Food review - Horsley Lodge, Horsley

Horsley Lodge in its attractive setting with surrounding golf course

Horsley Lodge in its attractive setting with surrounding golf course - Credit: Archant

Our new restaurant reviewer ‘Friar Tuck’ partakes of Sunday lunch

On the menu at Horsley Lodge Photo: Carol Taylor

On the menu at Horsley Lodge Photo: Carol Taylor - Credit: Archant

The good lady Abbess and I had spent much of the summer on what I like to describe as an overseas 'mission'. Much as we had enjoyed our gastronomic travels we returned to Derbyshire very ready for some good honest British cooking - and above all a Sunday roast.

So, at the earliest opportunity, I headed speedily with the Abbess and our Senior Novice for Horsley Lodge, having received reports that this establishment had an excellent offering to make in the Sunday Lunch department. I am happy to relay that those reports proved well-founded.

We were graciously welcomed, quickly ushered to our table and straightaway offered drinks. The novice and I were both impressed by the Horsley Pale Ale, specially commissioned from Shiny Brewery in Little Eaton. A fine ale it was too, well kept and a good sign of the Lodge's aim to offer good quality, locally sourced products. A theme that continued throughout.

As we read our menus we took in the Dining Room. It was light and airy, tasteful modern décor, plenty of room between tables and pleasing views through the south-facing French windows across the golf course to the hills beyond. Altogether a very pleasant place to enjoy a leisurely lunch.

For starters we opted for different dishes, which arrived in good time. The Abbess pronounced herself well pleased with the crab cakes - crisp outside and plenty of soft, moist crab inside. The Novice enjoyed a smooth chicken liver pâté and chutney while I partook of the creamed mushrooms on toasted baguette.

For our main course we were offered roast turkey, oven-baked salmon or even a Mediterranean vegetable Wellington, but being devout Derbyshire carnivores none of us could resist the roast topside of beef, the meat supplied by the renowned Owen Taylor of Leabrook. A large slice of beautifully done beef, very tender, arrived with roast potatoes and parsnip, mashed swede, large Yorkshire pudding and a further generous bowl of boiled and lightly buttered broccoli, sugar snap peas, kale and potatoes.

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To wash this down the beef demanded a robust red. Dead Man's Dice Argentinian Malbec (£22.50) had been ordered. An odd name and indeed an odd label, but the contents were found most gratifying. Plenty of dark red fruits with hints of spice.

For dessert the Abbess and the Novice opted for the Apple and Berry Crumble. The Abbess expressed pleasure at the fruit - slightly tart, not too sweet, while the Novice who is well known for his predeliction for custard thought this particularly good. Creamy, plenty of vanilla but not too heavy. I went for the cheeseboard at £2.75 supplement. This arrived with generous slices of Brie, Stilton and a good tangy Cheddar, accompanied by chutney, grapes and dried apricots. Plenty there for all three of us.

We were well pleased with our meal and sought out Head Chef James Hassall to convey our compliments. He explained how since being appointed some five months ago he has worked to take the restaurant up market, focusing on quality and consistency. We readily agreed that all our food had been well cooked and attractively presented in a modern unfussy style.

To round things off we took coffee on the south-facing veranda, enjoying the September sunshine and the views. We all concluded that Horsley Lodge is a fine place to enjoy the great things Derbyshire has to offer - lovely countryside and fine local food.

Horsley Lodge, Horsley, DE21 5BL offers Sunday lunch at £14 for one course, £18 for two, £22 for three.

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