Emilio’s – Arnold, Nottingham

blog, depression, dinner, drinks, Fish, food, lifestyle, nottingham, restaurant reviews, reviews

During my day job, I work in an office

During my evenings and weekends, I desperately try to build my own identity using scraps of traits that I love, but are originally owned by Nigella Lawson, Rory Gilmore, Kristen Stewart and Hayley Williams.  But tales of my ongoing identity crisis are really besides the point.

Going back to the office day job: once upon a time a few months ago, I volunteered to be in charge of our social calendar. That’s right, I am the most insufferable human you have ever come across! As part of my role as ‘social secretary’ (nobody calls me that); I plan an office night out every other month.

This month, we went to Emilio’s in Arnold, Nottingham for a mezze night. I’m still relatively new to Nottingham, having lived here just over a year. Apparently Emilio’s is a long standing establishment, which has been described to me as ‘great for a cheesy night out’. The words Butlins and Hen Do were also thrown around with this description, so make of it what you will. To be honest I thought it sounded like a laugh, so I booked us in.

We’d ordered the set mezze in advance, which cost about £18 a head. Let’s get one thing straight, I fucking love mezze. I love Greek food and most days I have the appetite of a 6’10 rugby player. Mezze caters to all of this. We started with a Greek salad, pita, tzatziki, and taramasalata. As it turns out, I still hate taramasalata. It tricks me every time. I see a pink food in front of me, and it immediately reminds me of tubby custard from the Teletubbies and I feel compelled to eat it to reengage with my childhood. Take that adult life! The salad was awesome though. I mean granted, Greek salad will never be quite as good experienced in the midst of an October chill in Nottingham, as it would be sat, gazing out to the stars settling above the warm, softly lapping waves of the Mediterranean sea. (I genuinely just had to google to which sea borders Greece to check that was right. Jesus.) But yeah, this was still pretty bomb.

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Next up was calamari, and some garlicky prawns in a sort of tomatoey, caper type sauce. I’m not going to lie, neither of these were exactly to die for. The calamari was definitely not home made, which I thought was a shame, as it had that inevitable chewiness of frozen calimari. Weirdly, the best calamari I’ve ever had was at Ask Italian. Who knew? The prawns were definitely the kind of baby prawns you buy in the freezer section in Asda for about £3 a kilo, which would have been fine but sadly, they’d been a little bit overcooked. I will say though, that the sauce had a really lovely flavour to it.

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I swear, this was actually tastier than it looked!

Now from here on out the evening gets a bit blurry. After 2 years spent as a none drinker due to it exacerbating my depression to an unbearable level (mega lolz), I’ve recently started having the odd boozy night out again. I’m generally a bit happier these days and I thought I’d revisit my old frienemy, Merlot. In all honesty I’m not sure it’s a decision I’ll stick with because when I have one sip of alcohol, that’s it. Party Lucy is out to play. I recently watched all 3 of Iliza Shelsinger’s comedy sets that are on Netflix, and she refers to this as her Party Goblin. One sip of liquor and the Party Goblin takes over and bad decisions will be made all damn night. So at this point in the night I’m a glass and a half of red wine in and the Party Goblin is gearing up to do some dumb shit.

I know that the next things that came out were mini spanokopita – filo pastry parcels stuffed with spinach and feta. Mine was actually a bit burnt but I mean, come on. It’s feta and pastry, like I give a shit. There’s not much you could do to that combo to make it taste bad. There was also vine leaves stuffed with lamb and rice, meatballs which I really enjoyed, and a weird triangle of fried halloumi which was definitely reminiscent of a McDonalds hash brown. Again, I’m not complaining. I like halloumi, I like McDonalds hash browns, I see no problems here. Chorizo was the main player for me though. I bloody love chorizo and this one didn’t let me down. Typically, this is the one thing I didn’t photograph.

