Putting your name above the door of your restaurant is a bold step for any chef. But for Sat Bains, chef-director of Hotel des Clos, on the outskirts of Nottingham, the move was not an egotistical one.
"To be honest, that hadn't even crossed my mind," he says. "Having worked here for three years and gradually developed my profile, it just seemed like the natural step."
While the hotel is owned and run by Daniel Ralley, Bains does have a shareholding in the business. But it was nevertheless an altruistic decision on Ralley's part to let Bains take centre stage when renaming the restaurant Restaurant Sat Bains at the end of last year.
The fact that, on a busy night, the 35-seat restaurant can take twice as much in revenue as the hotel's nine bedrooms also came into play.
The changes to the restaurant are not all superficial, though. Bains has overhauled the menus, too. Out have gone his à la carte and set-price menus - in have come a series of d«egustation ones.
Bains has always served "a dég", as he affectionately calls it, but limiting the choice like this in the evening is a departure for the 31-year-old chef. "We offer a set-price lunch menu, purely for practical reasons, so that people can be in and out in an hour, but our de«gustation menus are available too."
So what's the thinking behind dégustation menus for the masses? "It's how I want to eat when I go out," Bains says. "When people go out to dinner you're taking more than just people's money - you're taking three hours of their life - so why not make those three hours as different as possible."
After an amuse of, say, hot butternut soup poured over a cold Parmesan sorbet and topped off with a shaving of white truffle, diners are invited to embark on a further seven or eight courses. A dish that has been with Bains for some time, but has evolved more recently, is ballotine of foie gras, cherries, citrus fruits, rocket, candied nuts, pain d'«epice and Banyuls syrup.
"The combination of foie gras and pain d'épice is a classic and we play on the fattiness of the foie gras by adding cherries (poached in lemon) and citrus fruit (wild lime, pink grapefruit and blood orange). When you eat it you get a massive burst of flavour."
And then there's the cooking technique. The foie gras is cooked in the sink - the kitchen sink. Of course, Bains sterilises the sink first, but when he's ready to "cook" his ingredient, he simply fills it up with hot (80°C) water from the tap. Before this the foie gras is deveined, seasoned and left for two hours. Bains then grates black truffle over it, rolls it in clingfilm, ties it in a tea towel and poaches it in the sink at 76°C for five minutes. It's then chilled for two days and left to mature.
Another dish that gives Bains equal amusement is carpaccio of cépes with organic egg yolk, pine nuts and Pe«rigord truffle. In presentation, the dish appears to be a plate of finely sliced cépes, but when you cut through the mushrooms, your knife pierces a carefully hidden poached egg yolk which immediately floods the plate. I suppose you poach that in the sink as well? "What, the egg? No, we do that in a pan on the stove."
The menu is concluded with a course entitled "treats". "We wanted to take people back to their childhood - when you're a good kid you get a treat."
So how do you know if your customers have been good, and whether they deserve a treat? "That's easy - if their plates come back clean!"
Restaurant Sat Bains, Hotel des Clos, Old Lenton Lane, Nottingham NG7 2SA.
Tel: 0115-986 6566.
Web site: www.hoteldesclos.com
Sat Bains - the degustation menu (£45)
* Amuse-bouche - velouté of Jerusalem artichoke
* Roast scallop, Indian spices, tartare, lime jelly, textures of cauliflower, coriander, salt
* Carpaccio of cépes, organic egg yolk, pine nuts, Périgord truffle
* Pearl barley, Hereford snails, parsley, pancetta and garlic cream
* Chatsworth Estate venison, poached potato, venison faggot, creamed cabbage, bitter chocolate sauce (served rare)
* A selection of cheeses (Cropwell Bishop Stilton, mont d'or, Ashwell goats' cheese and Roche Baron)
* Lemon grass granita
* Gingerbread terrine, roast bananas, stem ginger ice-cream
* "Treat" (Horlicks and doughnut)
Stop discoloration when making a banana purée by vac-packing a banana with a few drops of lemon juice and a vanilla stick. Poach it in water for 15 minutes, discard the vanilla, empty the contents into a blender, purée and pass.