Nottingham’s Restaurants of 2016
2016 has seen over 30 posts from me about food in our fair city. So has it been another good year for Nottingham’s food scene?
For a couple of years there have been cries of too many burgers, too many American restaurants. Little has changed in that regard. Red Dog Saloon and Griddle and Shake opened their doors toward the end of 2016. The former very much in the mould of Reds and Rub, large portions, meat platters, brisket, ribs etc. I couldn’t find much fault; these venues are all much of a muchness in my experience and do little to excite me. Griddle and Shake was a little more interesting, a local restaurateur has decided to take on the likes of Five Guys with his own premium fast-food offering. It is one of the nicest interiors of this market and its food stands up to the competition, there is just so much competition! Any readers from Derby can look forward to one of Nottingham’s most well-known purveyors of bun and meat, Annie’s Burger Shack, who will be opening a new restaurant there in the second half of 2017.
One of the top new restaurants will come as no surprise. Bar Iberico has continued Iberico’s tradition of excellent cooking. This venue in Hockley is more casual than its namesake but has no less attention to detail. Their Crispy Chicken with Jerez sauce was certainly one of the best dishes of the year. On a second visit it was discovered they also do a great value brunch. My second pick might raise a few eyebrows. Pieminister arrived early in the year, extending the small UK-run chain to 5 locations. It has had relatively mixed reviews but I think they do make a fine pie, the onion rings are great and it isn’t too expensive. I imagine I’ll be visiting a couple of more times over the winter months.
The also-ran selection range from decent but expensive, to disappointing to downright poor. Starting at the bottom I shouldn’t have expected too much from a big commercial venue next to the area. Saltbox though had pedigree as I have always liked the pizza’s from Savai which the family also own. A main course was overcooked, a dessert had the deft touch of the microwave attributed to it. Let’s move on. I love mussels; some crusty bread and a glass of white wine and I’m happy. With that in mind an opening that I looked forward to was Belgo, a Belgian mussel specialist. It couldn’t really be called bad it just didn’t inspire. The moules marinere I had lacked flavour and didn’t compare to others I have had. In their defence fries were great, the chicken surprisingly good and some people might just visit for their extensive Belgian beer list. Arguably the stiffest competition in Nottingham remains amongst Indian restaurants. This didn’t deter the former owner of Memsaab to open new premises on Mansfield Road, Masala Junction. It is a smart new venue, if anything not in keeping with the side of town it occupies. Starters were good, mains were passable but the cost left me wondering why you would venture outside the tried and tested city centre restaurants.
2016 was another good year for Nottingham’s food, but not as strong as 2015. The best restaurant was a partner to an existing place in the city and the other entrants over the year didn’t bring as many new experiences. 2015 had George’s, Oaks, Thaikhun, Zaap, Inferno, Baresca and Five Guys. Every one of these gave Nottingham something it didn’t have before. I returned to these several times but I am not sure the same will be said for many the more recent newcomers. Here’s hoping 2017 will bring some further diversity, in truth though we are already spoilt.