Sunday, 20 February 2011

Lunch at the Kean’s Head in Nottingham

I was In Nottingham city centre on a Saturday afternoon with my girlfriend and a pair of rumbling stomachs, so in need of some sustenance we went for lunch at the Kean’s head. The Kean’s head is a Castle Rock brewery ran pub in the lace market district of the city centre. It is a very approachable pub, where I believe no one would be disappointed to go.  The pub consists of just one room which has an airy feel due to the high ceilings. There are lots of small tables where customers enjoy their drinks and/or food and chat away in this friendly establishment.
At the bar I order our food and drinks. The food menu consists of about 7 specials and then a menu full of more basic pub food (eg tasty looking sandwiches, ploughman’s etc). Local produce is a key priority of the Kean’s head, for example they source their meat and even salads locally. We decide to get one starter between us – the Kean’s head famous Scotch egg. For the main course I go for the Calves Liver with onions, mash potato and veg (cost £8.25). The food at the Kean’s head isn’t ‘bargain basement prices’, but I do not know anywhere in Nottingham where you can get food of this quality for a better price. This is certainly not ‘boil in the bag’ pub grub. 
There are 6 ales on tap, with three from Castle rock along with Batemans XXB, Young’s London Gold and Hopback Odyssey. I went for a pint of Castle Rock Screech Owl. Screech Owl is a strong blonde ale, which ever since I tried it at the 2008 Nottingham beer festival it has been one of my favourite beers. It was drinking superbly at the Kean’s head. It is very smooth drinking with a creamy wine like richness. The balance between sweet and bitterness is perfect. Even my girlfriend who normally only drinks dark ales thought it was superb. A class beer – 8.5/10
After sitting down the barmaid came over to say there was no mash left to go with my main course, so offered either new potatoes or chips. I choose chips. The barmaid dealt with issue in a very pleasant manner. I should probably add at this point that there was only the one barmaid working who served all the drinks and food.
The starter arrived promptly and to my pleasant surprise they had split the Scotch egg and prepared it on two plates for us with salad on each. Very good service indeed; a theme that continued throughout our time at the Kean’s head. The Scotch egg was served along with a nicely dressed salad and HP sauce. Without doubt it is the best Scotch egg I have ever had. It had a lovely light texture and a wonderful aromatic taste due to the sage contained within it.
Just before the main course arrived I got a second pint of Screech Owl. This time, however, it cost me nothing as I had collected enough of the ‘One over the eight’ stamps due to the food purchase to get the free drink. For those who have not heard of Castle Rock’s one over the eight scheme, basically if you buy one pint of their ale or spend £2.50 on food, you get a stamp. After collecting eight of these stamps, you can climb a free pint of beer.
A main consisted of a very generous helping of lamb’s liver, onion gravy, hand-cut chips and a selection of vegetable (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots). The main course was just as superb as the starter. Rich liver with a fantastic gravy = heaven. The hand-cut chips were great too; I did not feel I missed out by not having mashed potato. Proper chips like this are not found often.
My girlfriend dropped her knife whilst eating her main course (Pork burger with whole grain mustard and with an apple sauce in ciabatta bread). She wasn’t going to use the knife to eat with, so we decided not to bother asking for another. Once again the service proved to be outstanding, as the barmaid had noticed this from the other side of the room and within ten seconds had come with a clean knife. For the barmaid to be this attentive given she was the only front of house member of staff is truly impressive.
For a long time I have been a big fan of the Kean’s head and our lunch further enhanced its reputation in my mind. For a friendly location with great beer and superb food, you can’t do better. On the ale front, the well conditioned Castle rock beers combined with a few interesting others make this a place anyone would enjoy coming to for a drink. Food wise, I know nowhere in Nottingham who does tastier, better value, locally sourced and proper hand-made food than the Kean’s head. Topping this off is the superb level of service – the best I have seen for as long as I can remember. Combining all these factors together make for a wonderful lunch. 
In Nottingham city centre, things don’t come much better than the Kean’s head.

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