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Hathersage, Derbyshire
01433 650436
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Dinner At The Newly Reopened George In Hathersage

Published On Wednesday 19 Jun 2024 by Sticky Beak
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There’s a saying that ‘you can’t keep a good thing down’; well, there has never been truer words spoken than when it comes to The George at Hathersage! This iconic, 500-year-old former coaching inn was ravaged by Storm Babet in 2023, the flood waters wreaking havoc through the entire ground floor: the beautiful bedrooms, kitchen and restaurant. I can only imagine the staff’s hearts breaking as they desperately tried to salvage anything they could as they literally watched the water burst through. But, with true Derbyshire and Yorkshire-border grit, Managing Director Rob and his team forged ahead with plans to come back better than ever…and they have!

The Man Bird and I were honoured to be invited to the re-opening, both to enjoy an evening meal and to stay over in one of the boutique rooms – definitely a pinch me moment. We made use of the ‘faster check-in’ service online, and found it to be simple, quick and easy to navigate. The trusty jalopy went through the barrier into the ample car park, which goes back and round a lot further than you initially think.

Stepping through the front door, you enter a very smart reception/lounge area that also has seating for diners; muddy walking boots and furry friends are more than welcome here, as well as families and occasion celebraters. In fact, one of the stand-out things about any of the Longbow Venues sites is that they are super-inclusive whilst having an air of quiet refinement. We were greeted really warmly and given directions to our room (#19, Nicholls) and we both smiled as our adventure began in earnest.

I’m not going to wang on too much about the accommodation here; I’ll go into more detail about staying over and having breakfast in another article. Suffice to say, every creature comfort you could want is at your fingertips. The only thing missing, and it was an important one for a self-confessed bath Hippo, was bubble bath. Noooooo!!! Apologies, Rob, to you and your housekeeping team: I used a ridiculous amount of shower gel in a vain attempt to get some frothage going in the tub. It wasn’t my finest hour, but boy did I smell fabulous when I went down for dinner. 

Having hung our clothes in the spacious wardrobe, we headed back down to the lounge – via the bar where a couple of Gin-and-Tonics found their way into our hands. I nestled back into the gorgeously squishy chesterfield and His Nibs sat on one of the wonderfully comfy chairs. The restful ambience gently washed over us and we soaked up the elegant edginess of this area, appreciating the fusion of classic and modern furnishings.

Our dinner table was booked for 7.30pm (last food orders are 9.30pm Monday-Saturday, 8.30pm on Sunday) and we were escorted through to the restaurant by one of the team. Water was offered without being asked for, and any dietary requirements were enquired about; then, we were left to peruse the wine list and the seasonally changing menu that Executive Chef Adrian Gagea and The George’s Head Chef James Heywood were presenting. All of Rob Hattersley’s venues pride themselves on using locally sourced produce that is at its in-season peak to ensure guests have a memorable dining journey.

The restaurant is a sleek, open-plan space with modern pendant lighting that provides a warm, forgiving glow that is perfect for the ‘gram (IYKYK). Lush faux foliage neatly links the far side of the restaurant with the outdoor courtyard, where you can also dine and/or drink, seamlessly blending the two areas. Wooden floors harmonise with the dark wood of the dining tables that are paired with free-standing mid-back chairs in William Morris fabric or forest green, antiqued banquettes. Although there is plenty of seating, a nice privacy space exists between each table, ensuring you don’t feel cramped or hemmed-in. If you want an even more private space, the nattily named ‘Dragon’s Den’ is available.

If you like a glass or bottle of wine with your meal, then you’re well catered for at The George; there’s an extensive selection of sparkling, red, white and rosé wines to choose from. Cocktails, lagers, beers and spirits (as well as softs) are also well represented. Feeling nice and chilled, I let The Man choose the wine and he went for a bottle of Picpoul de Pinet (£31.95). With the drinks sorted, we turned our attention to the menu – I should just point out that children have their own menu, and over 95% of the main menu has gluten free options.

To begin my meal, I opted for the Dijon Mustard and Dill Cured Sea Trout, Tomato Sauce, Ciabatta Crostini, Micro Herbs and Pickled Fennel (£10.95), and The Man had his beloved Scotch Egg; this was a Korean-flavoured interpretation that was accompanied by a Sticky Sesame and Coriander Rice Cake, Gochujang Sauce and Kimchi (£9.95).

Chef had blessed the Scotch Egg with a thick, crisp outer that hadn’t got the merest trace of oil to it, meaning that the sublimely flavoursome sausage-meat and rich egg yolk could be fully appreciated by the taste buds. The yolk itself was perfectly unctuous; neither runny nor solid, just that wondrous state between the two. Where the Scotch Egg was relatively mild, the Rice Cake and Gochujang sauce were anything but! Coriander and Sesame’s own distinctive notes were bolstered by a lip-tingling blast of Chilli, and then the wickedly sour, sharp Kimchi chimed in its tuppence-worth; this was certainly a complex, multi-layered starter.

Sea Trout isn’t dissimilar to Salmon, though it’s subtler in flavour. Still regarded as an oily fish, this starter certainly benefitted from the astringency provided by the pickled Fennel and, actually, the anise taste of this herb married superbly with the Sea Trout. A sweet element came via the ultra-smooth Tomato sauce and a beautiful, textural crunch came from the crisp, miniature Crostini and Pea Shoots used for garnish and visual impact. Another superb dish to begin a meal with; compliments to Chef. 

