Top local chefs share their favourite places to eat in and around Nottingham
Chefs spend the majority of their time cooking food for other people, so where do they choose to eat when they get the chance? There’s a whole range of different cuisines as well as everything from the special occasion to the relaxed Sunday lunch, but one thing you can guarantee is that the food will be top notch.
Chef’s Choice: Kushi-ya – for something different and some fantastic flavours
Kushi-ya was the instant reply of many chefs I spoke to. Sat Bains Head Chef, John Freeman was full of praise for it when he went to visit. It sounds like you really have to try the tira’miso – love the pun! Kushi-ya is a Japanese grill serving skewers, small plates and sake. It’s the kind of place to go if you fancy exploring lots of different flavours.
2. Bar Iberico & Iberico World Tapas – for a great buzz and some interesting twists on Spanish tapas
Iberico World Tapas opened its doors in one of the oldest parts of Nottingham 13 years ago and is the original restaurant, with Bar Iberico opening only 4 years ago. Iberico World Tapas is the only restaurant in Nottingham with the Michelin Bib Gourmand recognition “great food at great prices” – £28 or less for 3 courses. As the name suggests, it is tapas-style dishes with world flavours and influences – most notably from Asian and Japanese cuisine. The dishes at Iberico World Tapas are more refined and adventurous compared to Bar Iberico. They aren’t afraid to experiment with different ingredients and their dishes are executed to perfection. Interestingly of the two of them Bar Iberico just pipped Iberico World Tapas to the post when it came to being the chef’s favourite, probably because of the less formal setting it provides. According to chef Nick Gillespie he would choose Bar Iberico for a more relaxed and casual meal, because of the “delicious food, great buzz, and some interesting twists on Spanish tapas”.
Both restaurants offer a lunch time/early dining offer “express dining” of Spanish style pickles + homemade sourdough/Spanish Catalan bread + any 2 tapas dishes for £14.95. Which seems like a pretty fantastic deal for places that get the seal of approval from several of Nottingham’s top chefs!
Chef and co-owner Jacque commented about his success: “I was lucky enough to work and learn with top chefs from Nobu and Ubon in London. A few of us were headhunted by other Japanese restaurants such as Tsunami (voted best Japanese restaurant in the UK by Timeout magazine 2001/2002.)”
For a restaurant that clearly prides itself on serving a global cuisine, they have by no means neglected the simple things. I always think it’s a sign of a good restaurant when they pay attention to the bread they serve. Iberico World Tapas makes their own bread and Bar Iberico serves bread from the carefully selected Welbeck Bakehouse. A local, Nottinghamshire bakery the Welbeck Bakehouse uses locally sourced, organic ingredients wherever possible and traditional long fermentation methods to create their artisan bread.
3. Butchers Bar and Steakhouse, Long Eaton – for a banging steak
This place has a real family feel. Located in an old Victorian mill, it’s run by a close-knit team: Mikey and Danny. Between them they have created a space, which in their words has “more edge than a butcher’s cleaver”, juxtaposing original features with contemporary art and industrial decor. You could say the same for the food and drink – dry-aged steaks with cosmopolitan cocktails. Danny is the chef and he likes to keep things simple so that guests can really appreciate the quality of the produce. Chef Craig Floate is a big fan. In his words “this place serves a banging steak.”
4. The Radcliffe – for an excellent Sunday lunch
A gastropub just outside of Nottingham with plenty of outdoor space including an outside bar, fire pit and children’s play area, making it easy to see why The Radcliffe was recommended particularly as a place for Sunday lunch. The kitchen is managed by chef Mark Osborne, who was head chef at Harts and Café Bleu, Newark for eight years during which time it won the Best Out of Town Restaurant in the Nottingham restaurant awards for five consecutive years. Mark makes a point of working with local suppliers like family-run Fruit Basket Direct and Owen Taylor’s, a local butcher in nearby Leabrooks. The Radcliffe makes a feature of its fabulous food by allowing guests to see the food being plated up on an open pass. If real ale is your thing, they have a selection of four to choose from. Their sister pub The Railway at Lowdham won Best Sunday Lunch Venue in 2019 and it looks like The Radcliffe is going to give them a run for their money this year.
