Food and drink trends I see exploding in 2020 include nut butters becoming more mainstream, pistachios given a starring role (come on, those emerald green nuggets beautify any dish), and food matched with non-conventional drink pairings i.e. coffee, rum and Cognac. 2020 will also see more pop-ups than before, see here a piece I wrote earlier this year about the rise and rise of pop-ups.
At the time of writing, ‘PopUpRestaurant’ has over 107K hashtags on Instagram, and that figure is only going to skyrocket next year. (It feels odd saying next year, but we are only four days away from the new decade).
I was covering a pop-up at Restaurant & Bar Six, the latest restaurant on Nottingham’s dining scene, where Louisa Ellis was the chef on the night.
Louisa has serious culinary gravitas. The Masterchef finalist has worked under notable tutelage at impressive kitchens ranging from Sat Bains, Adams Restaurant and The Wilderness. Her current role is private chef, tutor providing one-to-one training and holding pop-ups around the country.
The menu for Louisa’s evening at Restaurant & Bar Six is inventive and intriguing. For example, ingredients such as bacon butter certainly make you sit up and take notice, but is it enough to warrant placing Louisa on speed-dial begging her to reserve you a spot at her next pop-up evening?
Upon arrival at the bar, we are greeted with a Sourdough Cocktail. I have never had a Sourdough Cocktail, and this, I discover, will be an evening of many firsts. The Sourdough Cocktail is slightly acidic on the swallow and I find the bittersweet whisper of intense citrus appetising and thirst quenching. (We got lost on the way and had to leg it as fast as we could, hence the whole being out of breath thing).
Breath caught and coats handed over to concierge, we glance around the expansive restaurant and study the menu.
The menu at Restaurant & Bar Six is wine matched, which pleases me greatly. We kick off with a snack of smoked leek and egg tart with salmon tartare crackers. Earthy leek with a glorious golden yolk is good (as per dining partner) whilst I make a beeline for the tartare. Succulent salmon cradled by crunchy crackers is so good, I wolf two down in succession and feel no shame.
Next up is bacon butter and milk bread, the first tasting course on Louisa’s menu.
Louisa puts her own spin on two unassuming ingredients of bread and butter, ratcheting the flavour profile from mundane to lip-smacking and extraordinary. Sorry to go all 50 Shades on you, but whipped butter with a silken texture that caresses your taste-buds is the stuff of dreams. The caramelised bacon atop the light buttery mound is addictive, and I schmear a good dollop onto the warm milk bread which boasts a good yeasty tang.
Katsu crab is not something I have tasted before, having always eaten katsu, (chicken or tofu katsu) as a crumbed meaty cutlet with a spicy sauce. The surprise twist here, is that this dish is chilled. So, although the spices within the crab katsu are pleasantly warming, the cool fleshy crab and chilled yoghurt quenelle playfully throw your brain into disarray for a few seconds. The addition of chunky peanut brings more drama and bite to this thought-provoking dish, which is spirited and moreish in equal measure.
The cold, salsify and brown shrimp dish is a real celebration of flavours of the sea. A hunk of flaky cod is oxymoronically delicate yet meaty, whilst salsify boasts distinctive oyster undertones which marries well with brown shrimp.
Potato, wild mushroom and truffle is a dish bursting with flavour. Beautifully burnished chargrilled potatoes with a velvety bite bathed in a foaming emulsion are excellent and filling too.
Dry-aged venison is a big hitter at the table and goes exceedingly well with creamed celeriac. Al dente sprouts (there is no other way to have them) with chestnut chunks are a surprising combination that I really like, considering I have never eaten these two ingredients together before.
The first dessert delivers a deep, dark chocolate hit. Cocoa-flecked mousse centre enrobed in shiny chocolate is so eye-catching, it is almost too pretty to eat. I like the caramel beads and find the biscuit shard is best eaten when swiped through the golden amber caramel elixir.
Dessert number two of apple, vanilla and Speculoos is good too. It serves to be more of a palate cleanser, with refreshing tart apple being tempered slightly by the sweet stickiness of the lightly spiced Speculoos.
Dining at Restaurant & Bar Six and eating Louisa Ellis’s food is a double-whammy. Clever cooking resulting in delectable food, cooked in impressive surroundings and served with flair has made this event one of my culinary highlights of this year.
Louisa is one to watch. Do not be fooled by her youthful cheer; she has comprehensive cooking experience and an unshakeable confidence evident in Michelin starred chefs (Simon Rogan springs to mind).
If you get the chance to dine at one of Louisa’s pop-up events, grab it with both hands and I promise, you will not be disappointed.
Stellar service is the order of the day at Restaurant & Bar Six. The front of house team led by Tom Pitts, make it look easy being attentive (without being obtrusive) and knowledgeable (on ingredient provenance and wine notes). This – sublime service and mouth-watering food makes for a heady combination, and I hope there are more collaborations like these in 2020.
Katsu crab with Nussbaumer Gerwurztraminer 2017, Alto Adige, Italy
Potato and wild mushroom with Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, West Sussex, England
Cod and salsify with Masseria Li Veli, Verdeca, 2018, Salento, Italy
Venison and celeriac with Sharpham Estate Pinot Noir, 2017, Devon, England
Chocolate and hazelnut with Lafage, Maury Grenat 2017, France
Apple and Speculoos with Golden Eight, Poire William (on the rocks)
Hosted by Restaurant & Bar Six, Trent Bridge
Address: Radcliffe Road Stand, Trent Bridge, West Bridgford, Nottingham NG2 6AG
Date opened: March 2019
Monday & Tuesday Closed
Thursday 12pm–2:30pm | 5pm–11pm
Friday 12pm–2:30pm | 5pm–12am
How to make reservation: Online and by telephone
Telephone: 0115 671 7666
Covers: Restaurant seats 40, bar lounge 35.
Head chef: on the night was Louisa Ellis. Head chef in residence is Tom Sellers.
Front of house: Tom Pitts
Caters for dietary requirements: Yes, do make your dietary requirements known at time of booking.
Wheelchair friendly: Yes
How to get there: It is a 10 minute drive away from Upper Parliament Street (or Nottingham city centre).
Whilst in the area: How about catching a live piece of the action and watching a cricket match on the Trent Bridge grounds? Here are a few matches for your perusal.