Eating Out: Pub food worthy of award wins

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Being named Derbyshire Dining Pub of the Year by the Good Pub Guide for the last three years is no mean feat.

But that is exactly what The Plough Inn at Hathersage has achieved and the awards are something that general manager Elliot Emery is understandably proud of.

The Plough at Hathersage.

The Plough at Hathersage.

The independent pub – which sits next to the picturesque River Derwent – has been run by the Emery family since 1991.

The 26 years since then has seen the UK pub industry hit a steady decline but The Plough has managed to flourish in an era where many have failed.

Elliot, who took over the running of the pub from his parents 17 years ago, said there are a number of reasons for their success.

“Our focus is on serving really good food with a bit of a twist and a bit of flair,” says Elliot.

The rear outdoor seating area at The Plough at Hathersage.

The rear outdoor seating area at The Plough at Hathersage.

“We try to source our ingredients locally and use different local butchers and greengrocers.

“We use a butcher in Hathersage and also Pat O’Brien in Banner Cross.

“For fruit and veg we use Peak Fruits which is based here in the village.”

Elliot argues that although large wholesalers may be able to offer better prices there is a trade-off in terms of quality which means shopping local makes sense.

The dining area at The Plough at Hathersage.

The dining area at The Plough at Hathersage.

“By using smaller local suppliers you are able to build better relationships and ensure a higher quality of ingredients,” he says.

And it’s not just the produce that Elliot and his team like to keep fresh.

The Plough’s kitchen has been run by head chef Robert Navaroo for the past 12 years and the menu is refreshed every six weeks.

“It’s a full menu change but the menu always stays the same size,” explains Elliot.

The Plough at Hathersage.

The Plough at Hathersage.

“We still use the same meats but we will use different cuts and cook them differently.

“For instance, we might replace rack of lamb on the menu with lamb steaks.

“We do the same with fish. We’ll always have fish on the menu but will mix it up. Sometimes we have cod, sometimes a tuna steak, sometimes a salmon fillet. We also change the accompaniments.”

As well as the Good Pub Guide awards The Plough has racked up in recent years the pub has also been an AA Rosette holder since 2006.

Although proud of such accolades, Elliot says that customer satisfaction is much more important.

“We’re not really in it for the Rosettes.

“Awards can sometimes make you lose focus but our top priority is providing good food and building up a steady stream of customers.”

My partner and I visited The Plough early on a Friday evening and the place was busy and lively.

We were seated at a table in the main bar area and after ordering drinks I ordered a starter of king prawn linguini (£7) while Tracy chose seared scallops (£10).

My pasta starter was a decent sized portion. The prawns were plump, juicy and flavoursome and lemon, garlic, chilli and parsley added good depth of flavour to the dish.

The scallops came with a spicy and nutty satay sauce which got the thumbs up.

The menu has a good variety of choice and there is plenty to suit all tastes.

At the time of our visit the mains on the menu included a choice of steaks from the grill, as well as some modern twists on some pub classics – including liver and bacon (£14) and fish and chips (£14).

There are also a selection of pasta dishes and homemade pizza.

I finally opted for the rack of lamb with pea and mint arancini, runner beans, with redcurrant jus (£21.50).

Tracy on the other hand went for the 8oz fillet of beef with grilled tomato, field mushroom, french fried onion and fries.

Both dishes were attractively presented and the portions of a decent size (£27).

The pea and mint arancini which came alongside my lamb were an inspired accompaniment.

They were delicious and added great balance to the dish.

As for the lamb, it was cooked to perfection. I’d asked for it medium rare and it was succulent, tender, and nice and pink in the middle.

I’d go as far to say it was the best rack of lamb I’ve ever had.

The fillet steak earned similarly rave reviews from across the table.

It came medium exactly as ordered, was seared well on the outside and was nice and juicy and flavoursome on the inside. The fries got top marks too.

We were both in a savoury mood and opted to share a cheeseboard rather than have a dessert.

The Plough offers exceptional choice when it comes to cheese.

There are 10 on offer and you can either select three (£7.50), six (£10), or 10 (£12.50).

We shared six cheeses between us – Stilton, Wensleydale, mature cheddar, Gubeen, Cahill’s Porter and Northumberland nettle and we devoured the lot.

The bill came in at around £100 which for three courses each including a few glasses of wine isn’t too bad.

Some may think this at the pricey end for a ‘pub’ but you should be under no illusions that the sort of food The Plough serves up is restaurant standard.

Award-winning too.