Out For Dinner At The Bank In Belper
His Nibs and I do like a mooch in Belper, so we were thrilled to be asked along to The Bank at Belper to sample their food; a new thing they’ve doing for about 6 weeks. As you’d expect, the building is pretty imposing from the street - banks always managed to house themselves in fab structures, didn’t they? We walked through the solid doors and into the open-plan ground floor drinking/dining area, taking in the huge bar, which I guess would’ve been the service counter in its days as a working bank.
Anita and Lee ( the co-owners of The Bank at Belper) have restored the beautiful wooden flooring, complimenting it with a relaxing colour scheme of greens and greys. Large metal pendant lights hang from the high ceiling, their fashionably over-sized bulbs casting a warm glow through the space, ably assisted by natural light that streams in through the large windows at the front and side of The Bank. On this floor, I especially liked the Selfie Booth, formerly the stationary cupboard (!), kitted out with neon signage and with a current record of 17 people in there at one time – now that’s just begging to be beaten, no? There’s even a swish outside area, ‘The Courtyard’, complete with seating, tables and parasols for you to take advantage of warmer temperatures.
Downstairs is ‘The Vault’ (due to open June 2023) where Gin/Rum/Wine tasting events are planned 😊. This will accommodate groups of up to 8 people: either as a single group, or for individuals to buy tickets and mingle with other like-minded folks. Upstairs there is a room, also due to open in June 2023, with seating for about 30, that will be available as a private hire for events/parties.
Anyhow, having settled in and got drinks sorted (Sauv Blanc for me, Asahi lager for Him), it was time to decide on food because my tummy was rumbling! All dishes are cooked fresh-to-order by Chef Kyle, so we were expecting to have a small wait but, even so, it was a lovely touch from Anita that she came over and said that there’s usually a 20-minute lapse before you can expect to be served with your main course.
To get the food party started/deposited (as the menu says), I ordered Sauteed King Prawns with Fresh Garlic and Chilli (£9.50), and The Man opted for Homemade Meatballs in Arrabbiata sauce with Toasted Ciabatta (£8.50). We didn’t have long to wait for those beauties to arrive and, when they did, they were both beautifully presented. Delicate Pea Shoots adorned the top of both of our dishes, and I also had a charred Lemon half at the side of my six fat, luscious King Prawns 😊. Thanks to the fresh Red Chillies in the meal, there was a heat right at the periphery of the palate that was enough to be appreciated, yet respected the Seafood’s genteel nature. I also got a hint of garlic in my mouth too that pleased me but wouldn’t turn me into a social pariah!
The Man Bird smiled happily at the quartet of good-sized, dense textured meatballs in front of him, and his grin only widened as he took the first bite of them. Flavour-wise, these minxes were every bit as bold and robust as they were in satiability – Chef had certainly pulled it out of the bag with these! You can’t beat a proper home-made Tomato sauce with Meatballs and again, Chef Kyle had spun his magic here: the Arrabbiata sauce was a taste sensation and its unctuousness meant it clung nicely to the meaty morsels. Sized up, these would be a superb main course option…just saying, Chef 😊.
All the menu sections cleverly and wittily reference banking terms: sharing platters are ‘Joint Accounts’, desserts are ‘Savings’ (we all ‘save’ room for pud, don’t we?), and ‘Piggy Bank’ was the children’s menu (1 course is £6.95, 2 £8.95, and 3 £11.95). From the ‘Current Account’, we ordered our mains: Herb Crusted Salmon Fillet with Garlic & Herb Potatoes and a Seafood Broth, served with Seasonal Greens (£17.95, for me) and Slow-Cooked Pork Belly with Colcannon Mash and Cider Gravy, served with Seasonal Greens (£15.95, His Nibs’ choice).
