Aurora, Stoney Street
Bringing a warm glow to the heart of The Lace Market, Aurora is a new restaurant serving modern British cuisine in relaxed surroundings. A three-course dinner for £15.95 sounds a tempting prospect, and the fact that owner/chef Craig Thomas resembles Russell Crowe, worked alongside Marco Pierre White, and can legitimately claim “I turned down Gordon Ramsay - twice’ can only add to the attraction.
Aurora was the site of the old Scruffy's, and has been beautifully re-decorated in a blue palette, softening exposed brick walls and floors and unfussy bare wooden tables with a dash of topiary, shimmering curtains, comfortable chairs and a scattering of fluffy cushions and deep-pile rugs. High windows provide good natural light and offer the voyeuristic diner a chance to admire the footwear - and ankles - of gentlemen and ladies passing on the street above.
The menu offers a balance of vegetarian, meat and fish options with an emphasis on using locally and ethically sourced ingredients and is simple to navigate, with four options for each course and a range of side dishes listed under To Start, To Follow, To Accompany and To Finish, along with a Specials Board.
We ordered drinks from an extensive list (Raspberry Kopperberg, £3.50, and a medium glass of Los Viols sauvignon blanc, £4.50) and ‘To Start’, I opted for the duo of smoked and seared duck breast, fig, lentil and raspberry vinegar dressing, while my vegetarian companion chose the grilled goats cheese crostini, beetroot puree, walnut, and honey and balsamic dressed salad, attractively presented on simple white tableware with black napkins. My duck was perfectly rosy-pink and tender – but my attempts to sample my companion’s crostini were rebuffed: a compliment to the chef.
‘To Follow’ I went for the thyme roasted chicken breast, wild mushroom risotto, parsley and truffle oil dressing and added a dressed mixed leaf side salad (an additional £2.25), combining succulent roasted chicken perfumed with aromatic thyme with creamy pungent risotto. My companion ordered aubergine croquettes and baked polenta, vine tomato and basil sauce with lemon scented courgette salad. Discs of aubergine lightly fried in breadcrumbs melted in the mouth, perfectly complimented by the fresh zesty flavour of the accompanying salad and creamy yellow polenta.
A two-course dinner will set you back £13.50 but with fresh red berry eton mess and pistachio crème brulee with caramelized banana on the menu we decided to go for the full hit at £15.95 and were glad that we did: the eton mess was delightful but the crème brulee (with a stroke of genius little saucer of mango puree) stole the show. We finished with coffee (£2.70) and espresso (£2.50).
Serving reasonably priced food of outstanding quality, with an express lunch menu at £9.95 to tempt in the office workers, Aurora is a goddess of restaurants (as well as the dawn) – so go and pay her homage.
47 Stoney Street, NG1 1LX