Food & Drink They do what??
Updated: Aug 20, 2018
Until a couple of months ago I only knew the New Art Exchange as being that place where you could once hit a golf ball between a pair of large buttocks.
Or something similar anyway, maybe that's just something I've dreamed, I just remember an exhibition that was art meets crazy golf being held there, other than that it was somewhere I'd driven by many times assuming it was somewhere for students.
Seems I was wrong. A couple of months ago, I, lets call me a mature student, went there for a Linkedin course. (Don't check out my Linkedin account just yet - it's still on my list of 'things to do' and I've since learnt that there is so much more to the centre and no, it's not just for students (of any age)
As well as exhibitions and classes there are performances, films, activities for families and FOOD, lovely, lovely FOOD.
The CafèBar is located at the front of the building and originally started life as just somewhere to have cuppa and a cake. Nothing wrong with that at all, but, as time went on like so many things, it evolved so that 6 years ago it became something more of a 'go to' venue for a meal. Possibly because of it's location - it is practically the gateway to Hyson Green - that means you get trade from the park and ride as well as local visitors. The area is multi cultural and that is reflected in the food, with something to suit all palates.
I hadn't actually eaten in the cafè so was interested when I was invited by them to go along and sample some dishes from their menu. A recent change of chef has bought with it a new menu. Whilst I'm told it features some old favourites such as a chicken curry, new chef Nick has added delicious new dishes from around the world. The menu now boasts more curries, kids dishes, jackets, baguettes, wraps as well as beers, wine and soft drinks.
We begin our taster session with a sample of the freshly made drinks. Refreshing Indian lemonade with fresh mint and a smooth creamy mango lassi. This was so so lovely I could drink it by the gallon and well worth a trip to the cafè for alone!
Dishes arrive to our table. My personal favourite is the mutter paneer a rich medium curry with cubes of fried Indian cheese and garden peas in a spicy and creamy tomato curry sauce, served with basmati rice, making it perfect for veggies.
The vegan option, which we also try, is falafel; fresh chickpea fritters. humous and sliced tomato with tahini sauce. We also try another new dish, a tasty cajun chicken salad as well as a dressed salad bowl, vegan falafels and jerk meat balls; pork and beef meatballs, spiced with jerk flavouring, coated with a spiced sauce, served with rice and peas and accompanied by a pineapple and lime dipping sauce. All very flavoursome. We sampled them buffet style. I would have preferred to have tried them individually to get a true taste of the flavours but I'm happy to confirm that they were all delicious.
Still fancy that coffee and cake? Many of the cakes are made on site with the exception of a few they get in from local bakers. We try their orange cake, a beautiful light sponge with a subtle orange flavour. The coffee is unique to New Art Exchange. You won't find the tasty blend of fair-trade coffee sourced from India, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, Ethiopia and Indonesia anywhere else.
There is a specials board which changes daily. Exhibitions give scope for trying to new dishes with a kitchen of seven staff excited by the food they produce, constantly trying and tasting new dishes to bring to the menu. They even blend their own spices.
The special on the day is Nepalese dumplings and we are given our own masterclass by chef, Muna, to learn how they make the tasty little parcels. Food has been Muna's life, originating from Nepal, she came to the UK when she was 9 with her parents both of whom are chefs.
This melting pot of flavours means they can offer a variety of options at the centre and shift and change according to whats happening, for example conferences with a difference. Businesses can break for something other than a sandwich at lunch time. The Nottingham Mela is celebrated annually at the centre and they have catered for weddings, an East African wedding being just one that brought with it it's need for a specific cuisine.
Ingredients are sourced locally wherever possible to support local traders. Much of it from Sharif and Sons on the corner of Radford Road, a large superstore stocked with fresh fruit and veg, spices, exotic foods and hard to find ingredients. The meat is halal and provided by a local butcher.
The Cafès location, with it's large glass frontage makes it the perfect spot to people watch whilst you sit on the large comfy sofas or if the weather fine you can sit outside and bask in the sunshine (protection first though, please) or maybe you just fancy taking in an exhibition whilst your there.
Or if you're like me and dashing about* (*read generally running late) you can nip in for takeaway baguettes and salads pre-prepared for those on the move.
To keep in touch with whats on at the New Art Exchange Cafè you can find them on social media - Twitter & Instagram @NAECafeBar, oh and they put love hearts on the cappuccino if you want one 'for the gram'
Love T xx
Disclaimer: My food was complimentary but my views and food baby are my own.