As a former vegetarian, steak is something I’ve had to come round to slowly. It’s the big daddy of all meats, the final hurdle in the transition from herbivore to carnivore. Several years after my first steak, I’ve come a long way. Where I once winced at the thought of it, I now found myself craving it – and I knew where to go.
Oaks in Nottingham is definitely for the carnivorous. Cow, chicken, pig, boar (ok that’s just a fancy pig, but still) there’s barely an animal that doesn’t rear its head on the menu. That’s not to say veggies can’t enjoy it too – a friend of mine is a big fan of the mushroom & aubergine burger, but it’s a good job seeing as that’s about the extent of your choices.
Meat isn’t necessarily what the restaurant is selling itself on. Their USP is all about using locally-sourced produce – the food, the beer, even the logs for the grill have all come from nearby, which is something I think you’re supposed to care about when it comes to eating a slab of flesh (again, my veggie ignorance shines through)
Inside is pleasing. There’s an industrial vibe to it that’s very popular among centre centre restaurants at the moment, but without the air of feeling like you’re in a converted car park. There’s a nice separate area just for drinkers, and the tables in the dining section are spread far enough apart that you aren’t listening in on other diners’ conversations.
As I mentioned before, the menu really bows down to the meat, so before the main event we thought we’d ease ourselves in with a bottle of red and a couple of starters. Quail scotch eggs were the first – two of them, halved so as to fully showcase the runny yolk porn.
With plenty of meat encasing the egg this was incredibly tasty, to the extent that sharing the dish made us feel a bit cheated with just the one egg each. Our second starter, on the other hand, rather made up for that.
The baked lincolnshire poacher cheese arrived as a huge vat of molten liquid, accompanied by a good half loaf of toasted bread – far too much for one person, but it was heavily garlicked (which I view as a positive) and satisfying dunkable.
For your main you have your pick of various cuts of steak and sausages in all manner of mouth-watering forms (pork/pancetta & beef/gruyere sounded particularly appealing) But we had steak on the brain, so steak we chose. A ‘Rump Wednesday’ offer of a steak and chips for £10 had my name all over it, while my date went for the rib eye.
It’s probably worth mentioning at this point that this definitely wasn’t a meal for the January slimmers. The steaks arrived juicy with a heavy helping of salt, the chips cut thick, the truffle mash as creamy and decadent as it sounds. Even the green beans, a half-hearted attempt at ordering something healthy, came slathered in butter. “The diet can start tomorrow” I stated convincingly while continuing to carb-load.
Oaks does simple, hearty food and it does it well. Neither cheap nor particularly pricey, it certainly satisfied a craving and was a nice place in which to kill a couple of hours.
All in all, I’d go there again. My date? Not so much.