I was a little bit nervous during the week leading up to our reservation at two Michelin starred Sat Bains in Nottingham. This was due to the cancellation policy; it’s a £75 a head charge if you cancel up to 5 days prior to your booking. But what if me or my gentleman companion came down with influenza? Or what if the traffic was so bad that we missed it altogether? Luckily for us the 2 hour 45 minute drive from London whizzed by and we made it with time to spare!
We booked to sit at the ‘kitchen bench’ which was a small bench with stool seats literally slap bang in the middle of the pastry section. It was a great place to sit and watch all the action of a Michelin starred kitchen.
A seven course tasting menu priced at £75 was the only option available and for the amount of food that we ate we felt it was good value. A horseradish set custard with a vibrantly green nettle soup kicked things off and was a very unusual amuse bouche. The ingredients for this had been foraged in the surrounding fields which was a nice touch. The nettles were strong in flavour which balanced well with the heat from the horseradish.
We decided to share an additional course; a duck egg poached at 62 degrees with fresh peas and pea sorbet (£15). It didn’t come cheap but it certainly was delicious. The oddly translucent egg burst to create a thick and creamy sauce which was moreishly tasty. I hate peas normally but these were so fresh and tasty it transformed me to a pea convert.
Bread was divine; the sourdough was good but the treacle bread was incredible. It tasted deeply sweet yet still retained its savoury flavour. Two types of butter were available; the locally sourced one with 4% salt content being our favourite – it was the saltiest butter I’ve ever tasted!
Our first course was scallops with nuts, seeds and sprouts. The scallops were cooked perfectly but the accompanying nuts and seeds were in stark contrast to the delicate scallops. It was an unusual pairing which I wasn’t wholly convinced by but it was still a tasty dish. The addition of sweet vanilla was an interesting element.
The next dish was described on the menu as ‘duck muesli’ which was in fact duck liver parfait dipped in liquid nitrogen. It was a very clever dish which was bold in flavour and varied in texture; so far the food was far more obscure than I had expected!
Our next dish was a generous gift from the kitchen; wagyu beef and slow cooked onion. It was one of the tastiest morsels of food I have ever eaten in my life! The beef fell apart at the very touch of the fork and the onion was the sweetest I’ve ever tasted. The addition of some ‘thyme snow’ added a variation of temperature which was most welcome. It was an incredible dish.
Our fourth course was Loch Duart salmon with a jus mariniere. Fatty chunks of salmon surrounded a little mound of salmon tartare, all of which were divine, and stunningly presented too.
The following course was much larger in size; spring lamb with goats cheese and wild garlic. The dish was far more complicated than its description led us to believe and we felt that perhaps there was one too many ingredients on the plate. Although it tasted good, the bold flavours like the lemon, garlic and kidneys overpowered the sweetbreads and lamb.
Next was the start of the sweet things; beetroot ice cream covered in white chocolate and sprinkled with freeze dried raspberries served on a lollipop stick. It was a great balance between sweet and savoury – who knew beetroot tasted so good as ice cream?!
Our second dessert was chocolate and yoghurt with cumin and lime which was a very rich dessert. The chocolate concoction was a bit too thick and stodgy for my liking but the yoghurt cut through it perfectly. Some lime shavings were another tangy presence which balanced the dish well. However I couldn’t detect any cumin.
We were kindly treated to an additional dessert of aerated chocolate with cherry, tobacco and salt. The chocolate was lighter than anything I’ve ever tasted before and the bubbles of chocolate burst on my tongue and disappeared leaving a smokiness of tobacco and tang of cherry. I loved everything about it.
Our final pud was described as ‘strawberries and cream’ and was my favourite dish of the meal. All the elements of the dish had been frozen in more of that liquid nitrogen – including a rocket granita which was most unusuall but absolutely divine. The peppery rocket flavour worked brilliantly with the sweet strawberries; so clever!
At this point we were both close to the point of self combustion so decided to have our coffee out in the garden area. It was a rather bizarre space; we perched on little wooden stools as two pet rabbits ran about our feet – it was a surreal end to a brilliant lunch! The coffee was served alongside chocolate shards which had been flavoured with various spices which were all great. Sadly we couldn’t finish them all as we were so full!
As we drove off back to London we both decided that Nottingham is an awfully long way to go for lunch – but if you’re going to do it, then Sat Bains restaurant is worth every minute of the journey.