A travel journal
to Nottingham by MichaelJM
Quote: Although Nottingham is not my home city, I've lived near to it for most of my working life. It's a great city and not at all like it has recently been described in the media. The shops, theatres, and restaurants are all easily accessible.
A group of us went for a Friday night meal, and although not packed out, it clearly was a popular venue. Most went for one of the Pearl’s set menus (providing a selection of dishes throughout the evening), but I went "a la carte", and whilst we were waiting for the food to be prepared, we enjoyed a fine glass of Tempranillo. Although we’d pre-ordered our meals for 7pm, they clearly didn’t begin preparation until they knew we were good and ready–-just as well, as one of our group didn’t turn up until 7:30. The restaurant is well separated from the bustle of the bar and was calm and peaceful–-until our party arrived.
I started with a sweet-and-sour hot soup, and it satisfied all three criteria. It was piping hot, was incredibly spicy, and had an unobtrusive fruity taste. To look at it wasn’t the most inviting of dishes, but the taste was superb, and I soon forgave its appearance.
A large communal bowl of rice followed, accompanied by a personal supply, and then my monkfish with ginger and spring onions arrived. It was served on a griddle platter and arrived sizzling at my table. Beautiful, large bite-size pieces of white fish with full sound accompaniment–-what a great main course. And the taste? Well, it was divine–-almost melting in the mouth, with the flavours slowly releasing on my taste buds. Even the spicy soup had not desensitised me to this aromatic sensation. A full-bodied merlot set off my meal, and my glass was regularly topped up by the waitress (my boss paid for the wine, and there was a plentiful supply!).
I didn’t bother with a pudding but managed to sample a range of others'. The traditional Chinese restaurant pudding, banana fritter and ice cream, was there alongside caramel apple with sesame seeds, mango, coconut, and a rich chocolate mousse. All were very tasty and well-presented.
The coffee was a bit of a let-down, but the complimentary whiskey served at the end of the meal was much appreciated. Overall, the service here was excellent, with staff appearing at exactly the right moment. We were not put under any pressure for the move and spent over 5 hours enjoying our food and drink.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 5, 2005
42-44 Bridgford Road
Nottingham, England NG2 6AP
This is a totally informal restaurant that has a resident pianist on the weekend to create a relaxed feel to the place – personally, I found it a bit loud and distracting. The restaurant has tall ceilings and a fresh, airy feel, but somehow it feels a bit clinical and lacks a true ambience.
Service is crisp and efficient, but I really felt that they were making a determined effort to clear our tables for the second sitting. We’d arrived at 5:20pm – a bit early for a night out and were left waiting on the doorstep until the opening time of 5:30pm arrived. It was spitting with rain and none of us were impressed that the staff had seen us but left us waiting. At the other end of the evening, we were ushered away from our table at 8pm, and those waiting for our table weren’t allowed in until we’d vacated the table. It was not the best service I’ve ever had, and in all honesty, it left none of us feeling that we were anything other than part of the restaurant’s production line! But if it’s pre-theatre meals you’re after, it is exactly the kind of service that you want. You pay your money and make your choice.
But the food at Pierre Victoire is great, well prepared and presented, and there is a superb wine list. I didn’t count, but there must have been almost 50 wines in their cellar. Most were moderately priced, but as you’d expect with that range, there were some expensive bottles. I didn’t eat anything out of the ordinary: deep-fried brie, followed by a pan-fried chicken dish, and a French apple pie as my finale.
The restaurant really pushes its Provincial French cuisine and has a reputation as a "hip" place to eat, so most nights this establishment will be busy. Make sure you book.
Apparently, the restaurant holds a more extravagant meal every other Tuesday, billed as a gastronomic soiree with seven courses for a mere £18. I haven’t tried it myself but may consider it one night.
Despite its city-centre setting, parking is real easy at any of the nearby multi-storey car parks, and it’s even easier if you travel by bus, as the bus terminus is only a 5-minute walk away.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 10, 2005
13-17 Milton Street
Nottingham, England NG1 3EN
I’ve been eating here on and off for the past 10 years, and I’ve had a range of eating experiences in this establishment. In recent years, I’ve never been disappointed, and although service can be a bit slow, especially at a busy lunchtime, the meal is usually worth the wait, although recent reports indicate a change of chef and today’s meal was okay but not brilliant.
This place started off life as a pub with a few bar snacks (sandwiches and fast food), but now the menu is extensive and food is served throughout the day. I’ve never booked a table, but I think if you want to eat at a weekend or at a busy time of year (bank holidays and the lead up to Christmas), you’d be well advised to reserve a place. The Traveller’s still has a pub feel to it, with tables seemingly randomly scattered around the room, and you’ll starve if you sit waiting for your order to be taken at the table. First, make a note of the table number "featured on the menu holder;" make your choice from the menu card, the blackboards, or the specials listing; and then head for the bar. It’s best to order your drink and food at the same time, because I’ve never experienced the staff with a sense of urgency, and you really don’t want to be queuing twice at the bar.
