Tap And Yumbler

tap

Tap and Tumbler, a rock pub located on Wollaton Street near Theatre Royal, has recently started offering a selection of pub food, but was It worth introducing in the first place? Tap isn’t fancy and that’s the point to an extent so would the food match the dive bar atmosphere?

We decided to eat here on a Saturday evening as we wanted something cheap and easy before a night out. As mentioned, Tap is not the most glamorous establishment: Rock memorabilia adorning the walls, a jukebox again playing rock tracks from the most well-known to more obscure cuts, a pool table and furniture that is a little worn but despite this, it is full of friendly staff members and customers young and old enjoying a beer, of which they have a good selection of rock related ales as well as the standard lagers.

On reading the menu, all the food was rock related – you sense a pattern? Even items such as ‘Pantera Nachos’, which I still cannot fathom why they chose this band to describe nachos. Maybe they thought they had to call them something just because the rest of the menu is in the same vain.

We actually opted for a plate of Dimebag Darrell’s apparently famous nachos in the end as well as cheese and bacon burgers, only E5, which you could add a lager to as part of a deal for only an extra £1. We paid at the bar and around 15 minutes later our food was brought out.

The food itself was relatively standard in its appearance, nothing over the top or extraordinary about the burger although the plate of nachos was fairly large considering it was only around £3.50. The burger wasn’t terrible, in fact relatively good, but not great. The meat was well cooked, not dry or tasteless, the bacon crispy and the cheese of a decent quality. tThe chips mildly seasoned and the onion rings weren’t  soggy with grease, although it wasn’t the largest plate of food ever served to me. The nachos however were lashed with more than ample helpings of sour cream and guacamole with fresh jalapenos thrown on for good measure.

The best thing about this meal however, was the price. £6 for a burger and pint! That is cheaper than a Wetherspoons for food of equal and in some areas better quality, and the Tap isn’t completely devoid of atmosphere, although on a Friday and Saturday I will admit that Wetherspoons does have an atmosphere, but it is usually made up of packs of dickhead lads shouting ‘Wuhaay!’ or gaggles of women screeching, both of which aren’t plus points. Tap and Tumbler is niche in that if you don’t like rock music then you probably won’t enjoy your dining experience however if you do like music played with real instruments, like a friendly atmosphere when dining and enjoy food that is incredibly good value for money, then I would recommend Tap and Tumbler over any of your usual haunts.

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Ded Gudd

Ned Ludd

The Ned Ludd, located on Friars Lane, has something a little different from your average run of mill pub. It’s not just the food or the selection of beer and ales or even the atmosphere, it’s all three.

Myself and a family member decided to dine here not wanting something too large and filling but at the same time not wanting to venture to the usual cheap and nasty haunts when you want something quick and easy, and I’m not speaking of Forest Road.

It was around 14:00 on a very sunny Thursday, yes English summer days do exist, and so we chose to sit outside on one of the few tables that had been vacated. It was a pleasant seating area with wicker chairs and simple yet stylish tables that made it perfect for watching the world go by.

I walked inside to pick up a menu, again indoors – simple yet stylish, when a friendly waitress caught me at the door and brought them to our table. The menu consists of a wide range of what the Ned Ludd calls ‘artisan’ food which I’m sure is just a fancy word for ‘posh’ in this case however judging by the food available, it definitely deserved to be described as such. Mains consisted of everything from steak and brisket to spiced kebabs and pie but each dish with a touch of class, not just inexpensive, microwaved garbage. They also have a wide range of vegetarian options available if devouring tender chunks of animal is not your thing. As it was only lunch however we decided on a meal deal they offer of an artisan sandwich (that word again) with a pint of Navigation craft beer for a mere £5! We both chose the Colwick Cheese and chilli jam but the real question was whether the food was as good as it sounded.

The waitress came to our table to take our order, returned with our drinks shortly after and our sandwiches followed around 5-10 minutes later. The sandwich itself was served on thick crusty ciabatta with an exquisite filling of cheese and chilli jam, the right amount of each and laced with rocket for a little crunch. The cheese was strong but not overpowering and the chilli jam more of a sweet chilli which complemented each other perfectly. The sandwich also came accompanied by a salad of clearly the freshest vegetables in a subtle vinaigrette and rustic chips, which whilst the chips were better than average, they were the weakest aspect of the plate.

