Dinner At The Devonshire Arms, Pilsley
Last week The Boy Wonder and myself were at the Devonshire Arms at Beeley , and this week was the turn of its sister pub in Pilsley to have us for dinner. As you would expect with it being on the Chatsworth Estate, the pub itself is a magnificent solid stone beast with wood floors and exposed stone fire places; a traditional British establishment that tourists and locals alike love. There are several little sections with seating for eating (oooh that that flows beautifully off the tongue doesn’t it?) that just make the place cosier and more characterful than one big open space. The thing I really liked was the fact that the manager, Helen, greeted everyone warmly as they came through the doors and asked how they were - something that didn’t alter all throughout the evening.
Anyhow, we were shown the specials board at the side of the bar, then taken to our table and handed the menu to look at. The Man decided to have the Chicken liver Pate with Chatsworth Farm Shop Chutney and Melba toast for his starter and I chose the Portobello Mushroom with Garlic Cream stuffing for mine, from the specials board. Both dishes were beautifully garnished when they arrived and smelled delicious. The Pate was exceptionally smooth and creamy with a very rich taste to it, and the “Boxing Day chutney with Apricot and Ginger “had just enough spice to it to compliment that richness to stop it being cloying. My mushroom was lovely and hot and had kept its meaty texture, and the creamy sauce had a marvellous hint of Garlic to it that teased the taste buds. A beautiful crispy crumb topping provided great contrast to the smoothness of the mushroom and sauce to enhance the overall impression of the dish.
Our main courses were the Homemade Burger, Hartington Stilton, Farm shop Bacon in a sweet bun with Chips and Relish for me ( I surprised myself by ordering a burger for dinner , but I liked the rebelliousness of eating such a dish in this setting !) and Salt beef hash with Fried egg and HP sauce for His nibs. We also ordered a side of Onion rings to accompany our meal. Not much shocks me dear reader, but my little beak popped open in surprise with the size of the burger - it was massive. It also tasted phenomenal, the hint of Stilton on top was lovely and the thick slice of bacon was crisped to perfection. The chips were good, not greasy at all and the tomato relish had a lovely tang to it as well.
As you may have gathered, I was more than satisfied with my main course. So how was the Boy fairing with his meal? It was all I could do to stop him hopping with excitement when his beady eyes glimpsed his food. Slivers of delicious Salt beef had been bound with chef’s unique blend of sauces, spices and potato, arranged into a mound and topped with two eggs; which probably doesn’t sound the most amazing thing, but let me assure you it was garnished beautifully and the aroma from it was out-of-this-world. The Man bird’s murmurs of appreciation and the beak splitting grin on his face confirmed just how great this was, so I persuaded him to let me try a smidge. The meat was very tender, very flavoursome and piping hot and I would’ve loved some more but that was all that came my way. Mind you ,I only gave the Man a little bit of my burger so I can’t complain I suppose. The onion rings were gorgeous – big thick slices of onion in a really crispy batter that had a hint of beer to them and they were soon finding their way into our greedy little tummies!
We were seriously podged at this point so we had a breather before we ordered desserts. I did consider the Vanilla custard with Chocolate shortbread but then I saw another diner have the Bramley apple Crumble and the smell wafted over to my nostrils and I just couldn’t resist. After a bit of deliberation He decided on the Farm shop Cheesecake (which was Raspberry that day), and his opinion was that it was a pleasingly dense, creamy cheesecake and the zingy fresh Raspberries on top were delicious. My crumble had a little surprise in store for me - as I spooned through the creamy custard on top of it I encountered apple, not crumble. Rather than doing it the usual way of fruit then crumble topping the team at Pilsley had turned it on its head so that the beautiful buttery crumble provided a luscious bed for the chunks of perfectly cooked apple to nestle on. Not anything technically difficult, but it just made me look at the dessert in a different light. However, I have no doubt that if I attempted this my apple would just collapse pathetically on my crumble, due to being overdone!
The chef and his team here have talent galore for elevating every day dishes into something gastronomically great which was certainly evidenced with our meals.
I can say without hesitation that you would have a great time here dear reader, as a couple, with groups of friends or with family members of all ages. In fact there was a young couple with their baby in the pram who were having a wonderfully relaxed meal whilst we were dining.
After our meal Helen asked if we would like to see some of the bedrooms they have to offer and being the nosey birdie I am, I was not going to refuse. There are a few rooms above the pub itself which are named after Chatsworth estate farms and they are very elegantly appointed with all mod cons, and Temple Spa toiletries (which are very luxurious). Across the way in the Farmhouse is where I lost the plot with giddiness I’m afraid, the four poster bed (complete with drapes) was so high it needs a little mounting block to let you climb in ! I could just imagine myself leaping with wild abandon into its pillowey soft mattress and never wanting to climb out. It was everything you would want in a quintessentially English luxury accommodation and I am currently working on The Boy to take me there - wish me luck.
All that remains to be said is “Hot Wings“ for teams Devonshire Arms, you were both great :)