Blink and you'll miss it! Squeek, under new management in 2012 and renamed Aubergine Cuisine, is a restaurant that caters specifically for vegetarians and vegans, or anyone who enjoys vegetarian cuisine. Located in the Hockley area of Nottingham in the East Midlands, not far from the City Centre, the small restaurant has room for about 50 or so diners, with a split-level that allows for a more intimate meal if required (although all the windows have lovely blinds so passers-by don't peer in and ogle at you while you're munching away).
Squeek is strangely inviting. The almost pub-like sign that hangs outside depicts a grey mouse holding a fork - next to which the word 'squeek' is written in a curved, stylised font. On opening the green door, you are presented with even more greenness, but the oddly set tables and chairs of different woods combined with low lighting make you feel almost like you've stumbled into someone's kitchen/diner. Dotted around the place are an eclectic mix of pseudo South American dolls, 1950s and 1960s advertising flyers for various foods, and artworks full of reds, oranges and bright colours that match the green/orange decor nicely.
Up the stairs past the 'bar' (a small counter where you can get coffee, or other drinks) is a carpeted stairwell which feels as if you are actually going upstairs into an arts student's flat (which you may very well be); however, this is where the toilets are located. A camply-dressed 'Ken' doll is stuck on the door to the mens, while a 'Cindy' doll in a ra-ra skirt indicates the ladies. Be careful you don't trip over the bike on your way back down the stairs, and try not to stare at the statue of the naked woman hiding beside the espresso machine as you re-enter the main dining area. It sounds bad, but it really isn't. It's subtle and unobtrusive, much like the food.
What's on the Menu?
The menu at Squeek changes monthly (well, mostly), and while not vast there's usually enough to satisfy fussy eaters, or those trying vegetarian cuisine for the first time. The menu is set up as a three course affair with a selection of starters, mains and desserts with prices, on average, around £16 per head (not including drinks). While perusing you may come across words like tagine, tofu and tabouli, which may be foreign to you. But don't despair! The staff are very friendly and helpful if you've no clue about what some of the vegetarian foods are.
Many of the dishes are hand prepared using local produce and are nicely presented on large plates which, while perhaps giving an impression of 'cuisine minuscule', don't leave you wanting more afterwards. For starters you might like to try a homemade crumpet with mushroom pâté, then for main you could opt for a goats cheese tart, with all the trimmings. And for dessert, the orange, chilli and chocolate tart will probably finish you off nicely...
Although the drinks menu is a trifle limiting, it matches the food you will be served, with many fruit wines and organic beers such as Freedom Lager (suitable for vegetarians/vegans) on offer. For those not familiar with this beer, it looks and tastes a bit like Stella Artois, but isn't.
Where is It?
The easiest way to find Squeek is to travel to the Victoria Centre in Nottingham City Centre, then follow Lower Parliament Street away from town until you see Heathcote Street on your right1. A few strides up an incline, the restaurant can be found nestled on the corner of Heathcote and Old Lenton Streets. Squeek's clientele is mostly made up of people wanting something to eat before or after going to see a film at the nearby Broadway, or just anyone who appreciates well cooked, delightfully homely and inventive vegetarian food.