Dinner At The Talbot In Dronfield Woodhouse
I love how sometimes the best laid plans change, and actually you end up with a good result and a great experience. This was exactly what happened last night when my little flock went to sample the menu at The Talbot in Dronfield Woodhouse; we had arranged a while back to go into the restaurant at 7pm, and somehow a large presentation award was also happening that night.
The staff were extremely professional in their approach to this minor glitch and set us up a beautifully arranged table in a secluded corner of the restaurant, but having gone into the traditional bar area and seen food been eaten there we asked if we could go and soak up the atmosphere there instead. So, bless them, the staff brought menus through to the bar and set us up a couple of tables, no doubt to the bemusement of the locals.
At this point I just want to say that you would never have guessed that they had such a large party in, everything flowed seamlessly all night. In the main room there is a pool table that was in use all evening and a couple of seriously big screen TV’s that allow you to watch the popular sports fixtures ( last night there was darts showing, and also the Liverpool v Exeter match ,which was a great watch). Throughout the evening there was a steady stream of locals coming in and out, with all age groups represented and it was nice to hear the local banter.
As we were looking through the extensive menu, a selection of warm mini loaves and herb butter were served to us. The bread was deliciously soft and comforting, perfect for a chilly evening, and it was complimented nicely with the herbed butter that melted temptingly on it. Very often it is the simplest pleasures that are the best :)
For starters we had the Prawn cocktail, Ham Hock Terrine, and Garlic Mushrooms. My chick ploughed her way through the Prawn cocktail at breakneck speed and declared it to be “ace” with its plethora of prawns.
His Nibs was equally impressed with his chunky terrine; it was beautifully seasoned, very tasty and there was plenty of it. The accompanying Pea and Shallot puree and dripping fried bread were both great accents to the terrine. As he says, “what more could you want?”
My own Garlic Mushrooms were fabulous with lots of creamy sauce on them that had a wonderful Stilton edge to it, and I couldn’t get over the size of the portion; give me a wedge of warm fresh bread to mop up the sauce and that would’ve done me as a home-style main course. Honestly, they were so tasty.
One of the several servers working that night asked if we had enjoyed our starters, which we confirmed with huge grins.
It had taken us a while to decide on our main courses as there was a huge range of dishes that all sounded amazing. In the end, after several changes of mind, Chickadee had the Hunters Chicken with Homemade chips and BBQ sauce, The Man had a dish simply known as “The Pie” (which must be so good it needs no embellishment we figured) and I had a dish from the specials menu called Land and Sea. When the mains arrived we all tucked in, eager to see if they tasted as good as they looked.
The Pie was a homemade Steak with Guinness and Ale affair that was encased in dripping Short crust pastry with accompanying seasonal vegetables, and a sneaky taste of the dish took me straight back to my Gran’s kitchen. With its chunky meat and rich satisfying pastry it was just reminiscent of fantastic, no frills, honest grub that my Gran served when I was a wee fledgling.
Most impressive was the fact that the bottom of the pastry wasn’t in the least bit soggy, so that no bit of it went uneaten. The vegetable were cooked perfectly too, so you just got the right amount of natural firmness left and the mash was as smooth as glass and really creamy tasting.
Our chick meanwhile was giving the Hunters Chicken her full attention and said that it was lovely moist meat with a nice amount of sauce; the sauce apparently was perfect for dunking the chunky chips into. Needless to say, there wasn’t much left to go begging on her plate.
The Land and Sea was a combination of Cod Loin with Clams and braised Oxtail, a cut of meat that is in my opinion much under-rated; I personally love meats with a rich earthy taste to them and the succulent Oxtail satisfied me enormously. The Cod was lovely and sweet and it was a nice thick piece to really tuck into, and the Clams were tasty too. New Potatoes were sliced and cooked perfectly and then arranged as a bed for the cod to sit on, with Samphire and Straw Potatoes garnishing it.
Now, I haven’t had Samphire for a fair few years and just its Salty twang transported me back to the Lincolnshire Salt Marshes where friends and I used to pick it by the bucket-load. Great memories are very often evoked by food, which is one of the things I take pleasure in. Sweet Chantenay carrots with their hint of Thyme were a perfect finishing piece of a magnificent dish.
When it came to ordering pudding our Chick just hadn’t got room for another morsel so The Boy Wonder and I were left to carry the baton for team Beak.
I opted for the homemade Lattice Treacle tart (with cream, although you can also opt for custard or ice cream), in no small part influenced by the delicious pastry on The Pie, and His Nibs ordered the White Chocolate Creme Brulee. Both desserts were beautifully garnished with fresh Strawberry, Physallis and Redcurrants and finished with swirls of fruit coulis.
My Treacle tart was proper comfort food, a real “stick to your ribs” affair as my Nan would say and I savoured every mouthful. The Creme Brulee gave a satisfying crack as it was whacked by The Man and the crème was a marvellous balance of chocolate indulgence and lightness. As is our custom, we rounded off the meal with Lattes for us and a Hot Chocolate for The Chick.
The whole evening was great, from start to finish, and all the staff were incredibly friendly and attentive. Their uniforms were clean and smart, as were the premises themselves, and the food (where applicable) was piping hot, and really tasty. It was an odd combination eating fine dining food in a traditional pub bar, but a strangely liberating one; somewhat akin to eating takeout Pizza and drinking Champagne which is again something unbalancing but it is just fantastic.
So I want to say a massive Thank You to Glynn and his team for making us so welcome; everything happens for a reason I believe, and we were able to experience both sides of The Talbot. Also, it’s a great excuse for a return visit to see the restaurant in all its glory - not that you would ever need an excuse to revisit such a great place.
Dear reader, if you haven’t been to The Talbot before I can heartily recommend it to you. Hot Wings are making their way over to this corner of our fabulous county