We were invited for a sneak preview of Nottingham’s newest bar Head of Steam, opening it’s doors to everyone on Thursday 22 March at 5pm. Settled in the lace market opposite Pitcher and Piano in place of what was Missoula, Head of Steam is bringing its 120 plus craft beers and ales from all over the world (including from local breweries) to our Nottingham nightlife.

Stepping inside, the decor gives a huge nod to the local landscape, not only in the form of many Nottinghamshire themed frames pictures, but also from the huge mural of the market square on one of the back walls…I want one! These famous landmarks fit comfortably alongside pictures and adornments related to (of course) Steam engines, train stations and other industrial style memorabilia. You have booths that look like train carriages (complete with luggage racks), mismatch furniture and I was sitting on crates of beer…underneath a cage of beer…yes really!

This dog-friendly bar in the heart of Nottingham, whilst famous for its cask ales, does cater for other tastes too. You can buy a good selection of wines and you can also choose from a selection of cocktails. Tonight’s drinks chosen were a ‘Raspberry Chew’ cocktail – deliciously fruity and did taste dangerously like a liquid sweet, too many and there wouldn’t just be a sugar rush! I did sample one or two of the cask ales on offer, not being a connoisseur myself but I did enjoy the mango cider that was on special and I surprisingly enjoyed an ale called the Bajan Breakfast, it didn’t taste as bitter as some could.

The food menu has a good selection and you are bound to find something you like, from pizzas to burgers to the pie and mash or salmon. We tried for starters the Red Pepper Hummus, served with rosemary and olive oil flatbread. The bread seas so light, non greasy and not sitting too heavy with a lovely sprinkle of chilli flakes, the hummus was nice and creamy and went really well with the bread. We also tried the light bite nachos, served with sour cream, guacamole and salsa. This portion was huge! Definitely more a sharer if having for a starter and the salsa was so fresh and tasty, it was more of a sweet pepper and tomato flavour as opposed to the tangy salsa you would usually get with nachos. For the main event we tried the Braised Beef and Ale pie served with mashed potato, mushy peas and gravy.

Real comfort food and just what you need to warm your cockles up from this recent weather, the beef was tender and the pastry was just right, no soggy bottoms. Being a mushy pea expert, they weren’t the best I had ever tasted but they were ok and the mash was not spectacular but nice enough. My friend tried the Röad Crew (a beer made in collaboration with Motörhead…yes the Motörhead) and sage sausages served with mash and green vegetables. He said the sage didn’t really come through but the sausages were nice. Each menu item (light bites and mains) comes with a recommendation of what ale or beer would go best with that food item, such a clever idea. I will confess I tried a dessert, I had butterscotch profiteroles, a neat pile of the choux dessert drizzled with butterscotch sauce and a smear or chocolate sauce, just divine!

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The beer/ale menu can be a bit daunting for someone like me, there is a lot on there, but for those who are really into their cask ales and craft beers will make it their mission to work through the menu, there is always something to try when you count the guest ales. The cocktails are more my thing, point one of those at me and I know what I am talking about. That said, it is such a warm and friendly bar with a great relaxed atmosphere, I know I will be returning in the future and bringing my friends – but maybe not my dogs as they may get thrown out for anti-social behaviour!

I was told there will be live music every Thursday and Sunday and Nottingham does love it’s live music. I really hope this bar goes the distance and becomes a well know fixture in our lovely city. It fits right in.