Sans Patrie – Tapas – Nottingham

The first thing you read on Sans Patrie’s website is “Tucked away” and that’s certainly a fair assessment of this spot in no-mans-land between Alftreton and Ilkeston Road. Their strip of hospitality is stylishly appointed though and would feel more at home in Hockley. In fact its light minimalist style reminded me of Mesa, another of Nottingham’s new restaurants . One small issue on a warm July evening was opening the door to give some air is a good idea but the traffic from the very busy junction made it a noisy experience. Whilst I’m on the subject of high decibels Sans Patrie also position themselves as a place to just have a drink and offer lots of live music if thats your sort of thing. On drinks there was a solid selection and was good to see Harvest Pale getting a look in to the beer list rather than your run of the mill Estrella or Moretti.

Red Pepper Flatbread

The food menu was mostly an appealing mix of flatbreads and “Tapas” although strangely Patatas Bravas appearing under a separate “sides” section when it could (should?) be considered a tapas dish. There was also patchy labelling of the foods, the tapas section covering (V) and (VE) well but others missing this off altogether. This was particularly relevant to my evening as I was dining with a vegan couple. Pleasingly though there were plenty of attractive options for the those looking for all things plant-based. A flatbread (£9) was first to arrive and had a lovely char from the pizza oven. A quite simple set of toppings with red pepper dominating but a combination of dried and fresh herbs also bought it to life which was a great touch alongside the excellent base. Spiced cauliflower croquettes (£6.50) were not croquettes at all, they were cooked as whole florets but if anything that could be an improvement retaining more of that earthy nutty notes. The combination with tahini is always a good pairing and worked well here too.

Our next two dishes were a bit more muted for me. Chickpea stew (£6) and vegetable tagine had very similar tomato based sauces. Whilst they were pleasant they didnt have a depth of flavour that suggested they had been bubbling away for hours like the best examples of their kind. I also couldn’t detect any North African influence in the tagine which is something I expect from that dish. I will forgive asparagus being on a menu after the English season is over if it was as good as this. Combined with chimichurri and dukka you might think, as I initially did, there would be too much going on. It really worked though, the fresh warmth and acidity of the South American influence in harmony with the spices from the Middle East.

Chilli Gambas

My only departure from the vegan options was a foray into fish. Argentinian Chilli Gambas (£9.50) sounded really too good not to try as one of my favourite tapas dishes. You can’t do much wrong with this one in many respects and I’m pleased to say they were well grilled with punchy garlic and chilli oil. It could only be improved by different plating really, a wider shallower dish to allow them to sit and soak up that oil as much as possible! Finally some sweetcorn fritters (£6) were almost all sweetcorn rather than much egg/flour to bind them which did make for a pop of sweetness from all the kernels. The pairing with some whipped avocado gave additional freshness as well as a lovely rich texture.

Sweetcorn Fritters

There was a previously not a dessert option but they have started stocking Beeston Brownies which you can get with a scoop of ice cream. I thought I would give it a go. It was pretty enjoyable from a flavour perspective, I chose a raspberry blondie that came with raspberry coulis and banana ice cream. The issue was the texture, it was seriously solid…you needed some muscles to get a spoon through this brownie! It would have been great with a cup of tea but didn’t quite work as a plated dessert for me.

Raspberry Blondie

Having sampled a fair array of, and mostly vegan, dishes at Sans Patrie I was fairly impressed with most of the offering. There were some simple classics like the gambas but also some inventive new flourishes like the asparagus dishes. We all know there is a lot of competition for Tapas in Nottingham but Sans Partrie does have its own place in that crowded market and I suppose a bit of a monopoly as this less fashionable end of the city.

Check out Sans Patrie here: