Stu and I go for lunch almost every Sunday and are on an ever-enthusiastic mission to find Nottingham’s very best Sunday roast. Along the way, we’ve had some corkers and we’ve had some shockers – unfortunately Oaks falls towards the latter end of the spectrum for us.
We were seated in the middle of the restaurant and, after nearly knocking myself out on the low hanging lights, we ordered a drink and perused the menu. First problem: you can’t order a roast for one person as they come as ‘sharers.’ Fine, Stu and I both wanted a roast anyway, right? But you can only have one meat. I would have preferred chicken and Stu wanted beef and so a compromise resulted in beef (which i wasn’t too fussed about, but still would’ve liked the choice!)
We’ve been to Oaks for their regular menu before and the service was dismally slow, but today we received our meal in good time. The roast comes on a metal platter with the (frustratingly popular) blue-rimmed white metal plates. I have to say, it looked mighty impressive coming to the table and we were really excited to tuck in. The sharing platter did give it the ‘wow’ factor:
The second problem we came across is that due to both the platter and the plates being cold metal, and we only had one set of serving tongs, everything was rather cold by the time both of us had squeezed it onto the tiny plates and the thin, lack-lustre gravy wasn’t quite hot enough to do anything about it. With excitement fading fast, we tucked into cold beef that was incredibly fatty and overcooked. It wasn’t tough but it wasn’t enjoyable and we barely got a slice each, which for the £24 price tag seemed stingy. Where the star of a roast should be the meat, this certainly wasn’t and Stu was still hungry afterwards.
The Yorkshire pudding, carrots and beans were fine, nothing really to write home about, but the red cabbage was very over-spiced. I don’t like spiced cabbage at the best of times so left it on the platter, but all we could smell throughout the whole meal was intense cinnamon and vinegar – no thanks!
The star of the show here were the potatoes. They really were very nice. The roasties are cooked in beef dripping and they were delicious, some extra seasoning or rosemary would lift these to pretty near perfect. The mash was also gorgeous – silky, creamy and well seasoned. It was the most note-worthy and respectable element of the roast. If you like tatties, this is the roast for you.
The service this time was good, we had two lovely, attentive servers and the meal came out fairly quickly – no complaints here. However, the atmosphere was affected by a handful of small children who were left to run amok around the restaurant. I have absolutely nothing against children in restaurants, but they stood squealing behind us for a long time playing with the metal curtain in the centre of the restaurant, before playing a game of hide and seek that involved hiding under people’s tables etc. The poor staff were trying to keep them entertained at least, but it didn’t help my hangover much! To be fair to the staff I don’t know what I would have done in that situation, bar a very awkward and potentially confrontational conversation with the parents.
Although the desserts sounded tempting, we decided to get a hot chocolate at Chocolate Utopia instead.
All in all, not a great lunch. Good potatoes but we cannot forgive bad meat – it’s a roast! I do like the platter idea, it’s unique to Oaks, but it just comes with too many practicalities for the customer, falling victim to style over substance.
Overall score: 5/10
Atmosphere and surroundings: 5/10
Price: £28: £24 for a roast for two and £4 for two lime and sodas.
Emily and Stuart