Nottingham – Bar Esca

I have been to Bar Esca a few times now, the first couple of times just for a cocktail when meeting friends and jealously eyeing over plates of food a waitress or waiter would be taking over to a table of diners while I pretended to listen to my friends story about some boring colleague at work, the whole time thinking how quickly I could devour that delicious looking tapas! But the last few times, actually to dine there myself.

The first time I went to eat at Bar Esca was November 2016 and I did the classic “well tapas is small dishes right? So, we need to order quite a lot” -Wrong. I think we ordered so much we had to move to a bigger table next to us just to fit it all on. Every time a member of staff appeared with more food we were both surprised and embarrassed! But oh, my life, it was so, so good. I definitely remember starting with the cheese board, and then moving on to a flatbread, and from there, well… we just pigged out. Despite leaving in absolute agony, I knew I had to go back because each individual dish that was served was incredible. So, when I returned a few months later you would think I learnt my lesson from before? Hahahahaha…Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. Maybe I knew what I was doing when I ordered my weight in food, maybe I was just optimistic and genuinely thought this would be the right amount to get my fill. Or maybe this is just who I am as a person. Regardless, I left very full. And very happy, maybe even a little bit smug.

I would like to think I have matured since my last visit, whether or not I have is a different matter, as on my most recent visit to Bar Esca I tried to show a little restraint. I went with my most regular dining companion and good friend, Chris, and we were greeted in a friendly manner and offered a seat in any area of the restaurant we liked. I picked a spot near the window as I enjoy people watching and it seemed a little more casual for a Monday lunch time. That and well, good lighting. We ordered our drinks and then began plotting our shortlists from the menu.

Now if you have been to Bar Esca, or any other tapas restaurant, you probably have your ‘must have’ items. For example, I cannot be expected to enjoy tapas without patatas bravas and padron peppers. It’s just unthinkable. Luckily for me Chris shares this opinion, along with a couple of other dishes. The only rule we have come around to, is trying a dish we wouldn’t usually order. Something that goes against your better judgement and doesn’t quite make the ‘must have’ list, or even one that jumps out at you off the page as an EAT ME choice, like so many dishes do. And that, today, was the sweetcorn fritters.

So, we ordered our food, that was that. Choices were made, we just sit back and wait for it to start coming out. We didn’t wait long before the first few dishes were presented to us, and after a few quick snaps we got stuck in. The chefs here know what they’re doing. This food is beautifully presented- and let’s face it, you eat with your eyes first! And each bite is a wonderful experience of flavour. Each dish I try celebrates its ingredients individually and brings them together in a harmonious bite. Chris absolutely loved the chicken wings and calamari, and well, we both loved the much anticipated patatas bravas and padron peppers, Bar Esca did them the justice they deserve. At this point, more and more food is being placed on our table and flashbacks start coming to me- It has happened again. The panic sets in. I’m looking at the waitress, she’s looking at me. We both look at the lack of space on the table, then back at the food she’s about to attempt to place on it, I look at Chris, he then joins into the eye contact frenzy and before you know it there are hands everywhere, balancing dishes, edging things closer together, calculating which plates I have already photographed and thinking ‘Oh sod it just put them on that plate with them’, so eventually we are left with a very packed but colourful table neither one of us can wait to dive in to.

I feel like this is the perfect time to talk about the sweetcorn fritters- our new ‘must have’. We MASSIVELY underestimated how good these were going to be… So. Much. Flavour. It was a fight for the last one! The mint yoghurt they were sat on, and the mango chutney were just the perfect way to enjoy these heavenly spiced goodies. I would probably order a double portion of them next time just so that we could have one each, too much? I don’t think so. The mushroom croquettes also deserve a little shout-out because oh, my. They are gorgeous, and such a great texture, smooth and creamy mushroom with a crispy casing to sink your teeth into! But don’t just take my word for it, you HAVE to try them.

With all the dishes on the table, and our full shame out in the open for all to see, we slow the pace down and savour each dish, talking through our favourite ones and which ones we would order again, the whole time enjoying Bar Esca’s relaxed atmosphere. Taking in our surroundings and discussing plans to visit on a weekend or evening as it is somewhere I truly want to show off to those who haven’t yet been. As we finish the rest of our wine and our waitress clears our table, it feels like the day couldn’t get any better -stuffing your face with gorgeous food and washing it down with a lovely glass of plonk? Is there anything better? -Our waitress then asks us THE question. The one you know is coming but are never prepared for. “Will you be wanting to see the dessert menu or can I get you any coffees?” –Well of course I’ll at least LOOK at the menu. And just like that, we have churros and crème Catalan on the way!

The perfect end to the perfect meal!  I am a sucker for crème brûlée and Bar esca do the perfect portion with a lemony twist! I have never had a citrus brûlée before but it was so light and the perfect dish to end on! After of course, stuffing my face with those gorgeous churros. We were certainly not disappointed.

Bar Esca is THE tapas place to go to. I cannot big this place up enough! Relaxed atmosphere, friendly & funny staff and the FOOD is beyond expectation. I don’t ever like to leave bad reviews about places but I’ve had mixed experiences for tapas in Nottingham. Bar Iberico is great for that casual atmosphere with a busy and bustling vibe that offers great food, whereas Iberico world tapas is a little more formal but still has very comfortable and relaxing surroundings, however what they both lack that Bar Esca has surpassed them in, is phenomenal service. The staff at Bar Esca really make you feel at home and provide the perfect balance of being attentive without ever being intrusive. I will be spending a lot more time (and money) there. Make sure you go check them out if you are ever in Nottingham, they have a great lunch time menu and its very reasonably priced! Make sure you leave room for dessert though – you don’t want to miss out on that!

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