Still got it! Excellent Nottinghamshire restaurants that have stood the test of time

Nottingham food writer Alec Frusher picks out the places that have been doing the business for a decade or more. From French classics to pioneering vegetarian dishes, these Nottinghamshire venues have stood the test of time and taste…


We all like something new. Fortunately, our region is never short of exciting and tasty openings. However, lest we forget the tried and tested, especially in challenging times for hospitality, I wanted to highlight Nottinghamshire restaurants that have been around for years and have been consistently good for at least a decade.


French Living 

Bon anniversaire to French Living, celebrating 30 years in Nottingham this year. They say the classics never go out of fashion and who are we to argue? Take their ever-changing menu on the chalkboard and consider their escargot or country terrine to start. Keep things quintessentially French with Boeuf Bourguignon or Tartiflette for a main and crepes or creme brulee to finish. They offer so much more, of course, but it’s hard to see past these favourites. Look out for their themed evenings, wine tastings and a great value pre-theatre menu.


Yamas

Over 15 years of plying its trade in Nottingham’s bustling city centre, Yamas’s success was clear when it expanded into the unit next door a few years ago. It’s lost none of its charm in that expansion, which means you’re all but guaranteed to get a table despite its popularity. It retains a great lunch menu of £15 for three dishes where you will be spoilt for choice; Stifado and Kritharaki are must-orders for me. If you like your grilled meat, their Souvlaki are fantastic, too. Vegetarians are equally well catered for, from the classic Spanakopita to the lesser-known but equally delicious Kolokithokeftedes. 


The Kean’s Head

I had to feature one pub on this list, and The Kean’s Head, a characterful little spot in the Lace Market, is one of my favourites. A Castle Rock establishment, it is about to celebrate its 20th year in this incarnation and, over time, has attracted a diverse crowd. Ice hockey fans, hipsters and the post-office throngs have been known to mingle over an excellent selection of cask and craft beers. In the last couple of years, they have struck up a partnership with Paajis to offer Indian street food. Curries are good, but for me, their Chaat or Pau burgers are the top choices for something different.


Ania

Sherwood has changed significantly over the years, but while others come and go, it’s hard not to have a soft spot for Ania. Polish cuisine has little local representation, but there is much to love alongside the charm of the service in this family-run establishment. If you want hearty comfort food, this is the place; I always hope the soup of the day (£5) will be beetroot, their version more creamy than Borscht. At £10, you won’t go hungry with their Perogi, the filled dumplings embellished with sweet caramelised onions.


Cafe Roya

Let’s now journey to Beeston and Cafe Roya, which has flown the flag for vegetarian food for almost 15 years. The chef/owner trained in some seriously impressive kitchens, and I continue to be amazed by the new ideas and diversity of the dishes. At its core, the influence is Persian from the chef’s background, but wider Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines often pop up on the menu, which changes with fantastic regularity. On Fridays and Saturdays at lunchtime, enjoy a main dish with a choice of five salads for £15. They also have a bottomless Persian brunch for £29.95 for your weekend morning decadence. 


Kayal

Since 2007, Kayal has served its brand of South Indian cooking to Nottingham. Despite the advancing years, it still stands out in a crowded Indian dining scene. On the bustling Broadway in Hockley, you’re transported to the Keralan backwaters for an immersive experience. Perhaps the most famous dish of Southern India is the Dosa. These thin, savoury pancakes are a must-order. You crack off their crispy extremities to dip into the flavourful chutneys before finding a lightly spiced curry in the middle. Delicious. It has much more to offer, too, of course: the elegant fish dishes of this region are noteworthy, and they have several specials that change regularly. 


La Rock 

Aged 13, it might be one of the ‘younger’ establishments, but over in Sandiacre it remains ‘the’ place to eat west of the city. Under the stewardship of owner/chef Nick Gillespie, La Rock has won consistent praise and many awards over the years. Its pretty dining room is filled with flowing lines of natural wood – a lovely setting for their a la carte or tasting menu. The food is modern European with seasonal ingredients at its heart. For those looking for fine dining on a budget, the lunch menu offers two courses for £47.


Iberico World Tapas 

2007 was an excellent year for openings, with Iberico World Tapas launching, too. With Bar Iberico booming, it can be easy to forget the more refined sibling lurking in caves under High Pavement. Unlike the busy atmosphere of its sister restaurant, this is a more serene experience, though no less delicious. Its Spanish roots remain, though an Asian influence peeks out, with Inside-Out Chicken Wings in Yuzu Sweet Chilli being an ever-present favourite. Having held a prestigious Bib Gourmand for over ten years, it remains one of the best dining locations in Nottingham. 


Perkins

Perkins was born in Plumtree in 1982, and its restaurant and popular wedding venue, Carriage Hall, still thrives today. They have settled on a bistro feel: soup of the day, chicken supreme and sticky toffee pudding can be yours midweek for a very reasonable £30. Sunday lunch is equally good, and their Full English Breakfast – served on Saturdays only – is one of the best around. Head to their website’s ‘what’s on’ section to see a calendar of special events, including their Ultimate Foodie Quiz!  


The author:

Alec lives in Nottingham and writes the 'Frusher on Food' blog, focusing on his home city's food scene.