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To be honest, by the time we’d done with these I was 2 large glasses in and getting to the point of drunk where I wasn’t that bothered about food. Shockingly, that is occasionally something that happens to me. Weird things huh? I just seem to reach a level of buzz where I just get excited and want to exert some energy. Like when kids have been forced to sit through a car journey and then a tedious browse through the kids menu at pubs with play areas; and 1o minutes later they’re tearing around a ball pit with the look of the devil in their eyes. That’s me after a couple of drinks. So of course for some reason, myself and two other members of our party decided to have a plank off. Yes. A plank off. Because what goes well with drunkeness and an abundance of greek food? Ab exercises. I swear to God…

So at some point in the timeline, some chicken kebabs came out. I want to call them souvlaki, but I’m not sure if they technically have to be in a pita with salad to truly be called that? If any Greek’s happen to be reading, please alleviate my ignorance? It’s a shame I was so toasted by this point, because I reckon if I hadn’t been, the kebabs would have been the high point of the meal for me. They were (from what I remember) marinaded beautifully, juicy and tender.

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The photos on my phone suggest there was also a dish of rice with something that looks like chilli in a separate dish, but who can be sure? Not I, that’s for sure. I definitely didn’t try whatever it was, as by this point, I was stuffed to the brim and ready to get my dancing shoes on. Which I did. With gusto. And that my dears, is something nobody need hear about or mention from now until the rest of eternity.

Thank you and goodnight.

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Time Out Cafe – Nottingham

blog, dinner, food, lifestyle, naughtiness, nottingham, restaurant reviews, reviews

One of the many benefits of being with Andy, is his weird habit of needing to go into town to have a ‘wonder around’, every. single. weekend. Personally, trying to navigate my way through Nottingham City Centre, amongst the hoards of teens and yummy mummies is enough to make me want to fling myself from the nearest multi storey car park, but I suppose it wouldn’t do for us all to be the same. It was on one of his grand adventures that Andy stumbled across a sandwich board outside a door way, with a sign above it that read ‘Time Out’. See Exhibit A.

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Time Out is next door neighbours with Poundland, and honestly when we first stepped through the door I wondered if we’d made a mistake and had accidentally stepped into a corridor leading to a teenage band’s rehearsal space or something. But really, as soon as you head upstairs, the slightly dubious corridor just serves to add to the charm of Time Out.

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Life affirming messages in the corridor.

Time Out’s decor is quite frankly, an instagram wet dream. Crisp white walls create a clean canvas for quirky, ‘f you’, style phrases. There’s a coffee table with old Nintendo games for guests to play if they want to. Time Out’s decor really achieves it’s name sake. As soon as I sat down, I immediately felt detached from the rest of the hustle and bustle of Saturday afternoon Nottingham, and like I could relax.

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Time Out feels quirky, but gentle and welcoming – and whilst that’s lovely, I think it would be gross blogger misconduct if I didn’t push those qualities aside to absolutely gush about the insanely good food they serve up. Time Out isn’t just a cool studenty type place. It is that, but it’s also so much more. I can hand on heart say that the food I had at Time Out is without a doubt, the best food that has ever passed my lips whilst eating out. I remember feeling legitimately giddy when I took my first couple of bites, the way you do when you’ve just kissed someone you’ve fancied for ages for the first time. Seriously. It was THAT good.

So, let’s break down the menu. You can go tapas, or you can go regular main courses. Or if you’re Andy and I, and you’re indecisive, greedy little assholes, you can do both. And to be quite honest, the prices are so reasonable that it’s really not going to break the bank either way. Tapas is 3 dishes for £14, and the main courses cost about £7-9 each, if I remember rightly. I was actually amazed at our bill of £37.40 for 4 tapas dishes, 2 main courses and 2 drinks. Bargain!

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Clearly he was chuffed with the bill.

Our order was:  pork gyoza with melty cheesy drizzle, panko crumbed prawns, salt and pepper chicken wings AND salt and pepper fries. Apparently we were very fond of our basic condiments that day. As I’ve been working super hard on warrior training, I tried to be a little more restrained in how much I ate. Moderation, innit bruv? I had e one gyoza, one wing and 2 prawns but let me tell you, that was enough for me to make the technical assessment that this food was bomb AF. Everything was  freshly cooked, piping hot, crispy where it needed to be crispy, never greasy and every single mouth full was packed to the rafters with flavour.My particular favourites were the ebi fry (prawns), which almost bought a tear to my eye they were so delicious.

