The renowned Lace Market Hotel has recently reopened its doors to the public and boasts a stylish refurbishment to all rooms, Saint Bar and Merchants restaurant… As one of Nottingham’s hot spots back in the day, Saint Bar and Merchants have come back with a vengeance, with its intimate, cosy atmosphere, amazing cocktails and service… The interior of Merchants restaurant is beautiful and something you would expect to see in London, with its over sized chandeliers, ornate bronzed ceiling and light coloured new seating. It is difficult not to notice the modern artwork placed around the hotel by a new Zealand artist, personally chosen by new General Manager Denny Keane. Upon check in we were directed to room 101, by the lovely Robert on reception, to Denny’s favourite room and I could see why, a large, super comfy bed, the mattress apparently made with lamb’s wool and goose down for extra comfort, more artwork and stylish decor, not forgetting the original features of the building, such as an old fireplace in-keeping with the character and a large bathroom featuring twin sinks and the piece de resistance – a copper free standing bath as deep as you can get. My favourite feature of this room in particular was the amazing view of the Galleries Of Justice in the Lace Market- one of the city’s most historic and beautiful buildings. Dinner was booked for 7.30pm and so we made our way to Saint Bar for pre drinks – a good sized glass of Zinfandel Rose and a Sailor Jerry’s and coke. The bar was busy making for a great atmosphere, we did comment that it felt like we were out of Nottingham for an evening. A very friendly waitress -Jess came over to introduce herself to us and told us she would take us through to dinner shortly, which made us feel very welcome. As we made our way to our table, we were delighted to see a full and vibrant restaurant and were equally as happy to be given the best seat in the house in the corner by the window, giving us full view of the restaurant, but privacy at the same time. Our drink orders were promptly taken- same again and were handed the Ala – Carte menu, which I noticed was French influenced, some dishes needed to be explained as my culinary knowledge didn’t quite extend as far as some of the dishes and Jess did a great job in describing the dishes and recommending her favourite. An amouche bouche of duck with quince served on miniature slates were bought to us whilst we waited for our starters – a nice touch. To start I opted for the Cep, Truffle Tortellini, which arrived in a bowl to be eaten as a rich soup with a small amount of tortellini, so as not to fill you up too much before your main course. My dining partner opted for the scallops, describing them as ‘melt in your mouth’ just as they should be, served with celeriac and garlic. For main course Jess our waitress advised that the vegetarian option of cauliflower, chickpea and cashew nut curry was one of the best dishes on the menu and one of the chefs favourite to prepare, so of course I trusted her judgement and she was most certainly right. It was a very different kind of curry to what I am used to having normally – a healthy option of mainly vegetables and drizzles of delicious sauces and chutneys swirled around the plate in – between florets of different coloured cauliflower – in fact the whole dish was a work of art, extremely colourful and interesting to look at- almost too nice to eat! My dining partner went for the Madgetts Duck, served with Sarlandaise potato (a French style of potato slices stacked and usually cooked in duck fat and garlic) as well as Cavelo Nero (black kale) and a side order of Jenga chips cooked in beef dripping and I also went for a side order of onion mash. After two courses we were more than satisfied and could have gone without dessert, but curiosity got the better of us and we decided to try the coconut rice pudding with lime and roast pineapple and the sorbet, jelly and fruits, which arrived in a delightful little glass bowl with real pansy’s to decorate. The rice pudding was by far one of the most delicious desserts I have ever come across and for it to be served in a mini pineapple made the experience all the more lovely. Three courses and two glasses of wine later it was time to retire to our room for the evening armed with a peppermint tea and I have to say the food, service and atmosphere of Merchants was second to none and just what Nottingham needed, I can’t recommend it enough and very much look forward to returning with friends. Breakfast the following morning was served between 7am-10am on Sunday and consisted of the usual continental options and cooked dishes if preferred, including the Traditional English. The service we received from check in to check out was smooth, professional and stress-free- something that is often difficult to find these days in hospitality and for that I thank the team at Lace Market Hotel and look forward to returning again very soon and would have no hesitation awarding a rating of 5 star’s should one or two more vegetarian options be added to the menu.
Merchants is back and better than ever….
Date: December 16, 2015