At last spring has arrived! At least, it had as we set out on the eternal search for a restaurant with fresh appeal.
There’s something about a sunny evening that drives us towards the countryside, but it’s always good to be able to enjoy that lazy summer daze without having to trek into the depths of the Peak.
We’d heard rumblings about the Peacock Inn at Cutthorpe, but never quite got round to checking it out – until we stumbled upon it, surrounded by fields, on a winding lane between Sheffield and Chesterfield.
Contemporary signage, honeyed stone walls and Farrow & Ball green paintwork suggested it deserved further investigation. Our hunch proved right. Inside, it has all the hallmarks of a country pub – plus a touch of stylish urbanity.
Soft green paintwork and monochrone tartan drapes are the backdrop for plush upholstered chairs and polished wood tables adorned with exotic lilies.
The Peacock was taken over last year by the team who run the popular S41 bar in Chesterfield. It’s a free house, with a regular selection of Timothy Taylor’s and three guest beers.
A young team is led by landlady Claire Sketchley, previously of the aforementioned S41, and general manager Matt Hydes whose pedigree includes Aston Hall and Whitley Hall in Grenoside. Chefs Jamie Woodhouse (ex Mosborough Hall) and Andy Clark, offer a modern European menu featuring local produce.
“We’ve got a really good, solid team now and we’re at the stage where we can aim for an AA rosette,” says Matt.
The inn has 70 covers, but also maintains a well-stocked bar that’s popular with the locals. Monthly live music nights bring in the younger crowd and a superb children’s outdoor play area (plus kids’ menu at £5.95) make it a favourite with families too.
We order a bottle of house red – fruity Chilean merlot at £15 (£2.55 a glass). We ask for tap water too – and are surprised when the bill comes to find we’ve been charged a hefty £1.50. There’s no complimentary bread either.
I start with mushroom risotto – creamy, smoky and fairly fluid, garnished with truffle oil and micro herbs. My companion is seduced by the cauliflower soup. Sounds most unappetising to me, but it’s surprisingly good: distinctively cauliflower, but beautifully seasoned and standing up in peaks like whipped cream. It comes with a home made mini loaf of white bread, and butter.
Main course lamb rump is sensational: a generous chunk of sweet, succulent, pot roast meat served with layered boulangere potatoes, cabbage and breadcrumbed sweetbreads.
Pan fried bass is spiced up with chorizo, crisp green beans and wilted spinach. The skin couldbe crisper and ‘new potato salad’ has been swapped for mash without warning. But it’s good.
We share a dessert of sticky toffee pudding – loose textured, with plenty of caramel sauce. “And it’s calorie-free on a Wednesday,” Claire assures us.
Dinner for two, excluding drinks and service, is £45.80.
* The Peacock Inn, School Hill, Cutthorpe S42 7AS Tel: 01246 563 669 The Peacock Inn