H serves up a summer treat

H's - Bakewell
H's - Bakewell

ONCE upon a time there was just one Bakewell Pudding shop. But when the owner sold up, the bakers moved out to a new place round the corner – and the Bakewell Pudding Parlour was born.

The premises had been part of the Bakewell Hotel, run by the Proctor family.Once the new bakery and café was up and running, daughter Helen – formerly the hotel landlady – decided this was the business for her. And she’s been there ever since.

“I decided that I needed to know how to bake, and to learn the secret recipe,” she says. “So if my baker is off, now I can go into the shop and make everything in there myself – from the bread to the puddings. I enjoy baking, it’s very therapeutic.” Other shops sell puddings, but the Bakewell Pudding Parlour is the only one that bakes on the premises.

To H’s café bar and restaurant: “With a name like Helen Hartley, my friends said it had to be H’s,” she says. “But it’s also for my godson, Henry.” On the ground floor, the Pudding Parlour and bakery thrive, while the first floor has been transformed into an attractive dining room and bar with outdoor terrace.

The latest innovation is a take-away service, launched after Helen’s team of Italian chefs persuaded her to buy an authentic pizza oven.There’s a choice of 8-inch or 12-inch margherita pizzas, at £5 and £6 respectively, with additional toppings at 75p each.

Meanwhile, the upstairs dining room is an atmospheric space defined by beams, exposed stonework, blowsy pink roses and flickering tealights.

The wine list is good; there’s a choice of more than 20 bottles from £13.95 (£2.50 per glass). The house red is a distinctive south Italian Zinfandel-Negroamaro, rich and earthy. We tuck into chunks of fresh bread with olive oil and balsamic syrup until our starters arrive before us.

Goat’s cheese and red onion tart in a shortcrust pastry case is served on rocket salad with a swirl of balsamic dressing.

It’s tasty – but the prize for best pick goes to my companion, who is drooling over his aubergine bake, a bubbling cauldron of herby tomato goodness, smothered with stringy melted mozzarella.

His calzone, a freshly made pizza crust folded over a filling of mushrooms, tomato sauce, beef chilli and cheese is substantial and quite delicious, finished with a side salad.

I opt for the day’s special: sea bass. Two perfectly cooked fillets are topped with slices of lemon and presented on a bed of buttery crushed new potatoes, with a salad of rocket, parmesan and more of that balsamic syrup. These are light, fresh flavours.

And so to dessert… My chocolate fondant is one of the best I’ve tasted: light chocolate sponge simply oozing with lush molten chocolate filling. If I’m being picky, it could have done with being hotter, but the flavour and texture are spot on.My companion is equally enthusiastic about his choice, one of Helen’s award-winning Bakewell puddings: fluted flaky pastry with the traditional almond custard filling, some jammy raspberry coulis and a jug of real custard.

We finish with good americanos and home-made fudge. Dinner, excluding drinks and service, £44.90.

H’s Cafe Bar and Restaurant

Wye House, Water Street, Bakewell DE 45 1EW

Tel. 01629 815107 Hs Wine Bar

Open during the day seven days a week and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.