Leicester city centre is now the proud owner of a new hotel. Novotel have constructed a brand new £40m hotel right across the street from Leicester’s Highcross shopping centre. Within the hotel, a new restaurant has opened its doors by the name of NineB.
Stepping away somewhat from the generic style of hotel restaurant, NineB have decided to lend support to local artisan producers. Brockelby’s pies are on the menu also behind the bar ale’s and craft beers from the Langton Brewery are can be found. There is coffee on the menu too from nearby St Martins.
Walking into the hotel restaurant, it’s apparent that the money invested has been spent well. A stylish bar, comfortable waiting area and friendly staff give a strong first impression. The long table in the bar area lends itself to social gatherings and encourages a warm atmosphere.
Manish, the general manager, showed us to our booth for the evening. We love the privacy and peace that a booth gives, this one was like a giant, padded waltzer. Manish presented our menus and even offered to make an elderflower mocktail in the absence of any currently on the menu. A lovely gesture for those who are driving.
One slight gripe was that no water was offered. Even the empty glasses didn’t seem to give the game away. Still, we had a mocktail and a cocktail each. The mocktail was a light, fizzy and refreshing glass of elderflower cordial and lemonade. The ruby red ‘Sweet Victorious’ cocktail tasted a little on the weak side in terms of alcohol.
The menu reads fairly concisely and features both quality dishes and crowd pleasers. The scallops with crushed pea puree and crispy pancetta was my choice of starter (£11.50). Ali decided on the black pudding scotch egg with tomato chutney (£6.50).
Scallops are not something I see on many local menus these days. It’s always a pleasure though when they are cooked this well. An exterior so crispy it could have been made by Walkers. A sweet, soft centre with fresh seafood flavour. These were exceptional.
A perfect match with the crispy pancetta and peas, which didn’t resemble a puree, but were tasty and fresh nonetheless. The scotch egg, rather disappointingly, didn’t have a runny centre. Flavour-wise, the crunchy black pudding around the outside performed a winning duet with the sweet tomato chutney.
One of my theories, having been doing this review business for a while now, is that a restaurant can tell you a lot from a simple plate of steak and chips. I opted for a 21-day matured sirloin with peppercorn sauce and chips for the main course (£21).
Ali headed in the direction of poultry and landed a harissa-spiced chicken breast with mint and cucumber yogurt (£18). On arrival, the dishes appeared neat and tidy but the chicken dish was perhaps a little too neat as the sauce was yet to arrive, it did eventually.
The steak was requested medium rare, sadly this was overcooked. Eating the steak more medium-well still provided flavour but the steak did contain a lot of fat. Unusual for sirloin and more commonly found with ribeye. The garnishes included watercress and cherry tomatoes on the vine. The chips were crunchy but the peppercorn sauce had the taste of something bought in.
Harissa provided a lovely spicy touch to the really juicy chicken breast. Chips once again accompanied the main and were equally as good as with the steak. The sauce, much like the peppercorn had me wondering if this was made fresh or ordered in. Either way, it went well with the chicken.
The atmosphere up to now had been pleasant. A large group over in the corner chatted away quite merrily but the design of the dining room allowed that to happen without intrusion. With sweet thoughts on our mind, the dessert menus were presented.
Selecting a pudding from the cleverly designed list of crowd pleasers was a tricky choice. In the end we settled on the cherry bakewell cheesecake and a chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream. Both at £6.
Both desserts appeared inviting and straight away I got stuck into the cheesecake. Absolutely as it should be, the cheesecake was rich and packed full of cherry and almond flavour. Accompanying the dish, a cherry ice cream on the side was equally good but the cherries on the side could have done with a bit of poaching liqueur for added flavour.
The brownie was an intense affair. A block of gooey chocolate, rich to the extent of almost becoming overly bitter. A really nicely balanced dessert when paired with a decent scoop of ice cream. In this case, salted caramel. One of our favourites.
As the experience at NineB drew to a close, we reflected on the meal. Overall the food had many highlights and yes, there will always be teething problems in a brand new restaurant. In the main, the service is friendly and professional and the atmosphere is relaxed. The future looks very good for NineB going forward.
Nearest Train Station: Leicester