Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Work's Christmas "Do" at Alea, Nottingham

Last Wednesday was my work Christmas party. We had a good night but I think with it being a Weds everyone was very conscious that there was another 2 days of work to go.

We went to alea last year and unfortunately they didn't manage to live up to the standards they'd set themselves. It was still decent mass catering food, though, and a reasonable party.

The main problem was that it took 2.25 hours to serve a pre-ordered 3 course meal, as we did not start til 8pm this meant we were not on the dance floor until 10.15. The DJ insisted on playing chill out and reggae tracks for half an hour leaving only a teeny smidge of time to have a cheesy xmas boogie before getting ourselves home by midnight (for fear of becoming pumpkins!).

Next year I vote for Thursday party - then you only have to struggle through Friday!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Top 3 French Restaurants - Bistro Pierre Christmas Early Bird

It's getting to that difficult time of year for the regular diner....Christmas party season. It goes from being quite easy to get a table in pretty much every restaurant (except, perhaps, those with excellent voucher deals) to being a right pain. Armed with this knowledge I booked another of the French 'Top 3' for this week's dinner selection.

Bistro Pierre. Always popular, and generally quite busy. Even booking ahead I had to go for an earlier than usual slot. When we arrived there was even a sign on the door saying they were booked up until 8.45.

We had the Christmas Early Bird set menu. The table was set out nicely, with Christmas serviettes and golden crackers! 

The 2 course menu can either be starter and main or main and pud. We had a mix of both. My friend had a salmon starter and steak and I had a salmon main and a chocolate brownie pud.

The salmon starter on a blini was very substantial, and the blini one of the largest we've ever seen. Steak was as expected, and accompanied by many chips! My salmon main was a decent sized piece of salmon accompanied by potato gratin, broccoli and red cabbage. The serving size was substantial and I didn't manage to eat all my veg. There's my 5 a day down the drain!

My chocolate brownie pudding was suitably rich and squidgy, but any potential for being overly sticky was tempered by the accompanying caramel ice cream.

Service was efficient and friendly, it didn't feel rushed even though they were clearly very full.

It was also obviously Christmas in the Slug & Lettuce at the the Cornerhouse, although the parties there were actually wearing their paper cracker hats - which I only managed for 5 minutes in Bistro Pierre (it's all a bit too classy for a silly paper hat :-)).

PS just in case you were wondering, the cracker joke was rubbish, but my prize was a rather lovely spinning top!

Next week....the work's Christmas do. I'm in the mood for dancin'

The rating:
Busy, sparkly, friendly and tasty! Great for any time of the year but particularly attractive with the Christmas decorations. Book in though, to avoid disappointment. Recommended for cosy dinners for two as well as small-medium groups, definitely chic.

The summary:

Food: modern French.
Price: Set dinner for 2 courses £14.
Atmosphere: Great for Christmas, sparkly lights, cosy atmosphere and friendly staff.


Bistro Pierre
13-17 Milton Street
Nottingham NG1 3EN

Telephone: 0115 941 2850


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Any requests???

I have now had the blog for a little while, but you're obviously all shy! 
No-one has commented on any of the posts so far and I just wondered if any of you had any requests? 
Do you want to see more pictures?
Are there any restaurant styles you'd like to see visited?
Have you got a favourite Nottingham restaurant that I can experience?

Hope to hear from you soon!

A touch of the Orient in Tollerton

Eschewing the usual suspects for a Saturday evening out we (that's the other half, his mate and me) decided to go to Charde Oriental in Tollerton.

The usual Tollerton trip out is to Miah's (curry based loveliness) at Tollerton airport. As variety is the spice of life we thought we'd try Charde. It's on the main A606 Melton Road so I'd driven past it many times, just never visited.

We hadn't booked and were kept waiting a fair while in the bar before being shown to a table (the restaurant wasn't full, but it looked like they were concentrating diners into one section - so this may have been the cause of the delay). The restaurant is quite large so couples may be seated in a separate area of the place - our group area was bustly and quite full.

There was no choice in the menu as the Christmas all you can eat buffet menu was being served. This consisted of mixed starters (ribs, prawn toast, prawn crackers, spring rolls, satay chicken sticks and crispy seaweed). All were delicious!

