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Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham

Rating: 92.
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Did you know Nottingham is only a good two hours away from London? Nottingham is also the place where British chef Sat Bains and his lovely wife Amanda run Sat Bains restaurant and rooms, a restaurant that was awarded its second Michelin star in 2011 and that has eight beautifully appointed rooms. After winning the Roux Scholarship in 1999, Sat Bains worked at the then three-starred Le Jardin des Sens in the south of France. In 2002 Sat was appointed head chef at Hotel de Clos in Nottingham. In 2003 the restaurant got its Michelin star, at the time the first Michelin star ever to have been awarded in Notthingham. In 2005 Sat and Amanda Bains took over, refurbished the restaurant and rooms, renamed it Restaurant Sat Bains with rooms and turned it into a culinary destination.

Restaurant Sat Bains is open for dinner Tuesday till Saturday. Lunch is available only at the chef's table. At dinner you can choose between a 7-course (£75) or 10-course (£89) tasting menu. You can also order a unique tasting menu online in advance. I had dinner there on Saturday 21 January with my husband and a friend and we all had the 10-course tasting menu.

The pre-starter was Nettle veloute, horseradish panna cotta, elderflower vinegar, chickweed, smoked bread. Lovely smooth nettle velouté with wonderful pure 'green' notes that are definitely not raw. Very elegant horseradish panna cotta, nice and creamy. The chickweed complemented the dish nicely. Loved the sweetness from the elderflower vinegar too.

Next up was Sat Bains' signature dish, Duck egg 62°c and textures of pea, air-dried ham, bread. This dish was the winning starter in the Great British Menu series in 2007 and was served at the concluding banquet at the British Embassy in Paris. Fantastic duck egg (cooked in the shell for 1 1/2 hours at 62°c) with a perfect runny yolk; the white was set but still soft, lovely. Textures of pea were a pea sorbet and braised fresh peas. Delicious pea sorbet with a lovely touch of mint. The braised fresh peas were wonderfully sweet and still had a bite to them. Great texture from the air-dried ham and the crisp thinly sliced bread. A wonderful dish that I have been wanting to try ever since I saw it on GBM - beautifully presented too.

First course of the tasting menu. Scallop, pork belly, crackling, piccalilli, cumin powder, Hungary ham and radishes. Lovely well-cooked scallop with delicious tender pork belly and fantastic crisp crackling. Wonderful saltiness from the Hungary ham and a perfectly judged hint of cumin. Absolutely loved the bright yellow piccalilli cream which had a fantastic sweet and sour balance. Lovely texture and freshness from the pickled cucumber and thinly sliced radishes. A harmonious dish, well-balanced and with great length.

Second course, Fish Pie - Cornish plaice, thyme and onion oil, mash, breadcrumbs, Parmesan. A smart and light take on this British classic. Perfectly cooked Cornish plaice, wonderful buttery mash that was presented as if the potatoes had only gone through a ricer. The onion oil had a lovely intense flavour, but the thyme was a bit lost on me. The breadcrumbs balanced the dish out perfectly, however I would have loved them to be just a little bit more crispy. Really liked the layered flavour in this dish, if you combined all ingredients in one bite you were still able to taste all the individual ingredients, nothing was overpowering.

Third course, English duck with Asian influences - Duck liver parfait, duck ham, duck crisp, shii-take mushrooms, lemon cress, sweetcorn, peanuts. Wonderful silky smooth parfait wrapped in Duck ham. Excellent and balanced Asian touch, peanuts, shii-take mushroom, plum sauce. The amount of peanut was very well-judged and I loved the plum sauce/puree. The lemon cress really packed a punch.

Fourth course, Celeriac: roasted celeriac, celeriac puree, pickled celeriac, truffled butter and chicken jus. Gorgeous soft but still firm celeriac and wonderful soft and smooth celeriac puree. Fantastic, concentrated, sweet and earthy flavours from the celeriac and truffle. What a great combination. Loved the rich finish of this dish. The pickled celeriac provided the perfect balance. Pure, clear and proof that a great dish does not necessarily need many ingredients. 

On to the fifth course, Waldorf Salad - celery mousse and puree, fresh apple, raisins, grated praline walnuts, grapes. Lovely celery mouse with a beautiful light texture. Good strong flavoured celery puree and delicious sultana puree. The grapes that were marinated in sweet wine were lovely.  Wonderful sharpness and sweetness from the apple. A refreshing and elegant dish. A original and delightful take on this classic.

Sixth course, Wild hare (Swinton shoot), cauliflower, chocolate, quince. Beautifully moist and succulent hare and wonderful variations of cauliflower, caramelised, pureed and roasted, great textures too. With the hare also came this divine crisp piece of toast with some fantastic hare tartare on top. This hare got away before I could shoot it so no photograph unfortunately.

Before the desserts we ordered an extra cheese course. I had the truffled Turnworth Hampshire, a soft brie-like cheese filled with truffle and served with some sourdough toast. Lovely and comforting.

On to the desserts but first the pre-dessert called 'The Crossover'. The perfect transition from savoury to sweet. Buttermilk, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds and Parmesan. Lovely buttermilk cream and refreshing pumpkin granita. Nice crunch from the caramelised pumpkin seeds. A wonderful crossover with nice acidic and salty notes.

Right, the first dessert, Fresh blueberries, panna cotta, rocket and tarragon granita, granola, vanilla cream. Terrific rocket and tarragon granita, very delicately flavoured. Lovely and tasty fresh blueberries and nice vanilla cream. A refreshing but still creamy dessert with wonderful textures.

Second dessert, Chocolate, coffee, yoghurt and salt. A rich dessert with good strong chocolate and coffee flavours. Loved the silky chocolate pave and the chocolate crumble. Fantastic well-made coffee caramel. Wonderfully refreshing yoghurt foam. Lovely salty finish.

Last dessert, Sea buckthorn, pine and meringue. A fabulous end of this meal. Loved the sea buckthorn pave, wonderful sweetness and tartness. Excellent sweet Italian meringues and nice pine tuiles.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Restaurant Sat Bains. The tasting menu is a parade of dishes that all had one thing in common: they were all distinctive and authentic expressions of the chef's style and personality. The menu indicates how strongly each of the five basic flavours is represented in every individual dish. This demonstrates clearly that an analytical approach underlies Sat Bains' food. In this tasting menu 'sweet' played an important part; for me this added to the charm and elegance of the dishes but clearly this is also a matter of personal taste. The food at Sat Bains is executed with great precision and the dishes are very well thought out. This is the food of a chef who is true to himself and has the confidence to avoid unnecessary complexity; the celeriac dish is a case in point. The dishes are relaxed and tranquil - a characteristic which I appreciate very much. Yes, what you see is what you get and you get value for money too. Service was excellent, our room was lovely. I made a special journey to go to Sat Bains restaurant and I will gladly do it again, even if only to see how Sat Bains' food will develop in the coming years. But it is certainly worth a detour.

Restaurant Sat Bains on Urbanspoon

Posted 28-01-2012


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