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Duffield, Derbyshire
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A Very Special Birthday Meal At Angelos In Duffield

Published On Sunday 6 Sep 2020 by Sticky Beak
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Our Flock has always been very much together, both to advise and support and to celebrate. This time saw us out to celebrate a very important birthday: Mummy Birds 21st (and a half and a bit) birthday!  Covid-19 scuppered our original plans but nothing keeps us down for long and so we booked a table at a venue that is always filled with happiness and is family run – the superb Angelo’s at Duffield.

You have to go through the Kings Head bar to access Angelo’s but there was sanitiser at the entrance and we got through swiftly enough, so no hassle there. It was lovely to see the restaurant so lively on a Friday night – clearly folk have faith in the hygiene and safety precautions that Carly and Angelo have put in place. We’d already done the track and trace stuff at the time we booked, so all we needed to do was douse ourselves in more hand gel at the entry to Angelo’s and follow the staff member to our table in the corner.

Angelo came over to say hi to us all and to wish Mummy Bird Happy Birthday, and then sent over some bread with Balsamic vinegar, olive oil and Pesto dips for us all to nibble at whilst we looked at the menu. A chilled bottle of water and glasses was placed on the table for us and the lovely young lady took our drinks order: Pimms for Mummy, Elderflower Spritz for me, Lemonade for Fledge and pints of Moretti for the men - we also ordered a bottle of Gavi di Gavi to have with the food.

For starters we ordered Soup of the Day (Onion, Celery and Potato – for Daddy Bird), Chicken Livers and Pancetta in Cream, Brandy and Garlic sauce (mine), Tomato, Mozzarella and Rocket Salad for Mummy Bird, Prawn Cocktail for Chickadee, and Meatballs in Tomato and Garlic sauce for His Nibs.

On the Man Bird’s recommendation, Daddy Bird had the Fillet Steak Medallions in Cream, Brandy and Mushroom sauce with fresh Vegetables and Potatoes (His Nibs had the same, but in Angelo’s homemade Black Pepper sauce) and the birthday girl had one of my faves, Tagliatelle Angelo, for her main. My Chick does like a Risotto so it was no surprise that she opted for the Risotto Angelo, a creamy risotto with Chicken, Pancetta and Mushrooms; I had the Salmon fillet and King Prawns in a Cream, Garlic and White Wine sauce.

Whilst we waited for our starters we chatted amongst ourselves and took in the happy ambience of the restaurant. We didn’t have long to wait until steaming plates were being placed in front of us, and after toasting the guest of honour we all tucked in.

Daddy Bird loved his soup –for something so simple it was packed full of flavour but was nice and light on the tummy, served just with slices of bread and butter. A sprinkle of herbs added a pop of colour and the earthen bowl was also lovely to look at, so some thought had been given to presentation.

In complete contrast, was my rich Chicken Liver and Pancetta concoction; this was so gorgeous I could eat it as a main course! The Chicken livers were soft textured but wonderfully meaty and earthy in taste; for once the Pancetta was the lighter element flavour-wise rather than taking the limelight as it often does in starters. I dunked the Ciabatta slices into the indulgent sauce, greedily scooping it up into my mouth and even used the spoon to get every last millimetre of this delicious morsel – no way was I sending any back to the kitchen!

Mummy Bird usually goes for a clean, light starter and had done so once again this time with her choice of classic Caprese dish. The sliced fresh Tomatoes were sweet and juicy, full of summer’s joy, and they popped against the creaminess of the milky Mozzarella. Peppery Rocket not only contrasted against the red Tomato, it bounced in the mouth with its lively peppery character. Vibrant Basil oil added another burst of flavour, with a sweet, intense Balsamic Vinegar dressing providing the final flourish on the palate.

His Nibs just loves the dense texture of Angelo’s homemade Meatballs, they really do stave off the most insistent hunger but aren’t going to leave you podged either. The robust Tomato and Garlic sauce is nice and thick enough so that it doesn’t drip off the fork instantly, but stays on the meatball the entirety of its ‘plate to fork to mouth’ journey.