After the starters we were served the crispy duck course. We had to sit and wait quite some time for the duck to arrive so it gave us time to look round at the scenery. The restaurant is decorated nicely and the tables are positioned to give a cosy, homely feel. It doesn't have the modern, crisp, polished look that you get at Miah's (my only local comparator). The wait for the duck at least meant that we had time to digest the starter selection!

The crispy duck was, as expected, good. There were plenty of pancakes to use for the duck - I hate it when you run out!

Mains came after the duck and we'd ordered the recommended number from the menu (I think 3 or 4 dishes). Disappointingly several of the dishes looked as though they had the same sauce, even thought they tasted slightly different. The lemon chicken was nice, but a bit plain. All mains were supported by rice.

There were puddings on offer as part of the deal but we were by this time absolutely stuffed full! We therefore did not have pudding, however (and this was a nice touch) plates of palate cleansing and refreshing melon were brought to us.

The rating:
All in all a convivial evening with lots of food, I could have quite easily just had the starters and duck! Service was not fast, but the gaps gave digestion time. Overall I'd give this a mid rating, good for groups if you're in no rush.

The summary:
Food: Masses of food, choose your main courses carefully to get a sufficient variety.
Price: Set dinner for 4 courses, £17. Including drinks & tip £25 a head.
Atmosphere: Groups and parties make for a lively atmosphere, not so good for cosy couples.

Address:     97 Melton Road, Tollerton, Nottingham, NG12 4EN
Telephone: (0115) 9372097

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Top 3 French Restaurants. Le Mistral - but wintry!

Brrr. Brrr. Brrr. Cold, wet, dark and definitely winter!

Okay, it's not that cold yet. But I am sure it's coming soon. Perhaps we'll have lots of snow like last year. I don't mind snow hanging around as long as it's not that horrid, dirty slushy stuff.

My turn to choose last week after the impressive forethought of booking in last week, not sure why it was my choice as I booked it. Hmm. I believe I have been had on that one!

Anyhow I chose one of our top 3 French restaurants in Nottingham. Le Mistral. Regular readers will realise that this is a return visit to a place we went to in the summer. This time since it was howling a gale and pouring with rain we did not sit outside (perhaps not really a surprise!).

The usual lady wasn't there and they were busy. Fortunately we sneaked in the last available table for two. Apparently 6 weeks before Christmas you start needing to book in, as it gets very popular.

I went for the winter veg risotto from the specials board, and my friend went for his usual (Moules et Frites). To be honest with you I am not sure that we have been to Le Mistral without him having this dish, maybe he's had a steak once. My risotto was lovely. Moist and succulent. The usual problem I have with risotto was also neatly avoided. Even with the tastiest risotto I tend to get bored halfway through as it's all the same flavour / texture. The winter vegetables in this one made for a varying taste experience with every mouthful. Lovely. The great big bowl of moules sitting opposite me also disappeared completely so can't have been bad!

Bustly and relaxed in atmosphere, even though the waiter was clearly dealing with a full restaurant we didn't spend too long waiting for anything, so they get good marks there too!

The rating:
Good food, comfortable atmosphere. An all occasion go-to restaurant.

The summary:
Food: French, not fussed or primped.
Price: Mid range (Mains £8-£15, puddings around £4-5)
Atmosphere: Busy and comfortable

Treated to Tarn Thai

This Tuesday I had the good fortune to be treated to a business dinner at Tarn Thai in Nottingham. This is a first visit for me and I was keen to experience it.

The decor is opulent and has plenty of incorporated water features to ensure that it feels appropriately exotic. The service was good, and ensured that you did not have to pour too many of your own drinks.

This was a treat dinner out so we went for one of the set menus - basically a starter of various selected kebab, fried and vegetable goods and a selection of main courses with rice.

All of the food was good, but the red chicken curry was particularly tasty, chilli warm and creamy. Dishes included mild as well as spicy items in the selection.

The rating:
Excellent selection of food in the set menu, great service. Definitely worth a visit.

