There seems to be an emerging trend in restaurants across the country. Eateries are now accentuating the dining experience by giving the diner more choices and embracing eclectic entrepreneurship. One such place is Baresca in Nottingham. This is essentially a tapas, market café and cellar bar, and its covetable larder is guaranteed to make a certain Nigella jealous.
Nestled on Byard Lane in the heart of the city, my heart did back-flip when I spotted the shelves of authentic Spanish food. Rows of jars, oils and condiments were a joy to behold and I could have happily mooched around the shop if it hadn’t been for my hunger pangs willing me to take a seat and indulge in lunch.
I love lunchtime deals as much as Richard Branson (come on, he’s a dude), and I was happy to check out the Menú del día. This consisted of flatbread + dips + any 2 tapas + 1 side for the pocket friendly price of £9.95.
As per meal deal, we kicked off with flatbread and dips (hummus, carrot and toasted cumin). Chargrilled pieces of crisp bread were a joy to eat. The smokiness from the blistered bread added depth to the salty earthiness of the perfectly seasoned hummus. The warmth of the cumin complemented the delicate sweetness of the carrot dip, making this tasty tapas dish a hot favourite at our table.
Baby chorizo (glazed in honey, sherry vinegar) was a feast for the eyes and stomach. I couldn’t stop gawking at the ruby red densely packed sausages. I’m no psychic (whatever did happen to Mystic Meg by the way?), but when I scooped up a fat chorizo enrobed in the sweet sticky glaze, I knew it was going to taste amazing. Spicy, succulent and heavenly, with a tinge of smoked paprika ensured this dish was the first to get wolfed down.
Chargrilled lamb koftas (mint, yogurt, pickled cucumber) were good. The pungent piquancy of the vinegary cucumber slivers was the ideal partner to the lamb. I would have liked to feel spicier heat from the koftas – that way, I could fully appreciate the cool minty yogurt.
Buttermilk fried squid (lime, aioli) was an interesting dish. The squid was tender and beautiful – I’m just not sure it went very well with the slider bun. Flavours of creamy aioli and zingy lime were wonderful; in the end, I just wound up eating the bread separately from the squid, as the creamy mayonnaise had saturated the bread (and god knows I’m a sucker for mayonnaise).
Carrot and courgette fritters (coriander and lime yogurt, dukkah) were good, slightly chewy morsels. The addition of dukkah was inspired, to give this dish a dash of Middle Eastern flair.
Polenta chips (sesame salad, romesca sauce) were generously sized and filling. I liked the herby, crunchy exterior, whilst the inside was pale and light as air. The romesca sauce too provided a good nutty hit, I just wasn’t sure about the sesame salad, which was essentially a few leaves drizzled with what tasted of sesame oil.
Patatas bravas (aioli) were decent; I just wish I could taste a little more than just seasoned tomato sauce.
Churros were interesting, in that they seemed to be one big loop (think of Pat Butcher’s earrings) instead of the fingers I have seen thus far. The texture too was different to any churros I have ever tasted, which led me to wonder… is this what authentic churros are supposed to taste of? The exterior was surprisingly smooth, sans ubiquitous cinnamon sugar. This wasn’t bad – my palate was befuddled for a few seconds, before accepting the tasty nature of the innovative reincarnation of the popular Spanish dessert.
From tasty nibbles, snacks and salads, to frituras and inviting cold meat platters, there is something for everyone at Baresca. The biggest draw is the setup of being part larder, part restaurant.
The vibe is excellent, which makes you want to hang around longer than you should, even when you’ve finished eating hours earlier. I loved the well-stocked shelves, and I’ll be sure to replenish my supplies when I’m there next time. Because there will be a next time (I’ve got my eye on the Spanish cheese selection).
Star Rating 1-10 (1: “I’d rather eat my own shoe, I hated it that much” – 10: “I’d pillage for a meal here”.)
Value for money: 8.5
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Address: 9 Byard Lane, Nottingham NG1 2GJ
Tel: 0115 948 3900