There's something so exciting about finding a local restaurant that offers something different to the norm. I've felt for a long time that we were missing somewhere that served really excellent quality meat other than when the odd farmers market was visiting and so I was thrilled when I was asked if I would like to try out OAKS in Nottingham.
OAKS is located right in the centre of Nottingham and prides itself on serving local Nottinghamshire produced sausages, steaks and meats that are cooked over specially made grills fuelled by wood that is sustainably coppiced by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. They also serve locally brewed Castle Rock Brewery beers and nearby Belvoir Fruit Farms sparkling soft drinks. The menu is a great mix of classic grilled meat, fish and vegetable dishes and amazing Tuxford's Butchers sausages served alongside really well done sides like truffle mash, handcut skin-on chips and a signature chopped salad.
Another great thing about OAKS is the fab selection of food and drink offers that they have throughout the week like a steak night, lunch deals and an amazing sounding roast dinner that I'm sure we'll be back to try.
Pete and I were kindly invited to try their new 'Bottomless Brunch' an idea that we saw a lot in the US and a few times in London and is such a great idea for a weekend. If you order two courses from the brunch menu for an extra £12 you get unlimited prosecco and/or their smokey hot bloody mary's for two whole hours! What a bargain eh? We saw a few groups of ladies partaking too and I think it would be a lovely way to kick off a day spent with friends or a classy hen party day out!
I was lucky enough to try one of their new cocktails which will launch in conjunction with their new sun terrace in a few week's time where you can eat out in the nice open air and also enjoy some live music! Good food and tunes? Yes please!
This as yet unnamed spritz is a lovely fresh combination of aperol, lots of fresh passion fruit, prosecco and a little soda. It was the perfect amount of tart and was a great accompaniment to the dishes I chose. Definitely something I'll be ordering again!
We kicked off our meal with some lovely starters. I went for the lightly battered sea bass with tartar sauce and let me tell you it was some of the most perfectly cooked fish I've ever tried which can be tricky as hell when frying. The batter was light as air and super crisp and didn't dominate the taste of the fresh sea bass which was tender and juicy and delicious. Tartar sauce of course was its perfect partner and the amount you were given was generous without being too much.
Pete went for the quail scotch eggs which he loved. Perfectly cooked little quails eggs were surrounded by seasoned beef rather than the usual pork, then bread crumbed and fried to perfection. He advised that the house made tomato sauce was a great accompaniment, but more about that later.
The on to the mains! Pete had the incredible OAKS brunch feast which you can see above and boy were we impressed. It featured the most perfectly cooked bacon steak, super juicy and smokey tasting with nice char to the fat and a lovely locally made Lincolnshire style sausage which was so light and flavourful and again cooked spot on with a nice light char and snap to the skin. Alongside this was some incredible tasting black pudding, again this was light but wonderfully spiced and not like any other we've tasted. To finish off there was a lovely big portobello mushroom and two eggs that were fried to perfection with runny yolks but no wobbly jelly white which is Pete's nightmare, so he was very happy. One small attention to detail that most restaurants crazily seem not to do is season everything properly in including the mushroom and eggs. It really makes all the difference and everything we ate at OAKS was seasoned to perfection.
Because it's one of my absolute favourites I went for the tempura softshell crab burger with wasabi mayo and I was not disappointed! Again the batter was light and crisp but let the flavour of the crab sing through, which worked so well with the hot but creamy wasabi mayo and fresh lettuce and tomato. I've said before how I hate a stodgy burger bun and this was thankfully not one of those! A lovely soft brioche bun that had been toasted and was a perfect compliment to the filling. I chose the hand cut fries as my side and was thrilled to see they were skin-on which I think adds so much flavour. They were lovely and fluffy with a crisp outer and were left unseasoned so you could adjust this yourself - with a little salt and vinegar they were a dream.
Now I mentioned the sauces earlier and here they are - they definitely deserve a little section of their own! As I said these are all made in house and were so great we wished we could take a few bottles home with us!
The mustard and horseradish mayo was to die for, the perfect balance of tart and creamy with a little heat behind it. I loved dipping my chips in this like you would a remoulade but I think it would be the most incredible addition to a pastrami sandwich - a new menu item maybe? Next up was the burnt tomato ketchup which was so fresh tasting and not cloyingly sweet or over vinegary like the shop bought stuff. The real revelation for me however was their smoked chili brown sauce, mainly because I loved it and I don't even like brown sauce!!! It was just so smokey and warmly spiced, not hot but warming with toasted chili and other spices. I could have eaten the whole bottle easily with some of their lovely sausages, it was just that good!
We ended our meal with desserts and coffee. I of course went for the homemade doughnuts stuffed with marsala cream and they were delicious! Crisp yet doughy and sugary yet creamy with that lovely back note of marsala and again the serving was perfect, not too little and not too much. They went wonderfully with my cappuccino which was very well executed too.
Pete tried the chocolate tart with local Bluebell Farm vanilla ice cream. All too often chocolate tarts are just too rich for me to end a meal, but this one was the best I have ever tried. It definitely had more milk chocolate than most which would use all dark and this made it just that bit lighter and sweeter. It had the lovely thick ganache texture and a substantial but not tough pastry base and the ice cream complimented it perfectly.
We had a really marvellous meal at OAKS and it was such a lovely way to kick off our weekend. For the quality of food you receive I think the prices are incredible and the staff and surroundings are so lovely it was a great experience. I can't wait for the sun terrace to open as I think it will be the perfect addition to the location and I'm going to make sure we head back to try the Sunday roast very soon!
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