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For the main dishes, I chose a marinaded sticky beef noodle dish, whilst Andy went for a lime and lemongrass scallop spaghetti – a choice I’m fairly confident he made on the basis that I’m allergic to scallops, so wouldn’t have been able to ask for a taste. After almost 2.5 years of being with me, it seems he officially knows me too well. God damn. Given that I couldn’t taste Andy’s food, you’ll have to accept his review of ‘this is so good’, and just go with it.

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I can tell you with 100% certainty though that my main was an actual, real life, taste sensation. My ramen noodles were swimming in a pool of delicate, 4 hour beef broth, and topped with the most delicious, tender, yet sticky sliced beef in the entire world. It had that perfect umami taste that’s sweet and tangy, and I will never be able to master at home, no matter how much I try. I also had a laugh at how stupidly British I am,  when I took one of the salt and pepper fries to dunk into my egg yolk. I mean. I thought it was funny.

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Salt & Pepper Fries. AKA, Egg Yolk Dunkers.

And so that concludes our eating at Time Out. I’m not sure that anything I could write would really do my experience justice. It was just phenomenal, and I wish the owners, staff and chefs all of the success in the world – although selfishly, I hope it stays my secret little hide away a little while longer. Just in case it does becomes a jam packed foodie haven in the near future, Andy and I have decided to visit again on Friday lunch time. In our defence, we’re not usually this frequent or decadent with our eating out, but we’re both on annual leave this week so it seems only fair that we….blah blah blah, as if I need a justification. Just know this. On the menu, there is Korean carbonara that I think I need to investigate for reasons of science.

SO. Scores are in!

Ambience: 9/10

Food: 10/10

Bang for Buck: 10/10

Would I Go Again: If I could guarantee no weight gain or financial implications, I’d visit every week for the rest of my natural life.

 

Baresca – Nottingham

blog, dinner, food, Life, naughtiness, nottingham, restaurant reviews, reviews, tapas, Uncategorized

 

In our house, the 4th of July marks the anniversary of Andy becoming the luckiest human on planet earth, when I blessed him with the opportunity to be my boyfriend. I know. He’s very lucky, and I am VERY humble. I’d done a bit of ground work, researching a potential destination for our anniversary dinner and had heard rumblings about an amazing tapas place called Baresca, situated in the Lace Market region of Nottingham city centre. Baresca has recently picked up a couple of awards in the 2016 Nottinghamshire Food & Drink Awards: Best Newcomer and Best International, so I was eager to try it out. I think great tapas is up there with the most inconceivably awesome culinary experiences a person can have. Granted, it’s probably more magical when being consumed in an exposed brick and terracotta clad hide away on a cobbled side street in Barcelona, but we can’t have it all, now can we?

On the 4th of July, I whipped out the red lippy and cat eye liner and Andy….well. Andy removed his beanie, which is essentially his version of wearing a full tux. As soon as we set foot in Baresca, I knew it was my kind of place. It just felt so chilled. I can’t tell you how important that is to me as a customer. My self-confidence has peaks and troughs much akin to Oblivion – the vertical drop roller coaster at Alton Towers. Some days I want to propose to myself; and on others, I feel so rubbish I’d prefer to stay under the duvet for the rest of my natural life. Yay mental health. Pleasingly though, Baresca is the kind of place where you can get great food, without feeling self-conscious about what you’re wearing or whether you’re ordering appropriately. You go Baresca!

I ordered a virgin apple mojito, and Andy had a homemade lemonade – neither of us really drink, so the mocktail menu was much appreciated. I love a Pepsi Max as much as the next aspartame addicted white girl, but it’s nice to have options, you know?

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I am a fancy lady.

