Susan Hart review: Alchemilla Nottingham

You may not have heard of this new fine dining restaurant, or if you have you may not know where it is.  Well let me enlighten you; according to its website Alchemilla delivers ‘contemporary British cuisine’, using plenty of plant-based ingredients.  All cooked by Alex Bond and his team.  Alex has worked in some illustrious kitchens including our very own Michelin starred Sat Bains.

Booking a table is quite tricky as the restaurant is already a big hit with Nottingham diners.  But I managed to get a table for two one Friday lunchtime.  Now all I had to do was find it!

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It’s located on Derby Road not far from the entrance to the Park.  It has a very subtle door that has a ‘living wall’ next to it, we descended in to the subterranean restaurant, where we were taken to our table via a view of the kitchen; which looked very calm, orderly and clean.  No Gordon Ramsey rants here!

As usual I’d phoned ahead to say I was vegan and happily informed that it wouldn’t be a problem.  We were each given a menu and the server said the chef would make the vegan adjustments I just had to choose the menu I wanted.  So on offer was a 5, 7 or 10 course tasting menu with or without a drinks pairing menu.  We opted for the 5 course with drinks (£35 and £25 respectively).

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Very quickly we were presented with homemade sourdough bread with butter and fermented olive ‘butter’ for me, along with tap water.  The bread and olive spread was amazing and we were very tempted to ask for more.

After a suitable pause to take in our surrounding and check out the other diners our first course was served, heritage tomato with lovage puree for me.  Not only was it beautiful to look at but the taste was so fresh and light, a very light wine was also served.

On to the next delicacy, cauliflower, roast yeast and almonds.  And now this is my favourite!  It was very comforting, soft and unctuous with a real ‘meaty’ favour, courtesy of the roasted yeast I think, all washed down with a rather lovely wine or was it a beer?

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More bread was brought to us and our water glasses were regularly refilled.  Course three was BBQ Hispy, hazelnut milk and toasted hazelnuts.

Now for those that don’t know (and I was one of them!) hispy is a type of cabbage.  It was as far removed from school dinners as you could get and served another chilled wine.  At this point on a Friday afternoon I’m very grateful that the portions are delicate and the drinks are not full measures because out came number four of five and it was the first of the desserts; raspberry, coffee and black garlic – an unlikely combination but boy was it tasty!

And it looked as pretty as a picture and again accompanied by a dessert wine. And last but not least chocolate, miso, banana and lime; I have it all the time, don’t you!  It was just delicious.  The ice-cream mousse was so tasty without being sweet, that came from the caramelised banana.  And the whole thing was as a delight.

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If you’re not vegan you might be interested to know what my other half had:

Squid bolognaise; cauliflower, roast yeast with almonds and Parmesan; beef short rib, apple pie and finally strawberry, fennel and tarragon.  He thoroughly enjoyed all his dishes but the squid bolognaise was the highlight

Now you may have to forgive me If I got slightly muddled about the whys and wherefores of the wines and beer, but it was 2pm in the afternoon and I’m not a big drinker!

The whole experience was fantastic.  The staff were knowledgeable, attentive and courteous without being a nuisance.  The restaurant itself is very open, architecturally stunning and not contrived or overly formal.  And the pace of the meal was just right, it allowed us time to savour each course and gently sip the drinks.  We finished with some very strong coffee and a promise to ourselves to return again.

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