Well, I guess Nottingham is famous for at least one Oak, perhaps now maybe two. Oaks is fairly recently opened and has been the subject of quite a lot of Twitter traffic of late, so we popped in for lunch today.
Oaks claims to serve simple, locally-produced sausages and meats cooked over wood-embers that are sustainably sourced from coppiced woods managed by the local Wildlife Trust. Pretty impeccable credentials then – kind of felt that in tucking into my sausage I was doing my bit to save the planet. All good.
Forgot to take a photo of the outside (I know, I know) but for those that know Nottingham, it is on a corner facing up the hideous Maid Marian Way, thankfully something akin to a small paved “plaza” has emerged just in front during some renovation and reclamation work and so the aspect isn’t too bad. It matters not, anyway, as the inside is lovely.
Inside has a lovely atmosphere – again pretty cavernous, but didn’t feel cold or unwelcoming, despite it being a drafty Wednesday afternoon in September, and there being only one other occupied table. In fact, it felt very welcoming, not least because as soon as you walk in you face the bar and the open kitchen with the delightful wood-burning grill flickering enticingly (I couldn’t stop thinking about the cost of the extraction, but hey-ho, just me I guess).
The £9.50 lunch offer was a burger or sausage and two sides. Two sides too much in our case, but we went for it anyway. Husband (being Scottish as well) chose the Angus Beef with Bone Marrow Burger, chips and sweetcorn, I went for the Pork, Pancetta and Paprika Sausage, with truffle mash and naked coleslaw.
Husband’s dish was a bit of a triumph. Firstly, he was actually asked how he would like his burger cooked and when he said “rare” our Waitress didn’t flinch and didn’t fluster into a Health and Safety lecture on why they don’t/aren’t allowed to do them rare. Moreover, when it arrived – it was rare. It was actually rare. Fantastic. The meat was beautiful, tasty, moist and full of flavour, as a proper burger should be. Oaks can be proud of that burger, no cheese, no bacon, no chillies, nothing fancy, just fab meat. And to serve that so rare they must be sure of the provenance and quality of the meat. thank the Lord. The chips were hand-cut, crispy and light and the sweet-corn was properly charred, like I cook at home on the BBQ and like no-one else ever does very well.
Oaks has its own selection of sauces too – made on the premises and truly different and really nice. Loved the mustard and horseradish, in fact, liked them all, we both did. Having recently tried that chef-designed and very grim “purple sauce” from a well-known budget hotel chain, I can safely say, these were really lovely and should be bottled to take away!
My sausage was nice, but not as sublime as the Husband’s burger. It was very well done, blackened, just how I like them, much better than some flaccid thing in a bun. I enjoyed it, especially with the Mustard and Horseradish sauce, but for me, the paprika was just a little bit overpowering, couldn’t tell there was pancetta in there as it was overwhelmed. My truffle mash was nice, but a little light on the truffle and my naked coleslaw was good, and indeed “naked”, so for me was really a shredded veg salad – why do you serve it naked guys? A good bit of home-made mayo would really go I think! So, not as stellar as the burger, but still damn good (I am being picky really..). I really, really, wanted to try their Marsala Cream Donuts to end with, but we were so, so full, it was impossible.
Service was lovely, and very smiley, although, of course, the place was pretty empty early on a Wednesday lunch (I am sure this isn’t reflective of anything other than the time and day of the week) and the decor is great, loved the wood paneling and the quirky lighting (curtain poles? Loo handles? not sure).
Oaks was really rather good, we had planned a visit to some of the food stalls in the market square afterwards, which we did, but we were too stuffed to eat anything. No, I tell a lie, I had one cube of aged compte off the cheeseman, but that was our lot.