Restaurant Review – De Rodes Arms, Chesterfield

Last month I was contacted and asked to review the (recently refurbished) De Rodes Arms, Chesterfield. The De Rodes Arms 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 weekend (Saturday 1st April) and we took my toddler along for the ride.

 I didn’t really know what to expect and the Trip Advisor reviews were not that kind if I’m being honest (with a different chain) and if my memory serves, it pointed to 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.

When we arrived in the Reception area, we were a little confused as to where to order food and drinks and how the ordering process worked but once we had been to the bar the staff explained at little more.  You order the starters and then take a bleeper to your table, this will go off once your starters are ready and they can be collected from the pizza section.

We our took at seat and had a look at the menus whilst enjoying a nice glass of Pinot Grigio. My son loved the dinosaur kids menu together with the dinosaur drawing/activity sheet and crayons he was given – so that was a nice touch as it’s often difficult to find restaurants that endeavour to keep the kids happy and entertained.

We decided to order a couple of starters which were pigs in blankets and black pepper mushrooms with a blue cheese sauce. My son went for fish fingers and when the food was ready at the pizza section we were advised to go and help ourselves to everything else. I decided I wanted a carvery for my main and was given a ticket to go up whenever I was ready.

So whilst waiting for our meals, I explored the building and, I have to say, I thought the decor was colourful, warm and welcoming.

The beeper then went off on the table and my son thought it was hilarious to answer the bleeper like a telephone.

 My son decided he wanted some chips and beans with his fish fingers so I popped up to collect them and served the beans from this great selection below, together with the chips from the carvery section.

I did try and encourage him to try the fab salad bar that we could also use – but he was definitely not in a ‘trying new food’ mood.

The salad bar looked great and had a good selection of dressings to choose from.

On to the main event – feast your eyes on this amazing selection! From the carvery, you could choose from Steak and Ale Pie, Sausages, Half a Roast Chicken, Gammon, Turkey or Beef. I was really impressed with this selection as I was with the sides which were on offer, such as green beans and cauliflower cheese together with your usual carrots and peas. There was also creamy mashed potato and beautifully crisp roast potatoes. I was spoilt for choice!


Luca was pretty thrilled at being provided with his free activity sheet and crayons, which kept him entertained whilst enjoying his fish fingers, chips and beans.

Here was my plateful. I opted for both beef and turkey but I was also offered a sausage which my son soon swiped off my plate. The roast potatoes were so nice and crispy and were definitely not ready made from the freezer. The mash was lovely and creamy and the vegetables still had a nice bite to them. There was also the option to have onion gravy or just the standard…. so I had a bit of both.

I could then have added anything else I wished, such as chips, beans, mushy peas – basically anything that was available in the restaurant. Our lunches were very tasty and you can get a lot on your plate, so to ‘go large’ would definitely have put me in a food coma.

Along with the traditional carveries that are served all week, you can also order pizzas or burgers – which I have to say looked very tempting when I saw them come out. As with our meals, you then go up to help yourself to the salad bar, chips and or veggies again.

Dessert time – I opted for a strawberry and cream cheesecake, it was super rich and tasted amazing. It was very creamy and the biscuit base still had a crunch to it, nothing soggy in sight. I would possibly have preferred a little scoop of ice cream with mine rather than the squirty cream, but it was still lovely nonetheless.

My son opted for the smiley face custard. He had spotted this as soon as he opened the menu and told me that’s all he wanted, no dinner just that initially – ha ha. I don’t actually think he processed what it was, he just pointed to the picture and said, ‘I want that!’ So when it arrived, lets just say he was super excited. It was creamy custard with a chocolate button and sauce face – he was delighted!

After dessert, Luca wanted to have a look around and spotted the ice cream and sprinkles station, the sweet shop and toy grabber, so of course I was talked into everything. These were really cute additions to a traditional restaurant – and definitely not something you’d do all the time, but for a treat – this is a kid’s paradise.

I also must add that all the staff were very friendly and attentive. We were always asked whether we required another drink, they enquired about our food and made a real fuss of my son, which he loved.

After lunch, we popped outside to the front of restaurant where there is an area with patio tables – just a shame there wasn’t a little children’s slide as maybe my son would have stayed a little longer, but it definitely didn’t stop him from having fun.

I went to settle the bill which came to a total of £42.73. This included 2x starters, 3x mains, 3x desserts and we had alcoholic drinks plus my son had a soft drink. We thought this price was incredibly reasonable for a meal for three people. The menu choices and prices really surprised me, the standard carvery is £5.99 pp with an option to go large and the starters and desserts range between £3-£4.00, kids meals are also around £3-£4.00.

