Dinner At The Devonshire Arms, Beeley
Well dear reader, my beak is all a-chatter and my wings are all a-waft with excitement. The Boy Wonder and I had been invited to partake of The Devonshire Arms at Beeley’s fine fayre. Now I’ve been to Chatsworth House on many an occasion but never really explored the villages on its estate, so I was quite giddy with glee to go and have a nosey about as I’m sure you can imagine. The Pub itself is a beautiful stone building, like the houses in the village, and everywhere you looked there were stone fireplaces and walls and wood beamed ceilings with a very well stocked bar as you walked in through the door.
We walked through the more traditional pub rooms where some diners were already tucking in to fantastic looking meals and were seated at a round table in the Brasserie that overlooked the Brook. The floor-to-ceiling windows (soon to be transformed with opening doors) allowed all the colours from the sun lowering in the evening sky to flood into the room and it really was a glorious setting. Natural wood floors , Blue, Raspberry and Striped club chairs gave a relaxed feel to the Brasserie which was maximised by effectively situated down lights and a mesmerising swimming pool blue rectangular light.
The main menu, redesigned for spring by Chef Patron Alan Hill and his team, comprises six equally tempting starters and it took The Man and me a fair few minutes and several changes of mind to choose our selection. Eventually I went for the Asian soused Cornish Mackerel fillet with Blood Orange, aromatic Mooli Slaw, Crispy sea salt Seaweed and rolled Prawn Toastie and His nibs had the 48 hour slow cooked Derbyshire Corned Beef Terrine with mustard seed Sauerkraut, Scotch bonnet and Plum Tomato Chutney on Brioche. Our waitress came and placed a bottle of chilled water on the table, and a basket of bread for us to graze on.
Then we were presented with a lovely surprise, a “pre-starter“ of Goats Cheese, Chicory and Apple spoons with small jars of warm Beetroot, Blood Orange and toasted Pine Nut sauce. The spoons were a gorgeous mix of flavours and textures that blended together marvellously, and the sauce was beyond description - it was just uber-yummy. In fact dear reader it was so good I just couldn’t resist the temptation to dip the chunks of bread on the table into it. There was a perfect hint of orange that peeked through and the little soft pieces of fruit provided the perfect contrast to the crunch of the pine nuts.
So then our starters came out and they were exquisitely presented. The Corned beef Terrine was perfectly smooth and had a delightful depth of flavour that just burst to life on the Boy Wonders tongue with the chutney having enough tang to cut through the richness without overwhelming the palate. The Mackerel fillets were, as you would expect from such an experienced kitchen, expertly cooked to maintain their succulence to just flaking point that needed no help from my cutlery to part the flesh. The crispness of the Seaweed and Prawn toastie were the ultimate foil to the fish.
So far we were very impressed with the quality of the food on offer, and were looking forward very much to our main course choices, of which there are 9 to choose from including 2 vegetarian options. No surprise that The Man chose Chatsworth Estate Venison haunch “bourguignon“ with Wild mushroom, pancetta, Parsley root mash and fresh winter Truffle as he is rather partial to “a bit of Bambi“ as he says. It was a close run thing for me but after initially deciding on the Harissa spiced south coast Cod Loin, I settled on the Aromatic sticky Chatsworth farm shop Old Spot belly Pork with Liquorice infused Carrots, Bramley Apple gnocchi, Pak Choi and Black Sesame scratchings. We also ordered a side of Gruyere fries - cheesy chips are always a great accompaniment to any meal, and these had a touch of truffle oil too.
This time the presentation was world-class fine dining standard, extremely artfully done with little mounds of jewel colours on my plate and a beautiful quenelle of mash crowning a tantalising confection in his nibs bowl. Serious amounts of love and pride went into these dishes and we savoured every beakful with the reverence they deserved. My belly pork was coming apart in ribbons and was super moist with the most delicate creamy taste to it, and the scratchings were just spot-on too, you know how much I like a good decibel crunch! The Venison the Man had was equally tender and falling apart, it just melted in the mouth. A smooth as glass mash and rich sauce topped things off to produce “perfection on a plate“ to quote Him. The Gruyere fries were lovely and crispy and had a lovely tang to them thanks to the cheese, and they did go very well with our dishes.
Our little crops were gratifyingly full at this point in the proceedings but we soldiered on, purely for the purpose of thoroughness you understand, and had desserts.
A White chocolate mousse with boozy Cherries from the days specials menu was the selection for the Man and I had dark chocolate and Hazelnut frangipane tart with Pistachio ice cream. Again the presentation was jaw-stoppingly beautiful, and this was matched by the flavours of the sweet delights in front of us. The lovely light creamy mousse was complimented by an ultra crisp Brandy snap round and firm alcohol laced Cherries. The Man Birds beak was doing a little dance of delight with the flavours caressing his taste buds, and it wasn’t long before my beak was joining in the party.
I was expecting the usual dense textured dark delight that is the norm for this dessert, but I really should’ve known that Alan’s team love to push the envelope in all things culinary. What lay before my bulging eyes was a slice of heaven dear reader. It had a surprisingly open texture that allowed the full flavour of the hazelnut to be savoured alongside the flirtatious hint of the dark chocolate and atop this morsel was a blissful mound of pastel hued ice cream. All I can say is it was absolutely delish, and then some :)
Now you may think that food of this calibre would be served in a somewhat intimidating setting and not be tempted to go to The Devonshire Arms at Beeley. Let me swiftly lay these concerns aside for you. Alan and his team have worked tirelessly to avoid this experience for their guests and we could’ve been sat at our cosy little nest we really were made that welcome. Chatter filled the Brasserie and the other tables were having an equally great time.
The philosophy of the team here is that food eating should be pleasurable, sociable, joyous and unhurried and to achieve that people need to feel at home. In all we spent 3 hours savouring our meal and the waiting team were largely responsible for making us feel so welcome; they were smart, polite, extremely attentive and had smiles on their faces at all times.
It may also surprise you how affordable the food is here too. Now we’re not talking your “2 mains for a Tenner“ obviously, but it will surprise you to learn that starters range from £6.50 - £8.95, mains from £14 - £27 (fillet of beef), sides £2.95 and desserts £5.50 - £10.50 (selection of 5 cheeses). There is an extensive selection of Wines, Cocktails and guest Ales on offer, so whatever meal you choose there is the perfect accompaniment.
All that remains is for me to say, team Devonshire, Hot Wings ahoy :)