East Midlands Eats

best east midlands restaurants cafe review recommendations

Now I don't know about you, but for me, checking out brand new restaurants and cafés is one of the best parts of moving to a new city. After growing up in the Suffolk countryside, followed by studying in Oxford, I have now been a Leicester resident for eight months! As well as taking in the history of Leicester, exploring the East Midlands' eateries has been a real highlight of my time here. I've had the pleasure of experiencing fine dining French-style at Bistrot Pierre in the city center, as well as a fun night out at the Head of Steam, Leicester's newest pub venue. However, this is not by any means all that the East Mids has to offer in terms of food and drink. Today I'm venturing a little further afield, to Nottingham and Wigston, to share even more of my favourite, as well as a few that are closer to home.

Clean Cut Kitchen, Nottingham

The Clean Cut Kitchen philosophy is simple: They believe that whatever your age, size, or gender, you can eat clean without being a gym junkie! They are a healthy eating restaurant with a twist, removing the gym vibes from their venues to make it open and welcoming to a more diverse clientele. Clean Cut Kitchen minimise the processes going into their meals to keep it as clean as possible whilst at the same time making sure that it is incredibly convenient and (most importantly!) tastes amazing. All of this sounds great on paper, but what does the food actually taste like?

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I was invited alongside Neha and Molly to sample a few new items from the Clean Cut Kitchen menu. We kicked off with a chocolate, banana and peanut butter breakfast smoothie bowl. This was a whopping portion and we struggled to finish it between the three of us! The fruit on the top was delicious and I enjoyed the healthy cacao taste. Next up came a vegan mozzarella and quinoa burger, with BBQ sauce in a sweet potato waffle, served with clean slaw. The sweet potato waffles are a great idea and with a bit of tweaking, could be really delicious. Sadly they were a bit dry for my taste, possibly because the promised BBQ sauce was missing from our burgers. The vegan mozzarella was the real highlight, this was very tasty, but the quinoa patty was so soft that you couldn't pick it up. You needed a spoon to eat it, which isn't what you expect from a burger. The clean slaw was delicious, complete with edamame beans and tomato. I'd definitely order it again. As for desserts, we sampled the polenta and coconut cream mousse with mango purée and homemade nutty granola. This dessert was an absolute triumph, it tasted just like a Solero lolly but with many more health benefits! The granola gave the dish a very moreish crunch. Another highlight was the orange and vanilla protein doughnut. The citrus juice packed the doughnut with a delicious moist texture and I easily could've eaten more than my fair share!

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I loved the open, light, and friendly vibes of the Clean Cut Kitchen venue. It is an informal setting with chipboard on the walls and bright turquoise neon lighting, and I certainly didn't feel out of place as a non gym-goer. The food is affordable and accessible to a wide range of people. Clean Cut Kitchen are certainly clean in terms of food but it would be great to see them getting environmentally clean as well; they already have wooden cutlery instead of plastic which is fantastic, but switching to biodegradable straws for their smoothies and moving away from plastic bowls for those dining in would be another great step for them. I'm sure that as Clean Cut Kitchen expand to new stores in the Intu Center and Birmingham, this will give them plenty of opportunities to implement eco-friendly measures too!

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Clean Cut Kitchen can be found at 21 Derby Road, Nottingham, around the corner from the Rock City music venue.

The Two Steeples, Wigston

It's not every day that you get to attend the press night for a pub of which one of your blogger pals is the landlady! Happily, this is exactly what I was able to do at The Two Steeples recently, to celebrate the relaunch of the venue that the lovely Sarah has been working so hard on. The Two Steeples has everything that you'd expect from an English pub, a welcoming atmosphere, comfy yet stylish decor, and plenty of traditional favourites on the menu. My plus one on the night opted for two of these traditional dishes: soup of the day served with bloomer bread and butter, and the lamb shank, from the signature mains collection. Both of these dishes went down well, especially the succulent lamb, which was served with mash, seasonal veg, and minted gravy! I opted for something a little more adventurous with the ratatouille stuffed roasted aubergine for starter, which was topped with a garlic and parsley crumb. This was absolutely delicious and the perfect size - enough to whet your appetite but without leaving you full up. I selected the jerk veggie burger for main course, which I positively inhaled! The jerk BBQ sauce was divine and the pineapple ring in the burger gave an added sweet bite. We were simply too full to indulge in dessert but I will certainly be back to sample them in future. The only thing not to impress us on the night was the homemade lemonade, which sadly was just weakly flavoured lemon water with a slice in! Otherwise, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

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The Two Steeples can be found on Paddock Street, Wigston, just along the road from ALDI.

Veeno, Leicester

As a special birthday treat for my bestie, I booked us both in for a Classic Wine Tasting Experience at Leicester's Veeno branch. As part of this package, you enjoy two white wines, three reds, and a sweet dessert wine, each paired with a selection authentic Italian appetisers (called spuntini) on a scrummy sharing platter. It was a busy Saturday night when we went along, but we were nevertheless seated promptly in a little corner upstairs, where our server introduced himself and the wine tasting experience. One by one, he brought over our selection of wines, telling us a bit about each one and which treats from our platters to sample with them. I was a bit of a tough customer because prior to my Veeno experience, I had never met a white wine that I enjoyed, but the selection here surprised me! The white wines were very tasty and not too dry, so I wouldn't hesitate to order a white from the Veeno selection in future. At £19.90 per person, I found the Classic Wine Tasting to be good value for the amount of food, drinks, and server expertise offered. The venue was atmospheric with a lively vibe and I'd really like to go back again for another tasting! Just make sure that if you're veggie/vegan like me, that you request a food platter that meets your dietary requirements when you book.

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Veeno is centrally located at St. Martin's, Leciester, close to the Cathedral and Guildhall.

Doughnotts, Leicester

Forget diamonds, doughnuts are a girl's best friend. And when they're as tasty as those on offer at Doughnotts, it's pretty hard to resist! When the lovely Hels came to visit Leicester last month, we made a beeline for the Doughnotts store. (A huge thank you goes out to this wonderful woman for taking the doughnut photos used in this post!) At Doughnotts, we were greeted with more doughnut options than we could wish for - from Red velvet and Party Ring to lemon curd and cherry bakewell, even the pickiest sweet tooth will find a doughnut topping to love! A box of three standard doughnuts will set you back a fiver, but they are worth every penny. The doughnuts are light and not overpoweringly sweet, meaning you can easily eat a whole one in one sitting, which may surprise you when you see the size of them! They also offer many vegan friendly options which is fantastic to see. Another aspect of Doughnotts store to love is that they are a small independent business. The Leicester store is a younger sister to the original Nottingham shop which gave the brand its name. The shop itself is minimalist with a small eat-in bar at the front, but as it gets so busy in there at weekends, it's definitely best to take your doughnuts to go. I wish Doughnotts every success in Leicester, I sure hope they stick around for a long time to come!

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Doughnotts, Leicester is located at 3 Silver Arcade, a stone's throw from the Highcross Shopping Center.

Where are your favourite local eateries? Is there anywhere near you that I should check out? Hit me up in the comments.

Until next time,
A x
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*Meals at Clean Cut Kitchen and The Two Steeples were provided free of charge in exchange for a blog post review.