What draws you to an eatery? For me, it’s like choosing a book. If I like the look and sound of a place, chances are I’ll probably make a booking sharpish.
The Herbert Kilpin, Nottingham boasts a quaint name, which is why within seconds, I had decided I wanted to write about it. I love educating myself, and because I’d never heard of “Herbert Kilpin” before, felt compelled to Google it. (If any eatery makes you more self-aware, or educates you in the process of your dining experience, that can only be a good thing, right?)
Turns out our Herbie was the god-father of Italian football. An Englishman who founded AC Milan, is the eponymous hero of one of the latest additions to Nottingham’s craft beer and gastropub scene.
Nestled on Bridlesmith Walk in the heart of the city, The Herbert Kilpin lies under the protective gaze of its big brother Junkyard.
Owned by dynamic duo Sam Dean and Nigel Garlick, The Herbert Kilpin offers a twist on the traditional. We were there for Hop PopUp Week, where craft beer was celebrated as an ingredient and used in some of the most popular dishes from The Herbert Kilpin menu.
We kicked off with Magic Rock High Wire Grapefruit Pale Ale cured sea trout (caramelised grapefruit, onion pakora).
It made for a stunning dish. The deliciously squidgy slivers of trout were impeccably cured, whilst the flavour of the chargrilled grapefruit was lovingly accentuated by the Magic Rock High Wire Grapefruit Pale Ale. The hint of tropical flavours in the dish (I tasted fragrant lychee and a hint of mango) did a tantalising dance on the palate. The slightly bitter end was tempered by the mildly spiced pakora. I loved this dish and could happily have eaten it for the duration of the meal.
For main, I had fish tacos (monkfish cheeks, curry sauce, Reuben’s Crikey IPA aioli, coconut & coriander chutney).
Don’t be deceived by this dish. It looks a little on the small side, but the bowl is deep. Monkfish is one of my favourite fish and the cheeks here didn’t disappoint, which were succulent yet yielding for a good bite. The curry sauce had a pleasantly strong hit of coriander seed, which coupled with the coriander based green chutney, made for a very good dish. I would have liked to see the chutney be a little more fluid, but that is just a personal taste and not a niggle.
Tropical fruits were the top notes in Reuben’s Crikey IPA, plus the slightly woody aroma of pine, which went really well with the curry sauce. The IPA worked here the best, and I’d be keen to see more of this award-winning beer used in the kitchens.
My dining partner had Silver City Cold One Pilsner braised lamb shoulder (dirty mash, lamb faggot, Goose Fair peas). I snaffled a forkful (fine, three mouthfuls) and loved it as much as he did. Tender lamb, mash that I could take home with me, and a jus that made me giddy with excitement made this dish one of the best I have ever had the pleasure to taste. The mild herbal notes of the beer with a crisp finish was a marriage made in heaven with the lamb. It didn’t take over the dish, but gave it a hug instead and elevated it into a deliciously different realm.
Dessert of Tiny Rebel Stay Puft Marshmallow Porter cheesecake (malt chocolate soil, salted caramel) came in a cute tiffin-esque tin. Texture of the cheesecake was smooth, and felt more like an ice-cream; it would have been good if the cheesecake had a little more bite. Earthy, malty notes of the Tiny Rebel Stay Puft Marshmallow Porter went well with the creamy canvas of the cheesecake. Beer is notoriously difficult to match with a sweet dish, which is why I must congratulate the chef on this stellar choice of beer matching.
The menu is diverse and tasty. The Herbert Kilpin’s brunch offerings caught my eye, because the whipped pecan butter (served with waffles) sounds heavenly. Portion sizes are good. The food is inspired, yet pushes boundaries without alienating you. Hat-tip to the chefs at The Herbert Kilpin – they know exactly what they’re doing and execute with aplomb. I will most certainly be back, and I hope the powers that be, do more beer and food pairings.
For scrumptious dishes and craft beer that is served with a smile, in a place that feels like home, head on over to The Herbert Kilpin. I bet you my last Malteaser, you won’t be disappointed.
Rating (1: Hate: I’d rather eat my shoe – 10: Love: I’d sell my kidney for a meal here)
Value for money: 9
Gastropub name: The Herbert Kilpin, Nottingham
Founder / Owner: Sam Dean and Nigel Garlick
Nottingham branch open since: March 2016
Covers: 50 (can vary, approximate number only)
Address: 10 Bridlesmith Walk, Nottingham NG1 2HB
Closest tram stop: Lace Market
Opening times: Monday – Sunday: 11am – 12am (known to stay open later till 1am between Friday – Saturday)
How to make reservation: online & telephone
Call: 0115 948 4743
General Manager: Nick Chapels
Whilst in the area check out: Hotel Chocolat, who do a great version of Billionaires Shortbread. From chocolate puddles, to full on Easter treats, I defy you to duck in and not at least be tempted to buy a chocolate treat.