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Grindleford, Derbyshire
01433 424110
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Trying The New Summer Menu At The Maynard, Grindleford

Published On Sunday 2 Jun 2024 by Sticky Beak
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A beautiful late spring evening saw The Man and I winging our way to The Maynard at Grindleford to sample their summer menu, and we were eager to see what Longbow Venues’ Group Executive Chef, Adrian Gagea, and The Maynard’s Head Chef, Greg Robinson, had [literally] cooked up. The journey was beautiful through the Chatsworth estate, if a little stressful, as we played a game of ‘dodge the gambolling lambs’; not that the ewes cared about the errant antics of their off-spring - they were too busy stuffing their faces with the lush grass!

Even at the elevated position of Grindleford, the weather was still clement enough that several people were enjoying drinks and food out on the terrace at The Maynard as we took our seats at our table. The view over the hills is magnificent and it was really nice to be able to take it in, as well as admire the beautiful landscaping, colourful flowers and manicured shrubbery of the outdoor area.

Our servers for the evening were Ella and Abbie and they soon got us sorted out with chilled water for the table, a cheeky glass of Malbec for me and a pint of Madri for His Nibs. As we perused the menu, I could see that there was a huge variety of diners in: other couples, groups of friends, family groups with children of varying ages, and a party celebrating a birthday. 

Now, I’m not saying that the food hasn’t been terrific before but, oh my, the new menu had so many scrummy sounding dishes it was going to be tough choosing one! Eventually I chose the Spiced Cauliflower Pannacotta (£8.95) to start, followed by Pan-fried Duck with Wasabi (£24.95) and The Man Bird kicked off with Beef Carpaccio (£11.95), with the Derbyshire Trio of Pies for his main course (£24.95).

The Maynard oozes with quiet sophistication and class (without the stuffiness or snobbery) and this extends to the crockery used to present the food on; both our starters were carefully plated up and looked absolutely stunning. As soon as His Nibs had taken the photos, I began to tuck into the sublime creaminess of the savoury Panna Cotta, smiling happily as the flavours ran over my tongue. This minx certainly dispels the myth that Cauliflower is ‘boring’! The vegetable imparted its soft, creamy texture to this dish leaving it to the gently curry-esque spices to inject the serious flavour, as well as a gorgeous deep sunset hue.

Contrasting with the Panna Cotta was a verdant cube of Spinach and Wild Garlic Jelly; I love Wild Garlic’s subtler taste, and am blessed to have a growing swathe of it at home. Chef provided a hefty wallop of texture and crunch by including Crisped Kale and a seriously moreish Mixed Seed, Oat and Maple biscuit, which I used to good effect as a scoop for the last vestiges of Panna Cotta! I would eat this dish every single day if I could, it was that scrummy.

Equally delicious was His Nibs’ choice of Beef Carpaccio. Several slices of ridiculously tender Beef showcased a marvellous ombré from pink centres to brown edges, matched by a wonderful flavour. The Beef’s taste was complimented by the nuttiness of Sesame and a splash of heat from Radish, and the citrus hint in the dressing was superb. Bringing a smoky note were charred Spring Onions, livened by a smattering of micro-herbs. The Man Bird really enjoyed the seasonal pimping of this classic starter; compliments to Chef.

If memory serves me correct (which isn’t a given, thanks to Meno-brain!!), The Man had the Trio of Pies on his last visit to The Maynard, but obviously they were different ones due to the seasonal change. This time around he had BBQ Beef Brisket, Leek and Spiced Honey-glazed Ham, and Caramelised Onion and Quince Shepherd’s Pie; they all sound yummy, I think you’ll agree? Two pies had a ‘proper’ pastry case, with a suet taste that would take anyone back to their childhood and pies that their Nanna’s made. The Shepherd’s Pie had been formed in a mould and held its shape perfectly as it had been turned out, so you got to appreciate the contrast between the two layers. It might not be the healthiest option on the menu, but sometimes you just have to immerse yourself in the culinary experience and have it as a treat once-in-a-while. 

