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The Comedy of Errors

The Cross Keys

1 October 10 words: Aly Stoneman
This traditional pub on Byard Lane dates from the Victorian era, when yards of ale were quaffed with much ribaldry
The Cross Keys Nottingham

This traditional pub on Byard Lane dates from the Victorian era, when yards of ale were quaffed with much ribaldry - presumably by people in bowler hats set at a jaunty angle.

Until recently, however, it was painted yellow, called ‘CK’s’, and was one of those bars you ran past. Times have changed, thankfully, and the Keys is setting its sights towards the gastropub market. Despite my reservations about the tartan carpet and big screen tellies, the decor is easy on the eye and the walls boast work by Nottingham artists - including Leftlion’s previous cover piece, Rikki Marr’s ‘Byron Clough’. So far, so good.

Standing four-square behind British cuisine, the menu is laden with the saucy vernacular of the old country – homemade pudding, creamy mash, rich gravy, rump steak and rustic chips. There’s also the more modern and casual snap, with a good selection of salads and gourmet burgers (although no veggie burgers, alas). Food starts at 8am with breakfast, then a great lunch menu and light bites throughout the day. Yes, you can ponce it up outside with a paper and a coffee, but this place also serves up a right good ale along with an adequate selection of wines and the usual spirits and bottled assortments.

None of this ‘starters’ palaver – why bother when you can get stuck in to the likes of homemade steak and kidney pudding with bubble and squeak, mushy peas and onion gravy (£7.95)? The carnal delight of biting into tender kidney and juicy pudding pastry was that good, I had to fight to stop myself licking my plate. My partner opted for the feta, courgette and spinach tart with a black olive and roast pine nut salad, dressed with red pepper coulis (£7.95). He scraped the plate clean, and I can confirm it was top trumps as far as tarts go.

For dessert (remember: there’s always room for dessert), I ordered Eton mess with shortcake biscuit (£3.95), a quintessentially English mixture of strawberries, bashed meringue and cream, while my partner had the heavenly poached cherry and chocolate tart served with a brandy fruit coulis (£3.95); rich, naughty - but very nice. All this was washed down with a bottle of Cabernet Merlot (£12.95).

With a main course, dessert and glass of wine costing around £15 per head, The Cross Keys is a more-than-welcome addition to an area that’s already got its fair share of decent venues, and the perfect place for a rainy autumn treat that won’t break the bank.

15 Byard Lane, The Lace Market, NG1 2GJ. Tel: 0115 941 7898
The Cross Keys website

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