We are sometimes asked to do reviews for venues in Nottinghamshire - these can be restaurants, attractions - in fact, anything that is a 'Thing to do in Nottinghamshire'.
We hope that you find our opinion useful - we try to be as honest and objective as we can but we will tell you if there is something we really don't like too!
Bubble and Treat at Clumber Park Muthu Hotel and Spa
7th March 2017
The 4 star Clumber Park Muthu Hotel and Spa is conveniently located just off the A614 with plenty of free parking and, although the road is busy, once inside you are immediately transported to a place of tranquillity.
My 'sparring partner' Julie and I were directed to the Spa, which is at the back of the hotel and felt far away from any hustle and bustle. Once there, we were warmly welcomed by Maria, who showed us the facilities and presented us with an itinerary for the day, as well as keys for our lockers.
Spa visitors are given fluffy white robes and towels to use and, suitably dressed, we ventured into the pool area and claimed a couple of loungers. The Spa has a reasonably sized pool with integrated bubble pool, a sauna and steam room, as well as a delightful outdoor seating area with sunken hot-tub. The atmosphere is calm and peaceful, helped by the view of trees and fields and the odd squirrel scampering about.
On the way to the pool we had a quick look at the gym, which is light and modern and seemed to include a lot of high-tech equipment. Not being big fans of exercise, we decided to leave this for another visit but it’s good to know that it’s there if you’re popping in for the day and fancy offsetting the relaxation with some physical exertions.
Time for treatments. I had chosen the New Leaf Skin Booster Facial, which was included within the Bubble and Treat package. In addition, we were offered the chance to book other treatments at a discounted price so, out of pure curiosity, I opted for the Hopi Ear Candles.
The treatment rooms are relaxation personified. The warm but calm décor, soothing music and muted lighting all combine to create an atmosphere of pure indulgence. My therapist, Leanne, gave a detailed explanation of what I could expect from the Hopi Ear Candle treatment, as well as the possible benefits.
Bizarre, is the first word which springs to mind – the long, thin beeswax candles were lit, then inserted into first one ear and then the other, creating a vacuum effect. The crackling which emitted from them for 10 minutes after they were lit was not exactly relaxing but certainly interesting and I couldn’t wait to see the results and how much ear wax had been drawn out of each year (sorry folks!). It turned out that this was ‘quite a lot’, so I am fully expecting my hearing to be massively improved and the circulation around my ears, head and sinuses to be stimulated.
My second treatment was the Skin Booster Facial. Now this is what spa days are all about for me – rest and recuperation. The facial is luxurious and promises to leave you with a smooth, glowing complexion in 25 minutes. I certainly felt invigorated after being pampered with a number of cleansing, toning and moisturising products. Definitely recommended.
Julie had chosen the Lime and Lemongrass Scrub for her main treatment, which she declared was fabulous and, as well as being incredibly relaxing, made her skin feel like silk. In addition, she chose the relaxing back, shoulder and neck massage which did exactly what it promised.
After some more pool time, we ventured into the dining area for our Afternoon Tea. Beautifully served, with a generous selection of very fresh sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, cakes and tarts, this Afternoon Tea included the bonus of a glass of prosecco, as well as tea or coffee. After consuming nearly the whole assortment of goodies, a rest was definitely needed. Luckily, right next to the dining area is a relaxation zone, with comfortable sofas, cushions, throws and magazines. Here, you can have a doze or just chill out and watch the world go by and we did … it was the perfect way to end our spa day.
The Bubble and Treat Spa Day costs £125 for 2 people and includes the afternoon tea, with a glass of prosecco, use of the spa facilities and gym, towels and robes and the choice of one 25 minute treatment. More information here.
Lunch at Revolucion de Cuba, Nottingham
Saturday 21st January 2017
As soon as you walk through the front doors of Revolucion de Cuba in Nottingham, you are hit with a warm, welcoming feeling. This lively bar/restaurant opened on Market Street a year ago and offers authentic Cuban food and drink, along with live music and salsa dancing, right in the heart of Nottingham City Centre.
I’ve experienced the music and slightly frenetic atmosphere of Revoluction de Cuba on many occasions during the evening and would always recommend it as somewhere to visit on a ‘night out’. However, being a parent with pre-teen kids, I wanted to check out its versatility and see whether this is a good venue for families in the daytime.
We were immediately welcomed by a very friendly member of staff, who showed us to a nice, large table by the window. Settling into the comfortable padded benches, with the added bonus of cushions, I immediately felt relaxed and ready to while a few hours away over lunch. Our drinks orders were taken efficiently and a jug of iced water with lemon and lime was provided. The children absolutely love the pineapple glasses their drinks were served in and were slightly disappointed that they couldn’t take them home!!
