My search for a healthy restaurant

I DID quite well this Easter. A couple of eggs, a delicious Lindt bunny and a ginormous slab of Hotel Chocolat’s finest. I did try to ration myself but the inevitable happened and it was all scoffed within a week or so.

It was with this in mind that my friend and I went in search of a “healthy restaurant” the other day. This is a bit of a rarity for me; I usually see eating out as an opportunity to break free from healthy eating; after all restaurant calories don’t really count and it’s such a pity to not make the most of three courses when someone is offering to cook them for you. But this was different. With a belly full of Easter eggs, all my principles went out of the window.

I was totally out of my comfort zone. Googling “healthy eating Nottingham”, I realised I had no idea where to start.

It was my friend who suggested Yo! Sushi. It was the obvious choice. Under normal conditions, it’s somewhere I would probably disregard – fine for a lunch option but eating raw fish is not top of my agenda when it comes to the dinner-time-gorge.

Plus it’s a chain, and with so many fantastic independent restaurants in Nottingham, I try to avoid the big names. Nevertheless, a bit of rice paper and smoked salmon seemed the perfect solution to an over-indulgent Easter.

We walked into the bright, airy restaurant and were shown to our seats at the conveyer belt. For those of you who have not been to Yo! Sushi before, the seats line a circular bar with chefs in the middle preparing the food. A conveyer belt lines the bar, carrying lots of little dishes that look a bit like spaceships – and you just grab what you want.

Normally the dishes are different colours, each having different prices, but turns out we were there on bargain Monday so all the dishes were a mere £2.50 – and it was a selection of hot and cold sushi dishes rather than the whole menu. Being a bit of a magpie with food I was in my element.

“Ooh, let’s have this one… and this one… ooh, and that one.” That was pretty much how the evening went (accompanied by a bottle of sauvignon blanc). We began with a dish of edamame beans – I always find it immensely satisfying to suck out the fresh green beans from their deliciously salty shell – and then grabbed a passing rice dish which I can only describe as a salmon-paella, bursting with flavour and very moreish.

We were also big fans of the raw beef strips – like carpaccio – they were drizzled in a tangy dressing with some pickle garnish – so good we had to have two and, after all, the rest of the week they’re one of the more expensive dishes.

My friend grabbed some smoked salmon slices that tasted so fresh they almost melted in your mouth and a delicious salad/vegetable dish that we also went back for seconds with.

However, the real star of the show was the Hairy Prawns. Wow. The Hairy Prawns were something else; giant, meaty prawns wrapped in wispy strips of light tempura batter and deep fried, accompanied by a wasabi mayonnaise. Incredibly juicy and so big that it would have been a challenge to eat in fewer than three bites. Yes, we went in for seconds – it would have been rude not to.

After slowly grazing through the savoury dishes we started to take note of the sweet options that were passing in front of us. Suddenly Easter felt like a really long time away as we reached for some little pancake custard sandwiches that came with a little pot of raspberry coulis. They went down a treat – we might have had seconds. We also tried some more unusual multi-coloured “rice cake balls” with a sweet prune filling that didn’t really taste of much at all.

While we rubbed our bellies, the waitress counted the number of empty plates that were stacked up in front of us to work out the bill. There were 12. But the plates are very small after all, and we did have some raw fish on one, which is virtually fat free… I concluded our healthy eating night had been a roaring success. Yo! Sushi is now also on my list of places that offer a good dinner-time gorge.

I Love The Petebox. Fact.

I have to admit I was a little bit confused when walking into the Contemporary for Petebox’s ‘gig’ last week. Expecting to see groups of people huddled together, clutching their beers in anticipation of the long-awaited show, I was surprised to find the room had been transformed into an auditorium with raised seating facing a large cinema screen.

Somewhat baffled we took our seats. For those of you who don’t know PeteBox, he’s a local lad who makes incredible sounds with his mouth. He can bop, he can beat, in fact he can make his voice sound like almost any instrument imaginable. Then he records each sound as he goes, looping them on top of each other to get the full effect. And last Friday it was the launch of his first album. Having released each song on YouTube, it was finally time to launch Future Loops – and I was a little bit excited about it. But nevertheless, confused as to why I was in a cinema.
PeteBox, who’s real name is Peter Sampson, stood in the aisle, greeting people as they walked in, clearly glad to see some familiar faces at the sell-out event. And as the lights dimmed, he stepped into a spotlight, dressed in a turquoise silk jacket, and explained he had prepared an audio visual show for us that night because that is, after all, what he is all about.
He moved to the side and the screen came to life – kicking off with his excellent rendition of Kids by MGMT. His face filled the screen as he threw the baseline into the microphone, followed by another couple of levels and a melody that sounded more like a trumpet than something a voice box could produce. Already sounding more like a four-piece band than a one man act, he started to sing. And this is where the PeteBox offers something really quite special, on top of all of this raw and unique talent he also has a wonderful voice that would hold you captive even without the beats. Oh, and did I mention he also plays the guitar?
He then proceeded to take us through the journey of his first album; each artfully shot, highlighting his talent, creativity and passion. From the garden setting for a take of Nirvana’s Lithium to the home-studio-style setting he chose for Crimewave, an original track.
The audience broke into applause at the end of each shot, with Pete in the sidelines it was almost felt like a live performance. As impressive as it was I was desperate to see him live and had everything crossed that he would perform. PeteBox did not disappoint. As the last film drew to an end, the screen disappeared and he was back in the spotlight, this time with a microphone and his loop recording kit. Huge black curtains were tied back on each side, with the large theatre-style drapes both framing and dwarfing his body.
It was the moment we had waited for, and I almost felt nervous. Having seen such an impressive collection on screen, I just hoped he’d be able to pull it off live. And he did. He performed Wave and Where is my Mind with breathtaking perfection that rivalled the pre-recorded collection. We watched in fascination as each sound and beat was looped, once again transforming him into that fictitious band.

As the evening drew to a close I felt privileged to have been part of such a momentous event. I might not have done my research, leaving me unaware that it was more of a screening than a gig, but on reflection I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Instead I walked out in awe of both his live lyrical and digital visual talents. And this is just the beginning.