Last week brought one of my rare excursions into more upmarket dining, at World Service in Nottingham. A birthday treat from my sister and her husband, all three of us were working in the city on that day so we’d planned to stay for dinner.
Before I'd investigated it in any detail I'd assumed World Service was a fusion restaurant or something of that ilk. It's described (their words) as having a 'colonial ambience' with 'various unusual artefacts from around the globe'. That in combination with the name put me in mind of a restaurant of empire, serving a mish-mash dishes from all over the place. It's not that at all. Artefacts notwithstanding the dining room is large and airy with a contemporary feel and the food is probably best described as Modern British.
Whatever it is I quite liked it. Opening drinks were a success (Sherry for me. A dry, salty Manzanilla that was great on its own and with my starter), it was comfortable and the menu read well.
A calamari starter was simple but good. Very lightly battered, not at all chewy and just served with a few leaves and some sort of mayonnaise (of exactly what persuasion I can't recall).
Veal shin with wild garlic risotto only served to re-inforce my opinions on veal. I’ve only eaten it a handful of times, but on every occasion the only lasting memory has been ‘this would have been far better with fully grown beef’. The shin had been cooked low and slow to what might have been beautiful moist shreds of meat, then re-formed into a cylinder that had then been browned off. The crusty, browned bits on the exterior were great, all dark and marmitey, but beyond that was just dull. The young shin just didn’t have the fat and sinew to cope with the cooking method, rendering it dry and flavourless.
This was a real shame as the risotto was excellent. Well cooked rice, creamy and packing a wonderfully fresh, fragrant punch from the garlic. This tasted divine with the caramelised edges of the meat, I could imagine the entire dish being a winner if they’d used the oldest cow they could find (or shoulder of mutton springs to mind).
A dish of pork several ways was also a bit of a mixed bag. I tried the belly which was lovely, but also sampled a sort of deep-fried nugget of something or other (apologies I didn't make note of the menu descriptions) that was chewy and tasteless.
Rhubarb cranachan for pudding. This worked for me. I love rhubarb, I love cream and it’s nice to have a dessert where the fruit stands out rather than being drowned in sugar. This was barely sweet at all, just thick folds of cream, tart rhubarb, and a few oaty bits providing contrast. Lovely.
A little bonus dessert arrived in the form of a birthday treat. It wasn’t requested honest! I’m beyond the stage of attending restaurants purely on their tendency to chuck freebies at those celebrating birthdays, really I am. (Although the three shots of tequila and a silly hat at Mex in Wakefield is always tempting).
Anyhow my birthday greetings must have been overheard, so here it was. A chocolate, a strawberry and a scoop of cherry sorbet. A nice touch really, reflective of the service which was good throughout. Fairly formal but not stuffy or over-attentive.
I've no idea how much the bill was, but I ate from the set menu at £26.50 for three courses. A la carte would probably be more like £40 or so. Overall this was a fine experience, service was good, the drinks list is excellent, but there were one or two duff notes with the food. Oh and the company was excellent too of course. Thanks!
World Service Restaurant