Aurora Review – Modern British – Nottingham

Plumtre Street is an unassuming Lace Market road, in a basement sits Aurora serving “Eclectic Modern British Cooking”. The restaurant has simple decor with wooden chairs and tables adorning a flagstone floor. The low basement ceilings and floor do make for a cacophony of sorts but it is a pleasant airy space despite being below ground.

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The menu is set price on both lunchtimes and evenings with 3 courses below £20 across the board which is reasonable in anyone’s book. The options are far from endless with 5 for starter, main and dessert with a handful of specials. I opted for a pea and ham hock soup with poached egg, only for minutes later to be informed that they were out of eggs. It disappoints when restaurants run out of dishes at the best of times but when it is a small menu and a kitchen runs out of eggs it is almost a tragedy. I refrained from suggesting I pop to Sainsbury’s (other supermarkets are available) myself and soldiered on with my veloute minus the yolky delights. It was a pleasant warming bowl on a snowy day, rich salty flecks of ham punctuating the sweet pea and giving a nice depth of flavour. My dining companion chose a red pepper tart tatin which showed off more technical skill and happily contained all advertised ingredients.

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Venison

Main course was chosen (by both diners) from the specials; venison with potato rosti and sprouting broccoli, a pleasing seasonal addition to the menu. The meat was good quality and competently cooked. The rosti by contrast was an interesting affair, baked rather than fried it added good texture to the dish but was somewhat undercooked in the middle. Jus has a good flavour but the dribble that arrived would have done well to be supplemented by a jug on the side, something often overlooked.

Another special was my dessert of pistachio pannacotta. Perhaps the best example in this meal of “eclectic” mentioned in the restaurant’s tagline.

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Pannacotta

The pannacotta had a nice subtle flavour of its nutty bedfellow, but was overset and lacked the wobble of a prime example of the dessert. Things unravelled soon after, toffee bananas (think apples) were edible but hardly in the vein of a restaurant that is trying to serve some serious gastronomic delights. Worse still was the foam. Now I am not as fundamentally against a foam as some, a Bailey’s foam though makes one tempted to change their mind on the matter. To baffle even more it appeared on my fellow diner’s dessert of coffee crème brulee, at least there it appeared to make some sense. My final gripe (promise) is that of the wonderful winter strawberry. The broccoli from earlier in the meal showed they have designs of seasonality but I find it hard to forgive a tasteless out of season fruit.

Regardless of the hiccups this is a good restaurant and I like the ambition it shows. On another visit I had razor clams, a ingredient not often seen…even less frequently in Nottingham. Service was passable throughout if a little slow given the quietness of the restaurant. We were also hit with a small supplement for the venison which had not been mentioned upon order. Nonetheless at a 3 course cost of £16.95 (lunch) and £19.95 (dinner) there is much to be admired about the value here, particularly against some of the skill and ingredients on show. Below the cost of a Hart’s or World Service you will find it hard to find more capable, varied and interesting food.

Overall rating 8/10

Food – 8

Value – 9

Service – 7

Restaurant website: http://aurorarestaurant.org/main/

Opening times: Tue-Sat: & Sun Lunch  / Closed Mondays

Date of my visit: March 2013