Let me set the scene, give you a bit of background info, if you will. Around December 2016, me and my boss, and good friend, Chris, started on a bit of a journey. I had just started my new role within the company as his PA and we decided we needed to have more of a balanced life. Wanting to eat better in the working week and exercising more. We decided to make plans for ourselves separately in terms of exercising in our own time but once a week, we made a commitment to each other to go hiking together. At first, we were a little bit clueless, we would start the day early (at 7am?!) and head to the more well-known spots of Derbyshire like Matlock and Bakewell in the hope of finding some decent scran for brekkie…. Only to be disappointed with what was on offer. Having said that, those are memories I will have forever, probably for all the wrong reasons. One particular time we went in to Matlock and found that the only place serving breakfast at 8am was a local fish & chip restaurant with questionable ‘taxidermy’ on the walls and an excess of odd décor that featured Betty Boop lamps, stuffed polar bear heads on mounts and singing candles (…yes, singing candles) all the while playing the sounds of traditional Spanish melody’s through their speakers. Obviously, we found this hilarious. What was more hilarious was the fact that they didn’t accept card payments, and even though our breakfast of poached eggs on toast only came to less than a tenner, neither of us had the cash on us to pay for it. We asked where the nearest cash point was, to be told it WAS about 200 yards away…but someone had stolen it (honestly, I’m not making this up). Luckily for us, the boss of the café had told us when taking our order that he was going on holiday to Spain soon (perhaps that explained the choice of music) why is this lucky? Well, Chris had a wallet full of euros leftover from a recent trip to Europe… what are the chances. Without question, the proprietor accepted our foreign currency as payment and we were on our way. Weird.
So, reflecting on this experience and knowing this was going to be a regular occurrence, we wised up. We figured, we need to do some research if we plan to head to the peaks each week, and as funny and memorable as the above example was, we knew we could do better. So, with that in mind, we started planning our routes, looking online for trails and, more importantly, breakfast spots. That’s when we first decided to visit The Devonshire Arms at Beeley, and if you click here you can read about my breakfast review. This however, is a review of their lunch menu. I know, I know, weird that I built up the breakfast hype, but I just wanted to tell that story.
We have been to the Devonshire Arms at Beeley for coming on 18 months now, showing up around 8 am, sitting in the same spot by the window and ordering Breakfast. And for nearly 18 months we have been saying why haven’t we tried the lunch menu yet? So, this week, that’s what we did. We headed out to the Longshaw estate for this weeks hike, parked up, followed the stream through the dense woodland and up and down rocky terrain until we looped back on ourselves. Today was a modest 8-mile hike but with the temperature being 22 degrees, and there not being a breeze in the thick forest area, we were soon glistening with sweat and decided that we had definitely earned ourselves a pint!
When we arrived at The Devonshire Arm’s, we headed straight to the bar and ordered ourselves a couple of pints of their Orchard Thieves cider and promptly took up a seat in their sun trap of a garden. Whilst we sat basking in the sunshine with our drinks we played the process of elimination game with the menu. It actually didn’t take me long to decide for once, even though I could have happily eaten everything on offer, I went with the salad of heritage tomatoes to start, and the black bream for my main, whereas Chris opted for the Devonshire crab to begin with and the fish & chips for his main course.
We took our usual seat inside and admired the fresh and modern décor that so contrasts with the country pub feel of the exterior and bar area. As I stated previously, we have dined here for breakfast many, many times and not for lunch but we have dined at pretty much every other Devonshire Arms for lunch… yet we are still trying to work out which ones are associated with each other. I have come to the conclusion that Beeley and Pilsey are in fact affiliated. Will someone put my mind to rest?
Anyway: The food! Our starters arrived and I am taken a back. I knew this was going to be good, but nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the level of detail the chefs had clearly put into the presentation of our dishes. My starter truly was beautiful. Chris was equally delighted with his starter, which was also very aesthetically pleasing. After a few quick snaps- well not that quick, the table behind me shot me a few weird looks when I stood up and moved around the table trying to gage the right lighting. We tucked in to these gorgeous starters and they were delicious. My tomato salad was fresh and light and bursting with flavours and textures that just kept surprising me. Chris’s starter was polished off in no time so I can safely assume he loved it.
Our dishes were cleared with the upmost efficiency, the staff gliding around us in an unobtrusive manner, that we hardly noticed what had happened by the time our plates were gone. When our mains arrived, well, again, I was stunned, my fish was placed in front of me and I was gob-smacked with its beautifully colourful and delicate presentation! Now, I can’t lie, the fact it had its face intact did bother me a little, I can’t really deal with the association of what I’m eating and the fact it was staring right at me was a tad off putting. But, as you can see, for the photo, I covered its glaring eye, and I made quick work of the beheading before I tucked in! The fish was cooked beautifully and flaked away from the bone so neatly that my original worry was quickly diminished. The artichokes, rocket and tomatoes were the perfect balance and were topped with varying flavours of saltiness that crunched with every other bite, making it the perfect accompaniment to my Bream. Chris’s fish and chips barely touched the sides, a pub classic done right! I could only look with envious eyes, as usually its my go-to dish, but with an upcoming holiday, the lighter option of the bream was definitely the right choice. I guess that means I will just have to visit once I’m back to try it for myself!
I had high expectations of the Devonshire Arms at Beeley due to my breakfast experiences here, and they were definitely met. I cannot believe it took us so long, I absolutely loved it and will definitely return for another lunch. If you’re in the area, you should definitely check them out too. Fancy going on a hike? They are the perfect stop to start and/or finish at! If you’re travelling from a far they even have rooms for the night and are in a great spot for exploring Derbyshire.