World Service – Fine Dining, Nottingham

As a student in Nottingham in the late 00’s Hart’s and World Service were really the only places I’d heard of in the ‘fine dining’ scene. When I started working I visited both a couple of times and was impressed but latterly I felt a dip in quality from World Service and hadn’t been for some time. More recently, having heard some good reports, and for a Cleaver & Wake comparison I thought I should revisit. I’ve always liked the setting. The main dining room is a narrow but spacious modern style that has a lot of broadly East Asian influences. One immediate appeal was corkage at £20 vs £45 at Cleaver & Wake and as a wine lover with some good bottles at home, something I took advantage of.

Menus are typically a la carte although they regularly do some popular events such as the recent collaboration with Louisa Ellis. They also offer a fixed 3 courses at £31 which seems pretty reasonable in the current climate. There are 6/7 options on the a la carte with good variety and included some interesting dishes such as cured stone bass and smoked eel. For true comparison with last week I should have had a tartare but I couldn’t resist scallops, £16. The menu listed soy, sesame, honey and chilli as flavours which sounded like a great combination but it fell short in several respects. The scallops were small, didn’t have the sweetness of the best of their kind, and were slightly over cooked. I got some soy and a touch of sesame but the honey was undetectable and I was amazed the chilli was in large, raw slices that clumsily overpowered anything else.

Scallops at World Service

The mains were an equally difficult choice but the venison pave at £34 appealed most as something you don’t see too often with interesting combination of accompaniments. What arrived was a initially a disappointingly minimalist plate. The ‘brussels’ described on the menu amounted to four halves, so two whole sprouts, lucky me. I suppose with so little you might not need much jus but I still wanted more, especially as it was glossy and well made. The vension itself was suitably tender with a game-y flavour alongside the influence of its charcoal crust. Potato terrible was well made too, layered crisp outsides and a fluffy centre. In more balanced proportions this could have been a really enjoyable dish.

Venison at World Service

No dessert on this occasion but options are £12-14. That means you could pick appealing dishes and could end up spending around £20 less than at Cleaver & Wake. However as you can probably tell, on evidence of this meal, I would struggle to recommend World Service as the better choice. The portions were disappointing although if the presentation had been better it would have been less stark. Whilst the vension was enjoyable the basic errors on the scallops were quite surprising. If you’re looking for value, particularly the set menu then it’s worth a go but lacked the polish of the competition on this showing.

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