The Martins Arms, Nottingham
We get a tip off about a pub outside the city way of things in a small village called Colston Bassett. Nestled to the south east of Nottingham not far off the A46 sits Colston Bassett, home to a very old and well thought after pub called "The Martins Arms"...
A trip to Nottingham for us meant that we would always be on the hunt for somewhere
good to eat, not as easy as you might think when in a new place, well new for us at any rate.
We get a tip off about a pub outside the city way of things in a small village called Colston Bassett. Nestled to the south east of Nottingham not far off the A46 sits this village and it is home to a very old and well thought after pub called "The Martins Arms".
"Nottinghamshires Dining Pub of the year 2012-2020", being one of those many esteemed titles, and it is clear to us that the owners are clearly very proud of the history of the place...
Historically an estate owned pub named after its Squire it is now in private ownership and has strived to maintain all of the history of its bye gone age.
So this pub has many accolades to its name, "Nottinghamshires dining pub of the year 2012-2020", being one of those many esteemed titles, and it is clear to us that the owners are clearly very proud of the history of the place and their tenure as custodians of such and old establishment.
We arrive and park in the nicely dressed carpark to one side of the pub, it is a lovely looking building and has proper pub charm, inside is quiet, more due to our mid week oddly timed arrival than anything else, but sometimes that is as good a chance as any to find out whats what with a place.
Its old school for sure Red, deep burgundy and floral, it wont be to everyone's taste and some might say its a little OTT in regard to that old school charm...
Its old school for sure, red, deep burgundy and floral, it wont be to everyone's taste and some might say its a little OTT in regard to that old school charm, but it's a style and they are sticking to it, lets put it like this they are definitely keeping the local florists in business, either that or they had just hosted a London gangsters funeral.
The interior is big and spacious enough, access is good from the carpark, a corridor makes its way out into what can only be described as an "Augusta Golf course" level of a garden, it is manicured, really well looked after. Awards for gardening will go here for sure because its some pub garden.
So we are seated at a cosy table in the main bar area and given menus, they have a specials menu and a main menu. If you decide to use price as a bench mark for where a place is aiming then i would say The Martins Arms aims high. Starters are between £9 and £12 ...ouch! and mains between £18 and £38 , sides around £6 each and deserts are £10 a pop, and this is well before the recent cost of living increases and inflation hikes.So at those prices and with those awards they are not leaving much wriggle room if things are not absolutely bang on the money.
... the Crab Cake, that was a bit odd as they looked like crab balls to us and big ones at that, perhaps a little incongruous would be a good description..
Starters wise we go for Sun Blushed Arancini and Creole Crab-cake and mains we decide to eat off the specials board, Pan Fried Sea Bass, Rosti Potato,Asparagus, scallops and Lobster and chorizo sauce.
The rest of the menu has plenty of choice and seems well thought out, local ingredients and some standard fare if you want to keep it simple.
Service was good, it is quiet, so understanding that you don't have loads of staff on hand is fair, but it is also harder to be attentive. We don't wait too long for drinks to arrive and then the starters are delivered. First impressions are good the presentation of Arancini is excellent, it looks like an expensive starter, the Crab Cake, that was a bit odd as they looked like crab balls to us and big ones at that, perhaps a little incongruous would be a good description, served on a scallop shell plate it smelt good and we tucked in, it was well seasoned and thought out, no complaints on the starters, plenty of crab in those massive balls with a hint of lime, oddly the apple coleslaw worked well too. The Arancini was fresh with tomato and parmesan shavings, yes a good start.
a combo of ingredients which just look great if not challenging for the chef to balance right.
So we decide to have the same main, only because it just leaps out as being different and has a combo of ingredients which just look great if not challenging for the chef to balance right. Challenging because the flavours are bold big and have a risk of nuking the star of the show, the Sea Bass.
The mains arrive with not too much of a gap after the starter, presentation is good, the aroma of the food is punchy and the look is of deep orange with slashes of green from the asparagus and fresh pea shoots on the plate is appealing to the eye. The asparagus is fresh and nicely cooked, the fish is spot on, crispy skin and soft white buttery flesh, under which the scallops are hiding surrounded... by that orange bisque! Well I say bisque, it actually has the consistency of a mayonnaise, its rich, really rich and at first nice to taste, lobster comes through and chorizo heat and spice, but boy it is so punchy that it just takes over the entire plate of food, those poor scallops, they are cooked to perfection and then drowned in the sauce that just blows them away, there is so much sauce that it is hard to avoid it. I so wish it had been a side to add as i wanted or just less of it. I can only describe it as if it's been over reduced, like an intense sauce base rather than a finished sauce to compliment the fish.
...its really well presented and pretty sure made on site, but it isn't delicate, its a slab of quite heavy cake with coffee cream and 'cream of cream' and toffee sauce and sweet crumb and creamy baileys creamy sweet ice cream! Wowzer! ...
So following that monster rich sauce, why, you may ask, would we order a desert? Well the answer is simple, we would like to see if that over egging is in the pudding. We order what sounds like a pretty heavy desert of Cappuccino Cake with Hazel nuts and Baileys ice cream and a toffee sauce, again a tricky balance of bold sweetness, kinds sounds like Tiramisu with some extras.
You can see from the photos , its really well presented and pretty sure made on site, but it isn't delicate, it's a slab of quite heavy cake with coffee cream and 'cream of cream' and toffee sauce and sweet crumb and creamy baileys creamy sweet ice cream! Wowzer! i am so creamed out and blasted with sugar whilst trying to get over the lobster Tsunami that again all i want is half of the size - no toffee sauce and a fresh vanilla ice-cream on the side to balance that coffee cake out.
Feels like a shot in the heart at the chef, it's not, but truthfully whom ever is cooking knows this stuff and knows how to cook great food but it needs to be backed off a bit because i have no idea how anyone would be able to finish three courses here without having a heart attack. Its so frustrating, we really hope they can tweak it a little because i'd love to try those dishes at half the volume level, rather than a spinal tap 11!
a few less flowers and the deeps reds, trust in your environment, give me a quarter of that sauce and believe that the Sea Bass and Scallops are incredible on the plate, we suspect they were!
Overall there is a general feeling that the owners are passionate about their pub and it doesn't go unnoticed at all, we admire it to a degree. However there comes a point where you need to stop reducing the sauce and find a better balance, a few less flowers and those deeps reds, trust in your environment, give me a quarter of that sauce and believe that the Sea Bass and Scallops are incredible on the plate, we suspect they were! because i think that this pub is probably better than it thinks it is, it doesn't need to try quite so hard. Its not cheap and cannot afford to trip up anywhere, that OTT feeling does trip it over a little.Simplify it and deliver incredible food with a hint of that old fashioned charm
and we wouldn't be leaving feeling a little underwhelmed and over sick. Yes this our snap shot of a point in time so feel free to tell us you had a different experience.
It's clean, well kept, no sticky tables and the loos are nice enough, the access is good for all and i suspect it is child and dog friendly, as a local pub should be, but check first. They could easily take big parties and if the weather is good that garden is gonna take some beating, bring your putter if you like!
SCORE, 6.8 Good
Food Score 6/10
Service score 8/10
Vibe 6/10- odd
Disability Access 7/10 needs clarification
Sticky table 8/10
Value for Money 5/10 its expensive
What it cost £114.00, £57.00 per head no wine
What its worth, £45.00 per head
Would we go back Yes