Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham
Two Michelin stars, a golden rating of 9 in the Good Food Guide, number 3 in the Guides 50 Best Restaurants. So what’s all the fuss about Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham.
The location for a start. This restaurant defies anyone to claim location is everything. It sits in a depressing corner of Nottingham’s urban sprawl, a red brick house with extensions, hemmed in by an electricity pylon and the mighty A52 flyover.
They’ve made the best of the interior with some contemporary touches, but, the conservatory excepted, it remains a bit gloomy and the less said about the art, the better.
There’s no choice. The menu is a seven or ten course Tasting Menu: £75 at lunch and £99 at dinner. You can eat it in the restaurant or at the chef’s table, kitchen table, kitchen bench, the idea being you get an insight into the workings of the kitchen, but this kitchen is so well drilled don’t come looking for histrionics.
We were there for lunch at the Kitchen Table where Sat Bains himself talked us through the seven courses, each dish is marked with a coloured dot to indicate the predominant flavour: salt, sweet, sour, bitter, umami. It kind of worked, but there were dishes we found sweet and they claimed were salt and so on.
To begin with then, a little taster – a horseradish panna cotta nesting in a nettle soup, made from ingredients foraged close to the restaurant. It was cutely named NG7 2SA, after the restaurant’s postcode, a neat idea if it weren’t so close to the thundering diesel fumes of the A52.
Lunch proper began with a scallop and vanilla mayonnaise with chicory, topped with sunflower, sesame seeds, nuts and Muscovado sugar. Next came a pearl barley risotto with Judas Ear mushrooms and truffle. Surprisingly for someone who doesn’t go much for offal, my favourite dish was duck liver, green beans, apricot and a sprinkle of muesli – an odd combination and oddly wonderful. The courses continued with Yewdale lamb, a lolly of beetroot ice cream, chocolate fondant with a brilliant cumin caramel sauce and finally a deconstructed apple pie.
By the time we’d finished our seven courses it was hard to remember where we’d started – my complaint about tasting menus. And if Squidbeak means ‘over-priced gussied up food’, then Sat Bains ticks those boxes.
But that’s not to say eating here isn’t an extraordinary experience. Bains cleverly puts together a fascinating combination of tastes and flavours, it’s complex, innovative, challenging, expertly presented and truly original. You may wince at the bill – £99 for lunch with a glass of wine and service, and like us, you might consider it more an experience than a meal. But if your lottery numbers come good, then go, and tell us what you think!!