The third point mentioned was the atmosphere. Yes it is slightly classier than most booze holes, and rightly so, this gives it its character, but the joy of the Ned Ludd is that, perhaps in part due to its reasonable prices, it is inclusive of all walks of life. For example, it has gourmet food but at the same time it is not infested with hipsters that just couldn’t be bothered to walk to Hockley to look down on others because they think they are eating somewhere niche, too cool for  most folks. Everyone is welcome here, from working class to upper and each can find things they like in their own right, both in terms of food and the huge selection of beers, ales and wine.

Overall the Ned Ludd is nothing short of excellent. If you are sick of your usual eating spots and whether you are on a budget or have cash flowing from your wallet faster than the flow of migrants through the channel tunnel, I would urge you to give this place a try. The service, atmosphere and especially the food, made with locally sourced ingredients,  are all Ded Gudd.

Major Oakay

major oak

The Major Oak, situated on Pelham Road/Victoria Street, is in effect a sports pub, or at least as close as this country gets to one and with it being Saturday and several Rugby games to watch, we decided to enter and grab some hangover food.

The Major Oak is part of one of those ‘slightly better than Wetherspoons’ pub chains where you pay a little extra, but expect a little more, however on first impressions you could be forgiven in thinking that this wasn’t the case. With hideous wallpaper and a bizarre choice of pictures of statues adorning the wall, it is not the most pleasant place to look about, but at least the seats were comfy. We took a look at the menu only to find them still a little sodden from Friday night’s alcohol and chose our food: one all day breakfast (£5.45), one Mac ‘n’ Cheese Burger (£7.45) and one BBQ Double Stacked Burger (£8.45) with 2 sides of cheesy garlic bread and a glass of lemonade (£1.75)  each to sooth the headaches, although beers and ciders are available at around £3.

We paid at the bar and around 20 minutes later our food arrived, the 2 burgers on gourmet-esque rectangular plates and the breakfast on your standard round plate. The mac a cheese burger was better than the sum of its parts. The bacon was a little undercooked, the burger a little over cooked and the mac and cheese probably should have just been called ‘mac’ but together it wasn’t half bad. The BBQ stack fared much better, the 2 burgers being much juicier with ample helpings of melted cheese, probably stolen from the macaroni, and crispy bacon with lashings of tasty BBQ sauce for a winning combination. The accompanying bowl of oven chips was standard at best but the onion rings were a solid effort, not too greasy or chewy. The breakfast was a standard affair and pretty much accomplished what The Major Oak does as a whole, be a little better than Wetherspoons. The cheesy garlic bread was also a highlight, crispy yet with a soft garlic middle and a strong helping of cheese. In summary it was your slightly better than average pub meal with the wasted potential to be a great one.

The staff are odd in that they are too efficient in some areas but not in others. Take the tables for example, they were still slightly sticky from the night before but the actual waiting and clear-up was exceptionally fast. The one negative point that I have is that a waiter removed my friends plate whilst still eating his burger; which was perhaps a little too premature considering the BBQ stacker isn’t the easiest burger to eat without making a mess.

Overall The Major Oak is a great place to watch football, rugby or any other sport they are showing, especially during big games as the atmosphere is electric. The food and drinks are fairly priced and the staff are friendly and attentive however, there is room for improvement with the quality of the food. Had it been prepared and cooked to a slightly better standard, which I felt in this case was entirely doable, then this pub would have nearly an all positive review. As it stands however it is neither a Major triumph nor a Major joke, but merely Major Oakay.

Exit Stage Left

stage

The Stage is located on Parliament Street a few doors down from the Theatre Royal and is about as cheap and cheerful as you can get, if the definition of ‘cheerful’ was mediocre.

We ate on a Thursday afternoon whilst shopping in town and on entering it seemed like any other old pub but with a little extra character. A little more ‘Ye Olde’ than some other generically fitted out pubs. The walls were adorned with old pictures like most but it was the little things like the banisters on the stairs that were a little more decorative than usual and the fact that both a mixture of pop standards as well as motown played over the stereo, gave it a vibe a little out of the ordinary. It was spoilt somewhat however by a local that was preaching ignorant nothings as loudly as possible to another local, both of which seemed like they had been drunk since 9am that morning let alone 1pm in the afternoon.

