The Sanctuary

June 15, 2012

One of the nice things about being involved in some small way with the restaurant business is that the friends you make often end up opening new places and you get a great excuse to go and see them. I found out yesterday that fellow Great Food columnist, top photographer, blogger and inspired homecook Hazel Paterson has got herself a head chef’s job at Hollingshead in Melton Mowbray. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights she’ll be knocking out stylish dishes such as grilled peach and goat’s cheese salad with blackberry dressing, watercress, red onion, balsamic glaze and violet flowers or ballotine of free range chicken breast stuffed with wild mushrooms and garlic served with buttery mash and porcini sherry sauce .

I hope to go over soon. The modern brasserie approach of her menu is along similar lines to another friend’s venue that I was able to go and visit this very lunch time. Kerry Mathie has a good pedigree in the business having managed London restaurants for Anthony Worrall Thompson, made television  programmes for the Food  Network, and run the  restaurant PR business Big Table. Late last year she took the plunge and opened her own venue  – The Sanctuary in Upper Saxondale, just off the A46 between Nottingham and Newark.

The Sanctuary

It’s a very sympathetically converted old Victorian asylum that several people have tried and failed to make a go 0f. But Kerry knows her stuff and has recruited a high quality team front and back of house.Crucially she knows how to promote and market a place too.

It’s not a fine-dining, destination venue. It’s a smart, stylish bar restaurant that looks after locals, engages with its community, but also draws in people from surrounding villages and the commuters moving up and down the nearby A52 and A46.

Anway the food – I started with a light and airy stilton mousse, paired with figs given a wafer-thin brulee of sugar and a salad including a nice crunch from hazelnuts and acidity from mustard dressing. I had a nibble of Kerry’s ceaser salad – an authentic version of a much-debased dish. For main, I went for Derbyshire longhorn sirloin steak, and it was great.  A classy cut, well-seasoned and cooked and beautifully presented with big fat hand-cut chips, field mushroom, grilled tomato, cress and a mild peppercorn sauce. It was precisely what you would hope for ordering this kind of dish at this kind of restaurant. Desert was a punchy parfait of strawberries and champagne from Southwell (err, that’s the strawberries, not the champagne).

Longhorn Steak

Throughly enjoyable food then in a stylish but far from intimidating setting,  this is definitely worth a visit if you’re up that way.

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