The summary:
Food: Excellent selection in the set menu, very tasty.
Price: Sorry I was lucky enough to be treated so I don't know.
Atmosphere: Exotic and chatty

9 George St
Nottingham NG1 3BH
0115 959 9454

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The Royal Oak, Evesham

The Royal Oak has a dual bar. We walked in and tried to get the barmaid's attention. Despite noticing our presence we had to walk around a wall to get a drink served to us. This should have been a sign, however we continued as we were hungry and the food on the tables looked good.

We were served (grudgingly) by the surly barmaid and instructed to take a seat where our food order would be taken. 10 minutes later, after others had come into the bar and been served we asked again to order food.

After the long long wait for a bacon and brie sandwich and a bowl of soup, the food was good.

We did, however, in the meantime have to endure intermittent loud pop music and people playing quiz games round the food table. This is one of those pubs that is furnished like it would like to be a restaurant but can't quite tear itself away from having the fag machine, quiz machine and fruit machine.

The decor is not great  but you could get away with it being 'shabby chic', however what really ruins this pub is the can't be bothered attitude of the staff.

The rating
I don't often make a recommendation to avoid, but here is the exception. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

The summary
Food English
Price Medium (Sandwich & crisps £5)
Atmosphere Surly, loud music and altogether not good

On this one, I really wouldn't bother.

Loch Fyne - Yes We Booked This Week

Armed with a booking and the Loch Fyne voucher we made it this week!


Lovely, fresh fish dishes were consumed in a light, airy and modern restaurant.

Our service was friendly and efficient.

My pud was great (chocolate torte) and the only downside was that the mango cheesecake did not taste of mango and was not that pleasant - just sweet cream cheese flavour.

Otherwise we had a nice dinner. I had the ginger and chilli option this week after eyeing up my friends dish last week at Sinatra's. I didn't regret it. Warming without being overpowering it was a very good dish.

There is a voucher on the website at the moment for £10 off a £30 spend on food - which makes it extremely good value.

The rating
Fresh fish cooked and served nicely, go elsewhere for pudding. 

The summary
Food Fish (but they also do meat dishes)
Price Medium / High (Mains from £10 up)
Atmosphere Modern


Loch Fyne
17 King Street, Nottingham, NG1 2AY
Tel: 0115 9886 840

Swingin' @ Sinatra's

We were intending to eat at Loch Fyne this week (bearing a handy money off voucher). It was not to be, as they had an hour wait on for food. Boo. But a lesson learned - when Loch Fyne is doing a voucher - book early!

So....we had to think on our feet (quite literally) and decided to pop round the corner to Sinatra's.

Classy decor crowded with photos of the stars, the menu is usually good containing some staples (such as their fish in beer batter with chunky chips and posh mushy peas - it's good and I can recommend it).

From their current menu we went for a fish, ginger and chilli dish and I had a chicken and bacon carbonara pasta. When the plates arrived we were pleased, normally the portion sizes in Sinatra's are small (enough so you don't go away hungry - but so that you can comfortably eat 3 course). Not so last Wednesday! I had a mountain of pasta! It was delicately flavoured and beautifully creamy.

When we came into the restaurant it was busy in the bar but fairly quiet in the restaurant. As we were nearing our pudding we found ourselves surrounded by courting couples holding hands. All together now - Ahhhh. Sweet.

Puddings were ordered and consumed and were exactly what they said on the menu - cheesecake and chocolate cake, nothing bad - just nothing really to add!

The rating
Gilded loveliness and today, surprisingly large portions!

The summary
Food Modern European
Price Moderate (main plates around £14)
Atmosphere Cosy, ideal for couples (come early if such sights are not for you at the moment)


0115 941 1050
8-16 Chapel Quarter, Nottingham, NG1 6JQ

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Bombay Bites - Curry Heaven in Leicester

Today we got wet. Very wet. It even hailed on us. 

We were at the Leicester Tigers rugby game against Bath Rugby.

I managed to stay warm throughout the downpours due to my very satisfying lunch. We went to Bombay Bites. It's a takeaway curry shop in Leicester with a small counter and great food.

The service is fantastic and the box meals make great lunches. You can get all sorts of boxes, including ones with chips instead of rice. We had a no. 2 box which comes with two kinds of curries, bread and rice all packaged in a cute box and under £4.

The curry itself can be ordered with sweet, medium, spicy or hot sauce. I went for a medium which was fragrant and warming without being over spicy. The meat was tender, well cooked and flavoursome.


