Archive for the ‘Nottingham’ Category

Pho at Coco Tang

March 29, 2022

Previous week, a cappuccino at Coco Tang. A week on I thought try the food. Compared with my previous visit, a grave disappointment.



Lunchtime, packed. I wandered off to Kigali, had a coffee, returned mid-afternoon, now empty.

Pho, Vietnamese soup, not to be confused with Pho a corporate chain serving fake Vietnamese street food coupled with poor service and high staff turnover.

A long wait from taking my order. A very large bowl of soup, slivers of beef, noodles, with a side dish of red hot chilli peppers and bean sprouts and a couple of leaves.

Only when my soup bowl was taken away, did the waitress tell me what I thought was a side dish, was meant to be added to the soup. Why would I add a cold side dish to hot soup, why was I not told this at the time it was delivered to my table?

The slices of red hot chile pepper on the side plate, were not deseeded, hence very hot, but I was not warned. Contrast with Paste, nearby Thai restaurant, where they do warn.

Pho ok, but at the end of the day a bowl of soup, albeit a large bowl of soup. £10-50 for a bowl of soup.

I followed with a cappuccino. A disappointment compared with what I had the previous week.

I looked at the cocktails, £10 for an espresso martini, using poor quality coffee liquor.

To add insult to injury, 10% service charge sneaked onto my bill. Discretionary. No, it is not discretionary if added to my bill without my consent. And for what, a bowl of soup and a coffee brought to my table.?

To put in context, a three course lunch at Paste, less than a tenner. Or excellent lunch at Ugly Bread Bakery for a fraction of the price.

A very disappointing visit.

Cold misty afternoon Nottingham

March 29, 2022

Foggy before dawn. Later, Lincoln Cathedral shrouded in mist.

Nottingham, cold and damp, not a pleasant day.

Walking through Broadmarsh Tunnel, Deliveroo serf actually wheeling an electric cycle, but did get on and ride once through the tunnel, even though a pedestrianised street.

I thought I would eat at Coco Tang. It was packed, I wandered off to Kigali, retumed mid-afternoon, now empty.

I ordered Pho, a Vietnamese soup of slivers of beef and noodles, accompanied by a side dish of red hot chili peppers and bean sprouts and a couple of green leaves. Only when my empty soup bowl was taken away, did the waitress tell me that what I thought was a side dish was to be added to my bowl of soup. £10-50 for a bowl of soup, albeit a very large bowl of soup.

I ordered a cappuccino, ok but nothing to shout about or go out of my way for. And yet previous week excellent.

To add insult to injury, 10% service charge sneaked onto my bill.

Walking to the station, cloud breaking up and the sun coming out.

Coco Tang Vietnamese coffee shop

March 22, 2022

I had passed by Coco Tang many weeks ago when I took a wrong street, noticed a Japanese syphon.

Some  weeks later, after a coffee at Cartwheel, I paid a visit.

My expectations not high, I expected a Vietnamese restaurant serving bad coffee. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

It is always a pleasant surprise to stumble across an excellent coffee shop. In many ways a surprise no one has ever mentioned Coco Tang to me.

I stayed and had a chat, but not a coffee, as I lacked the time, not yet had lunch.

Later after lunch at Ugly Bread Bakery and a flying visit to Kigal I returned.

From the outside, tiny, inside a veritable rabbit warren.

A beautiful roof top garden. But please,No Smoking.

Down in the basement, a bar. There was also a bar behind the coffee shop.

On walking in, V60, Vietnamese pour over, EK43 grinder, an impressive custom made 3-group head Slayer espresso machine from Seattle (of which are justifiably proud). At the rear, tucked in a corner past the bar, a Giessen W6 roaster, on the floor sacks of green beans.

After a good look around I was handed a coffee menu, a little booklet with pictures of the various coffees served.

I chose a cappuccino. It was excellent.

I left with a bag of their house blend. Happy Valley Espresso Blend – Burundi -Kayanza – Ethiopia -Yirgacheffe – D.R. Congo – North Kivu, rich body, fruity, chocolate notes.

Everyone I spoke to went out of their way to be helpful.

My only criticism, in an otherwise impressive establishment, was storage and sale of the coffee beans. Stored in glass jars, exposed to light and exposed to oxygen each time the jar opened. There needs to be information on the provenance of the beans. This could be a postcard.

I can see a return visit to try the food, as unlike Pho (a corporate chain serving fake Vietnamese street food) the food authentic.

Effy

January 13, 2022

I had several people tell me Effy worth a visit.

Today a visit, my first visit.

My first impression stuffy, as can be from the steamed up windows. They need better ventilation, especially during coronavirus pandemic.

