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The Palfrey
Milford, Derbyshire
01332 293135
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Sunday Lunch At The Palfrey At The New Inn, Milford

Published On Thursday 2 May 2024 by Sticky Beak
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This’ll tell you how long ago we last visited the New Inn at Milford: Angelo’s Italian was still there! Nothing much has changed on the exterior; the car park is still on the small side (and there’s not much to be done about that) though there’s parking on the road, and those steps are still as steep. Inside, however, the venue has undergone a striking transformation.

There is a lovely entrance atrium, with a small amount of seating and tables, that boasts a gorgeous stone floor and leads you around to the bar and further dining area. Impossibly high ceilings give a sense of grandeur to The Palfrey, mellowed by the amber glow cast from the bulbs set in the huge, modern metal pendants suspended above. I personally love the distressed look of the solid wood flooring; the darker flecks within the timber are picked up by the black metal of the chair- and table- legs. The natural tones of the wood and stone that are the integral structure are complimented by the neutral tones of the furnishings; think putty, bark brown, muted sky blue and moss green. Light floods in via the massive windows, but it does need assistance from the aforementioned lighting as it’s such an expanse.

His Nibs decided to have a pint of the Palfrey’s House lager, I had a glass of Merlot, and Bestie had a pint of Diet Coke as she was driving. With our drinks sorted out by the lovely young chap, we turned our attention to the Sunday Lunch menu. Pricing couldn’t be simpler: a single course is £18.50pp, 2 are £24.50pp, and 3 are £30pp; a couple of options carry additional supplements – the Rump Steak is an extra £8, and if you fancy all three meats for your roast then you’ll cough up another fiver.

Bestie Bird (BB) didn’t fancy a starter, but I ordered the Balsamic Shallot Tarte Tatin with Crumbled Goats Cheese and Rocket Pesto, and The Man chose the Braised Pig Cheek Croquette with Black Pudding Crumb, Apple Purée and Watercress salad. Both dishes were presented on ‘Troval’ (Triangle/Oval hybrid) platters that carried on the natural palate of the décor, and were garnished with verdant micro-herbs. The pastry on my Tarte was other-worldly, it really was! Super flaky and light, it melted on my tongue and released its rich, buttery flavour. At its centre was a whole Shallot, softened and sweet with a marvelous hint of Balsamic at its edge. Tangy Goats Cheese contrasted well with the other notes and really lifted things on the palate, ably assisted by the tangy Rocket Pesto that Chef had artfully drizzled around the platter.

Just one look at the golden outer of the Pigs Cheek Croquette told you that it was going to be wonderfully crisp and crunchy, thanks to the fairly coarse texture of the crumb. It didn’t disappoint, and The Man grinned broadly as he chewed happily away. Within the crumb was a wonderfully coarse, textural filling of Pigs Cheek that had a superbly meaty flavour that stood up to the robust taste of the Black Pudding. Bringing a delicious sweet layer to the flavour profile was the dots of ethereally pale Apple purée which itself was contrasted by the piquant Watercress garnish.

Our lovely server had checked we were happy with our starters and smiled as he took the pair of squeaky clean platters back to the kitchen. I forgot to mention that we were offered table water when we’d first been seated and, as he took the starter crockery away, I noticed that our server snuck a glance at the bottle to see if we needed a top-up – good customer care there, buddy!

For mains we ordered the Pan-Roasted Chicken with Black Garlic and Wild Mushroom Risotto and Rocket Pesto (BB), Sausage, Leek and Fennel Pie (that days pie-of-the-day) with Creamy Mash, Spring Greens and Red Wine Jus (His Maj) and Roast Derbyshire Leg of Lamb (me).Sunday roasts at The Palfrey come with Herbed Roast Potatoes, Crushed Honey Root Vegetables, Spring Greens, Creamed Leeks, a Pig-in-Blanket, a Sage and Onion Stuffing Bon-Bon, and Yorkshire Pudding and Gravy. I wasn’t going to go hungry then, was I?!

