghai Shanghai. It was not as hot as I would have liked and the sauce was not as clean and fresh as I have had before. This sauce here was a little thicker and more gravy like, with plenty of hot spices in it, but not really cooked through enough to bring the whole dish to life. It was good just not as good as I had had elsewhere would be my summation of the experience.

China Fu Location

China Fu is located at 10 Alfreton Road in Nottingham NG7 3NG

Homemade Café at the Pavilion 10th anniversary party and New Summer Menu Launch

Homemade cafe

TANKPR tweet

Last night we spent the evening with the lovely people at Homemade Café at the Pavilion on the Forest Recreation Ground celebrating their 10th Anniversary. As well as an alfresco party amongst the beautiful people of Nottingham we were treated to cocktails and nibbles to taste from their new Summer Menu.

I should start off by saying that it was by invitation and although I was well plied with cocktail and wine all opinions on the food are my own and any bias I may appear to exude is purely down to my love of the ethos and the food that they produce at Homemade.

 

Cocktails

It started so well with a whole lot of cocktails awaiting to greet us as we arrived. I know that we only got one (or maybe two) but I was sold when the nearest and dearest glass was a Gin and Elderflower effort with Cucumber and Pomegranite. It was very refreshing and I must confess that I went back for a second.

I was going to say that I wasn’t  a fan of cocktails in general, but then I remembered a minor predilection for Vodka Martini straight up with a twist that I developed when I was living around NYC a few years back. If I could find this Gin and Elderflower effort in town on a Friday Night then I would probably sip a couple down. Or I could just come over on the Tram to the Recreation gound and stroll to the Pavilion to sip one!

Homemade Cafe Cocktails Homemade Cafe Cocktail Procescco Homemade Cafe Cocktail Gin and Elderflower

So what did we get to sample?

Feta and Beetroot salad

First up for our delectation was a salad of Feta and Beetroot that arrived on a sharing board. I looked much prettier on that board that it did after I had forked a bit onto my side dish. It was a really nice refreshing little dish. There was some sort of balsamic glaze reduction on the beetroot which had a nice taste to it, a little sweet tang perhaps, pomegranate seeds abounded through the plate and the salty feta added a nice contrast to counteract any of that sweetness from the glaze. Lots of nice leafy green bits as well to add crunch. I quite liked this salad.

Mini Fish and Chips

Next up was a little pot of Mini Fish and Chips. The batter was really light and crispy and the fish inside was lovely and juicy still. In the base of the pot was a dollop of creamy tartare sauce and a few rocket leaves. I would have liked a little bit of salt and pepper to add some seasoning to the fish if I am being totally transparent. It was still a nice potful and if I could have found some condiments on the table I would have used them.

Chicken and Chorizo Enchilado

Another dish I enjoyed were the Chicken and Chorizo Enchiladas which also came in a sharing plate. I only had one piece and I could have eaten a whole lot more pieces. I liked the flavour of the salty and spicy chorizo and the texture of the crunchy tortilla casing. The cilantro or coriander as we call it in the UK gave a nice refreshing note to counter some of the chilli spice in the sauce. Good but I wanted more (Gosh I am so greedy am I not)

Pulled Pork Taco

I was Loving the Pulled Pork Taco which came in little samples sizes on mini round soft Taco’s. So good that I was happy to grab a couple more from the ladies carrying them to the tables. A few people said that the sauce was a bit sweet, but I liked it like that. We weren’t sure at first how this dish would come onto the menu, would it be a set of mini Tacos’? I asked Jasmine as we left and found that it would be in a Sandwich or a topping on one of their burgers.

I am secretly (or not so secreting now) hoping that they serve it as a set of three mini tacos as a starter or as a little sharing plate. Either way I really liked my Pulled Pork Taco and I am usually the first to complain that everyone is doing pulled pork these days. In this case I am happy that the Homemade Café are doing it their way as it is my kind of food!

Crabcakes at Homemade Cafe Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto at Homemade Cafe

The two other savoury dishes that we got to sample were the Crabcakes which came on a board with a mixed green salad and lime. I think that you really needed to add the lime to get the best flavour from them. They were more of a sharing plate than a dish I would have chosen to eat on my own. The other dish was the Butternut Squash & Sage Risotto. I am not expert on Risotto so cannot really comment too much apart from that it had a strong taste of Sage. It reminded me of stuffing for a Sunday Roast and I was hoping to get a side of Roasted Chicken to go alongside it.

