Waking up to yet another trademark East Midlands grey drizzly skyline, it’s easy for thoughts to drift to sun-drenched foreign lands. Shaw’s, a self-proclaimed ‘international restaurant,’ seems to have taken such escapism to heart with an attempt to recreate the traditional Parisian bistrot in a beautiful old industrial building next to the Broadway cinema.

To their credit, they almost pull it off. I half expected to be greeted by a “bonsoir” as I entered the upstairs lobby and then found myself squinting to check that the specials scribbled onto the blackboard were indeed priced in pounds and not euros. Only the pints being pulled at the bar and the stream of short skirts at the entrance grudgingly convinced me that this was Blighty and not Provence.

Such sophistication for a Saturday night in Notts was so alien to myself and my five willing accomplices that we were almost won over before the food had arrived. Despite some initial cynicism when the starters were served (large white plate/not so large portion syndrome, so favoured by the gastropub), this was soon swept aside by the fabulous mains. Our choices unwittingly reflected the gender divide, the girls opting for a beautifully cooked salmon wrapped in pancetta while the blokes showed a touch of caveman nostalgia, choosing a generous braised lamb shank with protruding mammoth bone fitted as standard.

The bottom line worked out at £15 a head including wine and service, which although well above a fiver (the offer is in fact £10 for dinner), still left us smugly feeling that we could have paid double. If the popularity of the place led to the service being a little slow, it also meant that the waiter was too busy to ask us to hand in our three vouchers. An “à bientôt” as we left would have been quite apt.

http://www.shawsrestaurant.co.uk

John Hooley

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