Whether you’ve heard of Sat Bains or not, everyone knows what a Michelin star is and this place is the only one in Nottingham that holds two. The long-awaited trip to my first haute cuisine dining experience led me on an uninspiring journey past an industrial estate and up a deserted lane. At first I thought the taxi driver was lost, but as we drew closer, an appeasing sign read ‘Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms’. We advanced upon an attractive courtyard and a well-kept, ivy-covered cottage. I felt like I had been transported into a modern day scene of Hansel and Gretel.
Upon arrival, a polished-looking member of staff opened a large, bold oak door and I was greeted by a very welcoming hostess. So far so good! None of the pretentious approach I was expecting from a restaurant holding the ‘Restaurant of the Year’ award. Booking confirmed and seated in the traditionally styled bar area, the hostess took me through the dining experience. There were two menus to choose from, both taster menus of either seven or ten courses, which followed similar arrangements of exciting fish, meat, and desert courses and curious palate cleansers carefully placed in between. But that wasn’t all! There was then the choice of an additional course ? the Sat Bains one-hour duck egg. It was recently given 10/10 by all three judges when it premiered on The Great British Menu. Concluding simply that it would be rude not to, the extra course was greedily supplemented to my intriguing 10 course dinner.
From preview to the main event, I was seated at a table in the conservatory area of the restaurant. Exposed brick work with stone tiled floors and low lighting gave it a warm, comfortable feel whilst crisp, white table clothes and significant amounts of silverware made it clear that they meant business.
The first course to arrive was a pre-starter of unusual canapés with all the ingredients foraged from the grounds of the restaurant. A deliciously clever tactic to draw the diner into their atypical surroundings and a nod to those guests who shared my previous apprehension towards location. The duck egg then came next. Just wow. With 10 courses still to go, I felt giddy at what further delights lay in store.
The following courses, including scallops, Cornish plaice, celeriac and duck were each as delectable as their predecessors. The delicate portions were all that was necessary to invigorate my taste buds and convey an array of flavours, layer by layer. However, the pinnacle of the menu had to be the wild hare with quince chocolate sauce. The meat was rich yet tender and the sauce was a velvety indulgent compliment that had me smiling throughout.
Service was of an impeccably high standard. Each course was presented with a story, detailing its influence, flavours and components, the tale of which kept me thoroughly engaged in the evening’s performance. The attentive sommelier ensured my education in oenology was similarly nurtured, launching into the highlights and suitability of every wine choice. The deserts were progressively wonderful and innovative, with my favourite being the finale of sea buckthorn; a sharp, bitter thick briquette, softened by glossy, sweet, baby meringue peaks.
After settling the bill (and then recovering from a small panic attack), I left again through that great oak door, settled into another taxi and departed down the deserted lane and past the industrial estate, back into the real world.