The Tea Trolley, Nottingham: Giving even more ‘reasons’ to eat

I’m sure you’re all more than aware by now that I do not need ‘reasons’ to eat. If I’m honest, sometimes I tuck into some delicious looking fodder when I’m not even hungry, I just really fancy it. My hips and my wallet get most upset when this happens, but I’m not sure it’s something I can really control.

But now I have discovered a little place, just a stone throw away from where I work, that has given me yet even more ‘reasons’ to eat.


The Tea Trolley in Chapel Bar has only recently opened and is a quirky little room that feels more like someone’s living room than a cafe. It has a sort of 1970s tea-cosy feel to it, with spoon backed wooden chairs and a handful of little round tables. In fact I felt like I had walked right into the cafe scene of Withnail and I.


But that’s not my new ‘reason’ to eat.

Flicking through the menu I was impressed. The cafe has a great list of lunch options – salads, sandwiches, paninis, soup – but with some really nice (and cheap) variations. Take the Italian panini for example, thick sliced vine ripened tomato, homemade basil pesto and torn mozerella, freshly made for just £2.50. The soup of the day just £1.50. My friends, this little gem of a place undercuts the Boots lunch deal.

I opted for a jacket potato with cheese and beans, for £2.50. Randomly this is often a meal I crave at work and I have sampled a number of jacket potato eateries across the city. Many are very good but most are just takeaways, served in polystyrene containers dripping with bean juice – and while I’m at it – come with a plastic fork that snap at the first hurdle of crusty potato skin.

This, on the other hand, came on a plate, with proper cutlery, and was served with a good portion of REAL MATURE cheddar cheese. Nothing makes me more angry then a potato with that awful mild, rubbery stuff piled up on top. And I mean nothing.


Phwoar, would you look at the cheese on that?

It was a great jacket potato. But that’s not my new ‘reason’ to eat.

No, no, behind the funky interior of the cafe – and its good, mature cheese – lies something even cooler. The Tea Trolley is actually a social enterprise.

It is run by South Notts College and Mencap and gives people with learning difficulties the opportunity to work and earn a NVQ in catering. So while you scoff on your afternoon tea (£10 for two I seem to recall), the people serving you are earning some genuinely valuable life skills.

And surely even my hips and wallet can’t argue with that.

Diet Tips from a Boot Camp Virgin

For the very first time in years, about 10 years if I’m honest, I have eaten out without consuming any wine. That is right, there was not even a Holy-Communion-sized thimble of wine. I enjoyed a three course meal in a restaurant and there was no wine.

I, Delia Jane Monk, drank water. My body is a temple. I am at fat camp boot camp.

This is not me, it is the lovely Lucy who is also on boot camp and just so happens to be behind my water

Some of you who don’t know me very well might think that this is an exaggeration, but I can assure you it is not. I live in a city where I do not need to drive a car, and I have never been pregnant, why would I have ever forgone wine with dinner?

However, I am currently residing at Clumber Park Hotel and Spa near Worksop in Notts where I am trialling a new boot camp session they are planning to launch next year. My meals have been planned by a nutritionist (get me!) and only water will pass these lips. In for a penny, in for a pound.

I know my love for wine and food makes me an odd guinea pig choice for a boot camp trial but it comes with my job you see. I shall be reviewing the boot camp for the Nottingham Post, and for that reason I shall stay fairly tight-lipped about the muddy, sweaty details of what I am enduring. However, I thought it was wrong not to share with you a few healthy diet tips I’ve picked up.

1) Beer has ’empty calories’. Best fact of the day. This means that after a squiffy night on the ales you just need to work out the next day, apparently beer calories burn off very, very easily and don’t take much trouble to shift if you do it in the next couple of days. Told you this one was good eh?!

2) White wine has less calories than red wine. A small glass of white has about 125 calories compared to about 180 in a cheeky little red glass.

3) When you drink ice cold water, the water sticks to your fat. It’s always better to drink water at room temperature so your body doesn’t waste time trying to deal with all that cold water. Don’t forget the other little things – always take the stairs instead of the lift, walk or cycle to work if you can.

4) Waking up in the morning and just doing five minutes of exercise will speed up your metabolism for the day. Just a minute of squats, sit-ups, press ups, star jumps or whatever takes your fancy could make all the difference if you do it every day. Also have a glass of water first thing… Apparently this is another metabolism booster..

5) If your fitness is not improving then you need to mix it up. Instead of that same old four mile run, try running up a hill and walking down it four times. Allow your body to recover, then do it again five more times.

6) Eat dinner between 6pm and 8.30pm, try to eat your carb intake at lunch time instead of at your evening meal. Apparently your meat should never be bigger than the size of your palm, and it is better to eat five small meals a day than three large ones.

7) It is true that eating celery burns of more calories than you put on eating it. That’s why supermodels are skinny.

8) Eating hot food is good for your metabolism but…

9) You should not eat takeaway curry once a week. Worst fact ever. Kyle, our wonderful trainer, has even informed me (curry fans log off now) that if you are really committed to a hard workout then, and only then, is it ok to have curry once a month. Once a month?! I guess I’ll just have to make them hotter…

Disclaimer: If any of these facts are found to be incorrect it is because I a) am slightly hard of hearing and was sitting at the end of the dinner table and b) because I now have too much blood in my alcohol system.

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.