We decided that on this occasion we would both have Toad In The Hole, a pub classic and also on the 2 for £7.50 menu. We went to the bar to order food and get drinks: a lager at around £3.20 and a Coke around £2, the prices not being too bad at all considering The Stage is in the centre of Nottingham.

We only had to wait around 10 minutes before our food arrived. On first inspection it seemed very basic: a standard round white plate featuring a small Yorkshire pudding, barely big enough to fit the 1 sausage in it as well as mashed potato, peas and a small pot of gravy. On eating however, it confirmed my suspicions. The meal had a ‘greasy spoon’ feel to it that I couldn’t shake. It  felt as if the sausage had come from a Richmond multipack, the mash potato was Smash, the peas tinned and the Yorkshire pudding and gravy the supermarket own brand equivalent of Aunt Bessie’s and Bisto respectively. It was as if even people living under the poverty line could have made this meal for less and it would have tasted better. It wasn’t fancy by any means and part of me was expecting this based on the price, however considering its competition of both the Three Crowns opposite it as well as the various Wetherspoons dotted around the town centre, the food really didn’t match up to its rivals.

This pub really seems more of drinks only kind of place and is often very busy on a Friday and Saturday night. The staff are quite friendly and talkative and with reasonably priced drinks, it is not hard to see why people frequent this establishment so often,  but if you are looking for quality pub grub then I would exit stage left before you are sorely disappointed.

 

Rub Me The Right Way

For those who are fans of supreme BBQ food or those who like dated Christina Aguilera references as review titles, look no further as Rub Smokehouse and Bar, situated on Adams Walk at the top of Hockley, is fantastic.

We arrived around 18:00 (the only time they had a table available) on a Thursday and grabbed ourselves a drink at the bar as we waited for the rest of our friends to arrive. On arrival it was instantly recognisable as a bustling restaurant, already filling up fast with groups of people talking and laughing, with classic rock playing over the radio, American décor and overall a really fun atmosphere about whole place, perfect for groups of friends.

After the rest of our party arrived we were seated by a friendly waitress with who took the rest of our drinks orders whilst we looked over the menu. The menu, complete with quirky headers such as ‘Happytizers’ and ‘Epic Food’, boasted an extensive range of BBQ meats including pulled pork, beef brisket and ribs as well as burgers, sandwiches and sharer platters. Whilst a selection of these were ordered by my friends, I and a friend decided on the ‘Hung Drawn And Quartered’ sharer platter for 2, an immense dump truck load of meat including 2 corn dogs, beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs, chicken wings and an 4 sides of which we paid the extra supplement to include chilli pulled pork fries for me, sweet potato fires for my friend, BBQ pulled pork beans and onion rings. It was set to be a magnificent feast, or a vegan’s nightmare, whichever way you look at it.

Our waitress arrived with our food around 20 minutes later, not the most efficient time, but then good things come to those who wait. Our enormous platter of meat arrived and I did not know where to start so I decided to load my plate with a little of everything. The corn dog came with a crispy batter wrapped around delicious slow cooked sausage, the BBQ pulled pork was so succulent and moist I could have eaten it by the ladleful and the beef brisket was rich in smoked flavour and so tender it practically broke apart on your fork. The spicy chicken wings were huge and the glazed ribs, which came as half racks, were some of the best I have ever tasted, and I haven’t even begun on the sides. The onion rings were okay, probably the worst of the side but the fries, both chilli pulled pork and sweet potato, were excellence personified in fried potato form. The BBQ pulled pork beans were also amazing, combing quality baked beans with quality pulled pork, what’s to dislike? We ended up not being able to finish the whole platter, but God did I try! I should also point out that they offer desserts as well as if that wasn’t enough, but they do have a takeaway service and are happy to box your pudding for you if you wish to take it away. A perfect end to a meal if you don’t want to eat it then and there.

Despite the fact that the food and the atmosphere here are brilliant, it does come with a bit of a sting in its tail. The drinks are fairly pricey ranging from E3.95 for the cheapest lager and £4.40 for a cider but the burgers are around £9 and our sharer platter was £35. Having said this, in no way at all did I feel ripped off. Both for the amount and the pure quality of food, I felt this was a very fair price.

The staff at rub are friendly, the bar staff more so than the waiters and waitresses, but then they did have their hands full with a near capacity restaurant. Considering this I think they did very well to cope and not let the stress get to them.

