The Frustrated Chef – Tapas – Nottingham (Beeston)
The city might not be the place to be right now. The endless new openings have slowed and recent weeks have taken me to the likes of West Bridgford, Nuthall and Sherwood. Continuing that trend I decided to make my first foodie visit to Beeston since a visits to the enjoyable vegetarian paradise of Café Roya.
The tram has appeared to make Beeston more accessible to those that don’t drive and the Frustrated Chef is very close to the Chilwell Road stop. Two things struck me on entering, the noise and the darkness. The tiled floor created harsh sounds that echoed around the room and the dimmer was set several notches too low (which may be clear from my pictures). It’s fitted out with functional bare tables and chairs that are stylish enough but designed for comfort.
The menu is tapas, the ‘world tapas’ that has become so popular at other restaurants recently. There is lots of choice, though I was sceptical of their menu classifications. Under ‘Snacks’ they listed the likes of Tiger prawns wrapped in Serrano ham, garlic & parsley butter (People must eat well in Beeston!). The options are quite diverse and there were some interesting sounding dishes. They recommended 2/3 of their main items, I went for 4…for research purposes.
My first dish was baby chorizo glazed in honey and sherry vinegar (£6.50) is in direct competition with one of my favourite dishes from Baresca. Sadly, this version was £1.25 more expensive and not as good. Rather than sticky runny honey coating the little sausages the glaze had been over reduced and I ended up with a harder texture of sugar resembling a toffee apple. Calamari was listed ‘Moreish’ which I had initially read as Moorish – so I was a little disappointed on arrival that it wasn’t more exciting. The coating was a bit thick which meant any flavour from the squid was muted, on the upside it wasn’t chewy and the homemade tartar was a good one.
The best of my dishes was probably grilled pork fillet (£7.50) that was skilfully cooked, though it was quite plain in flavour, the accompaniments provided enough excitement. A light but tasty potato salad and mojo verde (garlicy coriander sauce) were interesting and flavourful in equal measure. The last savoury item was also an alleged snack of Korean style pork belly with peanuts (£6.50), though it being Korean was equally debatable. I couldn’t argue that the peanuts were vaguely sweet, sour and spicy but the pork its seemed merely roasted and a little over cooked and crispy to my taste. The best food of the evening was actually my friends tandoori monkfish (£9) that I had a nibble of. The spicing was deftly done and the fish very well cooked, the avocado mojo sauce didn’t fully convince me but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
Despite the savoury food being more than enough to sate, one of my favourite desserts had been spotted on the menu. Affogato (£4) is extremely simple, vanilla ice cream with espresso poured over the top. I tend to enjoy the process myself though here it was delivered already combined and mostly melted. Still nice but I would have liked more ice cream and the choice of my ratio of coffee.
Service was good if a little slow. That right side of conversational and friendly, when I could see who I was speaking to at least. The competition in tapas is fierce, they come up against two of the consistently best rated restaurants in Nottingham; Baresca and Iberico. The Frustrated Chef has had lots of good press and seems to have many advocates, and I could see what some of the fuss was all about.
If I was a Beestonian (if they’re not called that then they should be) I would absolutely think the restaurant was a great addition to the local food scene. The food I had was simply not as good as Iberico, nor Baresca, despite being a very similar price level. The ambition is there but the execution was lacking on my visit.
Restaurant website: http://thefrustratedchef.co.uk/