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Renishaw, Derbyshire
01246 435226
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Fine Dining Event At The Sitwell Arms Hotel In Renishaw

Published On Sunday 28 Apr 2024 by Sticky Beak
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Although [probably] known most widely as being a great wedding venue, there’s more – an awful lot more – to The Sitwell Arms Hotel at Renishaw. As I write, several of the Hotel’s rooms are under-going refurbishment, and the former residence of the Sitwell’s’ owners is now used as a luxury holiday let for families/groups of friends to relax and unwind in. However, it wasn’t the accommodation that The Man and I had gone to experience; it was the bi-annual Fine Dining event that Managing Director, Jo-Anne, hosts. At these events, Chef and his team are allowed to let their imaginations run wild and really go-to-town in showing off their skill.

Fledge had very kindly offered to chauffeur us both to and from the event, so that we could take full advantage of the wines that were to accompany each of the seven courses! The car park has also had some attention lavished on it so, as well as being pleasurable to park in, now boasts charging points for electric vehicles. Bidding our Chick farewell, we headed inside and were very warmly greeted before being escorted through to the Wild Boar Restaurant and our table therein.

The Wild Boar restaurant has a lovely cosy ambience to it, thanks to the oak-beam ceilings, warm-toned, wall mounted lights and stone walls. Each table was laid with a pristine white cloth, the Chiavari chairs equally posh with their white covers and tonal sashes. Cutlery was polished to within an inch of its life and the glassware dazzled with its shine. A fancy glass bottle housed chilled water, and we helped ourselves as we sat down; not that we were on water for long…a lovely young lady soon came over with our order of G&T and Madri that we’d placed at the bar when we first got to The Sitwell Arms Hotel.

Whilst other guests were arriving and being shown to their tables, team members came around to those of us already seated and placed baskets of bread with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic for us to nibble on. There was a pamphlet detailing the evenings’ menu and wine pairings, and it also contained information about other events planned at The Sitwell Arms Hotel. The 2024 Christmas Menu was on display, as were the December dates for a swanky Dinner Dance, Festive Fayre dates and the Beaujolais Nouveau evening (which caught my eye) in November. Before that time of year descends though, there is the new menu to look forward to from 1st May 2024, an ‘80s Pop Party Night on Friday 17th May 2024, and a variety of kids events where characters appear, a bouncy castle lets them burn off energy and – best of all for your purse-strings – kids eat free with every adult main meal purchased.

I had just finished looking through the pamphlet when Jo-Anne opened the evening and her serving team (attired very smartly in black and white uniform and wearing gloves) began to bring out the first course of Gravlax Salmon with Sourdough, Dill Sauce, Lemon Gel and Caviar to us all that was paired with Gavi, Il Portino wine. There was a definite order for serving and clearing away, which meant that each course ran like a well-oiled machine. Simultaneously, other team members poured the wine for each course and we were then informed about each wines’ character and the foods that it paired well with.

Now, His Nibs doesn’t do ‘fishy’ fish, but he’s been getting braver recently and said that he would try it. Luckily, he wasn’t keen, so it got passed over to me…I knew that I’d be returning the favour though at the next course, Braised Pigs’ Cheek and Ham Hock Fritter – I’m a good wifey, aren’t I?! Anyhow, back to the Gravlax; the fish was soft and silky, with its characteristic oiliness coating the inside of my mouth wonderfully. A smattering of intensely ozonic Caviar made the palate sit up and take notice, as did the fresh, bright flavour of the Dill Sauce. All of this deliciousness was served on a square of toasted sourdough that provided a great blast of crunch and texture in the mouth. The Gavi’s acidity cut through the richness of this first course excellently, leaving a beautiful carpet of fruity notes behind that were nicely refreshing.

Our Pigs’ Cheek and Ham Hock Fritter/Croquettes were marvellously deep, flavour-wise, and the meat had been shredded coarsely to provide a good ‘chew time’ in the mouth that was pleasingly satiating. Robust tasting Black Pudding had been rendered into fine crumbs that decorated the edge of the plate, though you still got a great wallop over your taste buds from them! Equally confident was the small quenelle of earthy, luxuriant Truffle Mayonnaise that graced the top of the Fritter, providing a secure bed for the soft-boiled Quails Egg to perch on; and when I say soft-boiled, I mean that it was PERFECTLY soft-boiled. This course was seriously indulgent and the red wine that accompanied it, Le Quartier Du Cru Fleurie, was a lighter variety that complimented, rather than dominated it.

