I've been pretty underwhelmed with the dining options since moving to a small town in Derbyshire. This wasn't entirely unexpected, the more rural areas of the country just can't match the offer of the cities at the budget end of the market, the end where my eating out firmly rests at the moment.
The big northern city combo of bargain Asian restaurants and a highly competitive casual drinking and dining market mean that it's easy to eat well for under twenty quid, all in, including a drink or two. Down here there are plenty of good options in the high end pub category, but when the average main course is upwards of fifteen quid alone, you're no longer in the cheap and cheerful range.
It would be daft, of course, to criticise the Peak District for not being Sheffield or Manchester. I'm not expecting to get Vietnamese food, but what has so far been disappointing is the pub food. There are loads of non-chain pubs in the vicinity, but sadly a lot of them aren't really serving anything better than a chain, and in some cases are dishing up something far worse. Rule of thumb: if the only chicken you have is in the freezer, and it's been there for god knows how long and has gone all grey and fibrous looking, then maybe take it off the menu. Just a suggestion.
So Sunday lunch at the Devonshire Arms in Baslow came as something of a surprise. Very nice food, served by some nice people who actually seemed to give a shit. Well done them.
The Sunday roast wasn't perfect, because they never are in pubs, but it was a good effort. Thick slices of pink beef rump, good gravy, a Yorkshire pudding that was fresh and pliable rather than ancient and fractured, and accurately cooked veggies. Only the roasts were a bit of a let down, being almost devoid of roasty brown goodness.
Pudding actually was perfect, at least it was as far as I'm concerned. Lemon posset, lemon sorbet and ginger biscuits. I thought the double lemon approach might have been citrus overkill, but it wasn't, it was divine, rich and creamy offset wonderfully by sweet and sharp. And anything can be improved by the addition of ginger biscuits.
Including service we paid exactly twenty quid each for two courses and a drink or two, great value for the quality and locale. I liked it here, but I'll still have to dock them half a point for the lacklustre roast potatoes.