“Where would you like to go for your birthday, dearest?” My wife asked.
“Oooh, ideally a university town.”
“One where most the tossers I attended school with went.”
“I’m not sure there are any good restaurants in Loughborough.”
“No, Nottingham you fool!”
Is there any better way to celebrate turning 34 than by going to Nottingham? Probably, yes.
Is there any better way to celebrate turning 34 than by going to Nottingham and spending more money on food than you’ve ever spent? Also, probably, yes, but that’s what I did and you’re going to have to get over it.
Any food blogger worth their truffled salt knows that 34 is the peak time for food blogging, your taste buds are at their prime before they give up and die.
With this in mind I thought a Michelin star job was the only way forward. I looked at where I could get to from Birmingham without a car, or spending £400 on train fares, and settled on Sat Bains in Nottingham.
I read a lot about the venue – it being by a motorway and a big pylon. Some commentators seem to have an issue with this, but frankly if you don’t see a pylon and immediately start salivating I don’t know what the fuck’s wrong with you. I like pylons so much I actually asked if we could eat outside but was informed this wouldn’t be possible. Here is the pylon.
We were fortunate enough that this year my birthday fell on a Saturday, meaning that Mr Saturday Bains would be in cooking that evening. I hear his brother Thurs Bains isn’t anywhere near as good.
What was the most expensive meal I’ve ever had like? Well, the service was excellent, the sommelier was fantastic, the wine pairings were great and of the 11 courses we had I’d say five of them were superb, I didn’t get the fuss about one and one was pointless.
Shall we discuss some of the courses I loved? OK.
Smoked eel /apple/turnip/seaweed /Manjimup truffle. YES, if you’ve bothered to read any of the rest of my reviews you will know that if you stick smoked eel in front of me I will bark and lick your face like an excited Cocker Spaniel.
Glazed veal sweetbread /celeriac/remoulade/thyme. The sweetbreads were finished in butter in the pan at the table. A wonderful reminder of how delicious butter is, and how we’re all going to die.
Something called Sherwood Forest or something similar – think it was venison. It had a sort of gel dome. I’ll level with you, I can’t be arsed to describe it other than telling you it was delicious, go and find out the rest for yourself.
Dessert: Lenton lane inspired by the rocky road. YES BITCHES. This was splendid. The first bite of chocolate I was all, “Whoa! That just tastes of fags.” It’s been infused with tobacco you see, HOWEVER, when you had the chocolate with the rest of the components of the plate it was fantastic.
‘From the embers’ – potato/kombu/caviar. I think this is one of Sat’s signature dishes, and I’m sure it’s actually amazing, and you all love it and I’m wrong, but to me, it was just fine.
Coddled egg additional course. When you’re doing a tasting menu and there’s an additional course you’re always tempted, it’s basic psychology (probably).
You think, “I’m spending all this on food anyway, what’s another £11?” Well, it’s £22 in total if there are two of you, it would have been £77 if there were seven of us, and so on. When it doesn’t really taste of anything it’s upsetting.
Before Sat Bains we had a couple of cocktails in Cottonmouth in Nottingham city centre. Sensibly they’ve put the word ‘cotton’ and ‘mouth’ together, as otherwise you Google ‘Cotton Mouth’ and get results such as:
“Cotton Mouth is a disease your fish can get and it needs to be dealt with quickly.”
Fortunately diseased fish mouths were the last thing on our minds here. Quality cocktails, our favourite was the Sabbatical – Gin, white port, dry vermouth, Riesling and pineapple. Sure to perk up even the most miserable of Pike.
The next day I really wanted to go to Alchemilla, but they’re shut on Sunday.
Instead, we ended up at Bar Iberico for some tapas, and it was right good. Have a picture.