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Renishaw, Derbyshire
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Dinner In The Wild Boar Lounge at the Sitwell Arms Hotel, Renishaw

Published On Sunday 22 Oct 2023 by Sticky Beak
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It hasn’t been that long since Mummy, His Nibs and me were at the beautiful building that is The Sitwell Arms Hotel and Restaurant in the village of Renishaw, but The Man and I found ourselves back here to sample the new Autumn menu. 

Having parked the jalopy in one of the many spaces, we sauntered through the main entrance doors. Straight ahead is the impressive, traditional bar, with a lounge area to the right. I should just mention for all the fur-parents out there that dogs are allowed in the garden and in the lounge bar. The Trans-Pennine route runs directly at the side of the venue, so if you plan to walk all the way to Rother Valley and back (!) you’ll certainly be ready for some nourishment and refreshment. Non-fur parents will also be happy to know that your bairns are welcomed at The Sitwell Arms to dine with you.

The lovely young man who greeted us, took us around to the left of the bar and into the Wild Boar restaurant where we had been allocated a table in the window. Without being asked, we were offered water for the table – always a plus point, in my opinion! I had also ordered a glass of Shiraz, and His Nibs had a pint of Madri lager.

The Sitwell Arms offers accommodation and there were plenty of residents in the Wild Boar restaurant, having their dinner; several locals came in, too, to try the new dishes on offer from Chef and his team. One of the things I like (apart from the imposing stone fireplace that bridges 2 areas of the space) is the choice of little areas to dine in: it gives the restaurant plenty of character and makes it cosier.

As soon as he clapped eyes on the Black Pudding and Pulled Pork Fritter (£7.95), The Man Bird knew what he was having for starter; I took a little longer to decide, torn between the Greenland Prawns (£8.75), the Moules Mariniere and the Thai-spiced Salmon Fishcake (both £7.25). Eventually I chose to have the prawns with Smoked Scottish Salmon, Marie Rose sauce and Pink Peppercorns, as I had settled on the Beef Wellington (£28.75) for my main course. Following my somewhat dithery lead, His Nibs took a few minutes to decide on his main course but opted for the Twice-cooked Pork Belly, £18.50.

No-one can accuse this team of being stingy with the portion sizes – my platter was fully loaded with a generous pile of plump, succulent Prawns that were bound in a tangy, fresh herb boosted Marie Rose sauce and several ribbons of silky Smoked Salmon that had been carefully arranged next to them. Delicate Pea Shoots provided a lovely garnish, and the fragrant Pink Peppercorns (that had been charred to release all their aroma) were placed around the periphery of the plate. My mouth was flooded with layers of flavour and texture and, despite its ampleness, it didn’t leave me feeling as if I didn’t want my main course. This was a great take on a classic seafood starter offering.

When something is described as a fritter, you never quite know how Chef is going to have created it. In this case, it was obviously made as a larger dish and sliced as-and-when needed, and the base and sides were deliciously crispy, which provided a fantastic contrast to the softer, two-tone inside. Sandwiched between two paler layers of sweet, juicy Pulled pork was a darker central seam of full-bodied, earthy Black Pudding. The flavours married together beautifully and were completed by the rich creaminess of the perfectly poached eggs’ yolk. A thin Apple crisp gave a pleasing crunch when bitten into and its taste was echoed by the soft Bramley Apple purée; as with mine, this was a wonderful first course.

Our lovely server had checked that we were happy with our food and came back to a pair of spotlessly clean plates – something that any member of serving staff loves to see. Whilst he was stacking the crockery up, he took the time to chat with us, and also to make sure that we were ok for drinks.

I had requested my Beef Wellington be cooked on the rarer side of medium/rare and this was exactly what I got. A thick piece of Beef fillet had been coated with a duxelles and then wrapped in a lattice-decorated round of pastry which was cooked to golden perfection and sliced in the middle to reveal its beauty. The burgundy wine sauce was presented in a separate jug for me to add at my leisure, and I could see more slices of Mushrooms within the thick liquid. Roasted Beetroots, Parsnip purée, and a thick, individual round of Dauphinoise Potato were the only other items on the plate. The panache of buttered vegetables (sliced Mange Tout, Green Beans, Courgette and Carrot – all cooked perfectly to retain some crunch) that were for us both to share, came in a separate, deep bowl and had an attractive glossy sheen on their surface where the butter had melted from their warmth.