Awful lighting, a dull pink glow, which makes feel as though eyes are not functioning correctly.

Coffee on sale on the shelves Manhattan, a roastery in Rotterdam. Though not what I was served. Difficult to read what was written on the bag due to poor lighting.

A few cakes on display. Whether food served or not, I do not know.

I ordered a cappuccino. Bailies, a roastery in Ireland that I was familiar with. Short lived Flat Whites served Bailies as a guest coffee.

The only coffee shop I have seen an Origami in use other than in Athens, though not on sale. Using Kalita wave filter papers.

Knowledgeable and helpful barista.

Too busy to try, I left a few coffee beans of the coffee I had with me.

We now have four excellent coffee shops in Nottingham

  • Effy
  • The Specialty Coffee Shop
  • Kigali
  • Cartwheel Coffee

All within a few minutes walk of each other, a few minutes walk from Nottingham Station. 

From Kigali worth a detour to Sneinton Market to Luisa’s bean-to-bar craft chocolate and Neon Raptor craft beer brewery.

Kigali is located in Hockley, many interesting indie businesses. If looking to eat try Paste (Thai restaurant) or Ugly Bread Bakery. 

I asked did Manhattan have a coffee shop? No. It was recommended try Fuku Friedhats in Amsterdam. 

That is one of the nice things visiting coffee shops, recommendations of other coffee shops to visit. It my be a few minutes walk away, a nearby town, or even as in this case, another country. My visit to Effy was based on recommendations.  A friend had asked me, recommendations for Amsterdam?

Terrace Cafe Nottingham Castle

December 30, 2021

Cafe associated with the Gift Shop closed, staff shortages. I walked up to the Terrace Cafe located inside the Ducal Palace. When reach the top, very windy, views over Nottingham.

Initial impression a prison canteen.

By the counter a display of unappetizing cakes.

I was there for a coffee, but whilst there I thought have a bowl of soup. Soup of the day, tomato soup, served lukewarm. Had I checked the price I would not have ordered, a rip off £6-25 for a bowl of soup.

A cappuccino ordered. Chocolate dumped on top. I took it back. Girl apologised and said she would bring me another coffee.

it did not look good. Cheap crap catering supply coffee. I left untouched after a sip.

I asked what it was. Girl brought out a bag and confirmed cheap crap catering supply coffee.

I had noticed as I walked through the Gift Shop coffee from a local roastery, Stewarts of Trent Bridge. Why did they not use? Gift Shop a different company.

I was not surprised the poor quality. The same outsourcing company that does such a bad job for Lincoln Cathedral Cafe.

The only good point, views over Nottinhham if manage to grab a window seat (I did not).

If visiting Nottingham Castle avoid the Terrace Cafe. Eat and drink before or after visit.

Just down the road The Specialty Coffee Shop, excellent coffee. Kigali and Cartwheel Coffee excellent coffee and cakes. Cartwheel Coffee excellent lunch. To eat Ugly Bread Bakery. All local businesses that take a pride in what they serve.

Hotel Chocolat Nottingham

December 21, 2021

Hotel Chocolat a corporate chain, overpackaging and obscene use of plastic.

Some time in the summer Hotel Chocolat introduced Nespresso pods.

The best that can be said, better than Nespresso, marginally better than offering in supermarkets, but not worth wasting money on.

The pods are made of aluminium, can be recycled with a gadget from Hotel Chocolat or Lakeland to first extract the spent coffee grounds.

A couple of weeks ago, Hotel Chocolat introduced their version of a Nespresso machine.

I looked in Hotel Chocolat Nottingham hoping would have in stock, on display, in use, or at least could tell me something about.

Member of staff knew nothing, called over his manager who was little better.

He could tell me the price, £180, but little else, other than manufactured by Dualit, which means low quality domestic machine. Is this a Lakeland machine rebadged?

Why buy when can buy cheapest Nespresso machine for around £60, certainly less than £100? An Opal One at around £120. Why pay three times the price of a Nespresso machine?

He did not know, other than to tell me if I bought on-line, limited time offer, came with a bundle of their capsules.

He then fed me bullshit, Nespresso quality coffee, a matter of opinion if say otherwise. No, it is cheap vile unpleasant tasting coffee. It never helps other than to make oneself look stupid, to feed bullshit to someone who knows about coffee.

If have a Nespresso machine, buy third party capsules from reputable coffee roasteries, and if do not have a Nespresso machine, buy an Opal One.

Hotel Chocolat now all things to all men, chocolate, alcohol, ice cream and now coffee.