This is great value and knowing you could have a meal and drink with a friend for under £20.00, well I think these prices are very hard to beat elsewhere.

So to conclude, we loved the restaurant, the food was tasty, great value for money and we can’t wait to return!

For more information on De Rodes, Derbyshire, then please visit their website here: The De Rodes Arms, Chesterfield.

I was asked to review the restaurant by The De Rodes Arms. All views are my own.

Oxpasture Hall Hotel – Review 

Last Saturday I was kindly invited to stay at Oxpasture Hall Hotel, a Luxury Hotel in Scarborough, Yorkshire.

As I live in Derbyshire, which is a 4 hour roundtrip, I decided to take my best friend with me, as the journey might have been a little too much for my 4 year old son (for one night’s stay). Plus this way I was able to get a little ‘me’ time and relax for a change.

My friend and I set off from Derbyshire and had a thoroughly enjoyable drive into the Yorkshire Moors.  The journey was so pretty and idyllic, with a few restaurants and small hotels scattered around the beautiful countryside drive. My friend and I kept saying to one another, “can you believe we have this stunning countryside and the Yorkshire coast here too!?”

As we passed some of the quaint little villages nearby, we noticed that there were lots of gorgeous woodlands, so we kept pulling over to check out the footpaths that led off to some magical walks in the woods.Ironfootbridge had a little path that led down to a lovely little stream with some bird tables (for all you ‘twitchers’ out there) set amongst the charming surroundings. This little footpath was just a mile or two from our hotel – and near Raincliffe Woods – where you can park up and set off exploring or dog walking. Incidentally, the Oxpasture Hotel is dog friendly, so if you want a getaway with the family without leaving behind your canine chum, you’ll have everything you need if you head this way!During our final approach, we came through the grounds of the hotel, which are simply spectacular. The picture below is taken from the driveway of Oxpasture Hall.I cannot begin to tell you how breath-taking this place was. The hotel is set in 17 acres of stunning, secluded grounds and we couldn’t wait to go off and explore.
Check in at the hotel was 2pm and the staff on reception were extremely attentive and knowledgeable. They asked what time we would like to dine that evening and whether we would like choose the bistro or the a’la carte menu. Of course we chose a’la carte for the sheer dining experience and, as many of my blog followers will know, I am a huge foodie!

My friend and I were then greeted by the Maître d’ who gave us our room key, took our luggage and guided us through the grounds and courtyard to our suite – and just check out this ‘room with a view!’- stunning isn’t it?img_5227Our Maître d’ confirmed what time our evening meal was booked for (in the Courtyard Restaurant) and explained that room service was just a ‘0’ dial away – and that all of our needs would be catered for. My friend and I then perused the room, which was fantastic, exceptionally clean and spacious – and the views were exceptional from our suite.

We had bottles of still and sparkling water, a selection of teas and coffees, hot chocolate and biscuits etc. The bedroom had a safe for your valuables, as well as nice little touches – like slippers – and other extras that a standard hotel wouldn’t offer.

I suppose that is one of the (many) reasons why Oxpasture Hall Hotel can call themselves a luxury hotel. The room service menu was also great and very reasonably priced.There were other services available such as a laundry and ironing, and you could request packed picnic lunches if you were heading out for the day, or if you just want to enjoy a picnic on their beautiful grounds.

The bathroom was huge and the shower was fantastic too. Our twin bedroom was beautifully presented and the beds were extremely comfortable, with clean, fresh and high quality linen.

Relaxing in the lounge with a glass of champagne before our evening meal was sheer bliss! It’s such a great space and to have that unbelievable view from the lounge really helped us unwind and relax.Our table was booked for 7.30pm in the restaurant, and a bottle of bubbly was chilling for us when we arrived. The Courtyard Restaurant is such a pretty, intimate and relaxing venue.As mentioned previously, my friend and I decided to dine from the a’la carte menu and boy did it not disappoint.

To Begin:

Amuse Bouche

Bread – Salted Butter

Pig Head – Preserved Vegetables – Apple

To Follow:

100 Day Salted Aged Beef

To Conclude:

Pre dessert

Lemon Meringue Pie – Yogurt

My friend opted for the Salmon starter and Pollock main, followed by the Summer Fruit Pudding.

