Last month I was contacted by Beefeater to review their (recently refurbished) The Highwayman, Chesterfield. Beefeater wanted to know our thoughts on the refurbishment and the new menu that has been introduced.
As most of my friends, family and followers will know, I am food mad. I talk about food as soon as my eyes open in a morning and the last thing at night when my head hits the pillow, so this email request made me ONE HAPPY LADY. We decided to dine over the May Bank Holiday weekend (children also eat free on Saturday) and I took my hubby and toddler along for the ride. I didn’t really know what to expect as my last experience of dining in a Beefeater restaurant goes back a good 10 years or so, where I had a burger and chips with my friends which was just, if my memory serves, typical pub grub with nothing particular of note.
So it’s probably fair to say that I didn’t have particularly high expectations from a ‘chain’ pub/restaurant, before we arrived. Luca loved exploring the site, he loves farm animals so he took great pleasure in pointing out the cow images around the building. Below is the entrance to the site, but there is also access at the side of the restaurant where guests from the adjoined hotel can access (Premier Inn). There is a nice patio area which is also covered for those rainy days. Someone was excited about lunch… Oh and Luca seemed interested too 🙂
In the Reception area, we were greeted with a warm welcome by a member of staff who showed us to our table. I decided to explore and have a look around the building and, I have to say, I thought the decor was fab.
There are lots of quirky pictures and artwork around the restaurant. It all had a very contemporary look which makes you feel like you’re submerged into a food ‘experience’. The visuals certainly don’t represent those of a typical chain restaurant. The area in which we dined. Colourful, warm decor Fab dining area The menus also reflect the contemporary re-branding and I love the artwork. Just what I needed…A nice cold LARGE glass of Pinot Grigio…hubby was designated driver (obviously..this is my gig!) Luca got his very own ‘Mr Men’ menu so he was able to choose his own meal. As stated previously, kids can choose one of Mr Happy’s Mains (plus a glass of squash or milk) from the kids’ menu absolutely free – between Midday and 5pm, every Saturday. Luca was pretty thrilled at being provided with a free Mr Men activity book and crayons, which kept him entertained in between courses. Both my hubby and I had decided to order a starter so we thought it would be nice for Luca to have one too (this would be an additional supplement charge as only the main meal and drink would be free of charge). I pinched a few of these yummy ‘Fun Veggie Sticks’ and tried the lovely dips (sour cream and thousand island dressing).
My hubby and I opted to share a starter, Pulled Beef and Yorkshire Pudding, as we thought we might not have enough room for our main course, otherwise. Plus I HAVE to have a dessert. Them’s the rules!
Yes, that is Yorkshire Pudding!! My hubby is a huge Yorkshire Pudding fan so to see that you could have this (with beef) as a starter, took away any decision rights I believed I had. The pulled beef was served in a cute little pot with sweet red onion and gravy and this was accompanied with a horseradish soft cheese. This was an absolute delight. An incredible taste sensation in the mouth. We were off to a fabulous start!
Once we had all finished our starters I had another look around the restaurant and found some more interesting artwork. I think these plates are fab and quirky.I so love this picture. Sorry about the glare, but I was chasing my toddler around the restaurant at this point so I didn’t have the luxury of lining this one up. But once again, it’s a lovely visual and very in keeping with the theme.
Some more of the brilliant little pieces around the restaurant. It was great to get my 3 year old son to point out where he could see a cow. A bit like a hide and seek.
This area is another lounge space, around the side of the restaurant. It has a TV and is a little more pub-like, but still retains a really relaxed atmosphere.
Then along came the mains. My son opted for the cod bites, chips and peas. He seems to be pulling a strange face here, not because he didn’t like them but because they were pretty hot. We did warn him to wait but he wanted to tuck in. I had to pinch a couple of chips and a cod bite (to check the temperature of course), and both Luca and I approved – very crispy and tasty.