If wish to buy coffee, at least three excellent coffee shops in Nottingham

  • Cartwheel Coffee
  • Specialty Coffee
  • Kigali

If wish to buy chocolate, there is only one place for cholate in Nottingham, Luisa’s in Sneinton Market, bean-to-bar high quality craft chocolate.

And as for the ugly coffee cups. Look in Kigali for a choice of coffee cups, elegant design, and the correct size.

The capsules cannot be selling. Boxing Day Sale on Baristas Selection, almost half price. Does it include bars of chocolate? Or, not in the Sale, The Tasting Selection, which is cheaper. Confused? Me too.

Beginning of January, their Nespresso clone machine half price.

Afternoon in Nottingham

September 1, 2021


My first visit to Nottingham since lockdown last year.

First of September,  first day of Autumn. 

Awaiting train, many on the platform at Lincoln Central, two-coach train busy, many more passengers than usual mid-week for Nottingham.

Idiots not wearing face masks.

After Newark, complete overkill, three staff walking through a two-coach train checking tickets.

Big changes in Nottingham.

Massive student block erected next to Hopkinsons, the other side, a massive hole.

Why oh why have Hopkinsons defaced their building with a electronic display sign? 

Rental yellow peril e-scooters dotted around. Not yet the problem of Athens or Oxford with rental cycles.  A few idiots whizzing around on. 

Before half-demolished Broadmarsh, anther massive building, a broad pedestrianised walk is being created. 

Walking through the half demolished Broadmarsh Intu shopping centre, emerge the other side, retail desolation, everything closed or closing down.

Not many people about, usually busy.

Walk past Cartwheel Coffee, very sad to see the cobbler Loakes shoes has closed. Thea Caffea has taken over the empty tea shop at the back. Erected ghastly garish A-boards in the street, out of keeping with the building, believed to be a listed building. I take a look, plastic flowers as walk in sums up the tackiness. For good measure, a tacky ugly sign hiding the name of the building. If this is a listed building, why no Enforcement action? 

I was not going to, but stay at Cartwheel Coffee, sit outside with a cappuccino.

Further up the street, a florist in the street.

I notice a side street yet more retail desolation.

Cubed, a new coffee shop and barber shop. I ask of the coffee, 200 Degrees, worse still, their poor quality Brazilian blend bulked out with cheap crap Robusta from Vietnam. I ask the girl outside smoking, never a good sign, the coffee machine. She had told me she was the barista. She does not know. No, you cannot look inside if do not want a coffee.

Paste, excellent Thai restaurant closed, no longer open lunchtime.

Eat at The Ugly Bread Bakery. Excellent lunch. Packed inside, I decided to eat outside, then outside no free tables, but a table free inside.

Stop at Kilgali, was Outpost Coffee, to ask when open until. I think they said five, maybe six. Great, time to visit Luisa.

Pass by Yolk, new coffee shop last year, has already closed. I am not surprised, nice coffee shop, but the coffee was not good.

No Luisa. Closed for the day.

I head to the craft beer brewery. Sorry we are brewers, cannot sell you any cans.

Head back to Kigali. Outpost Coffee was an excellent coffee shop, and yet Kigali have managed to improve upon. No mean feat. Guest coffee, coffee mugs and Standart on sale. I sit outside with an excellent cappuccino.

I leave with a copy of Standart

Pass by another new coffee shop Braze next to Ugly Bread Bakery. Yet again, 200 Degrees, at least their guest not their house blend. But even so, what is the point of opening a coffee shop and buying low quality coffee? We are spoilt for choice. On the other hand reputable coffee roasteries are choosy who they supply coffee to. But worse still, why open an independent coffee shop then buy coffee from a chain? 200 Degrees is a chain serving mediocre coffee.

Look in Cobden Chambers. How to ruin a lovely courtyard. Covered seating for a bar.

Ideas on Paper not open. Sad, as was an excellent shop. Not opened since closed beginning of pandemic last year.

Head to The Specialty Coffee Shop. Changes to the interior, three staff. I have time for an espresso.

Head to the station.

Packed train, though not as packed as pre-pandemic. Had I caught the next train it would have been bad. Not acceptable only two-coach train.

Afternoon in Nottingham

September 3, 2020

A lovely pleasant warm sunny afternoon in Nottingham.

Roads from Nottingham Station leading to Broadmarsh closed. Let us hope remain closed.

I look in a pop up shop making face masks. But the double-lined ones. I wish I had not lost in Lincoln a few days ago the cotton face mask  that replicated the paper masks.

I had picked up a face mask before catching the train, but again double layers (not apparent until take out of packaging) and a mix of polyester and cotton. I prefer cotton.

