It takes a lot to impress me. This may be because I am old, cynical and jaded, it may be because I have very high standards or perhaps a bit of both, or maybe I’m just picky and difficult, I’ll let others decide. But just occasionally something comes along that surprises and delights and reminds you why it’s good to be alive. And it is. And Sexy Mamma Love Spaghetti is one of those things.
Nothing is perfect of course, and I can find a few grumbles – we were right by the door and it blew open several times and there was sharp wind on that corner, and perhaps, well, no, actually, I’m not even going to bother because this place is absolutely superb and it would be churlish to mention such issues in the scheme of things.
SMLS is the third opening in about a 100 yard space in Nottingham’s trendy and bohemian creative quarter, Hockley, by Bosnian chef Edin Gondzic (him of the cool Patisserie, see my earlier blog post ). It is tiny – maybe 11 covers downstairs and perhaps 20+ in total, with a miniscule kitchen (we later discover, thanks to the curiosity of my dining partner who picked up the traffic of staff across Heathcote Street to some mysterious location behind some high iron gates, there is another kitchen over the road and the one here is just for finishing). When you walk in the door, you are transported to some off-the-beaten-track back street in Naples, with Italian radio, olive boughs in the window and the chef and his friendly staff all crammed in the space of a few square metres. I was in love with this place as soon as we sat down (which I did when the poor girl front of house replaced my slightly wonky chair with one from upstairs – the floor is on a bit of a slope by the window so be warned- however, after a couple of large glasses of wine, it seemed to level off entirely….).
SMLS is easy to find if you are walking, not so if you look at the internet or social media as we discovered when trying to book – it is low-key, with no presence on-line. However, this hasn’t stopped the foodie glitterati of Nottingham spreading the word like wildfire this last couple of weeks – bet I can’t get a table anymore. Everyone seems to love this place and it’s probably heaving.
Anyway enough of my waxing lyrical. This atmospheric little restaurant also has a stunning menu – stunning because it is written in lovely script, by hand, in silver ink on back paper (oh how these things bring me joy!) and stunning because of the inspired choice of dishes which, by the way, change daily.
I opted for the Wild Game Minestrone soup to start. I can’t tell you how magnificent this soup was. Gamey, warming, peppery, unctuous, flavoursome, characterful – oh my God, proper sex in a bowl stuff. I am putting my neck out here, but it was quite possibly one of the best bowls of soup I have ever eaten, and I eat a lot.
I followed this with a lovely Veal Escalope in a (good strong) Parmesan Crust with a Milanese Risotto, full of flavour. It is ages since I had veal and it is time I rediscovered it (I’ll go with rose, before I upset any one).
The Fishwife’s friend who had joined me for lunch opted for the Wild Mushroom and Italian Sausage Ragu with Penne. Meltingly good.
She followed it with the Rhubarb Pannacotta – I had no space left for a sweet but, naturally in the interests of research, forced myself to try a bit…..The FWF declared it perfect, I might have said it could have been a bit wobblier – but that really is splitting hairs and anyway the FWF disagreed and it was her pudding. Still it was tart and sweet (a bit like me).
Sexy Mamma Love Spaghetti is a triumph – simple, honest, totally bonkers name, fabulous food and a great atmosphere (as well as great prices – check out the menus) and the fascia board is hand painted in black gloss. The draughty door and wonky chair added to the character.
You know what? this Sexy Mamma is ever so slightly in love with this place and the passionate and visionary Edin Gondzic. I am going to have a lie down now and cool off.