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It sounds almost too surreal to be true – a boundary-pushing restaurant-with-rooms housed in a collection of converted barns near the Nottingham ruing road, with a flyover for company. Mind you, the eponymous Sat Bains is very much his own man, and his relentlessly inspired two-Michelin-starred cooking represents “experimental fine dining at its best”, according to one fan. Meticulous planning comes as standard, and we’ve been bowled over by the results. Evening meals take place in two rather neutral, stone-floored dining rooms, allowing diners to focus on Bains’ brilliantly balanced, colour-coded tasting menus – a succession of startling dishes with high-powered hits across the board. An introduction entitled ‘NG7 2SA’ (the restaurant’s postcode) celebrates the area’s wild pickings and sets the scene for esoteric marriages and cutting-edge concepts – think veal croquette with hollandaise, pickles and autumn ceps; tagliatelle of kohlrabi with ‘glasshouse’ pesto and Parmesan 2012 vintage or tagine-spiced Anjou pigeon partnered by a pastilla, melon and feta. After that, a ‘crossover’ signals the move towards sweetness in the shape of, say, Bramley apple with caramel, waffles and pine. This is no place for penny-pinching, so take full advantage of the stupendous big-money wine list. Meanwhile, Amanda Bains oversees a team of lovely staff who “go out of their way to make your stay so special”.
SquareMeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK 2018 is compiled using votes from our annual survey, last conducted in spring 2018. Thousands of readers took part and the results were moderated by SquareMeal’s editor and his nationwide team of professional reviewers. The UK survey does not include any restaurants in London. Click here for the full list of SquareMeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK.
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0115 986 6566
Beeston Station 2km
Nottingham Station 2km
Riverside Golf Club, Wilford 298m
Nottingham Park & Ride, Queens Drive 438m
Wed-Sat 6-9pm (Fri-Sat – 9.45pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
And the award for least starry entrance goes to… Restaurant Sat Bains. Its grim location feels more like a place to dump a body, but this industrial wasteland conceals a tranquil country house.
I regretted heels as I click-clacked gracelessly across the pebbled drive and stone floors, but the welcome was warm and reassuring (despite bafflingly being listed as ‘Mr Helen’). A glass of Nyetimber in the cottage garden, alongside pet bunnies and a thriving greenhouse, kicked off the evening nicely.
Much is made of the mighty duck egg that earned Bains his place on the 'Great British Menu’, so it appears regularly as an extra. Having plumped for ten epic courses, we forsook it… in favour of the optional cheese course, obvs. (Alas, a bite and a half of brie ‘rarebit’ does not merit £8pp in my mind).
The somewhat obtuse menu might rub people up the wrong way. Each dish is given a flavour profile - whether it’s big on umami say, or a super-balanced palate cleanser. This either encourages deeper consideration of what you’re eating, or points towards a chef that’s as pleased with himself as his ingredients. (Having trained under the likes of Raymond Blanc, perhaps he’s entitled). We chose to savour every mouthful, and reaped the pure joy of 'textures of asparagus’ and scallops with ponzu jelly and piggy treats. Sea trout in mussel broth disintegrated temptingly in the mouth, while celeriac linguine with pesto was downright luscious.
Simple ‘steak au poivre' inevitably had a twist; the umami-rich beef was prepared as tartare and nasturtium leaves delivered the peppery heat, while resembling trembling lily pads in a water garden. The plate looked magnificent, but uncooked meat is an acquired taste. I, for one, prefer my meat to be seared (at the very least), but I sense Chef Bains might shoo me off his premises for such philistine ways. Be sure to flag dietary preferences when booking for this very reason. I forgot, and while the first improvised alternative was flawless, the next offering recycled a distinctive element from another dish; after all, it’s not hard to spot horseradish ice cream in a line up.
Rare moments of understated theatre changed the pace of the meal, and sweet courses (including a posh Aero with top-secret ingredient) were suitably unpredictable. Feeling comfortably stuffed, the chocolate log finally did us in; with its homemade confection and bonkers combos, white choc with bee pollen and camomile was one taste sensation too far.
The damage for our boozy blowout was nearly £450, although you’d rack up more at a Michelin two-star in London. We were utterly smitten with our charming sommelier, who delivered fine wine matches and a novel sake with dessert. (He later emailed our bespoke list, which was an unsolicited but nice touch). All in all, Restaurant Sat Bains is very, very good; brimming with masterful tasting menus composed with fluidity and skill. But come prepared to sell your granny, all the time knowing it could miss the mark with non-foodies.
The least you can pay is £79 for the seven course set menu. We had the the 10, 10, 10 duck egg with the seven course tasting menu for an extra £15 and a cheap bottle of wine ( for this resturant) at £37. The food was mostly very well presented and clever in its construction, however, some parts of the dishes – the duck egg and the nettle soup – were boarding on the bland. The stand out dish was the scallop with pork belly. The service was seamless and exceptional and although the Resturant itself was well laid out it is bit small, and dare I say oppressive. To eat at this restaurant with a bottle and wine etc., would cost, at the cheapest, close to £300. This is too over priced for what is on offer. We have eaten at high end Restaurants where the food has had much more depth of flavour, the Resturant a better atmosphere and the cost half the price.
Food + drink: 5
I feel I had to come and defend the bad reviews that Sat Bains has received on here (that's not to say they aren't justified), but I had an absolutely perfect stay. We had a suite for my birthday, I have given it a 10 for value for money, this is quite possibly because I didn't pay, it's an expensive evening if you stay in the room but absolutely worth it!
Our room was perfect right down to the little toiletries and home baked cookies left along side the espresso machine, but of course the main event was the dinner. Once shown into the small bar area for an aperitif we were offered another course on top of our 10 course tasting menu, do not be so hasty as to say no! This extra course is simply ham, egg and peas, but won 3 perfect 10's from the judges on the great British menu and wow did it deserve it. GET that extra course, you will not regret it.
The food was cooked to perfection and was incredibly difficult to pick the best course, if one tasted the best, another was better for experience or texture… I highly recommend the 10 course tasting menu, the courses (in my opinion) are better than the 7, that's not to say I would say no to it if I was offered it!
The staff were polite and insightful and more than happy to give you information about how the dishes were cooked, the sommelier was helpful with our wine choice and it didn't disappoint. Apparently no wine goes onto the list unless both sommeliers like it.
Best meal I have had, best experience and am incredibly sad it's over… Let's hope I get this gift again for another Birthday gift… Hint hint.
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