I’m happy to be reviewing another hidden gem in the city of Nottingham, Aurora a restaurant which brands itself “Eclectic Modern British Cooking”. Located in the heart of Nottingham’s iconic lace market, I discovered Aurora through Trip Advisor where it is currently ranked #17 of 622 restaurants in Nottingham. As if being in the top 20 of restaurants in Nottingham wasn’t enough to go by anyway, I was persuaded further by a review on the Nottingham Post.
“Aurora is a real find and one of the best restaurants I have ever been lucky enough to review for this paper. Go now before it gets booked up!” (Nottingham Post, August 31, 2012).
Where the food is described as exquisitely presented, flavoursome, deliciously rich and buttery and melt-in-the-mouth tender, how can anyone say no? My friend and I booked a table for two at 7pm earlier in the day, as it was a Tuesday I was unsure whether booking was necessary but the lady on the phone told me I may as well as I’d made the effort to ring. Hidden down Stoney Street, making our way down some concrete stairs surrounded by sea blue walls is a black and white paneled entrance to the basement restaurant.
We were greeting by the Head Chef, who smiled as we entered the room. “It’s cold outside!?” he explained as we embraced the warmth, instantly feeling welcome by his words. Being the first customers there for the evening we were able to choose where we’d like to sit. Sat down we took in the interior of the room. The open brick, hanging baskets, colourful lamp shades, modern wallpaper, cream seating and furry cushions were completely to my taste. The design is modern yet classic with a personal touch. Our two seater table was large and provided plenty of room to relax, I immediately felt comfortable as I began to read through the menu.
If you thought you might know which direction this review is going in, the next part might throw you. As the somewhat ‘exclusively’ discovered Aurora is more affordable than one might first assume. Guests can choose between a two course meal for £16.95 or three for £19.95 (evening price). With dishes such as Seared Haunch of Venison, Tatrte Tatin and Smoked Mackerel Escabache for a starter you can already see the value for money you are about to receive.
I chose the Seared Haunch of Venison, Red Berry & Cabernet Sauvignon Vinegar, Puy Lentils to start. If I had to choose one word to describe it, it would be exquisite. Beautifully presented on a rectangular stone plate I wanted to take in all the different flavours together in my first mouthful. After achieving this, I was in heaven. The venison was delicious, cooked to perfection teamed with the warm puy lentils on the base on the dish, matched with the ‘chili sweet’ red berry jam and the tangy vinegar shallots.
My friend chose the Red Pepper Tatrte Tatin, Blue Cheese & Lemon Oil Dressing. I’d like to say I’ve never seen her enjoy a dish so much before, but we hadn’t reached the main course yet… So for now, I’ll tell you that she thoroughly enjoyed it. I had a wee taster, I’m not sure I’ve ever tried a Tatrte Tatin before, so for my first I have to say that it was lovely. Warm and beautiful in red pepper flavour, the bright pink tatrte tatin sat on a bed of crumbled stilton cheese and fresh salad leaves.
To follow I chose the Heart of Rump Steak, Hand Cut Chips, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Herb Salad & Peppercorn Sauce. As in most restaurants, the steak came with a £2 supplement to the set menu price. My friend chose the Thyme Roasted Chicken Breast, Confit Rabbit Leg, Wild Mushroom, Green Beans & Red Wine Jus. As a lover of chicken she often tries to go for different things when out to eat to avoid the whole “she always goes for the chicken” thing – but this dish seemed unavoidable. I must say it was delicious, the chicken was so moist and juicy. I dislike mushrooms so was unable to sample the complete dish. Tasting the confit rabbit leg alone, which was served in two triangular battered shapes, was a little on the dry side, but my friend assured me that with the mushroom sauce it worked perfectly.
My steak was gorgeous, medium rare as requested it was cooked perfectly. I loved the peppercorn sauce, which was very strong in flavour, it certainly wasn’t for the fainthearted as it had quite a peppery kick to it. I loved it. The chips were boiling. Too hot to eat in fact, so I stabbed some of them with my fork a couple of times. That solved the only problem I had, to simply say “the chips were too hot” is ridiculous and really it only knocks 0.5 off the otherwise 10 out of 10 meal.
For desert there was a selection is chocolaty, cheesy and fruity options to choose from. I was completely undecided, so had to ask our waitress for her advice. She told us that the Hot Chocolate Fondant with Chocolate Orange Textures and the Vanilla Cheesecake, Amaretto, Homemade Marshmallows & Brandy Snaps were her favourites. I was slightly tempted by the Duo Poached Pear but took her word for it and chose the cheesecake with my friend opting for the chocolate fondant. Not at all disappointed with her advice, the cheesecake was delightful, very light which I was glad about after the first two courses. The homemade marshmallows were my favourite part of the dish and the fresh fruit which all complimented one another well. I tried some of the hot chocolate fondant which was decorated with white chocolate, orange segments, orange peel, sauce and berries. I’m always wary of choosing a chocolate desert with a three course meal because I fear it will over fill me, but that was a perfect size and the orange textures made it a dish not to miss out on again.
Our experience at Aurora was wonderful, we had a lovely relaxing time. The restaurant wasn’t at all busy, which may have put some people off but it didn’t affect our experience at all. The chef came out to speak with us between courses and explained that it isn’t usually this quiet, a kind gesture we thought but unnecessary as it didn’t bother us at all. That said, it was a great opportunity to compliment him for the delicious food we’d been served. Aurora is a unique find, somewhere you’ll receive good service, great food, all for wonderfully great value. Including a £15 bottle of wine, our bill came too £56.85. So pleased with our evening we split the cost and paid £30 each offering a generous tip (for students!!! ;-D). We both had such a lovely time and would recommend Aurora to anybody.
ADDRESS – 47 Stoney Street, Lace market, Nottingham, NG1 1LX
CONTACT – 0115 941 3816
OPENING TIMES – Tues & Wed, 12pm – 2.30pm and 6pm – 9pm. Thurs, 12pm – 2.30pm and 5.30pm – 9pm. Fri, 12pm – 2.30pm and 5pm – 10pm. Sat, 12pm – 3pm and 5pm – 10pm. By popular request Aurora is now open Sunday lunch starting at 12pm till late afternoon.
WEBSITE – www.aurorarestaurant.org
FACEBOOK – www.facebook.com/Aurora-Restaurant
TWITTER – @auroranotts