I was invited down to The New Art Exchange in Hyson Green (just next to Asda and diagonal to Forest Fields) to try some of their new food offerings. I was sold when they mentioned that their chef had created some Nepalese dumplings. I am a huge fan of Nepalese food and this simple addition made it worth my while heading out to an area I hadn’t ventured since my student days.
First Impressions of New Art Exchange
It was easy to find, you can get the tram to Noel Street and it’s right in front of you, situated on the crossroads of Noel Street and Gregory Boulevard, the venue is easy to spot from it’s artistic and museum-esque building.
As soon as you walk in you can enter into the museum straight ahead or you can turn left and enter the cafe, which is exactly what we did. There were around 3 or 4 different tables full when we got there but they slowly dispersed as we ate, only being replaced by a local couple who knew the staff very well.
It was a standard cafe, simple tables and a counter top where you order and pay for your food. There were two people working, the chef and the waitress. Behind the counter was the specials board, a fully stocked bar and the wifi password.
As soon as we made ourselves known the waitress brought over two drinks for us to try, a mango lassi and nimbu pani, an Indian lemonade. I love lassis so I was more than happy to oblige, if you’ve never had one it’s essentially a smoothie. It’s usually fruit based and really thick as it’s made with yoghurt.
The lemonade was lovely, I would probably opt for it over normal lemonade as there’s no fizz (and I don’t drink fizzy drinks unless there’s gin in them). It tastes like the standard stuff but as it’s without the fizz it’s a little like you’re drinking cordial. It was lovely.
We were told to sit back and relax and the food would be delivered to us when it was ready. The first dish that was brought out was the falafel. Normally this is served in a wrap but due to the copious amount of food we were going to be having it came as a side. You can’t go wrong with falafel, it was moist, soft and baking hot. I love the sauce addition too, just to give it a little more zing.
Next we had the cajun chicken served with a new potato salad. The cajun is a dry rub which has turned crispy and a little barbecued during cooking. The potatoes are in halves and are crispy and piping hot. I have to confess that this wasn’t my favourite dish, it was good but not my favourite. I found the potatoes to be a little on the dry side which, added to the dry rub of the chicken, made the dish lacking in some wetness or moisture.
Next was the one I was most looking forward to, the chicken dumplings served with salad and a dash of chutney. Look how awesome this dish looks! It was incredible. Salads can be a little boring but this one was definitely not, the dumplings themselves, the flavours of the leaves and the sauces combined with the coriander. This was a dish that could have been created for me and I would bow down. A fantastic dish and I implore you to head there just for these.
The mattar paneer curry was next, made with Indian cheese, peas and promising a spicy tomato sauce. This was no where near as spicy as what I would have liked, I think it had a small kick if you really concentrated on it. The lack of meat wasn’t an issue for me as the textures and flavours came from the other ingredients, but more spice in this is definitely needed (unless you like mild curries, then it’s for you!)
Another salad dish came out, this time the sauce was all about mustard. It had olives, tomatoes, leaves and again, so much flavour. I don’t know how something so simple made such an impact on me but this was one of the best salads I’ve had – other than the dumplings of course. These two dishes made such an impression on me that I got a doggy bag for them and ate them for my tea.
We were so full after this but we still had dessert to come. We were being given homemade banana bread and a carrot cake. Two of my favourite desserts. The banana bread was something that tasted exactly like what I had made a few weeks back. It was a little on the heavier side that I would have preferred (I had to change my recipe as well) but the flavours were all there, it was packed full of banana and sweetness.
The carrot cake, what can I say? A winner. The cream cheese, the sweetness, the moisture. Ah, fantastic.
It was standard cafe service but the woman working seemed nice (if not a little nervous). We were given information on all the dishes and she even checked if we had any questions about the dishes or the venue itself, looking at the way she communicated with the locals she was great with the customers.
Expect to order and pay at the counter and then your food to be brought over when it’s ready with standard table service.
new art exchange RATING: 8/10
£43.50 for 2 people / £21.75pp for 2 drinks, 1 salad, 3 mains, 1 side and 2 desserts (a lot!)
It’s a no frills place that will pack a punch with their salads. I would love to try more of their dishes but I fear that if I went again I would simply order the dumplings again! I love that everything is Asian-inspired in some way and it definitely knocked my socks off.
Recommended for: couples, friends, kids, exploring, vegan, gluten free
Not recommended for: posh dining, late night eating
Why not try: the dumplings and the lemonade
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