It has been many years since I had the chance to visit the Larwood and Voce pub, I used to come in on a regular basis to watch the football on the big screens and drink cheap beer on a sunday lunchtime more than 10 years ago. Since I was last here it has really changed, it is a really nice space inside, clean, friendly and has the air of a really modern, yet traditional gastro pub. It has been recognised nationally, being the Observer Food Monthly Best Sunday Roast runner up in 2009, 2010,2011 and 2012, just to name one set of accolades. The chef in house Nicky Thompson is a former Young Head Chef of the Year from 2008 and had previously worked for Gordon Ramsay and Gary Rhodes. None of which I knew until I ate here today. All I knew was that it was reputed to have some really good quality pub food (closer to gastro pub) and that I had been advised that I would not be disapointed if I tried it out. I wasn’t.
The Larwood and Voce pub is offering what they call the Magnificent Seven deal, this is not a screening of that most excellent western, no it is quite a good meal deal. You can choose from one of seven selected items on their menu “The Magnificent 7″ all sold for the sum of £7.77 each. It is available at lunch and early evening and is also a good deal in that it is a good saving on the regular prices for some of those items. Not just that, there are actually meals on the deal that you would want to eat.
I really fancied a few of the Magnificent 7 apart from my final choice, the “Smokey BBQ sausages with butterbeans, tomato and vegetable stew” sounded good, the “Kitchen Pie of the day” was on this day an ‘Oxtail pie’ and that also did sound quite tasty. Outside of these options the “Pot roast lamb shoulder, potato gratin, carrots, baby turnips & lamb juices” for £16.50, and the “Boiled ham hock, champ mash & parsley sauce” for £13.50 were also tempting me.
However the value of the Magnificent 7 was too great to turn down or resist. In the end I chose the Slow braised pork meatballs with potato dumplings, described on their menu as “Our own potato dumplings, slow braised pork meatballs, tomatoes, garlic & basil”. The star for me was the meatballs, you got two large balls, a mixture of pork, breadcrumb and onion (I think) together with some good seasoning, these were meaty but were also quite soft in texture. They were served with a good handful of homemade potato dumplings filled with herbs, which were also quite soft. A lot of the flavour in the dish comes from the excellent tomato sauce which was mildly spiced and filled with chunks of tomato, garlic, celery, onion, soft chunks of green pepper, all topped with a sprinkling of fresh basil leaves and soft salty, thickly, grated hard cheese. Really very tasty and enjoyable. If anything I think that they undersell this dish in their description, it was much more exciting in flavour than the menu suggests, but I think that this place seems to have too much class to write something on there that is too boastful. Probably best to play it down a little, be slightly understated in your prose and then allow the diner to be pleasantly surprised. The only thing I would have added to the dish, and this is just because I am a bacon junkie, is some crisp fried lardons of bacon or chunks of cubed pancetta. I think I would have liked a bit of extra crunch in there just for texture and some more saltiness. But then again I only say that as I cannot resist adding lardons to my own meatball dishes. However I am not a former young chef of the year so what do I know about it anyway, I shall leave it to the experts!
One of the other things I discovered that I like about the Larwood and Voce is their aim to use as much locally sourced produce as they can. This can often just mean using local farms and suppliers, but here they are going one step further and are calling out to local allotmenteers and gardeners. There was a poster campaign offering food and beer tokens in exchange for local peoples surplus produce, which I think is a terrific idea. I have already texted and emailed a few of my vegetable gardening friends to let them know about it. I was curious about how this was working out so I had a quick look on their website, at the foot of the menu is a little statement that “The following vegetables are supplied by Ben & Harry’s allotments in Radcliffe on Trent & West Bridgford: Onions, Plums, Damsons, Carrots & Courgettes“. Now that is what I call sourcing your food locally. Very good.
Did I forget to mention that they bake their own bread that you can buy, as well as a selection of cakes as well?
I almost did!
I will just leave you with a picture of some freshly made sausage rolls that were sitting on the bar and that I forgot to go back and buy.
Never mind next time I am passing through I will grab one.
The Larwood and Voce is on Fox Road in West Bridgford, and is part of the Trent Bridge Cricket Ground. They are part of the moleface group and you can check all their menus and other details out on their website. You can also follow them on their quite active twitter feed @LarwoodVocePK as well.