The slices of Lamb were a good size and were cooked through, though I had asked for it pink when informed that the Lamb could be served either way. No matter, it was beautifully flavoursome when I tasted it; my only peeve would be that the knife wasn’t serrated enough to easily cut through it, meaning I had a slightly maniacal look as I sawed through it! Those who don’t like their foods touching will freak out a bit if they order this dish: the Creamed Leeks and Crushed Honey Roots were mingling together and the gravy was encircling the bottom of the vegetable, Lamb and Yorkie stack. Everything was really tasty, but I have to say that the root veggies were a bit too smooth for my personal taste; I felt like I’d strayed into weaning-food territory. His Nibs did also get the Pig-in-Blanket, well the pig bit; the sausage had the threat of ‘repeat factor’ for me, and you know how I get freaked out by that! The Spring Greens, though, were wonderfully crunchy and bouncy in the mouth. I asked for some Mint Sauce to go with my Lamb, and was so excited and happy when presented with seasoned, pulverized fresh Mint, rather than insipid jar stuff; it’s only a small detail but, trust me, there’s nothing quite like authentic Mint Sauce!

Bestie was chowing down happily on her Chicken, which was marvelously soft and moist. I tried a piece with the Risotto and, wowsers, this was absolutely corking! Chef had cooked the Risotto rice perfectly so that it was creamy, with just a hint of bite to its nutty grains. Black Garlic was clearly detected by the taste buds, though the mellow, rounded flavour didn’t dominate the mild poultry. You would never guess that this dish only had three elements to it; it definitely tasted more complex on the palate. Next time we come, this is what I’m ordering!

As with my Tarte Tatin starter, The Man Birds’ pie dish had the most magnificent pastry in it. Chef certainly doesn’t skimp on his pie filling; as soon as His Nibs removed the lid, he was greeted with deep, plentiful contents and duly tucked in. The balance of meat and vegetable was perfect, enhanced by the delicate anise note of softened, cooked Fennel. Spring Greens added their own bright, clean notes in the mouth and their texture contrasted well against the glass-smooth mashed Potato. The rich, glossy Red Wine Jus was housed in a separate porcelain jug, meaning that you could add as much or as little as you fancied.

All three of us ordered pudding: I had the Matcha Crème Brulee, His Nibs had Dark Chocolate Mousse with Orange Sorbet, Honeycomb and Chocolate Crumb, and BB opted for the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Maldon Sea-Salt Toffee Sauce, and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

Dessert lovers will certainly rejoice at The Palfrey at Milford’s New Inn; all three of us commented on the bounteousness of our portions. BB’s Sticky Toffee Pudding had an excellent texture to it: satisfyingly dense but not heavy, and with a marvelous depth of flavour. A Toffee sauce should be sticky enough to cling to the tongue and cheek inners so that you can really savour it, and this one certainly did that, though it lacked the salty tang at its finish that BB had been anticipating. His Nibs and I both had a taste and agreed; if you’re going to put salt in, let’s be tasting it! The Vanilla Bean Ice Cream provided a great temperature contrast between itself and the warm pudding and was delightfully creamy, with a definite warm, rounded note of Vanilla to it.

My own Matcha Crème Brulee was housed in a surprisingly deep pot, and it came a good 2/3 of the way up. I gave the burned sugar top an interrogative tap to discern its quality, smiling as it replied with a robust ‘crack’. Feeling reassured, I smacked it properly with the spoon and it shattered, audibly. Underneath the smoky, burnt top was an indulgent crème whose richness was tempered by Matcha’s grassy, umami character. This was a really cleverly balanced dessert offering, and one that I thoroughly immersed myself in. My joy was cut short, though, when I bit into the Vanilla Bean Shortbread round at the side of the Troval platter. I wasn’t impressed by the first nibble, so had a second to check; nope, still not enjoying the texture or taste. Thinking that I was being a mardy cow from the main course knife’s ineptitude, I passed a piece each to BB and His Nibs, for their opinion. They thought the shortbread was a little dense in texture and not crumbly enough too, it was almost as if it hadn’t quite been baked enough. Shame, because it took the shine off an otherwise splendid dessert.

The star of the dessert show award had to go to The Mans’ Dark Chocolate Mousse, though! This was a seriously impressive minx, delivering all the rich luxury you’d want and expect from Dark Chocolate with that tantalizing, gently bitter finish on the palate. Waltzing confidently with the mousse was a bright, crisp Sorbet bouncing with Citrus optimism, and pieces of crunchy, sweet Honeycomb that brought a great harmony in the mouth. Hands-down, this was the dessert to go for.

Throughout our meal, the service had been spot-on and you couldn’t fault the ambience of The Palfrey, either. Our total bill came to £103 which, for the three of us and the amount of food and drink we’d had, we all said was perfectly acceptable. There is plenty more choice on the menu than the dishes we had on this occasion, so we’d definitely be up for returning here on a Sunday. Hot Wings given.

To book a table ring 01332 293135 or visit the website www.thepalfrey.co.uk You can also view other menus on the website and check current offers.

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