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TRCH The Da Vinci Code

The Cross Keys buffet

11 August 11 words: Al Needham
The chipolata sausages were split open and stuffed with a piping of mashed potato, like a meaty éclair
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Huntsmans pie at the Cross Keys

We’ve been here before, of course; issue 37, where we said it was dead plush and the snap was properly, properly decent. All these facts still hold true, but there’s two new developments: a) a complete refurb job upstairs, and b) a brand-new buffet menu. The new room – which can double up as a dining or meeting area – is bee-yoo-tiful. A definite Alice in Wonderland theme runs through it; clocks all over the shop, top hats doubling up as lampshades, solid dark floorboards, and seating apparently furnished from the skins of dead Muppets.

If your concept of the word ‘buffet’ is scarred by memories of whatever left-over rammell was in the fridge last Boxing Day, or having to dodge the meaty forearm of Fat Janice from Marketing over a tray of already curling butties during an office meeting conveniently held during your dinner hour, come to the Keys and get properly feducated. This is what a true buffet should be; a broader-than-broad palette of textures and tastes to be sampled
at leisure.

The first round of snappage that came our way were the sandwiches. The beef and horseradish ones were toppermost drawer – thick cuts of cow slathered with a sauce that was punchy yet not overpowering. The cheese and tomato sarnies were a bit bland by comparison (they still got decked, though, so they weren’t that bad).

The next entrant to the arena – the pork hotpot – was a little ramekin stuffed with potatoes, apple, carrots, and bite-sized chunks of succulent pork. This was followed by hyper-tasty fish balls and some of the best chips I’ve ever tasted in town. You don’t automatically equate buffets with hot food: The Cross Keys proves that you should, if there’s a hotplate handy.

More fishiness followed (delightfully fatty scallops – some on a pedestal of black pudding, some not – and densely packed smoked salmon roulade shot through with sharp lemony
goodness), then hunks of huntman’s pie rammed with chicken, ham and stuffing, with a moreish crust and just the right amount of jelly. Personal fave? The chipolata sausages split open and stuffed with a piping of mashed potato, like a meaty éclair.

Upshot: The Cross Keys has outdone itself once again with imaginative yet substantial snap (all sourced from Viccy Market, don’t you know). If you’re looking to sort out a moderately-sized gathering with something to eat without having to argue the toss about who had what when the bill comes round, booking a buffet upstairs is the perfect solution. I left with a ton of sandwiches wrapped up in tin foil – rather like Sammy, the vagrant kiddies’ entertainer in Hi De Hi! – and gave this much of a toss who noticed.

15 Byard Lane, NG1 2GJ. Tel: 015 941 7898

Cross Keys website

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