48 hours in Nottingham: where to eat, drink and sleep
Overlook this gem of the East Midlands at your peril; Nottingham’s culinary star is rising…
Words: Anna Blewett
Consider the culinary highlights of Nottingham and you may get stuck for inspiration beyond world- beating curry houses and the brilliant Sat Bains, whose double Michelin-starred Restaurant Sat Bains has served up exquisite dishes for nearly two decades. But there is a new star in town.
Last October Michelin inspectors gave the nod to Alchemilla (alchemillarestaurant.uk), a subterranean fine dining restaurant and floral roof terrace created by chef Alex Bond. The moss- lined walls, low light and bunker feel set the stage for the kind of dishes that turn heads on the UK’s fine dining scene. Like many chefs in the vanguard of British cuisine Alex explores how the finest fresh produce responds to being fermented, salted and smoked. Unlike most, he promotes the intense umami of his creations to top spots on his menu, pushing animal proteins to the margins. A ten-course taster menu is an education in flavour, and a utter joy.
Just around the corner from Alchemilla is Small Food Bakery (smallfoodbakery.com), which serves up the sort of sourdough leavens you’ll want to fill your overnight bag with. The whole space has an endearing village hall aesthetic; in fact it’s housed in the kitchen of a former primary school and is committed to growing a sustainable food economy that values human skill and short food chains.
The sourdough doughnuts and strawberry kefir perfectly exemplify these lofty ideals: the eating experience is as delicious as the concept behind it. In fact Nottingham has good bakeries by the baker’s dozen: glorious bagels at Tough Mary’s huge sarnies at Ugly Bread Bakery; crisp, cream-filled Greek pastries at Elena’s Patisserie…
The four-star Harts Hotel (hartsnottingham.co.uk), a short totter from Small Food Bakery, is the perfect haven to recoup from a busy day of exploring. Owned by the team behind Quo Vadis and Barrafina, it excels at the kind of quiet hospitality that triggers deep relaxation. Its own restaurant, masterminded by Michelin-starred chef Aaron Patterson of sister company Hambleton Hall, serves up two-AA-rosette dishes as plush and sumptuous as the dreamy soft beds above. After a fabulous night’s sleep the hotel serves an impressive selection of artisan breads courtesy of Hambleton Bakery, a welcome breakfast treat after a silent night in the hotel’s peaceful location.
The bustle, however, awaits. Hockley and Lace Market, districts forming the city’s independent quarter, have some great finds for the hungry forager. Annie’s Burger Shack is the stuff of legend, but there’s so much more: excellent pizza at Oscar & Rosie’s; Icelandic-style lamb hotdogs at Bunk Dogs; single origin Vietnamese hot chocolate at Coco Tang and plenty more.
Finally, an inevitable pilgrimage awaits. Tourist trap it may be, but Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pressed hard up against the city’s fabled castle is a spine-tingling step back into tavern history. The pub’s labyrinth of passageways and chambers are burrowed from the castle rock itself, and have reputedly housed an alehouse since 1189. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a dark pint of the creamy-topped Rock Mild from the ten-barrel capacity Nottingham Brewery. Now, back to those curry house…
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