In the shop they showed me a pocket between the two layers. I assumed that was how it was. The one I had picked up earlier, a small cloth marked pm2.5. I now realise what it was. A filter to slip into the pocket the make 3-ply and give additional protection, but also make even more difficult to breathe.

Last week a long detour around the derelict Intu Broadmarsh shopping centre, this week could walk through.

I am seeing owls. Did not notice last week. Maybe because I took a different route.

Building work, demolition, renovation everywhere. All for student accommodation. Not good news when we have a homelessness crisis with people living on the streets.

I looked in Cartwheel Coffee. Food looked tempting and it would have been pleasant to sit outside. I was after a bag of Ethiopian coffee.

Barista kindly ground a few beans espresso and V60 pour over. This gives a reference for a grinder for calibration.

Lunch at Paste, a Thai restaurant. A mistake, as it was not very good. My fault as picked the wrong dish. Stir fried vegetables, which if fished in the bottom found a few pieces of meat.  In the past I have had deep fried chicken with a creamy sauce.

They have removed the tables in the middle, temperature scanned as enter.

There used to be a tall girl, never smiled. Maybe she has left.

Closed at 2-30. I have not noticed it closed before, but maybe I was an hour late.  I asked staff as we were leaving. They said because of coronavirus.

I also raised their failure to answer on social media, that I had visited Monday previous week to find closed.

VAT has dropped from over 20% to 5%. It is not being passed on, prices have not changed.

Outpost Coffee has changed hands, now Kigali, focus on coffee roasting, with Kigali as an independent coffee shop.

I learnt The Specialty Coffee Shop closed at three as did Kigali.

I stayed and had a cappuccino.

Too late to visit Luisa’s chocolate.

Word on the street, Wired closed due to greedy landlord doubling the rent.

Looked in Cobden Chambers. Ideas on Paper not open.

Head to station via Market Square. Not many people about.

Reluctant to leave at four thirty as a warm pleasant sunny afternoon, but if I visit Cartwheel Coffee or take a walk along the Nottingham Canal, stay another hour, I will be on a rush hour train.

Train not too busy.

Blend

January 17, 2020

Blend coffee shop located in Steinton Market is the retail arm of coffee roastery Stewarts of Trent Bridge which is also located at Steinton Market.

And so it was to Steinton Market, an area of Nottingham I had never visited before.

Sneinton Market fairly easy to find, head off straight down the street from Wired. The further I walked down the street the seedier it became.

Google Maps says five minutes, more like ten minutes. Though I did pop in Bookwise on the way. Never miss up the opportunity to look in a second hand bookshop.

Steinton Market something of a disappointment. I was expecting a vibrant market like Trinity Market in Hull. I was also expecting fruit and vegetable stalls. But no, revamped units, now let to small businesses and start ups by the local council. A good idea. Though nearly everything appeared to be closed. And the area was dead, literally no one about.

I then happened upon Luisa’s bean-to-bar craft chocolate, the jewel in the crown of Sneinton Market.

I popped in, but at a delicate process. I am asked can I pop back? No problem. I am off to Blend coffee shop, I will return a little later.

Sneinton Market is three rows of long low outbuildings. In the second row I find a craft brewery. I pop in. Not open to visitors, but I walk in anyway. I buy a can of expensive IPA, only a choice of two. I don’t like cans, I prefer beer in bottles.

In the third row I find Stewarts of Trent Bridge, a coffee roastery. Again I pop in. I am kindly shown around, not that there is a lot to see apart from a Probat coffee roaster.

Then to Blend, a coffee shop, the retail outlet for the coffee roastery.

Open and airy, like a warehouse, but smell of frying bacon not so good, nor the loud unpleasant music, too loud. I was surprised how busy.

For an outlet for a coffee roastery not exactly showcasing their coffee, a single origin, not at all obvious, appears to be a blend that changes monthly and the house blend.

I asked for a cappuccino. As far as I could tell, no pour over on offer, or if there was not obvious as I did not see.

I was asked what size? Show me the cups. I asked for the correct size. Then a silly conservation ensues, told it is personal preference. No, there is only one size for a cappuccino, the correct size. It is always best to keep quiet than display ones ignorance. And if do not know, do not wish to know, then get out of coffee.

My coffee is brought blended with chocolate.

No, a cappuccino does not have chocolate, ether blended or dumped on top.

I take it back, ask for a cappuccino with no chocolate. I should not have to ask. I should be asked. And a good coffee shop would not ask as they would not dream of insulting clientele with chocolate.

What is brought is not good. OK, but not good. Lukewarm, mediocre at best. Marginally better than 200 Degrees, which is a very low bar to exceed.

It was then back to Luisa’s where an interesting conversation on chocolate ensued.