My hubby ordered the 8oz Sirloin Steak, cooked medium with plain skinny fries (there was a choice of triple cooked, plain or spicy chips as well as the skinny ones). The steak also came with a nice chunky slaw which had a lovely dressing. I tasted the steak, which was very succulent and juicy, and the chips were, again, fluffy and crispy.
I opted for the oven-baked wild Pacific salmon with a herb crust, served on a bed of kale and cherry tomatoes in garlic & parsley cream with dauphinoise potatoes. I usually go for a meat main but I thought I would go for fish this time. I have to say that I was very surprised with the choice available on this Beefeater menu.
This main appealed to me because it is served with dauphinoise potatoes (my absolute favourite accompaniment) which isn’t often found on these type of menus. The inclusion of kale, again not a veg traditionally served in restaurant chain, was an excellent choice and really balanced the whole dish.
Usually, with restaurant chains, there tends to be the standard options of the grill – steak, gammon, mixed grill – the classics like sausage and mash, pie and mash, lasagne etc, so I was thrilled to see a number of dishes that aren’t your usual run of the mill fodder. So this main did not disappoint at all. The herb crust and salmon were cooked perfectly and soft, garlicy potatoes and kale worked perfectly and really balanced the flavours and textures on the plate. This was a dish I would expect to see served in an a’la carte country restaurant, not in a Beefeater on the A619.
Now what can I say…………..BLACK FOREST GATEAU!!!!!
I think I have died and gone to heaven. As I stated before, this particular menu is incredible and black forest gateau isn’t a dessert that is usually found on traditional menus. It is definitely a retro dessert but, as my friends and family will vouch, my absolute favourite.
I often frequent at Patisserie Valerie for my black forest gateau fix as I find it very difficult to find, day-to-day, but OH MY WORD, this dessert was not only huge in portion …but huge in flavour.
This ticked so many boxes for me. It was THE ultimate dessert.. There was a strong flavour of cherry and liqueur, a fab moist sponge and lashings of cream and cherry sauce. The only down side was I had to share this with my son. Well, he did ask nicely.
The waitress who served us, Nicola, was extremely knowledgeable about the menu and very friendly. You could tell this wasn’t just for our benefit either, as she was chatting away with another couple at the side of us and they were on first name terms.
The hubby ordered a chocolate and honeycomb sundae. He is a huge ice cream fan and insists he has a separate stomach, purely for ice cream. Roughly translated, this means he can (and tries to) eat ice cream for breakfast.
The sundae was a great dessert, a huge portion with lashings of cream. It was accompanied with a wafer (which my son promptly demolished) and plenty of chocolate sauce, with a hidden treat of some chocolate popping candy.
I also must add that all the staff were very attentive. We were always asked whether we required another drink, they enquired about our food and the speed in which the course were served was excellent. It was amazing that this speed of service in no way detracted from the quality of food, nor the temperature of it.
After lunch, we popped outside to the back of restaurant where there is a cute lawned area with patio tables and lovely view across Derbyshire. My son had a great time exploring around outside. I suppose the only downside is that he would have loved to have played on a little swing or slide, but it definitely didn’t stop him from having fun.
This is my son baffled as to how to blow a ‘dandelion fairy’ on The Highwayman grounds, which you can see is a mature and pretty garden which is very in keeping with the overall location and restaurant theme.
My hubby went to settle the bill which came to a total of £56.06. Considering we had an alcoholic drink and a soft drink each, we thought this price was incredibly reasonable for a family meal for three people. Whilst she was there, Nicola our waitress, explained about the reward scheme which they offer and which allows you to collect points….
SO WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
Of course the main reason we will be returning soon is that the food and service were second to none. We eat out at all different types and styles of restaurant and this Beefeater is an absolute hidden gem.
So to conclude, we loved the restaurant, the food was exceptional and we can’t wait to return!
For more information on The Highwayman, Derbyshire, then please visit their website here: The Highwayman
We were asked to review this restaurant by Beefeater. All views are my own.