As you already know, I love going out for meals with friends. I think it's the perfect way to unwind and catch up whilst you enjoy flavourful food that has been passionately created and perfectly presented. When I was recently asked to check out the brand new OAKS restaurant in Nottingham city centre, I couldn't resist - because the story behind OAKS really intrigued me.
OAKS stands out for me because it serves locally sourced food, cooked over burning wood embers. Why is this different to anywhere else in Nottingham, I hear you ask? Well Nottingham is quite lucky to have a very tasty array of restaurants to enjoy, but the majority are big name brands; well known franchises. It's nice to go somewhere that stands out from the crowd, that has an individual style as well as utilising the delicious food available in the area. OAKS offers a unique dining experience, with food prepared and cooked in a different and exciting way, a real stand-out place to visit in Nottingham.
Not only that, but OAKS has been named as a champion of Sherwood by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, a charitable campaign which was developed by the Trust to help protect and restore the woodland and wildlife of Sherwood forest; one of the reasons why I love Nottinghamshire as much as I do, it's an incredibly beautiful part of England. To me, OAKS is a restaurant which truly appreciates the incredible area it is situated in, the history and nature of Nottinghamshire that makes it my favourite place in the UK.
After a very long shopping day last Friday, I was really excited to be heading over to OAKS with Megan who blogs over at Seek My Scribbles. I was really happy to see just how close OAKS actually is to the Market Square; just a couple of minutes walk up to Bromley Place and OAKS is super easy to spot, situated right on the corner. It's away from the hustle and bustle of the Market Square, but close enough that it's worth a trip every time.
When we arrived I was really pleasantly surprised by just how beautiful the restaurant itself is. It has been brilliantly designed to look modern and rustic which ties in so well with the burning embers method of cooking at OAKS. There's a variety of dining areas, so great for one-on-one meals, intimate dates and even perfect for larger dining parties. The décor is stand out, different to anything else I've seen in Nottingham with candle chandeliers and chain mail partitions.
We received a warm welcome on arrival and catering to the needs of two pregnant ladies, we were presented with raspberry and strawberry non-alcoholic mojito cocktails. Although non-alcoholic cocktails aren't on the menu itself, it's great to know that this is an option at OAKS and that the team were so happy to oblige with non-alcoholic drinks. With refreshing drinks under way, it was time to get stuck into the menu.
The starter menu is short and sweet, something to suit a variety of tastes as well as dietary preferences with vegetarian options being available, as they are throughout the menu. We decided to try out the Baked Olives with Garlic & Rosemary alongside Pork Crackling. The Pork Crackling was actually a surprise for me when it arrived, as I expected your typical crispy pork crackling so was surprised by the almost cracker like appearance and texture. They were absolutely delicious though and had a really beautiful flavour to them, very light so great for a starter and still had that pleasant pork crackling crunch.
The Baked Olives with Garlic and Rosemary were, without a doubt, one of my favourite parts of the meal. I am a huge fan of olives as with my Mediterranean background, they're a regular in Cypriot diets, but these were easily some of the most flavourful olives I have ever tried. Baked and marinated for 24 hours before being served, really infusing the olives with the flavour of rosemary and garlic, gosh they were just incredibly tasty. I could have easily sat there and eaten them all day long!
I found it so difficult deciding on a main because everything sounded absolutely lovely! In the end I opted for something I rarely have, which was the incredibly well presented Sea Bass with Lemon, Sage and Garlic presented on a wooden plank with a huge chunk of fresh lemon. I opted to have my sea bass with a side of hand-cut chips and the OAKS chopped salad, which were the perfect accompaniments.
The chips were nice and chunky with some of the skin left on for a rustic touch, the salad was really fresh, crunchy and perfect as a side and the sea bass? Absolutely beautiful. I loved the way it was presented, the way I was lucky to get an entire sea bass opposed to just a fillet which is what I am used to when ordering sea bass, and the way it was cooked on burning embers gave the skin an incredible crispness that was just delightful.
Megan opted for a vegetarian option; a Portobello Mushroom, Avocado and Aubergine Burger, which I have to admit looked amazing. I'm not the biggest burger fan but the flavours teamed together for this vegetarian option definitely tickled my fancy and it's a main I would consider on my next visit to OAKS.
Both of us tucked into the original OAKS signature sauces with our mains, which were Mustard & Horseradish Sauce, Burnt Tomato Ketchup and Smoked Chili Brown Sauce, which was my favourite with the hand-cut chips!
Dessert was, in a word, incredible. Doughnuts with Marsala Cream centre rolled in fine sugar, these were just utterly addictive and I would visit again for these alone! Each portion is presented on a petite serving plate with five doughnuts per serving, very decently sized and honestly, just absolutely delicious. The marsala cream filling was unusual but a really lovely touch flavour wise, I've never had doughnuts like them and they are one of OAKS biggest selling points for me, without a shadow of a doubt.
I was really looking forward to our visit to OAKS but I have to admit, it exceeded all my expectations. I'm really excited to have such a unique and vibrant restaurant in Nottingham with an extremely tasty menu on offer, situated in such close proximity to the Market Square. It's somewhere I could happily go again with friends or even for a date night with my partner, and I think every future Nottingham shopping trip is going to need those doughnuts as an end of the day treat! The whole team is extremely dedicated and passionate about OAKS as well as the locally sourced food and methods used by the chefs and their excitement and dedication is addictive.
OAKS is definitely worth a visit, and I already can't wait to go back again!
*I was kindly invited along to OAKS for a complimentary visit.
All views are entirely my own - Disclaimer