Wow. So this is what 2 Michelin star food is, and my goodness it’s good. But that’s a no brainer; what was incredible, was the whole experience – getting a taste of how you imagine the other half live, being treated like royalty!
Restaurant Sat Bains only offer tasting menus and on Saturdays that means ten courses of rich, heavenly and decadent food. The style is very modern, with each course carefully designed to accentuate the five tastes of salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami in varying levels to challenge your palette. Often these tastes were also combined in hot and cold quantities on the same plate to mess with my poor little mind, to an extent that I can’t really articulate how good it was.
Things like the chicken muesli – frozen chicken liver parfait hidden underneath a layer of granola were delicious, but also challenging; in my rather limited gastronomic experiences I’d never come across such a combination of tastes in a relentless battering of my senses.
The highlights were actually things that I’d never eaten before, generally raw things, that we’re delicious in the hands of an expert; raw scallops marinated in ponzu; the most intensely lamby (ok I’m making up words now) sweetbreads and Roe deer cooked three ways – fillet, sausage and tartare – the latter being quite frankly the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten. There was also one course that I struggled slightly with – the pear and almond finale which had salted jellied almond cubes; I guess that particular combination of salt and sweet on one plate was a step too far for my taste buds, but one that my dining companion enjoyed immensely.
In addition to the delicious food, we went for the ten wine pairings which were just amazing. A lot of thought obviously goes into these things and each pairing was pretty perfect; but I would have been quite happy to drown in a bath full of the 2011 Tinpot Hut Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand.
The restaurant had an unpretentious and relaxed atmosphere about it, something I really wasn’t expecting from a 2 star Michelin restaurant; the staff were also wonderfully knowledgeable and keen to speak at length about the dishes, wine and just about everything else. We stayed overnight in a superior room which was wonderfully luxurious with a modern grey decor and Laura Ashley furnishings.
As you might expect, all of this comes at a cost, but I’d argue that when you compare it to others of this ilk (Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons springs to mind) it was actually very good value. This experience was a Christmas treat and whilst you’d never be able to eat here every weekend, as a one off mega treat it was right up there with the nicest weekends away we’ve had.
That’s not to say you can’t grab a bargain either – if you can get away midweek and book at least a month in advance, a seven course taster menu, room and breakfast is only £140 per person.
The most impressive and striking image I’ll remember from the weekend however was at midnight, when the Chef himself (despite looking absolutely knackered) came out from his kitchen to speak to as many guests as possible. You would imagine that after a mammoth shift that it would be the last thing he would want to do, but armed with a glass of white he spoke to everyone. It was a lovely touch, and I guess something I wasn’t expecting. He is obviously a believer in the idea that if it’s your name on the door and people come from far and wide and pay good money to sample your food, you better be the one doing the cooking.
This idea of the chef patron also got me thinking – so often in Leeds I dine at larger, often chain based restaurants rather than the smaller chef patron eateries; I need to do this more as these are quite clearly the most passionate people in the business.
10 course tasting menu: £89
7 Course tasting menu: £79
Chapeau, Monsieur Bains, chapeau.Restaurant Sat Bains Lenton Lane Nottingham NG7 2SA http://www.restaurantsatbains.com