One of the key tasks I set myself with this blog is to encourage people to eat out in Leicestershire and Rutland. But for once I’m suggesting you consider trying Nottingham over the next couple of weeks.

In the last couple of years the City has staged a food festival of the familiar sort – Slab Square taken over by a variety of street food and farmer’s market stalls. Nice as this was, it didn’t really meet the needs of the people setting it up – Nottingham’s BID (Business Improvement District) team.  This initiative raises money from retail and leisure providers in a defined area of the city for activities to boost trade. And many of the food festival traders were from outside of the area.

So this year they’ve focused on getting people through the doors of existing restaurants and bars.  Key to this is the £10 dining offer being supported during Food and Drink Fortnight (3-17 August) by some 50 venues in the city centre. It’s based on the principle of the hugely successful initiatives run by national newspapers in the past  – you get a cheap meal out, the restaurant gets a chance to show off its strengths to new people who might otherwise not be tempted through the door (and without paying Groupon).

Potted mackerel at Loch Fyne

Potted mackerel at Loch Fyne

Summer pudding at the Hand and Heart

Summer pudding at the Hand and Heart

There’s a wide range of participants from the swanky (World Service – pre-booked lunch, two courses for £10),  to stylish bars such as Sinatra’s, traditional pubs such as the Hand and Heart (three course lunch for £10) and superior chains such as Loch Fyne (two courses, until 7pm, for £10).

I was invited by Nottingham BID to try out a few of the dishes on offer last night and it’s clear there’s plenty of great value around.  You can find out the precise nature of all the offers here. You can also go here to find a handbook for the fortnight which includes details of lots of other events and a selection of vouchers for further freebies and discounts.

Get down to St Martins

July 10, 2013

Many, if not most, Leicestershire readers will have read or otherwise seen that St Martins Tea  and Coffee in St Martin’s Square, Leicester, is closing the cookware part of the business – what was the Original Cookware Company – and concentrating on tea and coffee sales. A shame, as it was a good source of high quality or just hard-to-find kitchenware. But the closure does provide a bit of an opportunity as they are currently selling off stock at 50 per cent mark down.

Not sure how long this will continue – possibly only to this weekend – so I really recommend you get down there quick. It’s a great opportunity to freshen up your batterie de cuisine, and get that quality bakeware, expensive knives or self-indulgent gadget that your loved ones persistently fail to buy you for Christmas.  Oh and while you are there, buy some of their Oolong  – twenty cups of loveliness for the price of a pint.

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