I bet we’re not alone here: one thing lockdown has taught us is how much we appreciate the priviledge of eating great food at some amazing local places.
We were eating out several times a week before March and have come to realise how much we took it for granted (our pocket is grateful, at least). While we’ve enjoyed lots of Deliveroos, it really hasn’t hit the same spot and there’s some places were itching to experience ASAP. We’ve linked each restaurant to a previous review where available and done some research into the latest dining adjustments in place right now, though these change regularly so be sure to check individual websites/socials.
There’s a reason why big chain restaurants simply haven’t made this list, our local independent restaurants are truly something to be celebrated and supported again – we’re really lucky in Notts. So, here’s where we’re heading back to as soon as it’s safe, in no particular order. See you there, we’ll be the ones with dripping wet faces from both drool and tears of joy.
No, it’s not cheap but it is worth it. Uber Eats might have a chunk of our income now but we’ve still saved enough by not eating out to justify this as a post-lockdown treat.
We haven’t visited since the Michelin star was awarded or chef Alex Bond competed on Great British Menu, so we’re excited to see what the Alchemilla of today looks like. Although a lot of courses do include meat or fish (unless you’re on the veggie menu, obvs), Alex often makes vegetables the star of the show and we’re still amazed by the interesting flavour combinations on these complex and challenging dishes. You’ll try something you’ve never had before, that’s a promise. It’s also somewhat more accessible for us plebs than former Alex Bond mentor Sat Bains for posh nosh.
#1 reason: Because “faaaaancy” hasn’t been in our vocabulary for a long while. It was Emily’s 30th birthday over lockdown and this will be a belated treat and special celebration. If you’ve had to postpone family occasions too, it’s a great way to make up for it.
Alchemilla’s post-lockdown safety policies
We’re talking about the original restaurant here, not the more casual Bar Iberico in Hockley (which is still good), simply because the Daddy restaurant just has that extra finesse, and, frankly, more interesting dishes to indulge in.
Everything about this place makes our hearts ache, anything you put your mouth around is outstanding, at such good value. Iberico’s white Rioja is Emily’s favourite ever wine too, we’re getting through a birthday-bought case at an alarming rate, so a return visit soon is clearly very urgent indeed.
#1 reason: the express menu – £14.95 for spanish pickles and a choice of bread starter, two tapas and a supplemented pudding that will ALL blow your foodie mind. The best quality to price ratio in the city.
Iberico’s post-lockdown safety policies: not yet reopened, latest news posted here
A local gem by any standards. Japanese skewer focused, their ever-changing specials make each visit different and it’s a lovely place to spend a lunchtime. Their staple skewers of chicken tskune and beef with black garlic sauce have been on the brain a lot, and you’ll never look at prawn toast the same way again. Every dish is unique and delicious – basically, we would enjoy a dog shit on a stick if we knew the Kushi-Ya chefs had cooked it.
#1 reason: the £10 lunch deal of pure gorgeousness.
Kushi-Ya’s post-lockdown safety policies
Our only out-of-town craving on this list and worth the short drive, we’ll champion the award-winning chefs here until the cows come home. It’s not your standard pub grub, packing huge flavour into some truly refined and outstanding ‘homely’ food with super fresh ingredients. Highlights have included a quail balti pie, cauliflower cheese soup with truffle donut and a chicken pie with chicken fat mash (dear God). Plus, they have a casual pizza kitchen too, great ales, lovely staff and lighter choices like cured salmon roulade with cucumber ketchup.
#1 reason: the Sunday lunch is really quite something. Follow with a sticky toffee pudding or regret it.
The Black Bull’s post-lockdown safety policies
Sexy Mamma love spaghetti/Botti di Mama
Both part of the Edin family, so we’re sneaking an 11th restaurant onto this list, really. Our blog, our rules! Italian restaurants are easy to come by, good ones not so much. While La Storia in West Bridgford nearly made it to the number 1 Italian spot (you should go there too), it’s the cute, warm atmosphere and shining simplicity of Edin’s gaffs that we’ve craved most. While Emily will pray the king scallop linguine makes another appearance one day, what makes the Sexy Mamma menu interesting is that it’s almost certainly different every time you visit. A super short curation of clean Italian flavours like cured meats, freshly-made pasta with delectable sauces or mouthwatering ciccetti at Botti are simple, Italian cooking done perfectly (which is not as easy as it might sound).
#1 reason: the burrata and San Mazano tomato starter at Sexy Mamma’s (pictured above). Date nights and cute tapas lunches with friends at Botti.
Nottingham Street Food Club
Casual, convenient and exciting with joyful, care-free vibes. Traders change all the time with the exception of Smoqued tacos and Homeboys, so there’s something for everyone. Secret Burger club and their bacon and blue cheese burger, Smoqued with duck tacos and the Taste of Korea bibimbap have all provided unbridled joy in the past, but we all know its Homeboys that make Street Food Club a destination. Give us their gua or fried chicken bao, katsu sando or ramen and our bellies are in bliss. There’s a clear reason chef Pete Hewitt was a Masterchef finalist in 2015. Less clear is the reason he didn’t win.
#1 reason: Homeboys. Yes, there’s other amazing traders here but, as they print on their merch: you ain’t shit without your Homeboys. Plus, news on the grapevine is that they’re opening their own premises soon. Yay!