Perusing the Cantina menu, we could see that there was a whole host of choices, designed to suit those either looking for a light lunch or a full-on ‘Mr Creosote’ experience. We opted for the Tapas, which at £14 for 3 dishes seemed like good value and would give us the opportunity to try a few different dishes.
The kids had their own menu costing £5.95 and included a main, a side and a dessert, as well as a few puzzles and things to colour in (crayons were also provided). Jake (aged 11) chose the chicken goujons, served with skinny fries and Evie (aged 8) went for the vegetable quesadilla, served with cumber and carrot sticks.
The food was served within a perfectly reasonable timeframe and we immediately saw why they recommend that 3 tapas is plenty per person. We chose the Iberico Ham Croquettes, Chicken Quesadilla, Roasted Chorizo, Mojito Battered Prawns, Patatas Brava and Cajun Creamed Mushrooms, along with a selection of breads. The portions are generous and the food, quite frankly, is absolutely superb. Special mention has to be made of staff favourite, the Cajun Creamed Mushrooms, which were, in a word, sublime and served exactly as described. Most of the food has a little kick to it but the spices meld perfectly and nothing we tried was overpowering.
The kids’ sent back clean plates and eagerly dipped into the Tapas, as our blatant inability to finish this delicious food was a little embarrassing!
If you can make room for dessert and you really should try, your next problem is choosing between Columbian Chocolate Brownie, Churro Cheesecake or Molton Chilli Chocolate. After some discussion, we plumped for the Churro Cheesecake (costing £4), washed down with a nice cup of coffee. The kids’ choice was slightly easier and both went for the churros rather than the vanilla ice cream this time.
The churro cheesecake was a work of art on a plate. This super sweet concoction of churro sticks, stuffed full of vanilla cheesecake and topped with strawberries was the only way to finish off such a taste-laden meal but I’m glad we shared! The coffee was served with a small piece of chocolate brownie, making it the perfect solution if you can’t manage a whole pud but fancy something sweet. A lovely touch – I only wish that more restaurants could do this.
Revoluction de Cuba has, in my opinion, got the ambience spot on. The lighting is pitched at just the right level – enough so that you can actually read the menu but not glaring or harsh. This also applies to the background music – you can hear it, you can even chair salsa along to it if you desire but it’s not blasting out and preventing you from hearing what the person next to you is saying.
I have to say that I love this place. From the chilled out, laid-back vibe during the day, making it ideal for lunch out with the family, through to the upbeat intensity in the evening for the grown-ups, you can easily (and happily) lose hours here! It’s comfortable and friendly and the food is excellent, with the added bonus of being good value for money too, especially with 241 Tapas on a Sunday.
The Human League
16th December 2016 at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
for the Nottingham Post
It’s hard to believe that The Human League released every teenager’s must-have album ‘Dare’ way back in 1981 The fans may have aged, the fashions have changed but the music still sounds as fresh today as it did during the days of lopsided hairstyles and kohl overload, when the group was selling millions of records worldwide.
This year’s trip around Europe, aptly named A Very British Synthesizer Group Tour 2016, features the band’s original member Phil Oakey, accompanied by essentials Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall and runs alongside the recent release of their 4 disc anthology.
Nottingham’s Concert Hall was buzzing for tonight’s show. The audience was suitably warmed up by opening act Ekkoes, who did an excellent job with a number of catchy tunes and certainly deserve a mention.
Enter Phil Oakey, clad in black in an outfit that wouldn’t go amiss in The Matrix and belting out Being Boiled in that deep unmistakable voice. This man has totally still got it and he’s looking and sounding pretty darned good. The audience goes wild. Everyone gets to their feet. Susan and Joanne appear to the strains of Sound of the Crowd and we are all transported back to 1981. Fabulous.
The setup was high-tec, which perfectly complemented the music, with colourful images of jellyfish, Pacman and even Donald Trump. It all added to the evening’s dynamic vibe, as Phil Oakey pounded the stage, obviously enjoying every second of this last show of the tour and the adoration of hundreds of die-hard fans, determined to squeeze the most out of every second.
A group with such longevity as The Human League will have a ton of hits to choose from and we were treated to a huge array this evening, including Fascination , Human and The Lebanon. Susan and Joanne, as always, provided the glamour, the dancing and the additional vocals that propelled the group to stardom and, quite rightly, helped to ensure that they have stayed the course for so many years.
