Catch the pigeon (and eat it)

I love food.

It’s true what they say: the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. If you want to impress me, feed me and feed me well. It doesn’t need to be expensive, it doesn’t need to be Gordon Ramsey standard. I just require good food to be happy.

Thankfully, I was recently offered an interesting opportunity to work for food. There’s a lovely old mill near to where I live in Nottingham and it’s being developed into some rather splendid-looking apartments. The company developing these apartments happened to see some photos that I’d taken via Google, and seemingly impressed with them decided to contact me with a proposal. They wanted me, a total photography amateur, to take some photos of their marketing suite.

Anglo Scotian Mills

Originally uploaded by rutty.

The best thing was that they were going to “pay” for this activity with food! Of course, I agreed.

Now, I don’t pretend that these are the best photos ever taken, but I enjoyed the experience. My Kodak Z740 isn’t the greatest camera at taking photographs inside, especially if there’s low light. However, I was pleased with the results and they really liked them.

At the moment there are a few of those photos blown up to a huge size and displayed as posters on the outside of the Mill. I was seriously excited when I saw that they’d done that.

Anyway, they insisted that I took my lovely girlfriend out for a nice meal as a reward for my efforts. There used to be a really good restaurant right opposite the mill called La Toque, but that had recently closed down. I had to find somewhere new, and so I chose Hart’s. I’d heard some good things about this restaurant, and read a rather encouraging review of the place in The Guardian, and so I booked a table for last Saturday.

It took a while to find the place (it’s just about at the end of The Ropewalk in Nottingham if you know where that is) and we were a little early and so we enjoyed a quick drink in the Park Bar first. This is all part of the same complex and I was able to add my glass of Duvel beer and my girlfriend’s gin and tonic onto my meal’s bill. It’s a lovely little bar too – quite trendy and not too busy, but it had a nice atmosphere.

The restaurant itself is very stylish. It’s designed very simply with some interesting art on the walls. Lots of cosy booths and friendly staff too, just what you need in a high-class establishment such as this.

The wine selection was excellent and we decided to go with a bottle of Rosé. It was absolutely delicious (2004 Gris de Triennes – highly recommended). The prices were a little high I suppose, but then I’m a Yorkshireman and not quite used to dining in such luxury.

It was difficult to chose the food from the menu. It all looked so delicious, and as I’m not really a fussy eater I could have eaten anything from there.

However, one of the first courses really stood out. Earlier in the year we were visiting friends in Carlisle and we ended up rescuing this baby pigeon – a squab. It had fallen from the nest and was hiding under a bush by our friend’s front door, where the local cats were stalking it. We fed it and hid it somewhere more secure, which made me happy to have done something good for a poor, defenceless animal. It was only natural, then, to go for the “Roast squab pigeon, puy lentils, field mushroom, Madeira & hazelnut sauce” as my starter.

Hmmmm, Squab. Yum yum!

Originally uploaded by rutty.

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything so delicious in my entire life. I had to stop myself from eating it too quickly so that I could savour every mouthful. I didn’t even feel guilty considering the earlier squab rescue – well, they’re only essentially flying rats anyway right?

My girlfriend had “Wild mushroom tart, poached hen’s egg” which I tasted (for review purposes of course) and that was delicious also.

The main course was similarly difficult to chose, but I went for “Fallow venison, potato gratin, carrot & rosemary purée, bitter chocolate sauce” and my girlfriend had “Pan fried sea bass, parsnip mash, cèpes, globe artichoke, rosemary sauce”. The quality and presentation of all our food was outstanding and there was hardly a drop of sauce left on either of our plates by the time we had finished.

I’m afraid that I do not have a rescue story regarding deer or fish. Sorry, but at least that makes this article a little shorter.

Desserts were ordered too, and I had “Cassis poached pear, Gewürztraminer mousse” whereas by girlfriend had “Hot chocolate pudding, Jersey milk ice cream”. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Our tastebuds enjoyed two hours of utter bliss. If you’re ever in Nottingham and you’re feeling a little flush with cash then you must eat here. It’s not cheap, although I believe that it was worth the £130 it cost me. Luckily for me I wasn’t paying for the whole bill (thank you Walker and Hall!) but you know, I bloody wouldn’t have minded. It’s not like I’m on pop star wages or anything, but every now and again it’s worth blowing a hole in your Visa to enjoy a meal like this.

I will go here again for certain. I’ll also be visiting some other eating establishments in Nottingham – quality ones, not your average themed restaurant – and I’ll be sure to report my findings on Newsvine for all you food lovers out there.

Now, time to go out and see if I can catch any of these pigeons flying around the High Street….

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