Both the beef and the pastry melted in my mouth; Chef had done an excellent job here. I loved the root vegetables too; they were sweet, fragrant and intense enough to stand up to the meat and wine-pimped sauce’s tastes. His Nibs and I both commented on how sublime the Dauphinoise Potatoes were as we cut through the crisp, golden outer and chomped the soft, floury spuds that had been zhuzhed up with Cream, Cheese and Garlic – yummy!!

His Nibs’ face was a picture when the HUGE slab of Belly Pork got placed before him – you could see the momentary panic on his face as he thought “how the heck am I going to eat all that?!” It was only a fleeting second though, and he soon got stuck in to the wickedly creamy- tasting meat, smiling as its flavour roiled over his tongue. The crackling was top-notch; so good, in fact, that I only got one piece: greedy-guts ate the rest! Is nothing sacred?! Shreds of Red Cabbage had been enhanced with Star Anise and Cardamom; both warming spices, which is exactly what you want on an Autumn/Winter menu, isn’t it? Sweet Apple purée is a classic partner for Pork, and it just danced perfectly in this dish, along with the Cider and Mustard sauce that had a hint of heat at its edge, so as not to dominate the meat.

Other members of The Wild Boar restaurant team had checked we were happy with our meals as we’d been making our way through them – we definitely were! By this stage, our tummies were pretty full and in all honesty we should’ve (and could’ve) skipped pudding; you all know that we’ve no will-power, and when I spied Lemon Posset with Lemon Curd and Shortbread (£6.95) I was a -goner! Swiftly behind me in the ‘no will-power at all’ stakes, was Him Indoors, quickly ordering the Salted Caramel and Chocolate Tart with Raspberry Sorbet and Vanilla Cream (£6.95). It’s no wonder I spend a good chunk of time in the gym!

I know it’s a bit girly, but I love to see desserts in those fancy coupes, so I smiled like a loon when I saw that my Lemon Posset was served in one, garnished with fresh Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries and a single, whole Physalis. Both the Posset itself and the darker yellow hued Lemon Curd were wonderfully sharp, and their citrus taste bounced crisply and clearly over my taste buds. Just as importantly, Chef had got the consistency bang on: not runny so as to drip off the spoon, but not so thick that it was clarty; instead, the perfect posset coated the insides of my cheeks and my tongue, lingering nicely there. The cream element of the Posset added a touch of indulgence, something picked up by the butter-laden, mini Shortbread rounds. I popped some of the Lemon Curd on top of the Shortbread – a genius move, if I say so myself, as the flavours complimented each other marvellously!

The Man Birds’ tart (no, not me, you cheeky things!) had a beautifully delicate, scalloped edge whose pale colour only seemed to intensify the darkness of the filling. What His Nibs didn’t know was that underneath the dark chocolate top tier, hid a Salted Caramel layer; he’d thought that ‘Salted Caramel and Chocolate’ would be a combination of the two elements. When he took the initial mouthful, he was pleased to discover that both flavours were superbly distinct and that the Salted Caramel was exactly that. A brightly flavoursome Raspberry Sorbet and fresh Raspberries cut through the richness of the tart, bringing a great balance to this dessert, and the gentleness of the Vanilla cream softened the exuberance of the berries. Again, a superb offering from Chef and his team.

We rounded our meal off with our customary black coffees, pleased to discover that the blend used at The Wild Boar Restaurant at The Sitwell Arms Hotel is a rich, rounded one. We’d enjoyed the Sunday roast that we’d had on our previous visit, but this dinner was certainly a ‘where’s the DeLorean?’ meal. Hot Wings given here, quite happily.

To book your table, or overnight dinner, bed and breakfast stay, ring 01246 435226 or visit the website www.sitwellarms.com. Oh, and if you don’t fancy just one dish, why not take advantage of the ‘Tapas-for-2’ offer? You get a choice of 6 Tapas and a bottle of house wine for £40 per couple.

Some form of incentive was provided to visit this venue read more

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