Our lovely server had checked that we’d been enjoying our starters, and was smiling when she came back to find both plates spotless. Whilst she was with us, she also asked if we’d like another bottle of table water, as our current one only had about an inch left at the bottom.

For his main course, The Man plumped for Sage and Chorizo-stuffed, Pancetta-wrapped Pork Fillet with Sautéed Greens, Mashed Potatoes and a Creamy Sage and Chorizo Sauce (£20.95) and I fancied the sound of the Lebanese-spiced Lamb Ballotine with Chickpea Hummus, Raita, Marinated Vegetable Skewers, Pickled Vegetables and fresh Coriander, and a grilled [Cumin] Pita Bread (£22.95). 

As with our first course, the presentation was absolutely flawless; nothing was out of place, and everything was placed to maximise its appeal on the crockery. His Nibs’ Pork Fillet had been cut in half, enabling him to see the layers that it was comprised of and appreciate the subtle colours and textures within it. The meat itself was marvellously soft and moist, quite delicate in flavour, which made it the ideal backdrop for Chorizo’s more robust character to shine against. Fresh Sage was also a clear layer in this dish, both in the sauce and in the stuffing, and its crisp, clean taste was echoed by the crunchy Sugar Snap Peas. The trend has been to pulverise every last atom of the Potatoes when making mash, but sometimes you crave a smidge of those floury ‘nibs’ so that you can let them melt on your tongues’ warmth don’t you? Chef James Heywood left delicate flecks of spud suspended in amongst the buttery smooth body of his mash, and this humble accompaniment was all the nicer for it, according to His Maj!

Lebanese cuisine uses some of my favourite spices: Cinnamon, Cumin, Coriander, Paprika, Clove, Nutmeg and Cardamom, and my palate was in raptures as luscious wave after wave of these delights washed over it, thanks to them permeating every strand of the sweet, earthy Lamb pieces that had been fashioned into a textural round. Lifting the flavour profile was chunky, creamy Tzatziki; the natural Yoghurt and Cucumber had been skilfully seasoned with salt, the flavour of which added an extra pizazz to the spices in the meat. Mild Chickpea Hummus was smooth, comforting and cosseting, and the Onion, Courgette and Peppers on the pair of wooden skewers were still gently firm to the bite, so there was a nice contrast between the two. Whole, charred Pimientos were another delight to savour and I sorely wished that the DeLorean car existed so that I could eat this ad infinitum!!

After clearing away our plates, we were given a nice little interlude before being asked if we’d like any desserts, teas or coffees. In such delightful surroundings it’s nice not to be harried along or made to feel that you’ve spent enough time at the table. We were both in the market for dessert (when aren’t we?!) and I ordered the Homemade Grapefruit Tart with Clotted Cream Ice Cream and Caramel Crumb (£9.25), whilst The Man completely flummoxed me by opting for the Pina Colada Mousse, Caramelised Pineapple with Rum, Oat and Coconut Crumb and Coconut Sorbet (£8.95).

Rum lovers will go bonkers for The Man Birds’ dessert choice – we nick-named it the rum sandwich! At the very bottom was a thin slice of rum-soused Pineapple, then came the amazingly light Pina Colada Mousse, then there was another slice of boozy fruit…hic! This was sunshine in a dish, it really was. The Coconut Sorbet was light and cool in the mouth; a nice contrast to the warmed Pineapple. A dose of texture and crunch was provided by the tasty Oat and Coconut Crumb, and all the layers of flavour swirled together in a maelstrom of marvellousness.

My own choice of dessert wasn’t too shabby, either! I love Grapefruit and its mesmerising mix of sour/bitter/sweet notes and this dessert can succinctly be summed as “just jolly incredible”. I suspect, however, that you require more detail than that, so here goes… Marvellously buttery, melt-in-the-mouth pastry provided a glorious [culinary] chaise longue on which a velvet-smooth, zingily citrus filling lounged. Now, the Grapefruit wasn’t as brash as many of you might be imagining; rather, it skipped respectfully over the palate. The Clotted Cream Ice Cream was the consummate side-kick to the tart, and a fresh Mint leaf cleansed the palate as slickly as a seasoned post-gig crew clean up a stadium.

We skipped our usual post-prandial coffees, opting to retire out in the lounge and get re-acquainted with those Gin and Tonics. Whilst we sipped, we ruminated over what a superb evening we’d just had…and there was still breakfast to look forward to in the morning; but first, to bed for slumber in the sumptuous bed!
Hot Wings happily awarded to this much-loved Hathersage hub; it really was a wonderful moment to be back in its embrace. To book a table call 01433 650436 or visit the website wwwthegeorgehathersage.com and hit the ‘book a table’ button.

Huge thanks to Charlotte and Verity (Marketing Gems at Longbow Bars and Restaurants) for extending their invitation to us, to Mr Rob Hattersley himself for his absolute refusal to be defeated by Storm Babet or anything else (!), and to the team at The George under General Manager Alice Houghton, who worked tirelessly to ensure we had an incredible stay-and-dine experience.

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