Whilst we waited for our mains we took in the relaxed ambience in The Bank, chilling out to the fab music selection. As before, you couldn’t fault the presentation of either meal so, with no hesitation, we tucked in 😊. My Salmon fillet was huge - not that there were any complaints on that score from me! Chef really did out-do himself here though; the fish was so moist and juicy it was just sublime to eat. Partnering the rose-hued Salmon were in-shell Mussels and more of the delicious King Prawns that I’d had the pleasure of eating in my starter…oh and a ridiculously tasty Broth that knitted everything together wonderfully well. Dinky cubes of Potato had been pimped with Garlic and Herbs and these were also muchos scrummy 😊. Anita had brought the Seasonal Greens out in a bowl for us both to share and, not only were there plenty of Peas, Baby Leeks and Shredded Cabbage, but they were all cooked perfectly to preserve some crunch.
Just as generous as my Salmon was His Nibs’ deep slab of Belly Pork, topped with possibly the crispest, crunchiest crackling on its outer that you could wish for in your wildest, gluttonous dreams! Having borne the brunt of the heat in the oven (woo hoo for those, like me, who love crackling 😊), the skin protected the precious meat underneath, resulting in impossibly soft, creamy tasting Pork. The Pork shreds simply melted on the tongue, disappearing in a stream of flavour down into His Nibs’ tummy. Also luxuriously indulgent was the Colcannon Mash: an ultra-smooth Potato base sporting an upgrade of Cabbage, Cream and Onion - talk about tasty! Thick gravy came in a separate jug to be added at will, and this had a superbly flavoursome hint of Cider peeping through that complimented the other elements of the dish.
With the previous two courses being so blooming tasty, there was no way we weren’t having dessert; best undo our belts then! When he spied perennial classic, Golden Syrup Sponge Pudding, that was The Man’s mind made up; I was just in the market for something sharp and refreshing, so I selected the White Chocolate and Lime Cheesecake (both £5.95).
I loved the rippled top of the Cheesecake because it made things more pleasing on the eye, and a simple wheel of fresh Lime that contrasted with the pale dessert body was all the decoration this treasure needed. I’d gone for pouring cream to accompany it, though Anita did also offer me the choice of Ice Cream 😊. I don’t know how Chef did it, but he managed to create something that was moreishly rich and decadent without laying heavy on the tummy; pinch me, I’m dreaming! Unusually, (and this is a positive on this occasion) you actually got the zip of Lime’s citrus taste in the milky White Chocolate and Cream Cheese mix clearly here, which pleased me no end. Nothing frustrates me more than a description of ‘… and … Cheesecake’, and then all you get is the creamy body without the other element. Thankfully my frustration remained sleeping and all was well!
To accompany his old-school pudding choice, His Nibs had gone for creamy Custard and, unlike me who’d only had a smidge of my cream, he larruped the whole contents over the sticky, sweet pudding top. Subtle, he ain’t!! If it’s comfort food you want, then this minx will hit your sweet spot (no pun intended) with its densely syruped, yet lightly textured, welcome. Eeeeeeeeeveryone knows what a Golden Syrup Sponge should be like, and this one was a belter 😊!
Throughout our meal, Anita had popped over at each course to check that we were enjoying the food (hopefully this review shows her we really were 😊), and to have a chat – which I always love. The team behind the bar were also keeping a discreet eye on our progress, so we wanted for nothing at all.
The Bank at Belper is child-friendly (hence the Children’s menu!) and it also welcomes four-legged guests. When we went in there were a couple of tables that had dogs at them – who were all doing a sterling job of making sure their humans behaved.
If you fancy going along to The Bank to sample some food (and I heartily recommend that you do!) or to sip at the extensive range of draught lagers, wines, spirits and cocktails, then they’re open Monday-Thursday 11am – 6pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-11pm, and Sunday Noon-6pm: food is served until 6pm every day. Give them a buzz on 01773 821914 and visit the website www.thebankatbelper.co.uk for menu details.
Hot Wings more than deserved here! Thank you to Anita and Lee for inviting us along to see the fruits of your labour; it’s definitely been worth the effort, with Belper gaining another fab place to socialise in 😊.
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