Junkyard Nottingham sits unobtrusively at the top of Bridlesmith Walk, on the cusp of the Lace Market just yards from the busy road that acts as a boundary between the centre and the Lace Market district. It is not more than 100yds from the Lace Market Tram stop and only really 5-10 minutes walk from the Old Market Square.
They describe themselves as ‘a neighbourhood café bar’ combining ‘the laid back feel of a North California bar and eatery with a specialist craft beer shop jammed full of bottles and cans of craft beers for drinking in or taking home.’
Now I have no significant experience of a local Californian bar, but in Chicago and in some parts of New York, I am adept in the workings of the neighbourhood bar, or perhaps it is more honest to say that I am a regular paid up member of the bar stool? (translate I have a local and they know my name and what beer I like).
I guess what I am saying is that I like the way that they talked on the website at Junkyard, I wanted to find out if it was just talk? I like a good ‘neighbourhood bar’ So ‘Purely for research’; “cough, splutter, ahem” and in the need of a cool refreshing drink, I walked in on a Friday night (right in the middle of the peak moments around 8pm), and then again on a Sunday afternoon (around 1pm) just as the bar people world is starting to wake up, to fully road test this place.
To be honest, I had already ‘clocked’ the place some weeks earlier and was just waiting for my moment to pounce on a “myfoodhunt” session, so all that stuff I just wrote is my personal justification for heading out with my mates somewhere new for a beer (works for me).
Beer on Tap
On the Sunday lunchtime visit we sat up at the bar right opposite the chalkboard beer list and the taps dispensing all of those Beers. On the Friday night it was a table by the window. The main thing to note was that we had a seat. I felt comfortable and at ease and kind of wanted to stay, it was as I hinted a real US neighbourhood bar vibe.
I tried a few of the beers off the chalkboard and on draft and enjoyed them all. I even took a few gambles trying the Uncommon Siamese Twin which was described as having notes of lime, coriander, and lemongrass. It was surprisingly good!
In the bottle there were plenty of options, but on this particular Sunday, my companion Dan from Chicago was given a real treat when we found one of his favourite beers from one of his favourite breweries.
It had to be fate, he had turned up for the day in a T-shirt that he had got at the Odell Brewery when he had been on a beer hunting trip over in Fort Collins, Colorado.
As we walked in he had clocked the bottles of 90 Shilling in the cabinet and judging by the smiles I knew we were going to be for a good lunch! The irony that you can’t find a pub in Chicago serving this beer was not lost on me.
What was going to be a quick stop on a pub crawl around some of Nottingham’s Finest turned into a beer sampling session at Junkyard.
To assist with our ‘sampling’ We felt the need to check out the menu
The Charcuterie Board
The Charcuterie Board was a bright and flavour packed affair. I am not a massive fan of the pickle, but I do like the vibrant offerings that they add to the plate (or board) here at Junkyard.
In some ways this dish teaches me that it is not just all about the meat. while the salty salami, the spicy chorizo, and the herby slices of ham are nice, when cut with the tang and sharpness of the pickled cornichons and beets they are so much better. I
t was fair value at £6.50 I suppose based on it’s quality, but it did need some bread and you had to pay extra (£2.50) for the plate of bread with rosemary and confit garlic oil. I think that this would be better value if you got the bread as well. Still a nice snack to get started with.
When I picked the Hot wings, I was given that age old ‘That’s a good choice’ feedback from the chap behind the bar. Now sometimes that means nothing and sometimes it is heartfelt from someone who had also favoured a plateful. I am happy to report that this was the positive one of the two responses.
These were ‘good’ wings, actually they were a bit too hot for our liking but I can live with that. You get the whole wing, the ‘wingette’ and the ‘drumette’, so it is good value, and in that deep pan in the photo you get four of those meaty morsels. Were they really hot? erm yes they were, I had a nice warm or was it hot sting to my lips and tongue. Too spicy? maybe but I kind of liked it and I was responsible for dispatching 3 out of the 4 wings.
Please note I am not ashamed of that gluttony I was, in the moment, merely satiated. More seriously I would recommend ordering these.
Two days earlier on the Friday night I came in with Martin my usual Friday night partner in crime for a couple of beers and a bite of food. I ordered the Cuban Sandwich and I was pleasantly surprised.
It was a somewhat huge affair and one of the closest sandwiches size-wise to the sort of meals you would get over in the states. Described simply as “Cuban Sandwich: ham, roast pork, Swiss Cheese, dill pickles, salami, French mustard” for £8.50. It was pretty big and damn good.
I was kind of expecting a pressed sandwich, a cubano if you like, but this was a fair effort on my board. It was so large that I had to cut it in half to even have a chance of getting my chops around the top and bottom slices.
Packed with flavour it was a real shout out to many a Cuban sandwich I munched on over in the states. I would most certainly come back to eat another one of these bites.
Spiced Lamb Burger
Somewhat predictably my “P.I.C” ordered the Burger. It was declared to be a ‘good’ burger, somewhat messy as I saw tomato juice, mayo, and molten cheese dripping out of it onto the board, wrist, and imaginary shirt sleeve.
The menu describes it as a “Spiced Lamb Burger: feta, oregano, cumin & mint mayo with sweet potato fries” for £9. Yes I know that does sound kind of awesome does it not? I am not sure I would have played it as safe as picking a burger from their menu, but if I had then I don’t think that I would have had anything to complain about if I had eaten this one
It is maybe to soon to say it is a ‘Hidden Gem’, but if you are on some sort of a ‘Craft Beer Treasure Hunt’ then I would suggest that X may well end up marking the spot. It might just have found it’s way onto my ‘bars to go to list’ when I am heading up towards the Lace Market for a night out or a Sunday afternoon relaxation session Now all of this was based on my expectations of a bar that I have brought with me from my Stateside experiences and not really on my thoughts about what an English bar should offer. I will be honest and say that I have started to tire of this fad to make everything ‘American’ from menu to beer.
If I want that then I will take the old fashioned approach and get on a plane and fly to New York for some pastrami on rye, or to New Orleans for a gumbo, perhaps St Louis, Kansas City, or Austin for some BBQ. I don’t need some ‘johnny come lately’ following the trend in the UK trying to give me the good stuff. It kind of annoys me. One of my recent overused quotes when I read about people and buying their smokers is that “I could buy a piano and tell you about it, but can I play that piano?”
Now I will, back track on that statement when I tell you my final thoughts about Junkyard. It is not just my thoughts, but also the thoughts of several of my beer swilling and food loving mates from America.
We were delighted by the beer offerings at this little backroom outpost, an excellent range of beers and menu full of simplicity and authenticity. I could stop now and tell you that I like it, and maybe that would be enough, but you know you have to make your own mind up, I just had to tell you a little bit about myfoodhunt experience, and I may have been somewhat ebullient. Located at 12 Bridlesmith Walk, Nottingham NG1 2FZ, you can either pop in for a glass of beer, or just view from afar on their Facebook page and on Twitter