I'm an award-winning online writer and journalist.
Published November 17th 2012
Who knew English grub could be this good?
I'd been intrigued by The Larder for ages. It has a solid reputation amid Nottingham's foodies. Plus, I've spent so many winter's nights walking through Hockley and gazing up at diners clinking glasses through The Larder's twinkling windows, it gave me an irresistible urge to pull up a chair and join them.
Light and airy: The Larder on Goosegate in Nottingham
Whenever we've made approaches, though, we've found The Larder to be fully booked. So that's my first tip – ring and reserve your place – especially if you're planning on dining on a Friday or Saturday. Even on a Thursday, the place was packed. Personally, I like to see a place that's popular. Lends it a bit of atmosphere.
The Larder in Nottingham: Review The Larder is situated on a second floor which sets it nicely out of the way of the staggering boozers spilling out of the surrounding bars. Inside, it's stunning – one of those huge, Victorian Nottingham spaces with high ceilings, brass-rimmed mirrors and, of course, that improbably huge row of windows that let in so much light and give the place a lovely, airy feel.
We had a table for two which was probably a tiny bit small – particularly since they then proceeded to load it with stuff. Glasses, drinks, a huge water jug, a big board of warm, crusty home-made bread scented with rosemary. We were breathing in a bit, trying not to knock anything over. They were a bit short on drinks the night we went – neither of us got our first choices – but the replacements on offer meant we didn't really miss them. Bizarrely, my other half was given a little beaker from which to drink his real ale but I suspect that's just one of the quirks of the place.
Food at The Larder on Goosegate And the food – you'd forgive them anything for the food. The Larder could easily have gone all fancy-dan pretentious on us, with tiny picky portions of meaningless haute cuisine blither. Rest assured – it does not do that. It's the kind of unpretentious food gastro pub chefs dream of producing. In other words, British at its best – cooked simply and beautifully. Nothing to scare the horses here.
I had a lentil-based shepherd's pie, topped with lovely, fluffy mash and served with a tiny jug of thyme-scented mushroom gravy. It filled me with the same feeling I get when I sink into a bubble bath after having trudged through a cold, rainy day. My other half had cod and chips – but, not quite that simple. The tender flakes of cod were served on a bed of white beans and bacon, while the chips were that perfect marriage of crunchy-fluffy textures – some of the nicest I've ever had (and my grandparents used to run a chippy, so I've had good chips in my time!)
For pud we shared a cinnamon-spiced white chocolate cheesecake with thick, home-made vanilla ice cream. It had a deep, crunchy biscuity base, while the spicing transformed what could have seemed a summer pud into something gloriously wintry. The Larder has that perfect trick going on of giving you dearly-loved dinner familiars but presenting them in surprising new ways.
We had a Gourmet Card which can be a good way of saving money on nice food. So our bill, including our drinks, which would normally have come to around £40 was, instead, less than £30 – a complete bargain. Which was amazing value. We flung in a bit extra for service, which was bright, chummy and welcoming. Next time you're walking past those large, twinkling windows feeling envious, I'd definitely suggest climbing those stairs and asking about a table. To do otherwise would be to miss out.