Fledge was pleased that her Prawn Cocktail was served on a rectangular platter instead of in a glass – it made it easier for her to ‘gram it to death! The Prawns were nice large, juicy numbers and had a gorgeous sweetness to them that stood out against the zingy Marie Rose sauce, and the shredded Iceberg Lettuce added some crunch and texture in the mouth.

Our lovely server had checked we were happy with our choices and was rewarded by a quintet of clean plates, platters and bowls to take back to the kitchen. Angelo had also checked to see that we were enjoying ourselves; it was Daddy Bird and Chickadee’s first times here, the rest of us had been here before to dine in. The empty glasses were also taken away and we poured the wine in readiness for our main courses.

Daddy Bird had asked for his Fillet medallions to be cooked medium/well and His Nibs requested his be done medium; when they cut into them they had both got exactly what they’d wished for. The chaps were very happy indeed with the quality and quantity of the steak on their respective plates, and Daddy was thrilled with the sauce saying that it was a brilliant balance of cream and Brandy: not over-poweringly rich that you couldn’t eat much of it, but certainly luscious enough to make you realise you were savouring something special. His Nibs’ Black Pepper sauce was a proper punchy little minx with a nice bit of heat that partnered the deep taste of the fillet steak superbly.

The fillet of Salmon I was served was breath-takingly good; its generous size made it the star of the platter, and several plump Prawns languished temptingly on top of it. I always enjoy the taste of Salmon; its gentle fragrance and sweetness never fails to make me sigh with contentment, and this piece of pesce was excellent. Any sauce that partners fish has to juggle precisely between being delicate enough to not drown it out yet be flavoursome enough to be appreciated in its own right. Angelo’s Chef is a maestro at achieving this exquisite balance and I appreciated the holy trinity of Cream, Garlic and White Wine as it washed over my eager palate.

The meat and fish mains had come with herbed Potato cubes, whole baby carrots and a mix of Mange Tout and Sugar Snap Peas - all the vegetables were cooked perfectly to keep them crunchy whilst heating them through. Each Potato cube was the ideal size for popping whole into the mouth, which The Man Bird did, huffing as its hot inside burst open in his mouth - patience fella!

Across the table from me Mummy Bird was dealing with the huge portion of Tagliatelle that hid all manner of yumminess within its folds. The pasta itself was cooked perfectly al dente so that it just gives the teeth that bit of purchase when bitten into, without any toughness. Tender chunks of chicken melted on the tongue and the pieces of Pancetta were full of flavour, a hint of salt lingering at the edge of its nutty taste. The creamy Tomato sauce was magnificently unctuous and stuck to the pasta ribbons as they were twirled around before being gobbled up appreciatively by Mummy.

Chickadee was being uncharacteristically respectful of her Risotto, taking her time to savour each mouthful instead of shovelling it in as usual! However it wasn’t her decorum that shocked me; it was the fact that she was eating the Mushrooms in the dish – regular readers will know that her and her Daddy Bird would rather stick hot pins in their eyes than eat what they call ‘slugs’ or ‘devils food’. For such a momentous event, all she said was “blimey these Mushrooms are actually good – they taste like the sauce, not like Mushrooms”; so there you have it folks! The rice grains were wonderfully creamy and just a hint of firmness remained to them. Uber-tender Chicken breast pieces just fell apart at the gentlest of pressure and Pancetta cubes added their flavour too, working harmoniously with the other dancers on this gastronomic stage.

Yet again our server was taking plates back to the kitchen with praise being heaped on Chef and his team; this time though there were some leftovers to be packaged up to take home. Despite their herculean efforts, Mummy Bird and Chickadee hadn’t quite managed to finish all of their pasta and Risotto but didn’t want to waste it.

We simply didn’t have room for desserts – and you know that I was full to the gunnels if I wasn’t in the market for Angelo’s Tiramisu!! Instead, we had coffees and a shot of Limoncello (Mummy had Baileys), courtesy of Angelo who wanted to celebrate Mummy’s birthday too. Thank you Angelo.

Given that it was a marvellous evening in all aspects (our total bill for all the food, cocktails, wine and coffees was £185), I have no hesitation in awarding this excellent Duffield venue Hot Wings. It’s my anniversary in September so I may well suggest a return visit to The Man Bird – be rude not too!

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