They also do many other dishes, which I'll certainly be back to try. These include wraps for lunch and delivery locally.

The rating
I'd heartily recommend it if you're looking for a a tasty meal and you're in Leicester. 

The summary
Food Curry Heaven
Price Bargain (under a fiver for a lunch / dinner box)
Atmosphere Quick, cheerful and competent service

Bombay Bites
41a Belvoir Street 0116 285 22 99 or 194 Evington Road 0116 273 33 00 

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The Willow Tree pub, West Bridgford

It's been a good week for eating out this week! My Husband had a friend around on Saturday evening so we met up at the pub after the boys had had their 'man time'.

The Willow Tree is a lovely adult based pub (children over 14 allowed when dining). It's a clean, comfortable atmosphere with enough nooks to be cosy and enough space to be roomy.

Dinners are exactly what you ordered, tasty pub classics with a few world food specials.

I had a bacon and cheese burger which came with plenty of chips. It was a large, well cooked burger within a decent sized bun. For pudding, a childhood favourite, chocolate and vanilla ice cream sundae with chocolate sauce and chocolate brownies. Yummy.

And I understand from the boys that the beer (guest ale) is good too.

The rating
Comfortable pub dining, great portions and well priced.

The summary
Food: Pub grub with world specials
Price: Cheap (mains around £8, puddings £3)
Atmosphere: Homely and grown-up


01159 233167

Rufford Way, West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 6LS

Sunday, 17 October 2010

New look blog

I have been quite active on the blog this weekend. Hope you like the photos and the new-look I have gone for. See you soon!

Making my own food

I have been inspired over the past couple of years by my mother in-law to make jam, chutney and elderflower champagne.

Despite liking food enough to blog about it I am a rubbish everyday cook. I like (as my husband calls it) "play cooking". 

Once introduced to the possibility of jam-making and with my first attempts last year a success I have embarked on a whole range of home-cooked goodness this year.

I am unashamedly proud of this....I made grown up fizzy pop. And it's actually fizzy! Elderflower champagne. Yum. This one is great. It is a light, sparkling drink with a summery taste and delicate scent. Although made from elderflower heads it doesn't smell too flowery, just fresh and slightly sweet. Embarrassingly easy to make (just bung a few elderflower heads in sugar-water overnight with the zest of a lemon, bottle and leave) it's delicious and will definitely be made in far larger quantities next year.

I have also made jam, jelly and chutney this year. I adore how the boiling lava that is heated fruit and sugar becomes jam (or chutney) and I delight in making the lids of the jars 'pop' shut with their safety button all in place. I currently have a nice little row of chilli apple chutney, orange jam and redcurrant jelly sparkling at me from my kitchen shelves. See....

If anyone is encouraged to have a try, please do. Just google a recipe, put on your apron and have a go. Pay no heed to the websites that say you have to have some special canning or sterilising equipment, I have found plenty of boiling water over your jars tipped out immediately before you put the contents in works fine. Good luck!

Corporate Schmoozin' at Harts Upstairs

This week's Wednesday night dinner evening was out of the ordinary in that we ate at the rather lovely Harts upstairs restaurant, but as part of a corporate event.

The pre-dinner speaker was warm, engaging and brief which is exactly what you need when you've not yet been fed and it is after 7pm!

We had a delicious 4-course menu.

Goats cheese tartlets
Beef medallion, mashed potatoes, green beans and gravy
Ginger creme brulee
Cheese and biscuits

I normally can't eat more than 2 courses, however the portion sizes were such that I ate 3 of the 4 courses (I had grapes instead of cheese and biscuits) without feeling over-full. 

The goat's cheese tartlets were tasty, but nothing out of the ordinary. The beef main course was cooked well to suit the mass-catering nature of the event, and was accompanied by dark, wine-enriched gravy which pulled the whole thing together. I was (no-one will be shocked at this) most impressed with the creme brulee. 

Normally I am the kind of person that does not like creme brulee messed about with. I do not like fruit included, I don't like fancy sauces etc etc. I am prepared to go back on that now. The ginger flavour was included in the thick, crunchy sugar topping and was warm, rich and a perfect foil to the cool, thick cream below. I stand corrected. Mr pastry chef - you did good!