In summary it is no surprise why it is so difficult to get a table at Rub, it is simply that good. No expense is spared to give the customer that authentic American Smokehouse feeling and no more is this reflected than in the food. It was divine, BBQ heaven.  Rub is best suited for groups of friends and I would recommend you take as many friends as possible there as many times as your wallet possibly allows. It wipes the floor with its other Hockley competitors, not just for BBQ food, but any type of food. I hope you visit and it Rubs you up the same way it has me. Borderline sexually.

Marco Pierre Alright

marco

 

Marco Pierre White, a name synonymous with food of the finest quality, so when we visited his Steakhouse Bar and Grill of the same name on Wollaton Street as part of the Alea casino, expectations were high, perhaps a little too high.

It was a Saturday afternoon when we dined at around 13:15, taking advantage of a voucher running at the time entitling 2 people to a starter, main course and a glass of wine for £29.99, an absolute bargain!  We entered onto a front desk where a friendly hostess offered to take our coats. We were then seated at a pristinely laid table complete with 2 tablecloths, one of which was leather. We were given a menu and offered either our wine or another drink of which we decided on a Rekorderlig Cider (£4.60) and a pint of the draught ale (£4.80). Yes this was expensive but considering the place we were in and considering that some chain restaurants have the audacity to charge up to £6 for some beers and ciders, the price did not bother me all that much, it was something I was expecting.

Our extremely attentive and genuinely likeable waiter Pablo returned shortly with our drinks and table water, which he poured for us at our table, and took our order. For starters we ordered Whitebait with tarter and Calamari with Portofino sauce and two 10oz Sirloin steaks for our mains for which there was a £6 supplement and peppercorn sauce which was also an extra.

Pablo then went away and returned a little under 10 minutes later with our starters served on rectangular plates. The plate was almost full of breaded calamari rings with a small garnish and a pot of Portofino on the side for dipping. On eating the calamari it was instantly recognisable as fresh and of high quality and the Portofino sauce complimented it supremely. My only issue was that whilst it was fresh, it was also a little bland. The calamari could have benefitted from a little seasoning, maybe a little spice, just something a little extra to make it less forgettable. The whitebait on the other hand did not suffer this problem. Larger than most whitebait I have seen in restaurants, the quality once again shone through. It was tender to the point it almost fell apart, rich with grilled in flavour with one of the best tartar sauces I have had the pleasure of tasting.  Overall it was a somewhat mixed review for the entrees.

After our plates were cleared our steaks arrived around 5 minutes afterwards. Presented on a traditionally round plate this time, a long, thick slab of sirloin was accompanied by a grilled tomato as well as giant chips and peppercorn sauce, both of which came in their own individual mini saucepans, a solid 9/10 for presentation.  I began with the tomato thinking I would get the most undesirable item on the plate out of the way but was pleasantly surprised with its deliciously sweet taste. Next up was the steak. Asked for rare and cooked more towards medium rare, on first bite I was a little disappointed. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was expecting something a little more than what I got. Yes it was nice, but it wasn’t fantastic, it was merely okay. As I carried on eating I would also find more gristle than I would care to find on a steak. The chips on the other hand were immense. The fluffiest of potato centres met with a crispy outer skin for something truly divine, plus each one was around the size of a quarter of a baked potato. The peppercorn sauce too was excellent. Creamier than some and containing no actual peppercorns (some people like their sauce with them, others don’t), it made the steak a much more desirable prospect than to have it without.

The restaurant itself was a little surprising to me on entering. I knew it would be of a higher class than the majority of other places in Nottingham, especially some of the shitheaps I’ve reviewed, however it wasn’t overly posh. It was classy, but it wasn’t up its own arse so to speak. I for example, did not feel out of place not being upper class, which is a very desirable quality as it opens it up in terms of the restaurant’s customer base. So long as you are wearing something relatively smart you will not look out of place.

The atmosphere too is somewhat laid back with a mixture of everything from radio pop to smooth jazz playing over the speakers at the perfect volume, so you can hear it, but not so it interferes with conversation. The restaurant still retains the casino vibe, but is tastefully decorated which really gives it the sense of quality but also inclusiveness.

The staff are perhaps one of the best points to highlight. As previously mention they are extremely attentive, friendly and will do absolutely anything for you. The service was near unbeatable. Truly not only were they trained extensively on how to really take care of their diners, but genuinely looked like they also enjoyed doing it.

