The most fabulous sweeping staircase in town greets you in the entrance lobby of Alea's landmark building on Upper Parliament Street, enticing you to ascend to both their 24 hour state-of-the-art casino and Nottingham's very own branch of culinary's brooding bad boy beefcake Marco Pierre White's Steakhouse Bar & Grill restaurant.
Turning right at the top of the stairs takes you to the restaurant and through its glass doors a luxurious swish-nightclub style decor is revealed, exuding an alluring air of laid-back glamour. Inside, an ambiance that buzzes without becoming overwhelming attracts a mixed clientele of all ages and dress codes, from long gowns to casually smart attire, creating a refreshingly friendly and innovative mix of glitz and comfort.
An array of menu versions is available at the restaurant, including pre-theatre, Sunday roasts and a £35 all in one menu that includes £5 casino chips between two. But tonight we were dining confidentially A La Carte and had the whole steakhouse-experience selection of food to choose from which ranges hugely and brilliantly from sophisticated swordfish, venison and veal to the fun retro glam-rocking 1970s Classic Chicken Kiev and Prawn Cocktail. We chose to begin with the artistically arranged and deliciously indulgent Smoked Salmon with crème fraîche, decadently-dotted with caviar - which is a new addition to the menu along with the Macaroni Of Lobster main - and a visually delightful Cucumber Sorbet, refreshingly perfect as a super-light starter.
Ordering your steak well-done may be jokingly frowned upon in the menu but you can, of course, have your meat cooked any which way you wish and an excellent, attentive and unobtrusively-efficient waiting staff are happy to advise upon cuts of meat. And, small appetites be aware, because confidentially, these steaks are definitely top-quality heavyweights. The sirloin was an almighty piece of meat, a plump, thick, juicy, perfectly cooked knockout, living all the way up to to all that steakhouse-hype and arrived with quite possibly the mightiest chips ever seen, and garnished, finally and fittingly, with a mighty grilled tomato. If you don't feel up to going all out with a steak, the burger is a lighter, more informal option served in a comely brioche bun and still ticks all those high quality meat boxes, arriving served with more delicate pommes frites.
Finding room for dessert after two generously-portioned courses was a challenge but one which, we confidentially are able to report, we managed admirably. The 1930s Classic Knickerbocker Glory proved to be the perfect follow up to the sirloin steak, beautifully presented and raspberry-themed with cream, sorbet and ice cream layering down to fresh raspberries in syrup at the end tasting sweet, light and lovely whereas the apple crumble was crammed full with diced fruit, infused wonderfully with cinnamon and served with lashings of fresh cream. And to end our meal, tea and coffee were served with an icing-sugar dusted cube of Turkish Delight. Perfecto.
"The whole Marco ethos is that it's not just about the food, it's about the whole experience. It's about going out and having a nice time and we try to cater the menu around that too," explains Aimee McNiven, the Food and Beverage Manager at the restaurant. "We want nice things on the menu, we also want things on there that will make people feel comfortable and are not too pretentious. And yes OK, the prices are on the higher side, but that's because of the quality of the products served. So instead of going all 'gourmet chef' we've decided, let's be a steakhouse, but let's do the best steaks that we can do and so it's about getting the top quality products in.
"Our clientele varies completely. One day we might get businessmen in because they're staying in the hotel opposite, the next day it's a hen party, or we have celebrations, birthday dinners and anniversary dinners. People also come for Sunday roast lunches with their family as children are welcome, but obviously anyone under 18 isn't allowed any further than the restaurant. And I don't think anyone that goes in there feels awkward no matter what they're wearing, it's kind of a whatever-you-feel-comfortable-in dress code, if people want to come in glitzed and glam then lovely, we love that as well, but if they don't, fine, fair enough!"
If you are over 18 and you fancy your chances, you can extend the evening and enjoy some after-dinner entertainment at the Alea Casino which has free entry and offers American Roulette, Blackjack, Three Card Poker and Slots with a dedicated Poker Room. With very helpful and friendly croupiers on hand to advise any beginners, it's a fun way to spend a Saturday night, with the thrill of taking a chance on the roulette and card tables whilst pretending to be in a Bond film in ultra-modern, slick, stylish surroundings.
You can see our Nottingham Confidential Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill At Alea Casino photo album in glorious technicolour on our Facebook page here
Further details, including the full menus for Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill at Alea Casino, are available on their official website http://nottingham.aleacasinos.com/