The final dish before the soup course was Pan-Fried Swordfish steaks with Harissa Mash, Pineapple Salsa and Crispy Seaweed, paired with Gran Maestro Bianco Puglia - a white wine noted for partnering any type of seafood rather smartly. The fish was nice and moist, with a firm texture that stood out from the soft, gently spiced Mash really well from a sensorial perspective. Shards of Crispy Seaweed were face-scrunchingly salty, which took care of the seasoning in one fell swoop! and the Pineapple Salsa’s sweet, sharp, and herby taste brought another layer of flavour to this simple but effective dish. One thing I particularly liked were the colourful, Mediterranean-inspired bowls that were used here; they were not only beautiful visually, but they tipped their hat to Harissa’s roots as well. Very clever.

Classically, the soup course allows the palate to re-group a little and catch its breath, and so it proved to be with this marvellously bouncy creation. In-season Asparagus was clean and fresh, given a hint of sophistication by the Truffle and Parmesan dressing and a dash of zhuzh from the pickled Asparagus shavings that bathed in the soups’ body. Rongopai Sauvignon Blanc was the liquid partner here and its light, bright, herby notes were just the ticket for this vegetable soup; any wine that was too acidic would’ve ruined this dish, but this Sauv was just right in the dry/sweet scale. 

Having guzzled his soup at an indecent pace, His Nibs availed himself of the facilities at this point. I was finishing up my own bowl when a male voice from the table behind asked if I was ‘the food blogger’. I always panic when asked this, wondering if I confirm or deny their suspicion! No need to have panicked, it was Scott (who supplies the wine to The Sitwell Arms Hotel) who was enquiring, and he turned out to be a really lovely chap…his beautiful wife was just as friendly. I love meeting new folks, it’s probably why I got into this caper; well, that and my utter gluttony!!

Kicking off the ‘post-soup’ phase of the Fine Dining evening was a rather nice Sirloin of Prime Beef with Oxtail Stew, Glazed Carrots, Confit Garlic and Potato Millefeuille, paired with 7 Fires Malbec (oooh, yes please, baby!). Red Meat, esp. Beef, and Malbec is a match made in heaven anyway, and this [what I would say] entry-level Argentinean minx went brilliantly with the juicy, served pink, Sirloin. Chef had rested the meat sufficiently so that no blood oozed from it and its fibres were soft and relaxed, making for a tender morsel that melted on the tongue. Providing a deeper layer of taste was the finely diced pieces of Oxtail and accompanying jus.

Sweet Carrots had been cooked to retain a hint of firmness and their flavour bit back nicely - as did the Confit Garlic - to the more savoury aspects in the dish. Nobody panic…the garlic was smooth and rounded, and definitely not going to interfere with things getting jiggy back at home, if that was on the cards! Special mention has to go to the Potato Millefeuille, though; the humble spud had been elevated into something gallery-worthy by Chef and his team at The Sitwell Arms Hotel in Renishaw. Miniscule, ultra-fine layers of Potato had been carefully layered and cooked to a mesmerising golden brown colour, so that the outer was gently crisp and the under-layers impossibly soft in the mouth.

Individual Lemon Tarts with Italian Meringue, Candied Zest, and Plum and Damson Sorbet were our sweet course, accompanied by Canyon Road White Zinfandel. I was swooning with joy at the rich butteriness of the pastry case; it really was perfect - the balance between it, and the sharp Lemon confection contained by it, was exquisite! In all honesty, the tart was ‘enough’ in my opinion (especially with the addition of the intense Candied Zest), and didn’t need anything else with it apart, perhaps, from a few fresh Raspberries for decoration. Gorgeous though the Plum and Damson Sorbet undeniably was, it really wasn’t needed to complete this dessert. With all the citrussy sharpness trolleying around in my mouth from the tart, the sweeter taste of the White Zinfandel wine was more than welcome, and a very clever choice.

Bringing the Fine Dining courses to a close was a selection of Cheeses served with crisp Celery sticks, Grapes and Biscuits, all served with a glass of R.O.C Fine Ruby Port. I adore any kind of Cheese, The Man is a bit more picky; needless to say, there was a bit of trading going on, on our table! I passed over the Smoked type to His Nibs, and he let me hog the Blue Cheese. Both of us snaffled the soft cheese (Brie/Camembert, I’m never sure which!), scoffing our way through the thin, crisp cheese biscuits, crunchy Celery and juicy, sweet Red Grapes as we did so.

Coffee and Petit Fours really were the final, final course and we took our time over them – ably assisted by the super lady who offered us refills for our cups. What an absolutely stonking evening it had been, and great value at £75pp, when you consider the quality of the food... and the fact that we’d probably had the equivalent of a bottle of wine each! There were a few regulars at this event, who go to each one, and it’s easy to see why they keep returning. Hot Wings happily given for this event: they’ve already been given for ‘regular’ food, on a previous visit by us. Huge thanks to Claire for inviting us along, it was definitely a ‘pinch me’ occasion, and one we will remember fondly, in no small part due to the efforts of the serving team.

For more details on any events, visit the website www.sitwellarms.com or ring 01246 435226. And don’t forget that you could even book a room at The Sitwell Arms Hotel and have a proper, indulgent break away.

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