Post-lockdown policies: Street Food Club are operating ticketed events from Sneinton Market right now, info on their Instagram.
Delilah Fine Foods
It’s cheese, what more do you want to know? There are lots of other delicious things on this cafe/deli/artisan food store’s menu but you simply have to have the top-notch meats and cheeses, followed by a browse of the Willy Wonka-esque foodie ingredients you didn’t even know existed. It’s a perfect mid-shopping refuel spot where everything feels a bit special, a bit unique and fantastically handmade. We can’t wait for a cheese feast so smelly we’ll wonder if we haven’t got our head in an old welly.
#1 reason: the cheeseboard and pates, take home a focaccia, sourdough loaf or an arrogantly large English muffin.
We have a Nespresso machine at home, but Emily still remembers having a first ‘proper’ coffee after several months of lockdown. It was a shitty black filter coffee in a paper cup but it was still a great feeling. Now, dial that feeling up to 100 and you’ve got a Cartwheel experience. Kenya, Ecuador, Brazil… all the best coffee producers in the world are represented here and the staff will help you choose a blend you’ll love before meticulously preparing it in a siphon or pour-over for you. So smooth, so complex, so beautifully roasted that if you add milk and sugar, we WILL judge you.
Alongside the best coffee in Notts (fight me) you can get the best brunch, too. Top a sourdough slice with locally sourced, fresh and flavourful breakfast stuffs with a clean and healthy edge: sausage patty, crispy bacon, kale and avocado and oozy poached eggs to name a few. Plus, We once overheard someone here order the vegan breakfast, but with ‘that great bacon you do’. It’s that kind of wonderful, hipster place.
#1 reason: come for the coffee, stay for the epic do-you-good brunch.
Cartwheel’s post-lockdown safety policies: open as usual with a reduced food menu right now.
Such a hidden gem that we kinda hate mentioning it in case the world makes it impossible to get a table (over-estimating our influence, perhaps). This unassuming, no-frills Chinese place has only 5 or so items on the menu, made up of different broth and meat noodle soups to enjoy. They hand-pull their fresh-to-order noodles and it’s amazing to watch before they get lovingly dumped into a ramen broth of your choice. £7 will get you a bowl of authentic Lanzhou noodle soup that you can’t finish and a can of Fanta – atmosphere sold separately. It’s a weird yet wonderful place and this is one of our favourite cheap-eat, pre-cinema restaurants.
#1 reason: the sluuuuuuurps. Add a soy-cured egg for £1, worth it.
Lanzhou Beef Noodle don’t have an online presence so unfortunately we’re unsure how they’re operating right now.
We’re blessed with a very good Indian food scene in Notts, you only have to walk down Maid Marion Way for Calcutta Club, Memsaab and Dosa & Chutney. This is as close to a chain as we’ll get in this post BUT there’s a reason we (Emily in particular) has been dreaming of Mowgli. A more hipster and up-market curry experience for sure, but their small plate approach to curries creates a super fun experience and there’s delicious indulgences we’ve not had anywhere else. Namely, the rich house chicken curry which is the only ‘korma’ we’ll entertain, the house lamb curry with plums and the ‘angry chicken’ spicy thighs with slaw (pictured above). Mowgli offer an extensive vegan menu and a few anglicised dishes that shouldn’t be sniffed at, like the bombay potato wrap and Himalayan toast; their twist on a chip butty and cheese on toast, respectively. Plus, thali/tapas-style means you get to try a variety of different dishes each time. It’s the spice of life, you know. The only thing missing at Mowgli is a good naan or flaky paratha, bread accompaniments are lacking.
#1 reason: the house lamb curry and extensive vegan options. Have the ‘mystery’ tiffin box as a first-timer. They’ll serve you a selection of what’s freshest (veggie or meaty) for a discounted price.
Mowgli’s post-lockdown safety policies
Footnote: there are some great places that might’ve made the list but didn’t because we’ve been able to enjoy them through collection/delivery over lockdown, so the craving feels less urgent. But it shouldn’t for you!
Cod Scallops (Carrington)
Just the best fish and chips there is. Nothing compares. Their many awards agree with us.
Rickshaw Indian Kitchen (sherwood)
A Saturday night takeaway staple for us. The curries are immense and the mixed grill is incredible. Less oily and fresher flavour than other Indian takeaways.
Perfect sunshine food: a plethora of toppings on a great crust. Until Rustic Crust delivers, this is our go-to for authentic stonebaked pizza. We’ve had more lockdown Domino’s than we would like to admit but these guys are on another level.
So happy when these guys returned on Deliveroo a few weeks ago. We’ve had the best food there when we ask the server to recommend their favourites: the pork belly with Zaap special sauce, the spicy minced pork with basil, the chicken Tom yum and alllllllll the steamed dumplings (get the deep fried ones away from us).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list and have either discovered something new or been reminded of a great meal. Let us know on Insta where you want to dine first!
Emily & Stu
One thought on “The top 10 restaurants we’re heading back to first and why”
Homeboys have left Street Food Club. I was going to go to SFC at the weekend, but they were charging £10 + booking fee for a table – NOT refunded against food! Sod that.
You should try Vida by Lorentes just off Stoney Street where Scruffys 2 used to be. It’s fabulous.