The 1981 smash Don’t You Want Me is The Human League’s most commercially successful tune and they made us wait until the end of the night to hear it. Nostalgia swept the room in waves and the audience continued singing the chorus long after the group had left the stage. Returning for an encore, they could not have chosen a better song to end the evening with than Electric Dreams.
My verdict for tonight? It was like a great big happy Human League party in your 1980s pants.
26th November 2016 at Nottingham Playhouse
for the Nottingham Post
It would seem that the saying ‘things get better with age’ is true when it comes to the pantomime at Nottingham Playhouse. Kenneth Alan Taylor has knocked out another smasher this year with his production of Aladdin and, judging by the audience reaction, this is his best yet.
We all know the story of Aladdin. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, boy gets locked in a cave by an evil man, boy rubs a lamp and is released by the genie. Two hours later, they all live happily ever after. No wicked stepmother or handsome prince, this story is different to the usual Christmas fairytale.
John Elkington returns as the ukulele playing Widow Twankey and is quite obviously a firm favourite amongst the Playhouse faithful. Rocking a series of outlandish outfits, including a teapot, he is once again superb, interacting with the audience and highlighting that family feeling found at this theatre, especially at this time of year.
Pantomime regular Rebecca Little plays two characters this year, with her usual gusto and comedic skill. Initially appearing as WPC Pong and then as the Slave of the Ring, she is the ideal foil to John Elkington. Also retreading the boards are the lovely Danielle Corlass as Aladdin, Kevin McGowan as evil Abanazar and Jasmine White as Princess Jasmine. Although Anthony Hoggard is sadly missing from this year’s line-up, newbies Nathan Elwick and Darren Southworth are welcome additions.
The show starts off at a cracking pace, with a song and dance routine from the Disney film Aladdin. We are then introduced to Wishee Washee, played by canny lad Nathan Elwick, whose real-life Geordie roots are cleverly intertwined into the story, with plenty of Ha’Way’s and references to his accent, which are bound to increase as the weeks go by.
Not received quite so well was The Empress of China, who the audience found slightly confusing. Not sure if he was good or evil, poor Darren Southworth, who consistently looked like a bejewelled lizard, was actually booed when he first appeared on the stage but soon redeemed himself with an excellent performance
Irene-Myrtle Forrester deserves special mention. Playing joint roles of WPC Ping and the slightly hypochondriac Genie of the Lamp, Forrester is sassy, funny and has a belter of a voice. In fact, all of the show’s musical numbers seem to have been ramped up a notch this year, with the cast’s voices gelling perfectly and, ideally chosen to encourage audience participation, of which there was plenty.
The second half began with a very clever, but initially rather bemusing, fluorescent trip amongst the planets, the point of which became clear on the arrival of the magic carpet. As usual at the Playhouse, the scenery and the props are clever but the show is more about the cast and story, so don’t expect an evening of pyrotechnics and wildly expensive trickery. Who needs that when you’ve got dancing rabbits anyway?
With the usual local jokes about Beeston and Mansfield, the show dashes between street markets, caves and palaces, with boatloads of catchy songs and nods to current events – there’s even a piece dedicated to a current X-Factor contestant (no spoiler), which delighted the audience and had them shouting for a number of encores.
One of the highlights of the evening was the Egyptian scene, where Nathan Elwick really stole the show, with his moustache and his very short costume. To everyone’s amusement, we were then treated to a hilarious rendition of the Dance of the 7 Veils by Widow Twankee, followed by the Sand Dance by Wishee Washee and The Empress. We won’t forget the sight of those legs for a while!
Once again, Nottingham Playhouse has produced a show to be proud of, with a very talented cast, who certainly did justice to the story of Aladdin.
The John Wilson Orchestra
22nd November 2016 at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall
for the Nottingham Post
After the success of last year’s tour, the John Wilson Orchestra returned to Nottingham’s Concert Hall as part of a 12 date whirlwind trip around the UK. This show, simply entitled “Music from the Movies” promises musical masterpieces from across the decades and has already received rave reviews.
For this tour, the unassuming but charismatic John Wilson was joined by a large hand-picked orchestra and accompanied by special guest singers Kim Criswell and Matt Ford. The Royal Concert Hall was busy and it was encouraging to see a wider range of ages in the audience this year, with a good smattering of the under 40s.
John Wilson tripped onto his podium and the orchestra dived straight into the 20th Century Fox Fanfare, which really helped to set the scene of the golden days of the Hollywood movies. This was swiftly followed by the first appearance of Kim Criswell, whose CV is as impressive as her voice, singing “I’m the Greatest Star” from the film Funny Girl and Matt Ford, who absolutely smashed “Something’s Gotta Give”.
