For me, what better way to spend the early part of a wet Friday evening in May than to bask in the cosy comfort of the relatively new café bar called Cured situated at 33/35 Central Avenue in West Bridgford near Nottingham. I would say that West Bridgford is the epicentre of restaurant and bistro life in Nottingham and we are talking real quality establishments. As part of the Brown & Brown Industries group Cured offers a relaxed place to enjoy what they described to me as them capturing the laid back feel of a craft beer bar whilst offering the eclectic luxury of a European café and kitchen. And that is precisely what it felt like as I happily ordered a 5.4% Point hand crafted traditional pale ale from Louise at my table.
There are a generous amount of beers and lagers to choose from at Cured and it's a good job I ordered my pale ale quickly as I never noticed the white and fruit beers, Belgian beers, Trappist beers, a whole raft of craft beers and Porters temptingly listed on the opposite side of the extensive four page drinks menu! I may have to go back after getting rather a taste for those Belgian beers in Leiden last year. For the non beer drinkers all is not lost. Cured list an equally tempting list of European and New World red, rosé and white wines as well as cocktails, sparkling wines, champagne and fortified wines. There are also a selection of juices and soft drinks and hot beverages.
The bijou café bar is already buzzing at 6.30pm and a congenial atmosphere exists here where a few pleasant drinks and some food are appreciated whilst spending time with friends and family. It certainly has that continental feel that myself and others enjoy. More layers of atmosphere are created with unobtrusive background music and the quirky tiled walls. Shortly before I left I spoke to some of their customers and in particular to Mark Watson who was there with his family and friends including the young children. Mark said that they used to go to another place on the Avenue on a early Friday evening but now really enjoy frequenting Cured because the staff are so friendly and welcoming especially to the children. He smiled a handsome smile and added that the craft beers are a bit of a draw too.
I've ordered a gourmet platter of charcuterie which is really for two to share and it is brought to the table by the chef who introduces himself as Kevin. The Cured staff are wonderfully knowledgeable and proud of their food and these are pretty much Kevin's own words as he presented the beautiful platter of cured meats, cured vegetables and cheeses to me. I think the phrase 'died and gone to foodie heaven' came into my mind. Over to you Kevin.
“So what we are presenting to you this evening Phil is a prime example of our gourmet selection. It's a selection of four cheeses and four charcuterie and four vegetables matched with bread and olives. The cheese comes from various places in Europe. You've got a Spanish Iberico chorizo, an official Italian Parma ham, a stamped ham, a Napoli salami, our cured and boned honey baked ham which is brined, roasted and then glazed three times. You've got some beautiful marinated vegetables including pickled artichokes, char grilled courgettes marinated in chilli. Plus you have char grilled aubergines in chilli and then you have roast and charred fennel poached in lemon. The selection is garnished with rocket, olives, olive oil balsamic oil and butter. The cheeses you are presented with this evening are Cornish Yarg, French Brie de Meaux, locally produced Cropwell Bishop Stilton and Italian Tallegio.”
I asked Kevin to tell me a little about the provenance of the meat charcuterie.
“We cure our own honeyed ham here and the rest we get from Delitalia a supplier of Italian charcuterie and they offer the best Italian products we can get our hands on. The ham we buy from our local butchers, we brine it to remove some of the salt and brine it again to put some of the sweetness back into it. We roast it low and slow from anywhere between three and four hours. Once its reached the temperature of about 50 degrees we've got our own mustard sugar to glaze the ham. We make the glaze in house- a mix of Dijon mustard, a little bit of sugar and honey and the glaze creates a sticky crust. When it sets there's a little bit of crunch to it. So, yes, the ham is the one we do in house and we are very proud of and I'm sure we'll do more as the concept grows with us.”
I'm not going to go to town describing each delicious mouthful. I think Kevin has done a great job in whetting anyone's appetite. Let's just say that after three quarters of an hour of very enjoyable, slow and considered eating there was very little left on the slate platter and wooden cheese blocks! And this was supposed to be for two! The cheese that really did it for me was one I had never tried before, the Tellagio, It had pleasant aroma, a mild fruity tang and slightly nutty flavour. The texture was similar to a rich Brie and caramel in colour. Their honeyed ham was every bit as scrumptious in taste as Kevin so eloquently described. I was also very taken with the fennel in lemon.
Later on I chatted with one of the male staff from the kitchen who took time to tell me that Cured try to source everything locally if they can including growing their own salads and vegetables. He said that the fennel was fairly easy to grow and we got into a great conversation about blanched vegetables such as white asparagus. You can't invent these kind of food appreciative situations or the love that goes into this business and its craftsmanship in creating their special cuisine.
You can find out much more about Cured online. They offer regular eat in and take away deals and have recently launched their Cured luxe Burgers and Cured posh dogs both of which according to their Twitter account seem to be flying out. Find Cured on Twitter @Cured_Bridgford
Cured on Facebook.
For large group bookings or private hire of the lounge call 0115 9817070.
A rainy Friday evening or not I shall certainly be back to Cured again sometime soon. Keep those beers chilled and those yummy cured meats coming. Thank you to owners Daniel and Dean Brown, Louise and the great staff at Cured for your gracious hospitality and warm welcome.