The Larder on Goosegate is perched high above the Oxfam shops opposite Baa Bar in the Lace Market: you won’t see it if you’re not looking for it – and that’s a real shame. Renowned for serving beautifully presented dishes of innovative European cooking with very reasonable price tags, it was time for Impact Food to finally take its seat in The Larder.
The restaurant-cum-bistro is an open plan room, with floor to ceiling windows on one side and a small, yet well stocked wooden bar at one end. When we visited sunlight flooded the room, which is decorated with a mismatch of quirky, vintage objects: small bottles filled with wildflowers leaning on the large mirrors, rustic wooden tables that don’t need stuffy white linen and greenery taking root in a suitcase. We could have spent hours just exploring the space alone, but there were some menus to consider….
For lunchtime diners and eager early-birds, The Larder is a real gem; enjoy two courses at these times for £13.95. Although this menu is shorter, it still showcases the kitchen’s inventive ideas, which place a real focus on seasonal produce. The temptation of the full menu was too hard to resist for Impact Food however, and we ordered finally decided on a selection with an ongoing theme of asparagus – well it was June after all!
Asparagus, quail eggs, Old Winchester, confit garlic, saffron dressing (£6.50)
Fennel salami, fig, artichoke & Stilchelton brushchetta (£5.50)
Starters are always a great course for risk taking and experimenting with new ideas on the part of the chef. The Larder definitely takes this opportunity, and when the dishes were placed on the table, it was hard to decide where to begin. The asparagus and quail egg plate was perfectly delicate and fresh, we could pretend it was summer even as the clouds gathered outside the window. The plate of fennel salami, artichoke and Stilchelton atop crisp bruschetta was a great combination of flavours, but it was the fig jam on the side that really made the dish stand out; in fact, the sauces that accompanied every dish were highlights of the meal.
THE MAIN EVENT:
Lemon sole, Jersey Royals, white asparagus, little brown shrimp & watercress butter sauce (£17.95)
Pork Tenderloin, sweet potato, baby leeks, chorizo, romesco sauce (£15.95)
For our main courses, we chose two dishes that were very different in character: a spring-time plate of light fish and buttery accompaniments and a Spanish inspired dish that was rusty in colour and bold in flavour. The former was a tale of textures; the lemon sole that slid of the bone and melted at first bite was perfectly finished by the crisped top and the crunch of the white asparagus contrasted with the smoothness of the salty, buttery shrimp sauce. The crushed Jersey Royals lacked seasoning, but this was a pretty and varied plate.
In complete contrast, the second main course plate was far from delicate and we both agreed that fiery pork tenderloin dish was the highlight of the meal. Again, the variety of textures was spot on: the smooth sweet potato mash took on the juices of the still sizzling chorizo rounds and the authentic, chunky romesco sauce complemented the generous piece of pork tenderloin. However, it was the combination of four bold, individual flavours that won over our hearts, or rather our taste buds! The tang of the chorizo, the sweetness of the mash, the nutty romesco and the rich pork just struck it off, we just couldn’t get enough!
DESSERT? YES PLEASE!
Chocolate delice, blood orange (£5.90)
Honey parfait, poached apricot, almond brik pastry (£5.90)
Rubis, Chocolate Wine, 75ml (£3.65)
The portion sizes had been spot on throughout the meal and so we still had room for dessert, hoorah! The decadent chocolate delice and blood orange looked beautiful on the plate, but didn’t quite measure up to the other dishes; the chocolate torte was very rich, which did match well with the tart, cold blood orange ice, but the flavours could have perhaps blended together slightly better and had more depth.
Our preferred choice was the honey parfait with poached apricots and almond pastry, which had just the right ratio of crunch to plump and a mellow sweetness that wasn’t overpowering. It paired perfectly with the Chocolate Wine: Tempranillo grapes blended with dark chocolate – a real, if not slightly dangerous, discovery…!
Whether you’re looking for an original location to celebrate the end of the university year with friends or have been tasked with booking the all-important ‘graduation table’, The Larder on Goosegate should feature on your shortlist. If it’s a date you’re planning, a seat above Nottingham’s most vibrant quarter is bound to impress and the lunch/ early bird menu is the same price, if not less, than some Italian chain establishments that many students flock to as standard. Wander off the beaten track a little and up into The Larder, where seasonal, exciting plates and attentive service will ensure that you are rewarded for your adventure!
Lauren Wilson and Lizzie Frainier
Image Credits: Lauren Wilson