Overall I feel a little disappointed that I cannot give Marco Pierre White’s a sensational review because certain aspects were exactly that. The atmosphere and staff were fantastic but I felt that some of the food really let it down. Take the steak for example; it was probably not even in the top 5 of steaks I have ever eaten. In fact the best steak I have eaten in Nottingham still comes from Soulville and even the sirloin steak eaten at Long Island American Diner for a fraction of the cost was better than this. Again I have eaten better calamari at Jalisco Mexican restaurant which irritates me a little as I was expecting more from the food. I realise that obviously Mr. White himself cannot be there to oversee everything that comes out of every kitchen of every one of his restaurants but perhaps he should revisite his Nottingham branch as people have come to expect more from the name, not simply Marco Pierre alright.

Cape Victim

cape

 

A slightly controversial title for a slightly controversial place. Cape, located on Victoria Street at the top of Hockley is a mixture of the mediocre and the pretentious all wrapped up in one fun-sized, easy to swallow package. Only it isn’t fun, and it’s actually quite difficult to swallow, much like that Christmas present you were sure was chocolate before you opened it but then turned out to be a box of socks.

We dined on a Tuesday evening as they run a two-for-pizza deal after 2pm and we figured that it was somewhere casual to eat before moving on. On entering you are met with a series of café style tables and a selection of booths with once plush leather seats along the side closest to the window.  On first inspection it actually looks very inviting. Crisp, clean, and modern with a feeling that you are in somewhere a little classier than your average bar.

We brushed what I hope was pepper off of the seats in one of the booths and sat down to peruse the menu. On offer there is a fairly varied selection of sandwiches, salads and mains as well as a medium sized pizza menu. We chose a pizza each (all priced around £7-£9) and went to the bar to order and get some drinks. Their selection of ale and cider isn’t particularly wide, so we settled for your bog standard lager and cider priced around £3.50 and sat back down. Then the wait began.

Around 25-30 minutes later after having gone to the bar to ask where our food was, it finally arrived. Our thin crust pizza arrived uncut and with only one pizza cutter between us I had a slightly longer wait whilst I let my friend cut hers first although I did eventually get bored and use a knife to hack mine into slices. The pizza itself wasn’t half bad, evenly spread with cheese and abundant with fresh meat and vegetable toppings. It would have possibly been worth the wait had it not arrived lukewarm. By the time I had finished it was cold. A shame really as it had had the potential to be a good meal.

The issues don’t end there however. The place itself is infested with pretentious ‘Daddy bought my house and paid for my tuition fees’ type students and post graduates who’s biggest problem in life is that the position they now hold in their parents company isn’t well paid or high enough for the minimal amount of stress they have to put up with. These kind of people wouldn’t normally bother me however, when you insist on talking so loudly that everyone knows you’re a spoilt arsehole, then it really, REALLY begins to grate and worst of all, I was surrounded. Both in front and behind me these people persisted to act as if the world owed them a favour and this is generally what the atmosphere is like in Cape. It is populated it seems, by people who think the world owes them a living, despite the fact that a lot them have actually been gifted one.

This also reflects in the staff. They don’t seem happy to help and again carry on air of ‘this job is beneath me’. Maybe so but that doesn’t mean you have to be miserable and uninviting towards customers.  Perhaps they are simply aware of the clientele they serve and this annoys them as much as it did me, who knows.

The music is also infuriating. Imagine a pop song that has been so overplayed that it sickens you to listen to it. Now imagine there is a playlist of a hundred of those songs.  Then the realisation hits you that you have ordered and at this point there is no escape. You’re trapped, just like those songs will be in your head as you continue to enrage yourself as  you find yourself singing them for the rest of the day. It’s torturous.

Oddly my friend actually didn’t mind her dining experience which I find a little difficult to understand, although I have previously been for a drink at Cape on a night out and quite enjoyed it but maybe I was so drunk at that point I would have enjoyed anywhere. This is the only explanation I can think of why I may have previously liked it.

Overall I would liken Cape to the proverbial polished piece of faecal matter. It has a glossy sheen and slick appearance but you really would not want to delve any deeper. With a bit of work the food could be something worth going for but the issue is mainly with the atmosphere and that is a much more difficult problem to fix. Perhaps I was simply there at the wrong time and it is usually a pleasant experience however on this occasion, I was a Cape victim.