Eton Mess

Now I really hardly ever eat a pudding so I surprised myself when I chose the Eton Mess and even more so when I ate the whole goddam thing and even scraped the bottom of the glass out too!  It did look ever so pretty on the tray so I kind of had to eat it! Very nice indeed!

It was not easy to see what the dishes that would be on offer would be like as we just had small tasting plates. It was good enough though to get a feel for the flavours and ideas and figure out what I might be ordering when I next visit for a meal on the terrace (hint pulled pork)

It was a lovely evening and I have to thanks the team at Homemade Café on the Pavilion for making us so welcome!

Homemade Cafe Contact Details

I understand that the dishes on the New Evening Menu will be as follows

The Homemade Pulled Pork topped Burger
Traditional Moules Frites
The Homemade Chicken & Brocolli Pasta
Squash & Sage Risotto w/Asparagus
The Halloumi & Mushroom Burger
Homemade Chicken Enchiladas
Roasted Beetroot & Feta Salad
The Homemade Vegan Salad
Homemade Crabcakes with Salad
The Homemade Pork Schnitzel
Breaded Brie & Mango Salad

Desserts:

The Homemade Brownie Sundae
Eton Mess
Belgian Waffle & Ice Cream
Homemade Cheesecake
Homemade Summer Fruits Sundae
A Trio of Ice Creams

They will also be having a  Fish & Fizz Fridays:
Choose from the Homemade Fish & Chips, Moules Frites or the Crabcakes with a glass of Prosecco for £12 per person

Just in case you were interested! :-)

Open Farm Weekend at Screveton Eco Centre Sunday 6th – 7th June

Open Farm Day Screveton

Hello to all, it is that time of year again when we have the Open Farm Sunday all over the country and I find myself once more suggesting to you to go out and see what is happening in your local area. I myself would emplore you to take a little journey over to the Eco-centre at Screveton to check out what they are and have been up to.

I could tell you loads about the farm but these days when I am not able to go over I read and follow the story through Simon at Quercus Community. This is the ongoing story of Life on a Care Farm in Nottinghamshire and gives a real flavour of the daily and weekly goings on at the Eco-centre. It is a great read and you should really really check it out

Ecocenter Scones

Simon tells a great story and I have known him from my bread making days. In the past I have told you all about the classes and group baking that I have done with the Community Bread club. They are always involved cooking up treats for the Ecocentre events, last year they were baking biscuits and cookies, this year they will be baking scones for Cream Teas in the Farm Kitchen.

They were practising making Scones at the last Community Baking Session and judging by the results on display I think we can be rest assured that we will be well looked after food wise if we head over to the farm on Sunday.  I would also suggest that you really should or could go over to support them on Sunday. There will also be cakes from Gail our mentors recipes. What might they be? Chocolate with Butter Cream, Farmhouse Cake, Lemon Drizzle cake and Victoria Sponge. If you go and want the recipe then mail me and I might share :-)

Have I overdone the advertorial? I hope that I have to be honest as it is such a good cause and a good day out at the Open Farm Sunday and I really hope that if you cannot make it to Screveton that you find a farm near to you to visit. If I haven’t keep reading.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
We are looking forward to welcoming you and your families to our annual Open Farm weekend – 6th & 7th June here at The Ecocentre Community Care Farm.
Look what’s on:
Saturday 6th – 10am to 1pm
1. Clay pigeon shoot – for all
2. Guided farm walks
3. Saturday Kitchen cafe
Saturday 6th – 7.30pm to mid-night
BARN DANCE – bar, farm hog roast, live band – please book tickets £12 each (email events@farmeco.co.uk)
Sunday 7th June – 10am to 4pm
1. Trailer rides £1 each
2. Meet the animals – pigs, sheep, goats, cattle and poultry
3. farm machinery
4. Sheep shearing demos
5. Bee keeping
6. Education tent and Scarecrow competition
7. Meet the farmer Q&A sessions
8. kids pizza making
9. our kitchen cafe – selling hot & cold food & refreshments
10. plus lots more…
At 11am – the event will be formally launched by local MP Robert Jenrick
This year money raised from Open Farm Sunday will be used to support young people recovering from cancer at the Teenage Cancer Trust to enjoy therapeutic days out on the farm and Ecocentre.
Please will you kindly forward this email & flyer (attached) to your friends, family and sports/social clubs
Remember – please register your attendance by emailing – events@farmeco.co.uk
THANK YOU
from Jo and team