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Wirksworth, Derbyshire
01629 259562
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A Sunday Lunch Sharer At The Malt Shovel Near Wirksworth

Published On Sunday 25 Feb 2024 by Sticky Beak
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The Man Bird and I were invited along to The Malt Shovel Inn recently (Mummy Bird tagged along as well), to sample their Sunday Sharer Board, priced at £30, so we jumped in the jalopy and set off. If you love rambling round the ‘quirkier’ roads in the ‘Shire - and feeling your ears pop as you climb higher and higher up into t’hills! – then you’ll be happier than a pig in muck on the journey to this Wirksworth Moor venue.

Once we arrived, we parked up in one of the spots in the car park, which is located across the road and then walked over to The Malt Shovel itself. I love eccentric places like this, I really do. There’s a board adjacent to the front door that announces that dogs are welcome - and this means throughout the venue, not just in the bar. Obviously, if your pooch is sopping wet-through or caked up t’eyeballs, please wipe them down before they trog all the muck inside; after all, this is someone’s home as well as their business.

The bar is straight ahead as you walk in and there’s a decent seating area here too. We checked-in and ordered drinks at the bar and were then shown down the couple of steps to the designated eating area, which seats about two dozen folks at the most. There’s a log burner at one end; it wasn’t needed on this particularly mild day, but it still looked pretty though. On one of the walls there is a beautiful, hand-painted mural of the view over the hills from The Malt Shovel by ‘A. Matkin’, which enhances the relaxed, rural vibe of this pub. Tucked away around the corner is a selection of games and some high-chairs: safe to say that children of all ages are welcome, even encouraged in, by Kerri and her team.

His Nibs and I already knew what we were having, but Mummy Bird couldn’t decide whether to go for the Sunday Roast (standard £14.95, small £11.95 and kids under 12 years £7.95), or Scampi n Chips or Sausage n Mash. Eventually she plumped for the iconic Sunday Roast, so our lovely young server went and took the order through to the kitchen.

We didn’t have long to wait before our food was being brought out, Mummy’s first. There was a choice of Pork or Beef on this particular Sunday, and all of us took advantage of having a bit of both when given the choice. As well as the generously-sized slices of meat, Mummy had a bowl containing Red Cabage (unspiced, for those who need to know these things) and a mix of Sweetcorn and Peas, and a bowl of Broccoli and Cauliflower in Cheese Sauce. Homemade Yorkshire Puddings, Stuffing Ball, Mash, Roasties, Parsnip and Carrot were already on the plate with the meat.

Almost immediately, the wooden sharing platter was winging its way to His Nibs and I…and it was huge!! I kid you not, it caught me a bit off-guard and I exclaimed “Christ on a bike, it’s going to take us all day to eat this!”, much to the amusement of Sheryl (Kerri’s mum and co-host when we visited). Our vegetables were up-scaled to reflect the fact that it was a multi-person meal - this would easily serve 3, never mind a couple – so there were four bowls to dip into; five if you count the jug of extra gravy.

I busied myself with divvying up the meat and The Man popped Parsnip- and Carrot- halves, and the other veggies on our plates. I got my greedy paws on the Cheesy-topped morsel first though, and bagged the whole florets of Broccoli for myself, smiling as the cheese formed long, luscious strings as I did so. The sauce was proper, bona-fide, tangy stuff; the kind Granny used to make, that makes your soul happy.

Now, you all know that I’m not the worlds’ biggest fan of spuds (that’s His Nibs’ domain, spudaholic that he is!), but both offerings at The Malt Shovel Inn had me hooked! The roasties were brilliantly crisp on the outside and had a taste that was very much like that you get when you’ve done jacket spuds in the oven: almost malty and nutty, with a sweet-yet-charred edge. Mash is mash – I can take it or leave it, even fancy-pants cream and butter heavy versions – but there was something about it here in Wirksworth Moor that had me reaching for a second helping, and lord knows I didn’t need to have seconds as there were other temptations on the platter. Even The Man was looking at me like “where’s my wife, and what have you done with her?” as I plopped the potato on my plate again.

Fans of Yorkies will be happy with Kerri’s ones: nice and crisp on their golden outsides, soft and comforting in the middle (and not soggy at all). Clearly, I was having an especially gluttonous day as, when His Nibs declined a second one, I scoffed it – making it a hat-trick of puds for me!

Mummy Bird has difficulty with her hands so, 90% of the time, one of The Flock cuts her food up for her. The Malt Shovel kitchen team cook their meat so perfectly that it is super-tender, meaning that despite the Pork and Beef being ‘normal’ thickness slices, Mummy could just slice through the flesh with minimal effort. Flavour-wise, both meats were excellent as well; the Pork was beautifully moist too, so no dry, chewy Percy here! You get plenty of meat for your money, but don’t panic if you can’t finish it all – Kerri and her team will happily wrap the leftovers up for you to take home. Which reminds me, you can order a takeout meal from The Malt Shovel Inn, if that’s more your thing.

When we’d first walked in to the bar, we noticed that Venison Sausage Rolls were available to take home and, on the main menu, there was a ‘Bambi Sharer’. Talking to Kerri when we’d finished our meals, we discovered that her other half is a deer stalker; that’ll explain the presence of Venison then! Needless to say, we purchased some Venison sausage rolls to bring back to the nest.

Our tummies were stuffed, so we skipped dessert, but if you want a second course then you’ll pay a combined price of £18.95; if you go all-in and have a starter as well, then it’s £22.95 for the trio. Given the quality and quantity, this is good value for money which, let’s face it, we’re all scouting for aren’t we? During our visit, the staff had all been superb; check-backs were done and sauces etc. had been offered at the appropriate time.

I loved the atmosphere at The Malt Shovel Inn; it might be a bit out-of-the-way at Wirksworth Moor, but it’s definitely worth putting a bit of effort in to get there. If you’re up that way walking or cycling, then this is just the place to refresh and refuel at, whether you’re a local or a visiting tourist. If the weather’s warmer, then you also have the option of sitting outside on one of the benches that are located adjacent to the car park across the road.

Hot Wings happily given to this super-friendly, welcoming team. My only regret is not getting a photo of Sheryl’s face when we told her we were bloggers…Kerri had kept this information from the team, including her mum!!

Booking a table isn’t essential - walk-ins are welcome - but, given the intimate size of The Malt Shovel Inn, I would ring ahead – especially on Sunday when food is only served Noon-4pm. The Malt Shovel In is open 7-days-a-week, from 4-11pm Monday-Friday and Noon-10pm on Saturday and Sunday, though food is only served on Friday and Saturday 5-8pm (and Sunday, obvs!). Phone the team on 01629 259562 or visit the Facebook Page ‘Malt Shovel Inn Wirksworth’ for latest events.

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