Don’t bother with these if you like scant filling in your pies, ‘cos Chef goes full-pelt and crams as much in as he possibly can…and then a bit more! You get a distinctly different flavour profile from each pie, but each one is absolutely lush; every element is cooked perfectly and seasoned to utter exquisiteness. Hendo’s fans will rejoice at the miniature bottle of this heaven-sent condiment that comes on the plate, and His Nibs dived for this ahead of the jug of gravy that was also accompanying the pie trio. Impossibly smooth, creamy Mash is the sole partner to the pies, and what a classic combo Pie-n-Mash is – I defy anyone not to love it! An artful scattering of baby Pea Shoots added a pop of colour to the plate as well as a bright freshness on the palate.

I do like Duck meat and haven’t had it with Wasabi before (another thing I like, though faux-Wasabi’s pungency often makes me sneeze!), so I was intrigued to try it. Though Duck is categorised as a game bird, it isn’t the strongest one, so I was glad that Wasabi hadn’t been allowed to completely dominate the dish; instead, it imparted a gentle heat that paired nicely with the richness of the Duck breast. We tend to think of this root as Oriental - specifically, Japanese - but it does actually grow in a region of Russia too. Carrying on the oriental theme was the Pak Choi, whose leaves were beautifully wilted here whilst retaining the bodies’ crunch; perfect. Crisped shreds of Leek added a lovely textural edge and I was bowled over by the tartness of the Blackberry Sauce; this fruity element really shone amazingly with the Duck in this dish.

Now I am a fully paid-up member of the carnivore club, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy Vegetarian or Vegan dishes. For my dessert, I chose a vegan option: Lemon and Ginger Stem Posset, with Strawberry Compote and a homemade Biscuit (£8.95); His Nibs went for the Raspberry Mousse, with Coconut and Almond Crumb, Coconut and Poppy Seed Parfait, and Berry Coulis (£8.50).

As a bit of fun, The Man and myself have a ‘mine is a prettier dish than yours’ competition with every meal that is served to us, and I usually win; well, I invented the idea, so y’know, a bit of an advantage has to be had, no?! On this occasion however, I had to admit that His Maj’s choice was the prettier; the beautiful Rose colour of the Mousse was stunning, especially when enhanced by the deeper tone of the Coulis and the contrast with the paler crumb. Not that my dessert wasn’t lovely looking too, it was…just not quite as much as The Mans’.

Possets are an incredibly simple dessert to make (even I can do it, that’s how easy they are!), consisting of three ingredients - 4 if you add egg: Citrus juice, usually Lemon, Cream and Sugar. The only thing is that you need to leave enough time for it to ‘set’. Chef at The Maynard makes a mesmerising version, balancing the flavours superbly so that you appreciate both the sharpness of the citrus and the heat of Ginger simultaneously. Visually, I liked the contrast between the pale-yellow hue of the Posset against the bolder colour of the Strawberries and their compote. My palate lost the plot when it tasted the lighter-than-a-cloud, piped puff pastry-type biscuit! This wasn’t overly sweet, and its butteriness was swoon-inducing; I liked the fact that it wasn’t your usual biscuit, and it certainly partnered the Posset brilliantly.

There’s nothing that shouts “Summer’s on the way” than Raspberries and the Mousse at The Maynard is a marvellous way to enjoy them. Against the delicate, feather-light Mousse is the Raspberries’ joyous rowdiness that captivates and delights, as does the crunchy Coconut and Almond crumb. The Parfait had a firmer texture than the Mousse but matched it easily in terms of deliciousness; so said The Man, ergo it must be true!

Ella and Abbie had been taking very good care of us throughout our meal, making sure that we were enjoying the food and that we didn’t go short of refreshment. Whenever we’ve visited The Maynard in Grindleford we’ve always had a fabulous time, so it is only fitting that Hit Wings are awarded for its summer menu. To book a table, or one of the 19 rooms in the hotel, ring 01433 424110. You can also visit the website www.the-maynard.com to view menus, room rates and opening times. Oh, and I should mention that Dogs are very welcome in the bar area and in the garden…they may even make friends with George, The Maynard’s own resident Blue Roan, four-pawed hunk.

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