Dec 7 2012

Restaurant Sat Bains


The following day was my birthday so my boyfriend surprised me and took me on a Friday night to Nottingham to eat in one of the top 100 restaurants in the world (at number 97), and it is the only restaurant in the world’s top 100 that is not located in London or up to an hour’s drive from London. I am very glad he took me there as I probably would not have gone there at least for a while, and it was a super thoughtful surprise as he knows how obsessed I am with ticking off the top 100 restaurants on the list. Restaurant Sat Bains has 8 bedrooms, so it is a small hotel, and in the same place there is also a 2 Star Michelin restaurant (they won their first star in 2003 and then the second one in 2011) serving modern British cuisine. The restaurant is located in an industrial estate in the south of Nottingham, quite close to a main highway, which meant when I opened the window at night, I could hear the cars driving in the background. Sat (original and long name is Satwant Singh) Bains is of Indian descent (really interesting as his food is British and he uses very few Indian spices or influence really in his food) and he and his wife Amanda opened the restaurant in 2005. The interesting thing about Sat Bains is that despite the fact that he has worked in some great restaurants he is also a bit “self-taught” as he owns around 700-800 cookbooks and reading Marco Pierre White’s cookbook is apparently what really inspired him. We had a 10 course tasting menu which cost £89 per person (you can also have the 7 course set menu for £75, and there is no a la carte option) and the tasting menu was very interesting and the way each dish was described reminded me a bit of Alinea (the 7th best restaurant in the world located in Chicago), as the menu was designed to give you contrasting tastes, textures and temperatures, incorporating the five basic tastes – salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami (Japanese for a savory taste), and under every dish you could see which of these 5 tastes were there and the size of the bubble meant how predominant each of them were in the same dish. The restaurant has two dining areas, a main room and a conservatory next to it, where we sat. When we sat down we were offered a little amuse bouche which had nettle soup and horseradish mouse and a little piece of horseradish ice cream made in a small cake like shape to go with it. I loved the horseradish flavor in the mouse and ice cream and I also loved the nettle soup, I always like when people use nettles as it reminds me of Latvian countryside and I like it when people use ingredients I would not have thought were possible to use 15 years ago. Before we had our tasting menu we were offered to have 1 extra dish, the “duck egg, 62”, which is the dish that the main chef Sat cooked on BBC2 great British menu (he won the show in 2007) and that scored a perfect 10-10-10 score by all 3 judges, and this dish went on to Paris and was served in the British Embassy. As 10 courses is a lot to have but we really wanted to try this extra duck dish, we decided just to get one and to share it. The duck egg has been apparently slowly cooked for 90 minutes at 62and it was served with ham, peas cooked with chicken stock, pea sorbet, pea shoots and a thin slice of toast. I did enjoy this dish a lot, I thought the ham was nice and I did like the different textures and the cold sorbet, but the problem is that I think I have had this dish before, and I am sure Sat Bains may have been the first one to create it 5 years ago, but now peas and ham and egg can be found in other restaurants as a starter ( I had something similar in Hawksmoore a few months ago), so because of that it did not have the best desired effect on me, but still very good. The bread they brought us I thought was very tasty, they brought us 2 light rolls and 2 dark rolls of bread and it was delicious and firm, and I thought the butter that went with this bread was one of the nicest butters I have had, as the texture was firm, and it was perfectly salty. The first dish from the 10 course menu we had was the “scallop with muscavocad0o chicory and vanilla” and this is one of my favorite scallop dishes I have ever had. I do not know how he cooked the scallops to make them so delicious but he did (usually I am not very keen to have scallops, but here I devoured them), and the scallops were on a bed of chicory mixed with seeds and a slight hint of vanilla. I am usually very skeptical when people mix sweet flavors into dishes, but here the vanilla worked perfectly and it was just a very delicious dish which I would not have expected from just reading the menu. Next we had a dish called “salt baked celeriac and chicken juice”, which was really celeriac cooked in 3 different ways and served in 3 different textures, pureed, in cubes and in a thin slice, and all of this was served in “chicken juice”. I love celeriac and loved the creativity how it was presented in 3 different ways and  the dish felt dynamic and it did not feel like you were eating just one thing. Next came a dish intriguingly called “Duck muesli”, and they gave you a warm duck puree which was covered in these crumbling bits of muesli, which were ice cold and felt a bit like bits of ice cream. By this point you really understand how Sat Bains loves using the hot and the cold in the dishes. I liked this, loved the creativity and the name of the dish, but I was not crazy about it based on the taste. Next came my favorite dish of the menu, the fish pie! The fish was covered with pureed potatoes and cheese. The typical comfort food dish, but so delicious and so well executed. The fifth dish on our tasting menu was the Cornish crab served with avocado and sea vegetables. There were loads of things going on, on the plate, the Cornish crab was thinly cut and had seaweed, thinly sliced radishes and also some thin toasts added on the top as well as other things. I liked the crab, thought it was tasty, but can’t really remember the other flavors too well or how they contributed to the dish (and I am writing this less than 24 hours before eating it), which shows it was not the most memorable dish, but it also was not bad, and I ate it and liked it. Next came the main courses and you had the option of choosing either Yorkshire hare with cauliflower, pear, stilton and chocolate or Slow cooked lamb served with shallot textures, and we decided to have one of each to get the most out of it. My boyfriend had the hare and I have to say I did not like it at all. I tasted some of it and could not eat more, as I did not like the taste of the meat and there was not anything really apart from the cauliflower on the plate I liked that I tasted and I just thought the combination of the elements was a bit strange. The slow cooked lamb I thought was better, but it also did not blow me away, and for some reason these main courses were the dishes I enjoyed the least in Sat Bains. After the main courses we had the “crossover dish” which I guess was a dish to help you crossover from the savory to the sweet dishes and it was the only dish where I really felt a bit of Indian, as they gave you “a curry lollypop”. It was absolutely beautifully decorated and colorful and the outside of it was crunchy and the inside was soft and it tasted of curry but in a very pleasant way. Our first desert was jelly and ice cream and it had traces of pear and earl gray. It was very interesting to eat the dish and taste the slight hint of earl grey which was delicious. I do in general like these type of light deserts, and I did enjoy this one. The next desert was chocolate served with yoghurt, cumin and lime, and it was nice, but too sweet for me, the sweet chocolate was the overpowering taste, so I could only finish half of it. The last desert we had was the treacle sponge inspired by Albert Adria (the brother of the famous El Bulli chef Ferran Adria). I loved how the sponge looked as it literally was just like a small sponge you used to use for washing yourself and when the waitress poured some syrup over it, and the sponge absorbed it and slightly collapsed like a real sponge. It was really cool and also very tasty. I enjoyed this meal a lot, I thought San Bains not only showed great culinary skills but he also made the dishes tasty and interesting, and I loved how with the scallop dish he made me like scallops, I loved the creativity of the curry lollypop and the idea of doing a crossover dish and I also loved how he was not scared to serve something like a fish pie just super well executed and delicious, so I have to give him 5 Ms (despite the fact I did not like the main courses, but the other dishes made up for it) and I also do think this restaurant served better food than some other restaurants ranked higher in the  top 100 list, having said that it is not the best restaurant I have visited and I do think places like Noma, Alinea and Malabar are much better.

Date: 07/12/12
Location: Nottingham
Price for 2 including wine and cocktails and service charge: £335

Maija rated: 




Restaurant Sat Bains
Lenton Lane NG7 2SA
United Kingdom
Restaurant Sat Bains Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 5