And then the food. We ordered 6 tapas dishes to share:

  • Buttermilk Fried Squid
  • Chilli and Garlic King Prawns
  • Mushroom Risoni
  • Halloumi Fritters
  • Chorizo Patatas & Fried Egg
  • Chagrilled Beef Skewers

Unfortunately I was possessed by a greedy, food obsessed gannet when the first wave of food came out, so I didn’t manage to photograph everything. If we’re talking highlights though, I will say the halloumi fritters were life changing. In a sort of ‘reduce your life expectancy by about a decade’ kinda way. I can’t even lie though, I reckon the 10 year loss would probably be worth it if I could have those bad boys every day. Think rectangle sticks of halloumi, coated in a light tempura style batter, super crispy on the outside and buttery soft on the inside. Jesus, I’m getting slightly aroused thinking about them. Don’t mind me.

prawns baresca

Another highlight came in the form of showing off my prawn shelling skills to Andy. Whilst he was slightly concerned about the fact the prawns on our plate still had their heads on, I was a fearless woman. You see, in about 2003, my parents took us on a family holiday to France, where we stayed in a stationery caravan. My parents are the kinds who like to get out and experience the culture when abroad, and had somehow come to acquire about a kilo of king prawns that they planned to use for that night’s dinner. Being 13, I was thoroughly unimpressed by literally everything, but for some reason had no objection to sitting on the caravan deck, shelling prawns for 45 minutes. Going for a nice stroll along the beach in the evening? Christ no. Removing the heads from a bag of shellfish? But of course, no problem! I was a weird teen. Sorry Mum! The prawns Baresca served up were no disappointment. The chilli and garlic were just powerful enough to wake the prawns up (not literally, obvs, they were dead), without overpowering their flavour completely. Definitely recommend!

choriza patatas baresca

Chorizo Patatas with Fried Egg. In.Sane.

Overall the food was delicious. The only thing I was a tiny bit disappointed by was the churros I ordered for dessert. Once, at Download Festival, I had the MOST incredible churros. They were warm and fresh and coated in cinnamon sugar. Nothing like the kind of food you imagine finding at a metal festival. They were hands down the best churros I’ve ever had, and ever since then no churro has ever quite measured up. Like a modern tale of a thwarted, dough based romance – *sigh*. But honestly, even a bad churro is still great, so I wouldn’t let this sway your opinion of Baresca.

churros baresca

I reckon I could eat at Baresca once a week for the next year and I highly doubt I’d be sick of it. As with all good tapas places, you get what you pay for. Eating at Baresca wasn’t dirt cheap, but I’d have been concerned if it was. The cost of 2 mocktails, a garlic bread starter, 6 tapas dishes and 2 desserts was around £55. If it wasn’t a celebration we probably would have just had the tapas and drinks, which would have obviously brought the price down. We visited on a Sunday, and I noticed their specials board advertised a roast dinner sharing platter which I’d love to try too; but I already had my heart set on tapas that evening. I suppose I shall just have to go back!

Ambience: 10/10

Food: 8/10

Bang for Buck: 8/10

Would I Go Again: Oh hell yes.

Red’s True BBQ – Nottingham

barbecue, food, naughtiness, naughty recipes, restaurant reviews, reviews, Uncategorized

Let me start by saying I am of the belief that if pulled pork were a person it would be a squeaky clean child star, living a fast and exuberant life, experiencing the world, being admired and envied by hoards of adoring followers. Until one day, it all becomes too much. The fresh faced child star we once knew and loved can’t cope with the demands of their relentless schedule and gradually vanishes before our eyes, leaving behind a mere shell of an MDMA addicted twenty year old, realising their career peaked when they were 12, leaving them no choice but to crank out cheap rom coms or dub step albums….

Basically, I think it’s overdone to shit, and the majority of the stuff out there now is simply cheap cuts of slow cooked pork mixed with an additive loaded BBQ sauce from a bottle. Aaaand the same can be said for a lot of BBQ food since it became popular in the UK.

  
Well, the meat at Red’s is no has been child star. If the meat at Red’s were a celeb it would be freakin’ Beyoncé. Prime cuts of meat, aged, rubbed and smoked to absolute perfection. Myself and the lovely boyfriend went for an anniversary treat. I had the brisket and burnt ends sandwich with 2 giant onion rings and slaw. I legitimately want these very sandwiches served at all future birthdays, my wedding and my funeral.

  
The brisket was deliciously savoury, melting in my mouth the moment it touched my lips. The burnt ends were like little nuggets of smokey BBQ heaven. And DEM ONION RINGS….

  
100% recommend the restaurant not only for its day making food, but also for its quirky, almost industrial style decor, friendly staff and the true ‘experince’ of eating out. Worth every penny.

Try not to drool as you ogle the food porn.