The rating
If only all mass catering were like this!

The summary
Food: European classic
Price: No idea - this was a catered event!
Atmosphere: Tasteful decor that allows for a convivial atmosphere without being overpowering, swift and discreet waiting service

Standard Hill
Park Row

Wedding details

I love weddings!

I love everyone getting dressed up to celebrate together and the care that goes into planning.

Congratulations K&N on your wedding and thanks for asking us along to celebrate it with you.

My favourite non-person pic from the day is this lovely table can see the sunshine streaming in even in this one!

A walk and a picnic on a perfect Autumn day

We had a lovely weekend and both had a day off work to attend my workmate's wedding.

The day before the wedding was beautiful and we had decided to go for a walk up the Old Man of Coniston . This being England we had packed all of the necessary outfits (scarf, hat, gloves, several jumpers and waterproofs). The day was lovely, warm and sunny so we needed only a fraction of the layers that we brought. Amazingly for the Lakes I didn't even need to get my waterproofs out of the bag!

We had a lovely picnic for lunch and sat eating with a view of the hills round us. 

I had been told that the views from the top were amazing, but unfortunately by the time we had approached the top this was the view:

Yup, not much to see! It never fails to amaze me how much the weather on the hills can change so quickly.

Once we got down from the top we were once again back into warm sunshine and  we had a lovely paddle in a stream. The numbing cold water over your feet is really refreshing!

Monday, 4 October 2010

It's ladies night.....Revolution Vodka Bar Cornerhouse

Ok so I am not one for going into Nottingham on a Friday night. This week's exception to the rule was for a pre-wedding party for a workmate.
The wedding is on Saturday - best wishes to the happy couple.
Well. This Friday saw me at the Revolution Vodka bar at 6.30pm. We ate here after all registering online to get 2 for 1 food. We had a number of vouchers between us.
Food is bar basics, pizza burgers and wraps etc. Vodka sticks and cocktail pitchers were also 2 for 1 until 9pm.
Not so much for the non-drinker. Not even a hint of a mocktail. Boo.

The rating
Plentiful, tasty and cheap food. Drinks are alcoholic, no interesting ones for non drinkers.

The summary
Food: Bar basics
Price: Cheap with our 2 for 1 our bill came to £5 each
Atmosphere: Pre-party with some diners who had clearly been on the raz for a while!


Sunday, 3 October 2010 regular dining buddy

Okay so this post has a little more interest to it in that I am introducing my charming, modest, intelligent (did I get that all in?) dining partner. 

Who happens to be single. 

I'd love to matchmake so.......

Here he is:

Rugby matches
Football / cricket
White Wine
Lemon-based puddings

Red Wine
Cheese in soup

Okay so this week we went French. Le Bistrot Pierre. We booked in advance in the afternoon as it's a popular spot and even on a weekday just turning up can lead to you being turned away (boo).

They had a good specials board but we went for the £13.50 2 course pre theatre menu.

It was a lovely experience, nice cosy environment full of chatter. The service was excellent, plenty of time for you to decide on your dinner and once you had decided lightening quick in bringing the drinks and the food. 

It was raining.

It was dark.

I was feeling wintry.

So to match my mood I had 'Le Bourguignon'. The meal was great. A nice and big bowl of bourguignon supplemented by gratin potatoes, shredded cabbage and broccoli. Very tasty. The sauce was thick and rich with the meat disintegrating under my fork. A hearty and flavourful dish done very well.

By the time it had got to pudding I was feeling much less wintry and had their version of Eton mess. Light and fruity it finished the meal well.

It had even stopped raining when we left.
On the table there was a booklet on their themed six course dinner evenings and 3 course dine with wine events, both reasonably priced at under £30 a head. I've never been to one of these but am tempted.

The rating
Enjoyable. Excellent French food served quickly and without airs.

The summary
Food = French regional
Price = Cheap (2 course dinner weekdays for £13.50)
Atmosphere: Warm, welcoming and convivial.

Le Bistrot Pierre - several locations available.
13-17 Milton Street, Nottingham, NG1 3EN. 0115 941 2850.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Food Glorious Food! And catching up......