5. La Rock – for superb food on a special occasion
Green oak tables, black granite panels and antler chandeliers, La Rock sure knows how to create an atmosphere. We can understand why chef Craig Floate recommended it for a special occasion. The food is designed by chef-owner Nick Gillespie, who draws his inspiration from around the world. They offer both an a la carte menu and a tasting menu for more adventurous diners. All the food is seasonal, bringing out the best of the British Isles by combining traditional French fine dining techniques with modern twists. Nick comments: “It’s all about the balance between flavours and textures where I create visually stunning and flavour-inspired dishes with my passionate and dedicated team.” This passion extends to his knowledgeable front-of-house staff, who provide a customer service that is second to none, as well as his suppliers. 47 Degrees Coffee, named after the width of the “bean belt” that wraps around the world 23.5⁰ north and south of the equator where coffee can be grown, are a local coffee roastery a few miles from Nottingham. They roast speciality beans in small batches for maximum freshness and their coffee has won five gold stars from the Guild of Fine Food.
6. The Cod’s Scallops – for specialist fish and chips, or even a roast chicken
Another restaurant with a witty sense of humour – clearly it’s a Nottingham trait! I fell in love with this place the moment I heard their name! The Cod’s Scallops is in fact a group of restaurants in and around the Nottingham area and it specialises in fish and chips but with a difference. They offer over 20 different types of fish depending on the daily catch so you can really get to know which your favourites are. All their fish is responsibly sourced and all their cod and haddock are MSC approved. Not all fish is accredited by the MSC, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t responsibly sourced. While the MSC is expanding the range of fish it accredits and more fisheries are aspiring to achieve their accreditation, they have understandably focused on accrediting the most popular fish where the impact of ensuring sustainable fishing is greater. To find out more about sourcing sustainable fish click here.
Set up by John Molnar, a chef with 30 years’ experience, The Cod’ Scallops has done well to become one of Michelin starred chef Sat Bains’ favourite. Most recently he was raving about their new roast chicken on Instagram. Yes, they don’t just do fish. Their chicken appears to be just as good!
7. Langar Hall – for a rustic retreat with an excellent local and seasonal menu
Situated at the end of an avenue of lime trees within a parkland of rolling hills just 12 miles from Nottingham, Langar Hall keeps the charm and quiet eccentricity of an English country home with just the right amount of modern to combine the best of the past with the best of the present. Serving as both a hotel and restaurant, it was recommended for it’s “fantastic food, great service, and great execution of local and seasonal ingredients”, which, coming from chef Nick Gillespie of La Rock, is quite an accolade as we know that he sets exceptionally high standards for himself. A classic seasonal special would be the Yorkshire rhubarb soufflé. I’m sure that’s a must if you’re there at the right time.
Gary Booth, their Executive Chef started at Langar Hall in year 2000 as a Sous Chef under Toby Garret, who established Langar Hall’s food ethos. Gary commented: “We are firm believers in using the best local, seasonal ingredients. We grow our own vegetables and fruit where possible and work with local suppliers, such as Harkers Farm Shop, Blackberry Farm, Cropwell Bishop Creamery, Colston Basset Cheeses and Flying Fish, to source what we can’t grow ourselves.”
“Over the years we have built a great team of chefs – they’re like family! My Head Chef, Ross Jeffery, joined in 2003 and has worked through the ranks to become a very talented chef helping to train our younger chefs. Between us we have clocked up over 50 years of experience in this kitchen. This has enabled us to progress over the years to give Langar Hall and the team here a feeling of stability and consistency. We still maintain Toby’s original ethos, using modern techniques to reinvent classic favourites and give them a distinctive British flavour.”
8. Cosy Club – for casual dining in a magnificent setting
Cosy Club was set up by three friends who were looking for a place to hang out themselves and offers relaxed dining, drinking and lounging but in a spectacular setting with quirky decor that softens the impression of the building and makes you feel at home. With an all-day dining menu that covers a wide range of different cuisines as well as cocktails, there is something for everyone here. Their aim is to ensure every guest emerges feeling splendid. That has certainly worked for chef Nick Gillespie, whose comment was “magnificent building, great food and service.”