Eating Out - New look and new life at Inn

The Peacock, Adam Myers
The Peacock, Adam Myers

Adam Myers got his first job as a pot washer when he was at school. It was evidently an inspiring start...

Eight years on – still aged only 23 – he has just been appointed Chef & Brewer's youngest manager.

The Peacock, steak and chips

The Peacock, steak and chips

Adam is now running the Peacock at Owler Bar, on the Peak District side of Sheffield. It's a huge challenge, he admits – but one he is confident of meeting.

And the new appointment is an exciting opportunity on a personal front too, because joining Adam as team leader is his wife Lauren.

The two were childhood sweethearts at high school in Manchester and got their first jobs together in a local pub – he in the kitchen and she as a waitress.

On leaving university Adam began his climb up the career ladder, while Lauren went her own way, training and working as a teacher.

It’s great to have an opportunity like this

Adam Myers, Manager

But from next week the couple will be embarking on a new life together, when Lauren turns her back on the classroom to join her husband full time at the inn.

"We've been so used to not seeing much of each other, it's great to have an opportunity like this," says Adam.

It's a fresh start for the Peacock too, which has just reopened after a major refurbishment.

The old coaching inn was built in 1818 by the Duke of Rutland. It stands in splendid isolation on the Baslow to Sheffield turnpike – near the old toll cottage whose alder bar is said to have given the area its name.

The Peacock

The Peacock

The setting is as spectacular as ever, with unrivalled hilltop views that have changed little in the last 200 years: an awe-inspiring panorama stretches away to the Peak District on one side and Sheffield on the other.

The Grade II-listed pub lost some of its old world charm when it became part of a chain, but the latest refurb makes the most of what's left.

Old oak beams and exposed brickwork set the scene, with newly stripped oak floorboards adding a touch of authenticity.

The bar and dining areas are brighter, with light walls, grey-painted panelling, new tables and seating including stylish pew benches.

The Peacock

The Peacock

"I just wanted it to look fresher and brighter," says Adam, who has big ambitions for the place.

In the long-term he'd like to convert an old barn behind the inn to add hotel rooms too.

Meanwhile, he's concentrating on the job in hand: to establish the Peacock as a community pub once again.

"Professionalism is what I bring to the job: do it once and do it right is my motto," he says.

Adam takes a hands-on approach to management, seeing himself very much as part of the team. On the day of our visit he's running front-of-house operations, taking orders and serving food but finding time to chat to customers too.

We're sharing the dining area with assorted couples, a group of women and a family with a sleeping baby (the best kind!) and a husky pup. It's the sort of place with something for everyone, apparently.

Drinks are what you'd expect to find in a Chef & Brewer pub – including a range of cask ales – as is the food, which relies largely on a central kitchen.

If you're looking for local produce, cooked with flair, this isn't the place for you. But as pub grub goes, head chef Ben Hassell does a fair job.

The menu changes twice a year. The new spring/summer selection features a dozen starters and sharing platters plus pub classics, burgers, pies, steaks and a range of 'new favourites' which sound more interesting.

There's also a 'specials' menu – August's is 1940s-inspired, in honour of VJ-Day. But it's a national promotion rather than a chance to showcase the chefs' skills.

We turn to the regular selection and starters arrive promptly.

Bubble & squeak is a rosti-style portion of cabbage and potato, topped with a rasher of back bacon, a soft-poached egg and a veritable lake of buttery hollandaise sauce.

My Asian-style rare beef salad is not especially rare, but it's tasty enough. Thinly-carved slices come on a bed of crisp lettuce perked up by tomatoes, radishes, red onion, cashew nuts and a lot of sweet chilli dressing.

Mains are from the 'new favourites' section, but there's a worryingly long wait between courses... Our fears turn out to be well founded when both dishes arrive over cooked.

My sea bass fillets are dried to a crisp at the edges and the accompanying risotto is more like a rice salad. 'Smooth and creamy' it is not, nor does it have much flavour, though juicy prawns and scallops are good and it's well presented.

Duo of chicken has suffered a similar fate: the breast meat is dry and the delicious-sounding 'baby onion and merlot sauce' is more like pickled onions and gravy, grumbles my companion. But a mini chicken and vegetable pie is a tasty addition, with broccoli spears and mash.

We share a classic pudding of apple pie – sweetcrust pastry and 'Kentish Bramleys', according to the menu – with ice cream. It might not be home made, but it's pleasant enough.

We finish our meal with coffee, hand made by Adam because the coffee machine is out of order. Now that's what I call service.

Lunch for two, excluding drinks, is £39.75.

* The Peacock, Owler Bar, Sheffield S17 3BQ (0114) 236 1789 The Peacock