The food looked sensational and was presented beautifully. I am so pleased we decided to go out of our comfort zone and try some dishes we would never of had chance to experience. The amuse bouche was dressed with caviar which was divine (I’ve never tried caviar before and it was a taste sensation).

My friend’s dishes were also delicious, as we both sampled a little of each other’s. The restaurant staff were very friendly and extremely attentive – and the service was very quick too.

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My Starter

 

My Main Course

 

My Dessert

After dinner, we returned to our room, but not before taking in the beautiful courtyard and gardens, they looked stunning at night. We spent the rest of the evening in our comfortable lounge (in-room), with the rest of our bubbly and a face mask  for full on girly time. We watched some television together before eventually retiring to our super comfy beds.

We both slept fantastically well and were lucky enough to wake up to sunshine and, once again, just had to explore the beautiful grounds a little more before heading to breakfast around 9.30am.The Courtyard Restaurant had a great continental breakfast selection with croissants, fresh juices, cereals and fruit; together with a selection of great preserves.

My friend and I decided we needed something a little more substantial for breakfast (to soak up the bubbly from the night before) so we opted for the following:

Yorkshire breakfast

Scrambled eggs

Dry cured bacon

Locally crafted Swaledale sausage

Black pudding

Grilled tomato

Fried mushroom

Hash brown

There was also a great selection of other options such as, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, bacon and maple syrup and porridge (amongst others).

The selection of beverages was also very extensive so my friend was able to have a peppermint tea whilst I opted for a decaf coffee and some fresh cranberry juice. It was very busy during breakfast but service was quick and once again the restaurant staff were very attentive.

If I had to find any negatives at all, I would say that the Yorkshire breakfast wasn’t quite to my taste, but enjoyable nonetheless.

After breakfast, we had one final walk around the beautiful grounds before heading back to check out out at around 10.30am. Once again, the staff on reception were polite and courteous and asked us to complete a feedback form to ensure that we’d enjoyed our visit.

Naturally we confirmed that we had an amazing stay, a great meal and a great night’s sleep. We left feeling super relaxed and felt that we had been very lucky with all of the luxuries made available to us during our stay.

All in all, our stay at Oxpasture Hall was delightful. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this venue to my friends and family – whether you want a romantic weekend away, a family break, a relaxing treat with friends or even a walking weekend with your dog, then this is the place for you.img_5224

I couldn’t have felt more comfortable than I did staying at Oxpasture Hall Hotel and I can’t wait to return with my family. Oh and just to add, this place is also available as a wedding venue and, with 17 acres of beautiful, secluded grounds and the most amazing luxuries on site, I’d highly recommend this stunning venue to any bride or groom to be!

 

Disclosure: We were invited to stay at the above hotel for purpose of this review, however all opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beefeater Restaurant Review – The Highwayman, Chesterfield

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. IMG_8584 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.IMG_8536 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. IMG_8375 Someone was excited about lunch… Oh and Luca seemed interested too 🙂

IMG_8583 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.

IMG_8378 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. IMG_8594 The area in which we dined. IMG_8590 Colourful, warm decor IMG_8593 Fab dining area IMG_8591 The menus also reflect the contemporary re-branding and I love the artwork. IMG_8382 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.IMG_8605 IMG_8603 Luca was pretty thrilled at being provided with a free Mr Men activity book and crayons, which kept him entertained in between courses. IMG_8604 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).

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Fun Veggie Sticks – £0.99 supplement charge

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!

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Pulled Beef and Yorkshire Pudding – £5.79
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Pulled Beef and Yorkshire Pudding

  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.IMG_8592I 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.

IMG_8544Some 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.
IMG_8595This 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.
IMG_8585Then 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.

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Mr Small’s Little Cod Bites with chips and peas – £4.49 but FREE today (Saturday Kids Menu)

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.

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8oz Sirloin – £15.99

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.

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Salmon Fillet with a Herb Crust – £12.49

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!!!!!

Black Forest Gateau – £4.99

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.

Yes, that’s a smile but I wasn’t happy sharing!

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.

Chocolate & Honeycomb Sundae – £4.69

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.

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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?
free meal on your birthday
5 points for every pound spend
activate card & get 300 free points
So following this visit we will have entitled ourselves to £5 off our next meal, 2 free desserts or a bottle of wine – which is brilliant. As some of my readers may already know, I have a reward card with Brewers Fayre and the Beefeater card works in a similar way, where you collect points to gain money off a meal and free birthday drinks/meals. So this Beefeater card is most definitely a great (added) incentive for me to return on a regular basis.

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!

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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.