Right - so I started the blog with good intentions and have let myself and my two loyal followers down. So, I have now finished a busy time at work and I am back. And this time I have better intentions. So let's see how it goes.

Over the next few days I will update the blog with key restaurant visits in the last few months (gosh it's that long). I will be brief and keep it to highlights, and it may not be chronological!

I have, in that time, created a flickr account which is linked on the right - take a look if you like. I am just learning to use the new camera so the shots may take some work but bear with me.

Ok.. back to the main event. FOOD!

A bit of a memory drifting back from a sunny weekend in WB. Myself and the OH went to take ourselves to the wilds of West Bridgford and Felicini.

On a warm summer evening the modern lines and open doors of the restaurant were just what we needed to pretend we were on holiday.

We were seated at a table by the bar for our food. We both had unusual pizzas me - with lost of greens on top and OH with Hoi-Sin duck. It was nice food, not cheap, but tasty and unusual.

The atmosphere when we arrived was of a bustly restaurant and was quite nice to chat amongst, however just as we received our food a big group of loud and screetchy girls arrived and proceeded to gather at the bar right beside our table. I hate screetchy girls. For us, this wasn't adding to the atmosphere so we didn't stay longer than necessary. Shame really as I think had we asked for a table away from the bar and in the windows we'd have had lazed about drinking coffee and watching the world go by.

The rating

Italian food done well with a twist, but let down by trying to be a bar too.

The summary

Food = Contemporary Italian
Price = Mid range (mains between £10-£15)
Atmosphere: Catch it at the right time to be what you want - weekend nights not good for a cosy twosome!


Felicini - West Bridgford

3 Central Ave, West Bridgford, NOTTINGHAM NG2 5GQ
0115 981 1500 

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Bar de nada, Coco Tang cafe, both Nottingham

Okay, first an apology, I haven't blogged in a while.

And it's not cos I haven't eaten out (nope I have loads to catch up on!). So here I go....and for your delight and entertainment today's blog is two for the price of one.

Bar de nada is an authentic tapas bar tucked at the back of Hockley in Nottingham. It's not a big place so it always feels alive and cosy. There's a decent variety of beer so I indulged with the Spanish favourite Estrella. It's not often I drink but I really enjoyed this one!

As usual we overestimated how many plates of tapas we could eat. I can't remember the exact detail of what we had but it went something like... bread and charcuterie platter to start, patatas bravas (of course), a fish thing, meatballs (rich tomato sauce and yummy), chorizo and probably something vegetarian.

The bar is everything you could want from a tapas place, relaxed, great variety and a chilled atmosphere.

I come here to pretend I am on holiday.

Next instalment is the new Cafe Coco Tang. For residents of Nottingham this is where the old Fashion bar used to be at the top entrance of the Broadmarsh. We'd walked past the cafe on the way to Bar de Nada and it was full of after work drinkers, soaking up the warm evening. Tempted by this new bar offering and the outside French cafe-style seating we retuned after our dinner.

Everyone had gone, and I mean everyone.

So we had a lovely chat sitting outside and being served drinks by very attentive waiting staff. There's a large cake stand there which tempted me with the myriads of coloured swirls of icing. I gave into temptation and had a lemony cake. The cakes are baked daily and I am sure some of them are great, but I am afraid my one was really quite ordinary (especially for the premium price). It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. 

Don't let me put you off however as there's the rest of the counter to work through yet.....

The rating:

Bar de nada....It's worth finding it! Excellent tapas served quickly with a good variety of plates and beer. What more could you want on a warm summer evening?

Coco Tang Cafe......Buzzing after work on a lovely summer evening, expensive and really rather ordinary later on.

The summary:

Bar de nada

Food = Lots of lovely tapas
Price = Cheap - Medium (under £10 to £20) depending on dishes
Atmosphere = Art on the walls, wooden floors, chilled and comfortable

Cafe Coco Tang

Food = Cake not the best, but we were there late
Price = Pricey (2 rounds and a cake was £15)
Atmosphere = Great just after work, just us later on (but you make your own entertainment - right?)

Bar de nada
43 Broad Street
Nottingham NG1 3AP
0115 988 1199

Cafe Coco Tang



07825 889 370

NottinghamUnited Kingdom