The beer is reliable and well kept, and usually there’s at least one guest ale on the pumps. Today, I had one called Summersault, a light, crisp, and flavoursome ale.
Some of the starters sound really appetising ("duo of chicken satay and tiger prawn skewers"), but the faithful soup of the day is always reliable. Today, I chose from the main menu, but there is an alternative offering excellent-value snacks (my favourite being spicy sausage baguette with chunky chips). You can pay up to £12 for a main course of sea bass, roast duck, or rib eye steak, or half that price for ham, egg, and chips. Gammon was my choice – a succulent gammon steak with egg (beautifully fried) with peas and chips. My mate opted of Beef and Theakston Ale Pie (no surprise there, as he always has that!) served with creamy mashed potatoes and a variety of fresh vegetables. It was a perfect lunchtime meal.
There is a range of about a dozen puddings, many of them good, wholesome puds, but I’ve never had the room. Finishing off with a freshly made coffee is my preference, albeit a bit of an incongruity in a public house!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 7, 2005
The Traveller's Rest
Nottingham, England NG3 5RT
It is a small restaurant, seating no more than 38 inside, and you are well advised to book if you want to eat later in the week (Thursday through the weekend). At the back of the café is a piano, above which is displayed the restaurant’s wine selection. I’m not sure that the piano is ever played, but it does add a little bit of character to the establishment. "Inoffensive" pipe music is played to assist with the ambience. Tables with comfortable, conventional dining chairs are covered with white cloths with a red paper square on top. Paper cloths in restaurants are a bit of an anathema as far as I’m concerned and don’t help in terms of the "classy" stakes. However, Café Piano had made an effort by offsetting this abhorrence with fresh flowers on each table.
There are tasteful pictures on the wall – linked to the theme of coffee or café life – and subtle lighting to enhance the atmosphere. To be honest, the room was a little too cold for my liking, but I suppose that, with a full house, the body heat would push up the temperature by a few degrees.
This Italian restaurant offers plenty to choose from, with the usual specials being displayed as "blackboard specials." The Bruschetta at £3.45 was a great starter and really provided enough for two. The toasted bread was topped with a tasty assemblage of tomatoes and basil and enough garlic to keep the vampires at bay for a day or two!
The Panzerotti, the main course I opted for, was a couple of delicious pancakes filled with Ricotta cheese and spinach and topped with tomatoes and more cheese. I wish I’d have opted for a side salad as an extra, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Others in our party had fettuccine and tortellini, and these dishes were substantial, more than ample for a growing lad! I had a house red (£2.50 a glass) that was pleasantly fruity and a good accompaniment. I had considered a beer, but there were no pumps, and others looked as if they were being served out of a can – not the best way for a restaurant to serve beer.
The Café Piano has a reasonable vegetarian selection of a good quality. It’s a straightforward restaurant for a no-nonsense night out.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 8, 2005
7a Main St.
Nottingham, England NG12 2FD
Restaurant | "Three diners to the west of town"
In contrast, the Stratford Arms in the centre of West Bridford is an old building that has been well adapted as a pub. It’s what I’d call a "proper drinker’s pub" offering a superb selection of extremely well-kept "real ales" at realistic prices. Here the decor takes second place to the drink, and it’s always buzzing. Although you can’t book a table here, I’m sure you won’t mind waiting for a gap to appear. Ambience is not lacking here, and you may have to wait more than a moment to get your drink. The Stratford has a good selection of reasonably priced bar meals, but the kitchen staff never hurries. Their Greek is superb, with supreme-tasting olives and a quality feta cheese. This cannot be referred to as "only a salad," as it’s substantial and always seems to be prepared with care and attention. The menu is detailed on blackboards above the bar, and although the choice is limited, they are of good quality. The downside is that it can often be quite smoky, as presently there is no ban on smoking here.
The Rose and Crown at Cotgrave is also an older-style country pub that has progressed well, its clientele requiring food as well as drink. It serves a well-kept pint, and the bonus here is that you can get a "proper" meal in a dedicated dining area. It is always advisable to book (although the Sunday lunch menu can be eaten anywhere in the pub or its gardens), and if you don’t like smoking, then be sure to ask for a table in the nonsmoking dining room. Its waitress service here and all the staff are charming and attentive. The menu is upmarket and more expensive than the previous two (around £10 for a main course), but this is a place where you could go out for the night and enjoy a decent meal in a warm, friendly environment. Forget the diet – some of their puds are just wonderful!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 7, 2005
Bridge at Gamston, Stratford Arms & Rose and Crown
West Bridgford, Gamston & Cotgrave