The music travels seamlessly between rousing and melancholy, with plenty of songs which are perfectly orchestrated and melded to ensure that the evening ebbs and flows but never falters. John Wilson is cheerful and light-footed, providing exactly the right amount of information about the music, delivered in his friendly, relaxed style, which gives him an instant bond with the audience.
At the end of the first half, John informed us that we would be exclusively treated to not one but three movements from the film The Adventures of Robin Hood – because this was Nottingham after all - a decision that went down very well with the locals.
The second half kicked off with the Suite from Gone with the Wind – all 14 minutes of it, played quite superbly by this talented team of musicians. It’s plain to see that the members of the orchestra love their job and there were plenty of smiles and enthusiasm on display during the entire performance. The backdrop for the evening was plain but, who needs frills when you’ve got so much to look at on stage. Who knew that there was such a skill to playing the cymbals – I was totally transfixed.
The highlight of the evening was definitely the arrangement of Tom and Jerry, with an abundance of ‘smashing’ special effects from the wonderful Percussion Department (one of whom was from Nottingham and received special mention). This jaunty ensemble was comedic and fast-paced and the audience loved it.
The audience was teased with not one but two encores – the first included an audience singalong with Kim and Matt and, to the majority’s delight, the second was Princess Leia’s theme from Star Wars which, in my opinion, was the perfect end to a memorable evening.
Turtle Bay, The Cornerhouse, Nottingham City Centre.
Visiting Nottingham’s Turtle Bay is like walking into a sunny summer’s day. There is a relaxed vibe that hits you when you walk into the door and you can almost hear the cocktails calling you.
We were greeted by our server, Barbara, who did an excellent job of explaining the menu and giving us her recommendations. I was with my friend Julie and my 8 year old daughter Evie, neither of whom are massive fans of spicy food. Barbara immediately suggested some dishes that were less on the fiery side for Julie and also said that we could have any sauces served separately, in case they were too hot, which seemed like an excellent plan.
With this in mind, we chose the Jerk Pit Prawns and the Jerk Chicken Wings to share as starters. The food and drinks arrived promptly and we were very pleased with our choices. The shell-on prawns, served with herb, chilli garlic butter & flatbread were, in a word, sublime. The sauce complemented the prawns perfectly and the flatbread was perfect for mopping up the residue. We chose to have the classic jerk glaze ‘on the side’ for the chicken wings, as Barbara warned us that it had a kick to it, which was a wise decision and they too, were very tasty.
Evie was provided with a children’s menu which, as well as doubling up as an activity book (as a parent, I love these in restaurants!) had plenty of options, including chicken and burgers. For her main course (costing £4.50) she chose the flatbread, topped with cheese and tomato and served with salad and a choice of fries, sweet potato mash, or rice and peas and declared it ‘absolutely delicious’.
Julie and I, again going with Barbara’s recommendations, chose the Jerk Salmon, finished with classic jerk glaze (on the side) and served with dressed salad and the Trinidad Curry Chicken – sliced chicken breast, cooked in coconut milk with mango, spices, garlic and scotch bonnet and served with a roti. We also had some Caribbean dumplings on the side, which I think are an acquired taste. The food is brought to you in slightly banged up blue and white metal dishes and bowls, which really helps to give it all a feeling of authenticity. The portions are generous and everything we tried tasted freshly prepared, with bucketloads of flavour.
Somehow, we managed to squeeze in a pudding, although choosing between rum and raisin bread pudding and Caymanas Rum Cake was tough. In the end, we went for the Rum Cake, the Banana and Toffee Cheesecake and the Dark Chocolate Brownie, accompanied by a hot chocolate and a coffee. We were glad that we decided to loosen our belts and squeeze in that final course – the Rum Cake, in particular, was something that will live in my memory for a while – moist, tasty and incredibly Moorish.
Turtle Bay has the atmosphere spot on. With music at a level that enables you to enjoy it, yet still talk to the other people on the table, well-placed lighting (no squinting to see the menu but not cold and glaring) the ambience is warm and relaxed. We did not feel as though we were being rushed by the staff and they were attentive but not annoyingly so.
Being quite traditional about my food, this is not somewhere that I would instantly think of for Sunday lunch but it is obviously very popular and for good reason.
My advice would be – don’t be put off by the spice but talk to your server and let them advise you if you like your food on the milder side. Turtle Bay in Nottingham is certainly a great place to visit if you want a laid-back meal that’s a bit different to the norm. The prices are reasonable (the Jerk Salmon was £12.50 and the desserts were £4.85). The portions are big and we certainly felt like it was good value by the time was managed to waddle to the door, back into a cold Nottingham day.
Review undertaken by Lisa, Julie and Evie.