In essence Blend a greasy spoon cafe serving mediocre coffee. The food I did not try, and if I wished to eat from what I saw there are better places to eat Taste and Ugly Bread Bakery which are nearby heading back into the centre of Nottingham.

The coffee for a greasy spoon cafe better than would expect but not to the standard of a coffee shop, especially one showcasing what a roastery has to offer. Not in the same league as Outpost Coffee, Wired, Cartwheel Coffee or The Specialty Coffee Shop.

Nottingham cold mid-January afternoon

January 15, 2020

A sunny albeit cold afternoon in Nottingham.

It is not every day visit a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, craft beer brewery and a coffee roastery all in one day.

And visit a Thai restaurant and a coffee shop.

To Paste, Thai restaurant. Excellent lunch, generous portion size. As last week, empty.

Looked in Ugly Bread Bakery. Mentioned the Panorama programme on town centres broadcast on Monday, worth watching.

Invited to a meeting with retailers the following day.

Head off to Sneinton Market.

Pass Bookwise, a second hand bookshop. I briefly look in.

Sneinton Market fairly easy to find, head off straight down the street. The further I walk down the street, the seedier it becomes.

Google Maps says five minutes, more like ten minutes.

Steinton Market something of a disappointment. I was expecting something like Trinity Market in Hull. I was also expecting fruit and vegetable stalls. But no, revamped units, now let to small businesses by the local council. A good idea. Though nearly everything appeared to be closed.

I then happen upon Luisa’s bean-to-bar craft chocolate, the jewel in the crown in Sneinton Market.

I pop in, but at a delicate process. I am asked can I pop back? No problem. I am off to Blend coffee shop, I will return a little later.

Sneinton Market is three rows of long low outbuildings. In the second row I find a craft brewery. I pop in. Not open to visitors, but I walk in anyway. I buy a can of expensive IPA, only a choice of two. I don’t like cans, I prefer beer in bottles.

Then in the third row I find Stewarts of Trent Bridge, a coffee roastery. Again I pop in. I am kindly shown around, not that there is a lot to see apart from a Probat coffee roaster.

Then to Blend, a coffee shop, the retail outlet for the coffee roastery.

Open and airy, like a warehouse, but smell of frying bacon not so good, nor the loud unpleasant music, too loud. I was surprised how busy.

For an outlet for a coffee roastery not exactly showcasing their coffee, a single origin, not at all obvious, appears to be a blend that changes monthly and the house blend.

I asked for a cappuccino. As far as I could tell, no pour over on offer, or if there was not obvious as I did not see.

I was asked what size? Show me the cups. I asked for the correct size. Then a silly conservation ensues, told it is personal preference. No, there is only one size for a cappuccino, the correct size. It is always best to keep quiet than display ones ignorance. And if do not know, do not wish to know, then get out of coffee.

My coffee is brought blended with chocolate.

No, a cappuccino does not have chocolate, ether blended or dumped on top.

I take it back, ask for a cappuccino with no chocolate. I should not have to ask. I should be asked. And a good coffee shop would not ask as they would not dream of insulting clients with chocolate.

What is brought is not good. OK, but not good. Lukewarm, mediocre at best. Marginally better than 200 Degrees, which is a very low bar to exceed.

It is then back to Luisa’s. An interesting conversation on chocolate ensues.

I had tasted samples earlier. Another taste. Each one is better than before. In essence it is wow. Mind blowing chocolate. I have never before tasted such exquisite chocolate, though I have yet to try Bullion or Bare Bones from The Steam Yard. One fruity, maybe cherry like, another more citrus. Mind blowing flavours. The last one I tried, as I hold it in my mouth, the flavour intensifies.

These are not added flavours, these are the intrinsic flavours of the chocolate. This is what chocolate should taste like, not like Cadbury’s. A coffee analogy, coffee does not taste like the vile tasting undrinkable coffee served by Costa or Starbuck’s.

It is then to Outpost Coffee to enjoy a decent coffee.

Then to Ideas on Paper. Where I needed to visit, half price sale on back issues of magazine. But only time for a quick browse, no running late.

Dash Vegan zero waste shop has gone from Cobden Chambers. The restaurant had gone when I visited a few weeks ago. It was the zero waste side I excepted to go. I say gone, it has relocated to Hopkinson. But how long before it goes, as not a viable business the amateurish manner in which it is run. A pity they had not advised customers soonest, not waste a visit to find closed a notice posted on the door, especially as I had passed Hopkinson earlier, as would other customers if arrived by train.

Managed to catch train with a few minutes to spare. Have to walk to the front of the train to get on, standing room only.


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