After a beautiful walk along Stanage Edge in the Peak District, we are more than ready for lunch. The Plough Inn at Hathersage is nearby. Although Hathersage is in Derbyshire, we are close to the Yorkshire border and I’m pleased to see that Yorkshire Farmer from the Bradfield Brewery is available at the bar. It is a light, gold coloured bitter that is pleasingly refreshing on an unexpectedly warm autumn day.
I order the sea bream with courgette, fennel, parmentier potatoes and a shrimp & thyme butter. The sea bream is beautifully cooked and well complemented by the vegetables on the plate although, for me, there is just too much shrimp & thyme butter. Rock orders the char-grilled corn fed chicken breast served on a salad of asparagus, new potato, pine nuts, rocket and a sweet mustard dressing. It is fine but Rock thinks the dish would benefit greatly from having the pine nuts toasted and, while I had too much butter, she really needs more dressing.
Warm, friendly service outshone the good but not spectacular food.
A few years ago we stayed and had dinner at Fischer’s Baslow Hall. We really enjoyed the food and the excellent service but the setting was a little formal for our taste. So, when we discovered that Fischers have opened a more relaxed place in Baslow called Rowley’s – it sounded ideal for us.
We arrive to find a fairly busy informal restaurant and bar with an interesting menu. We order drinks and study the menu while we wait for the drinks to arrive. Long after deciding what we want to eat, another member of the Rowley’s team comes to ask if we want drinks – we tell them we have already ordered but nothing has yet appeared. She takes our food order and promises to chase our drinks. Ten minutes later they finally turn up without any apology.
My pint of Swift Nick from the locally based Peak Ales Brewery is a really quite beautiful bitter with notes of fruit and malt. Rock has an interesting Blackberry and Elderflower Pimms – slightly too sweet for her but a nice change. Rock is having the char-grilled mackerel fillet with lime mayonnaise, wasabi and cucumber. It is a little overcooked and, despite the mention of lime and wasabi, tastes quite bland. I have the pan roast partridge breast with pickled raspberries, toasted seeds and honey dressing. It is good.
I ask for another beer and Rock asks for a glass of water. I cannot resist the Derbyshire venison loin with beetroot, baby parsnips, turnip, red cabbage and bitter chocolate sauce. The combination of game, root vegetables and chocolate is a marriage made in heaven or, at least it should be if the root vegetables are properly cooked. I like al dente but one of my parsnips was so undercooked I was physically unable to cut through it! I am calmed by my second beer and the fact that the venison is perfect! Rock has the saddle of rabbit wrapped in pancetta with pearl barley risotto, thyme, baked carrots and a jus made with a dash of pedro ximenez. Still uninspired, she leaves most of it. She may have been calmed by the glass of water she ordered…. but this never arrives!
At no stage does anyone ask us if everything is ok or if we are enjoying our food – despite clear signs to the contrary. We hear other guests, presumably regulars or locals, being well looked after but we are left feeling as though nobody cares. Did we complain? No – while we are very disappointed, as the venue doesn’t seem to care, we decide to simply pay and leave…
There are few better places to stop than a really good small, independent cafe that serves great coffee and cakes that are genuinely home made. The Green Pavilion in Buxton is a florist but it has a wonderful cafe attached.
Sometimes, when I order a large coffee, I leave half of it because it just isn’t good enough. Not here – the coffee is beautiful. It is matched by a selection of really interesting cakes. Rock and I shared the courgette and lime cake – fabulous flavours, very moist and not too sweet. The place was busy – with others having a freshly cooked breakfast (which looked really good) or just stopping by to get a coffee. Despite being very busy…the service was both friendly and helpful. We loved it!